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Actress Sally Struthers will return to Riverside Center Dinner Theater's stage for 'The Fully Monty' in March.
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BY EMILY MONTGOMERY
Keep your eyes peeled this spring while strolling downtown: Sally Struthers will soon return to Fredericksburg, this time to perform in "The Full Monty."
Struthers, who is probably best-known for her role as Gloria in the 1970s sitcom "All in the Family," is coming back to the area after the wild success of her 2011 performance in "Hello, Dolly!" at the Riverside Center Dinner Theater.
"I'm thrilled to be coming back," said Struthers, who lives on the West Coast.
She said she had the "time of her life" last time she was here, due to the beautiful area and the kind people, and she could not wait to return.
Patrick A'Hearn, associate artistic director at Riverside, originally reached out to Struthers for her role in "Hello, Dolly!' after seeing her perform in the same musical in Maine. He said that after having such success with her last time, Riverside wanted her back.
Struthers added that since "Hello, Dolly!" she has become close friends with A'Hearn and the couple she stayed with while working here, and they have all visited each other since her first time in Fredericksburg.
"The Full Monty" is a musical adapted from a 1997 British film about a group of men who, after falling on hard times and seeing their wives' enthusiasm for a recent Chippendales show, decide to make money by performing a strip act in a local club.
Struthers will be playing Jeannette Burmeister, a character who provides the piano accompaniment for the men's performance.
"Jeannette's delicious to play," Struthers said, explaining that the role allows her to say and do things she normally wouldn't.
A'Hearn added that the character is perfect for her because she is all about physical comedy and improvisation, which this role allows.
"I think people will eat it up," A'Hearn said.
The lead role of Gaz will be played by Jeremiah Zinger, a New York-based actor who has performed with Struthers in "The Full Monty" previously. He said that he is excited to come to Virginia and continue performing with her.
"Working with Sally is always fun," he said. "You never know what's going to happen."
He added that "The Full Monty" is not just about stripping, but a story following normal guys and their day-to-day lives--something that the audience really connects with during the show.
"Everyone is on their feet, cheering," he said.
A'Hearn said that having Struthers perform at Riverside in 2011 gave the theater a sense of prestige, drawing audience members from Washington, D.C., the Carolinas and even New York.
"It put us on the map," he added.
A'Hearn said that their relationship also helped him make beneficial connections with many other people in theater. Though she is best-known for her TV performances, Struthers has been doing theater for more than 20 years. She has acted in many other productions including "The Odd Couple," "Annie" and "Legally Blonde."
Emily Montgomery: 540/374-5417
"The Full Monty," featuring Sally Struthers, will be staged at Riverside Center Dinner Theater in Stafford from March 15 to April 28.
The theater's production of "Ain't Misbehavin'," which features the music of Fats Waller, opens tonight and runs through March 10.
For information about tickets and show times, visit riversidedt.com or call 540/370-4300.