Ann Landers Portrayed by Judith Ivey in One-Woman Show

By: Dave Astor

Judith Ivey is starring as Ann Landers in a one-woman show at a Chicago-area theater.

Landers (1918-2002) was the iconic advice columnist whose Chicago Tribune feature appeared in about 1,200 newspapers via Creators Syndicate.

“The Lady With All the Answers” — which runs until June 27 at the Northlight Theatre in Skokie, Ill. — is set in 1975. It looks at Landers’ career, her most memorable columns, her family life, her painful divorce, and more.

David Rambo’s play received a positive review today in the Chicago Sun-Times, where Landers worked before moving to the Tribune.

“From the moment actress Judith Ivey walks onstage … it is clear she has nailed her character,” wrote Sun-Times theater critic Hedy Weiss. “Full of energy and purposeful confidence in a cherry-red knit pants suit — with a glossy auburn bouffant, and oversized glasses that send you straight back to the 1970s — she is the very picture of the self-made woman now comfortably ensconced in a carefully manicured Lake Shore Drive apartment.

“And once Ivey opens her mouth — revealing Lederer’s slightly nasal, gently caustic voice, and even the subtly perceptible trace of a lisp — she seals the deal.”

Weiss continued: “To be sure, Rambo (a staff writer on ‘CSI: Crime Scene Investigation’) doesn’t break any new dramatic ground here. From ‘Tru’ to ‘Golda’s Balcony’ the mold for such bio-dramas has been solidly set: A moment of crisis becomes the catalyst for a long, revealing look back at a full and often difficult life, with the personal story capturing bits of the history and tenor of the times.”

Creators still distributes reruns of Landers’ column — as well as the “Annie’s Mailbox” advice feature by former Landers assistants Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, and the “Dear Margo” column by Landers’ daughter Margo Howard.

And Jeanne Phillips — the daughter of Landers’ twin sister, “Dear Abby” creator Abigail Van Buren — continues to write “Dear Abby” for Universal Press Syndicate.

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