Monday, August 20, 2007

Catching Up with Caroline

Posted by Bruce Miller

In a previous blog entry (When Off Broadway Began, Barksdale Was There [Aug 5]), I wrote about the late, great Josie Abady, mentioning her as one of the Richmond connections to the legendary Off Broadway company, Circle in the Square. A thoughtful anonymous commenter subsequently wrote: “I am so sorry to learn of Josie Abady’s death. I knew her in her youth, and had no idea that she had died. What a wonderful and inspirational family. Such strong women. What’s happening with her sister Caroline, do you know? I appeared with her years ago in a Dogwood Dell production of Winnie the Pooh.”

I’m going to try to get in touch with Caroline, pictured above and to the left with co-stars Kevin Spacey and William Ullrich at the NYC premiere of Beyond the Sea, to see if she’ll write a blog entry to bring her Richmond fans up to date. I'm afraid I don't know or remember anything about this particular production of Winnie the Pooh, but if it's true, and I have no reason to doubt that it is, then here's a GREAT example of a Dell alum moving onward and upward to become a NYC and Hollywood success.

Until I'm able to contact Caroline (if I'm able), here’s what I know (sorta).

Caroline Abady was born and spent her entire youth in Richmond. If memory serves, she went to Douglas Freeman High School. I think I met her maybe once or twice; she's a couple of years younger than me, but we were teen theatre enthusiasts in Richmond at the same time. Kind of like Chase Kniffen and Gray Crenshaw about five years ago. As I've mentioned earlier, I knew her mother Nina very well.

Caroline has had the kind of long term career success that most actors only dream of. She may not be a household name, but she works constantly in high profile projects with our nation's top tier of theatre artists. Her professional name is Caroline Aaron. If you go to , you can access a complete list of her film and TV credits. Or if you go to , you can access a complete list of her Broadway credits.

The great news is that Caroline is scheduled to be back on Broadway this fall for the first time in 16 or so years, opening in October at Studio 54 in Roundabout’s upcoming revival of The Ritz, written by Terrance McNally and directed by Joe Mantello (pictured to the right). You gotta be impressed by the company she keeps.

Here’s more information that I pulled from Caroline’s bio on the IMDb site:

Caroline Aaron “performed a one-woman, two-character play, Call Waiting, in 1994 and again in 2001. She later filmed it in 2004. The 87-minute film won the Best Comedy Jury Prize at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.”
Ms. Aaron is an “earthy, plump-figured stage actress of Broadway (Come Back to the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean; Social Security; I Hate Hamlet) who appeared as a character actress on film and TV. She was a main ensemble player in several of Woody Allen's films during the late 80s and 90s, essaying many of his typical Jewish relatives, neighbors and/or friends in traditional New York settings.

Her late mother, Nina Friedman Abady, was a Selma, Alabama civil rights activist who walked with Martin Luther King in the 60s. She had to endure cross-burnings on her Virginia front lawn. More tragically, the family suffered the loss of their husband and father when he was 38.

Her older sister was Josephine R. Abady, a prominent artistic director of the Cleveland Playhouse (1988-1994) and Circle in the Square Theater (1994-1996). A noted stage producer, director and theater owner, Abady resisted employing her younger sister because they were related. This caused resentment and sibling friction for a period of time until Abady was diagnosed with breast cancer. Abady battled the disease for several years and died on May 25, 2002, at age 52. The Los Angeles-based Caroline returned to New York frequently to aid in her sister's illness.

Aaron did appear under her sister's stage direction in The Boys Next Door, co-starring David Strathairn and John Amos. Abady also cast Aaron in To Catch a Tiger, a 1994 AFI film which told the story of their mother's civil rights work. Caroline played their mother in the film and Abady's husband, Michael Krawitz, wrote the screenplay.”

For those who share my penchant for exploring connections, it's fun to note that not too long ago Caroline starred at George Street Playhouse in a reading of Spine, one of the new plays by Bill C. Davis (pictured to the right), playwright of Austin's Bridge.

I hope this helps inform Caroline’s childhood friends of her current success. As I mentioned, I’ll try to contact Caroline and see if she’ll give us more information. Along with Emily Skinner and Blair Underwood, she’s one of the Richmond theatre alum who has earned a lifetime of national success.

Thanks to our anonymous commenter for prompting this post.

--Bruce Miller


Anonymous said...

Nina Abady was always so proud of her two girls. Nina was also a truly GREAT Richmonder. I hope her girls knew how much their mother meant to this city, and how much they meant to her.

Anonymous said...

Barksdale should invite Ms. Aaron to come to Richmond to show the film that she and her sister made about her mother, Nina Abady. I don't know that anyone in town has ever seen this film. And Richmond loved Nina. And vice versa I think too.