Risky Regencies

On Stage Saturday

Life has been busy at chez McCabe this week! Here is what I’ve been doing:

1) Doing some more political campaign volunteering (though I still haven’t found an occasion for a blue velvet suit and foxtail-trimmed hat, a la The Duchess!)

2) Writing. Lots. (natch)

3) Reading! (This week’s read–The Lady Penelope, a new biography of Lady Penelope Rich by Sally Varlow. It has lots of good info, but not really the “you are there” feeling of bios like Georgiana and Perdita)

4) Getting book title news!! I always like this–it makes the book feel “official,” somehow. Balthazar’s book (out in January ’09, just in time for my birthday!) is now called High Seas Stowaway. Ships, pirates, battles, and, as Anna Campbell put it “Historically accurate nookie!”

And the reissued Christmas novella from Signet, Upon a Midnight Clear, will be in an anthology titled A Homespun Regency Christmas (Regency on the Prairie??). The other 3 novellas are by Carla Kelly, Emma Jenson, and Sandra Heath.

5) And 4th of July-ing! Yesterday, in between eating hot dogs and cupcakes and watching fireworks, I took a friend’s daughter to see Kit Kittredge: An American Girl. We both give it 2 enthusiastic thumbs-up, as did her American Girl doll, Samantha, who accompanied us. (Though she did want to know why Kit got the feature-film treatment, when she, Samantha, got only a cheesy TV movie…)

One of the previews was for the delightfully silly-looking Mamma Mia!. I may have to see this one, if only to watch Meryl Streep singing ABBA songs.

And it just so happens that July 5, 1755 was the birthday of the Regency’s own version of Meryl Streep, Sarah Siddons. I doubt she ever had to sing Dancing Queen, though.

She was born Sarah Kemble, the eldest of 12 children of the actor-manager Roger Kemble (several of her siblings also became well-known actors). She married another actor, William Siddons, in 1773, and had her first professional role as Belvidera in Otway’s Venice Preserved. Things went a bit downhill from there–she was dismissed from Drury Lane, in her own words, “banished from Drury Lane as a worthless candidate for fame and fortune.” But after a very succeseful five-year run in Bath, starting in about 1778, she went back to Drury Lane.

Her appearance as Isabella in Garrick’s version of Southerne’s Fatal Marriage in October 1782 was a triumph. She soon took on her signature role, Lady Macbeth, as well as Desdemona, Ophelia, Volumnia, and the title role in Queen Catherine. For over 20 years she was queen of Drury lane, the greatest tragic actress in London, and a cultural icon.

In 1812, her farewell performance at Covent Garden, as Lady Macbeth, brought down the house. The audience refused to let the play go on after the sleepwalking scene. After this, she appeared only once in a while for special performances, making her last appearance in 1819.

She had 7 children, though only 2 outlived her, and ended up informally separated from Mr. Siddons. She died in 1831. I only have one book about her in my library, but it’s a good one with lots of pics–Robyn Asleson’s A Passion for Performance: Sarah Siddons and Her Portraitists.

So, happy birthday, Mrs. Siddons! And happy weekend to all of you. How have you spent your holiday? Seen any good theatrical performances lately?

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Cara King
14 years ago

The last live play I saw was a women-only version of Othello — very well done. Also so far this year I’ve seen a play about Orson Welles and Laurence Olivier’s relationship, a bioplay about Danny Kaye, the new weird version of Sweeney Todd, and Wicked, and a few miscellaneous other plays (Todd and I are theater fans.)

I had an untraditional holiday yesterday by dining at a salad bar restaurant, and then seeing Wall-E. (Great movie!)

And Todd and I have finished reading Heyer’s A LADY OF QUALITY aloud (not the best book for reading out loud, BTW) and are now reading her BEHOLD, HERE’S POISON (my 2nd favorite of her mysteries — and so far, a very good raed-aloud book.)

And I may just see Iron Man again before the weekend is out…

Plus I’m writing, too… And I finally got my plane tix for SF, so I guess it’s real! 🙂


Amanda McCabe
14 years ago

I wish we had more variety in theater around here like you do, Cara! The best I’ve seen lately is a touring production of “Spamalot” and an outdoors-in-the-park “Much Ado About Nothing” (both were good, BTW–there’s just not much variety…)

Cara King
14 years ago

Yeah, Amanda, we’re really lucky in that respect, living in the Los Angeles area! There are a ton of professional actors wanting to show off their talent, so there’s a ton of little theater, often doing new or weird or small plays. Plus, there are a good number of professional theaters — so there’s a lot of choice!


Keira Soleore
14 years ago

Ammanda, you sure have been a busy bee. Congratulations on all the wonderful book news from you. With back-to-back releases around the holidays, late fall and early winter are going to be hopping for you.

Our weekend’s been full and fun. We went to see Tall Ships with 2000volunteers dressed as pirates and sea salts, singing shantys and swilling beer. Lots of police presence, which spoiled the fun of fair-like event.

Elena Greene
14 years ago

Amamda, you have been busy! We’ve just been doing family & friends stuff, visiting, graduation parties, and some shopping.

Now I want to go to the movies. Mamma Mia does look silly and fun–and with Pierce Brosnan and Colin Firth in it, eyeable too. 🙂

14 years ago

Oh, it was a quiet and run of the mill day here for the holiday. Spent the usual hoping it would rain so it would push the neighbors inside to keep quiet at night, and that they wouldn’t want to set off the quite obviously illegal fireworks that even if it rained on the 4th still would be set off sometime. Sigh. Well, at least here it was cool (probably a bit cooler than normal for this time of year in NJ), so I was able to close the windows to block the music (if not the fireworks) and still was comfy. Such is life here ever summer (one reason we’re hoping to move sooner than later).

Now, happier stuff, theater. Well, after most of my life of pretty much never seeing anything except twice in high school — a R&J production and some sort of Edgar Allen Poe thing. . . I think it was a couple of his short stories on stage. I just remember the guy going nuts at the sound of the heart coming from the floor — but there must have been more to it than just that LOL. . .

Anyway, 2006 and 2007 actually saw me at three, count them, three live performances! 🙂 06 was a stage version of Pride and Prejudice (quite enjoyable, and seeing how they only had three and a half hours, incredibly true to the book), then last year in the summer, Phantom in NYC (total surprise that happened) and then a different version of Christmas Carol in December. Doesn’t look like anything’s up in 08 at this point, but we’ll see! 🙂


Charlene Sands
14 years ago


We saw Wicked and totally enjoyed it. I have to say the second half was really intriguing and it’s a romance after all! We got a surprise at the end, and that’s all I’ll say.

I’m spending the day with family today celebrating a birthday. Hope you enjoy your day blogging!

14 years ago

Just saw The Drowsy Chaperone, and it was, soooooo good!


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