Kevin Winge

Kevin Winge is a native of Minnesota. He lives in San Francisco, California where he is is the executive director of Project Open Hand, a nonprofit organization that provides nutritious meals to people living with disease. Read more about Kevin Winge.

Linda Kelsey Returns to the Guthrie Stage

Posted by: Kevin Winge Updated: July 11, 2009 - 11:23 AM
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.

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