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Actress role? Friend of notorious Mrs. Robinson

May 25, 2018 GMT

League City resident Shawna Glad is used to playing major roles on stage; so appearing in a small part in a Houston production of “The Graduate” posed a challenge.

“It’s hard when you have a small role, 20 lines, to establish a character,” she said, referring to her part as Mom, who is Benjamin Braddock’s neurotic mother in the comedy that playwright Terry Johnson based on a 1963 novella by Charles Webb as well as Calder Willingham and Buck Henry’s screenplay for the classic 1967 movie.

The production by Dirt Dogs Theatre Co. runs May 23 through June 8 at the Midtown Arts & Theater Center, 3400 Main St.

“The Graduate” is set in 1964, as Benjamin returns home from college and is cornered by the original “cougar,” Mrs. Robinson, the alcoholic, best friend of Glad’s character.

“Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me. Aren’t you?” asks Benjamin.

He is played by Brian Chambers, who starred in Aaron Sorkin’s military courtroom drama “A Few Good Men” last year at Purple Box Theatre in Friendswood.

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Mrs. Robinson is played by Malinda L. Beckham-Cone.

Glad, who sports a blond wig in the show, said the 1960s costumes she wears helped her create the character she plays, beginning with a powder-blue suit in the opening party scene.

“It’s almost Jackie O,” said Glad. “It’s so cool. I can’t wait to wear it. There are a couple more. One is that burnt-orange color. One is very, very form-fitting. It’s interesting because the zipper in the back is off-center.”

All of her clothes as Mom are more comfortable than the nun’s habit that Glad wore in Pasadena Little Theatre’s recent production of “Doubt, a Parable,” by John Patrick Shanley.

Glad played the leading role of stern Sister Aloysius, a Bronx school principal who suspects a young priest of improper relations with a young, male student. Auditions were Jan. 7, and the play ran Feb. 23 through March 4. In contrast, Dirt Dogs held auditions last summer to cast its entire 2017-18 season of shows; so Glad has waited almost a year to portray Mom in “The Graduate.”

“It’s been on my calendar for a while,” she said.

The busy actress is in her fifth year as a theater arts teacher at St. Clare of Assisi Catholic School in the Clear Lake area. Her middle-school students recently performed “Shrek the Musical” as their spring show.

Glad grew up in western Pennsylvania, where she graduated in 1979 from Charleroi Area High School. She received a health-related degree in 1983 from the University of Pittsburgh.

She is married to Rick Glad, an engineer. They have three children.

Some of Shawna Glad’s favorite roles include the title role in A.R. Gurney’s 1995 off-Broadway comedy “Sylvia,” Lizzie in N. Richard Nash’s “The Rainmaker” and Annie in “Misery,” a stage adaptation of Stephen King’s 1987 psychological thriller.

“Playing crazy is always fun,” Glad said.

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At College of the Mainland Community Theatre in Texas City, Glad has portrayed M’Lynn in Robert Harling’s “Steel Magnolias” and Mrs. Tottendale in the musical “The Drowsy Chaperone.”

In Galveston, at Island ETC (East-End Theatre Company), Glad has performed major roles in “The Dixie Swim Club,” “The Winter Wonderettes,” “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,” “Sordid Lives” and “Barefoot in the Park.”

The box office number for “The Graduate” is 713-521-4533, or visit http://matchouston.org/events/2018/graduate. Single tickets are $22.

Matinees and “Industry Monday” performances are “pay what you can.”

“Talk back” programs with the director and cast will be held after the May 31 and June 7 performances.

For further information, visit www.dirtdogstheatre.org.

Don Maines is a freelance writer who can be reached at donmaines@att.net