Too often, in the Twin Cities, we take the tremendous pool
of local artistic talent we have in this community for granted. There seems to
be this belief that if a performer really was any good they would be in New York or Hollywood
– not plying their trade on the stages of Minneapolis
and St. Paul. Frequently we lose
some of this talent to the coasts where, occasionally, some of these artists meet with great success. Rarely, following great success, do we see them
return to the Midwest. How fortunate we are that Linda
Kelsey is an exception. And how great it is to see her back on the stage of the
Guthrie Theater where she honed her craft nearly four decades ago.
Longtime theater-lovers remember a summer production on the University of Minnesota Centennial Showboat
that brought together two young actresses who would both gain early fame for
their work in television, Linda Kelsey and Loni Anderson. Linda would leave the
stages of the U of M to join the Guthrie Theater as a McKnight Fellow. After
two seasons at the Guthrie and a stint at the Chanhassen Dinner Theater, Linda
left the Twin Cities for Los Angeles
where she landed guest appearances on classic television series like "MASH" and
the "Mary Tyler Moore Show."
In 1977, Linda joined the cast of a new series called "Lou
Grant," a dramatic spin-off of the "Mary Tyler Moore Show." During its five
seasons on the air "Lou Grant" would become the top-rated program on
television, receive a Peabody award
and an Emmy award for "Outstanding Drama Series." For her role as a Billie
Newman, a young reporter in the fictional newsroom, Linda would be nominated
for five consecutive Emmy awards as "Outstanding Supporting Actress." Following
the cancellation of "Lou Grant" there would be other series in Linda's
television career, followed by guest appearances on shows like "E.R." and
"Murder, She Wrote."
In the 1990s, Linda returned to the area with her family and
found work on many stages – appearing most frequently at Park Square Theater in
St. Paul. And now, she is back –
center stage – starring with other veterans of the Guthrie Theater including
Barbara Bryne, Peter Michael Goetz and Sally Wingert, in a comedy just perfect
for a summer's evening, When We Are Married by J.B. Priestley. Linda
shines as one of three married women who, instead of celebrating their 25th
wedding anniversaries with their husbands, discover they aren't really married
at all. It is, we can only hope, the first of many future productions at the
Guthrie Theater featuring our very own, Linda Kelsey.
Now, since T.R. Knight has left "Gray's Anatomy," if we
could only get him back to the Guthrie stage as well.