Monday, March 9, 2009

Irish actress Anna Manahan dead at 84


I was sorry to read that Anna had died. She was a lovely person, and I’m happy to have known her.

I first met Anna when she read a scripture passage for us at Broadway Blessing in 1998, the year she won a Tony Award for her performance in The Beauty Queen of Leenane. As a friend and I helped her into a taxi at the end of the evening, she told us it had been the best experience of her stay in America. We reminded her about winning the Tony three months earlier and assumed she meant other than that, but she said being part of the Blessing was even better. Now as founder and producer of BB, I love it very much, but I wouldn’t put it higher than winning a Tony. Anna did. Her Catholicism was important to her and she said BB was a great combination of the two things most that mattered most to her -- her faith and the theatre.

When Anna was here again in 2006 to star in the one-woman play Sisters off-Broadway, I asked her to take part in that year’s Blessing, which was our 10th anniversary celebration. She graciously accepted and chose to read the gospel passage about Jesus forgiving a woman who had been caught in adultery. She said the world needed at that time to hear Jesus’ message of forgiveness. (It still does, Anna.)

A couple days after that I was fortunate to have a warm and fascinating visit with Anna in her dressing room before a performance of Sisters. In the intimacy of that tiny space, with just the two of us alone, I noticed how frail she looked. As I left the theatre later that night I suddenly felt so sad I started to cry. I thought, “I’ll never see Anna again.” And I didn’t.

God bless you, dear Anna. Thank you for sharing your gifts with us.

“The lives of those who are faithful to God are changed not ended.”
-- 1 Corinthians.

1 comment:

Lauren Yarger said...

No doubt this wonderful actress counted getting to know you a blessing as well.