Clean living keeps Estelle Parsons on the go at 82

Tue Dec 22, 2009 4:07pm EST
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By Steve Ginsburg

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Estelle Parsons questioned her sanity after landing the role of the ruthless matriarch of a crumbling Oklahoma family in the Tony Award winning play "August: Osage County".

"I called my agent and said, 'What am I, the lamb being led to the slaughter here, that this show is impossible?'" the 82-year-old Parsons told Reuters.

Her character Violet Weston is so demanding that Parsons' predecessor on Broadway, Tony Award-winner Deanna Dunagan, cited exhaustion for stepping away from the role last year.

And Dunagan is 13 years younger than Parsons.

The portrayal of Weston, a mean-spirited, pill-popping addict, is a stretch for Parsons, a "health nut" who maintains a clean lifestyle despite the rigors of life on the road.

"August," the 2008 Tony Award winner for best play. is on a U.S. national tour after closing on Broadway in June. It will run through May, and for each performance Parsons repeatedly barrels up and down a set of steps in the family house that forms the stage set.

That's 352 steps per show. "And that's 700-something on matinees," quips Parsons, an Oscar-winning actress best known for her work in the 1990s TV sitcom "Roseanne".

We're talking nine shows a week for some of the stops on the tour. Yet life on the road hasn't slowed the Massachusetts native.   Continued...