The Critics Are Coming! The Critics Are Coming!

It’s not opening night but it feels like it. Flowers fill my dressing room. So nice. Critics are coming. So what. We are so ready we’re about to burst like ripe fruit.

Last night, Regina Scully came to the show with four friends. When they came back after, I looked at one of the women and said, “Don’t I know you?” “No,” she replied, “We’ve never met.” Then Regina said that the sister of two of the women had died of ALS and I immediately knew why I knew the woman—Valerie Estess. “You were in that video about your sister, as she died, “Three Sisters Searching for a Cure”! You were the one who did all the talking! Of course I know you!” How could I forget? I’ve watched the video so many times, studying her sister. I wept when I realized who was in the room with me and how much this disease has changed their lives. I was happy when both sisters (Valerie and Meredith) told me I had the disease nailed in the show.

They have continued the research project they started while their sister was still alive—Project A.L.S. ( We discussed doing a benefit for their organization in the Spring. All money goes into research. They’ve created a stem cell lab at Columbia where they’re researching stem cells and motor neurons—what destroys them and what can heal them.

With them was their board co-chair, Martha McCully, who writes “My Reinvention Tour” on the Huffington Post. We hung out for quite awhile after the show talking about their sister and what they are doing now.

Today I had an interesting, far-reaching interview with theatre critic Wendell Brock, from the Atlanta Journal Constitution (my home town paper). He happens to be a friend of Scott Peacock’s and had somewhat the same (spiritual) reaction to the play. He brought me a box of Girl Scout cookies from Atlanta.

We had a brief rehearsal during the time I usually nap, so—gulp—I hope my energy doesn’t flag. I doubt that it will. Even though I’m not nervous, knowing the critics are out there does give an added adrenalin boost.

Wouldn’t you know it, on such an important night, a personal crisis arose and I could feel my stress hormones rising in my body till I shook. But I meditated for a few minutes before rehearsal and have calmed down enough to feel it won’t affect the performance. I try to look on something like this as a test. Can I rise above and maintain when it matters. I’ll let you know tomorrow.

See you next time. (unless something really unusual happens. And if it does, maybe I’ll just Twitter)

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  1. I know tonight will be great! Am really enjoying the blog! It is so nice to hear you speak so lovingly of Atlanta. It is a great place to live, isn’t it?

  2. it’s nice to read your tweets

  3. Good luck. I’m sure you’ll be great tonight.

  4. Hello Jane,
    I am sure you will rise to the occasion! I just started reading your Blogs and am enjoying them immensely! thanks you for sharing. I hope your performance tonight was spectacular. Best Wishes! Chuck

  5. Break a leg tonight! I’m rooting for yah, Ms. Fonda! I’m sure the critics will see you and be stunned. Keep these posts coming, I enjoy them.

    Thank you for being you,
    R. J. Spindle

  6. Your blogs always seem to educate me more and more. And, make me smile. Thanks for that!

  7. You will always be superb.

  8. just found this via the NY Times… grew up with your various films, etc, and just smile at your continued enthusiasm…

    have a lovely evening…

  9. I remmber you were testing the waters down in Long Beach Ca for this play , you had good review than. The opening night is the 9th , right and you into previews now don’t over due the cookies Jane. I can feel the warmth for you from her, you going to be great.

  10. Go Jane- knock ’em out!

  11. ms fonda….we my friends, danny, maricarmen and i saw the play tonight and we were mesmerized by the performanes and play itself. you were magnificent and looked radiantly beautiful.
    we went expecting to see a great actress and we came away seeing a great actress at work.
    thank you giving us a great theatre experience.
    james morales

  12. I saw it again tonight. Hadn’t been since the dress rehearsal. The show is PERFECT. It is a breathtaking work of theatre. The acting is stunning. No one would have known you had had anything go wrong with your day, that’s for sure.
    Congratulations and thank you for the gift of your performance in this breathtaking play. A play that reminds us that each breath has a million variations, and each moment in our lives a million possibilites.

  13. I saw the show tonight and loved it. I waited by the stage door and was lucky enough to get your signature on my program. I was the woman who told you that I had seen your father in Clarence Darrow on Broadway and that it was thrilling to see you tonight. I also have a small white dog – a maltese – and she won’t step on the grates on the street either! Tulea is adorable…and so were you. My husband and I were most impressed by how gracious you were to those of us standing there. I’ve been a fan since your earliest years and was one of those women who tried working out to your video. Back then I felt that I knew you from watching that video as many times as I did – although I rarely had the stamina to do the whole workout.
    I want to congratulate you on returning to Broadway. I’m sure that doing a show eight times a week is more exhausting than doing a film, but the theatre needs actresses like you in interesting lead roles.
    So, bravo! Your father would have been so proud!

  14. My partner’s dad had ALS…didn’t know that was part of the play and am glad people will learn.

    Wonderful to hear you are moving onward and upward – you’ll be brilliant, and so will the rest of the troupe!

  15. Dear Jane,
    I can only imagine how fabulous you are in the play as I am watching “Monster-in-Law” and blown away by your acting and well – you!!! Just loving you in this movie! sending you love & prayers. Thanks for all you do!!

  16. I remember seeing that movie too! Wonderful that you all met after the show. ALS is a devastating disease. I’ve seen it up close in our hospital.
    Break a leg, Jane!

  17. Hello, Ms. Fonda! I’m a little new to your blog and enjoy it immensely! I’m in Marietta (Savannah native), so I love that us Georgians have that in common with you and thank you for all the great work you do here. At age 10 (I’m 29 now) I was partially paralyzed due to transverse myelitis, an inflammation of the spinal cord, and did rehabilitation at Shepherd Center. I think it’s wonderful that you are not only doing such an important play but that you are considering taking it further into research to help those directly affected. I have no doubt the play will be a hit!

    All the best from a big fan,

  18. Jane, I completely forgot to mention this in my last comment, but your performance was dead on with the ALS. My uncle died of it about 12 years ago and I remember his immobility, impaired speech, and how my aunt became his full-time nurse because he couldn’t take care of himself. So kudos to you for a very accurate portrayal.

    I hope that whatever the personal crisis is/was gets averted.

    My thoughts are with you.


  19. Hi, Jane ~ I trust you did great last night despite the missed nap and the passing jitters.

    I love your new blog and ~ as so many other commenters here ~ hope you’ll continue it beyond the current show (which I am eager to see).

    I’m just about your age and have tracked your career since the Barbarella days. It is a delight to feel that “impersonally personal” connection electronically upgraded.

    Warmly, gordon

  20. Thank you so much for giving us such an honest look inside this process. I work in the entertainment business but am on the other side and am learning so much which will help me do my job better and with more understanding. Please keep writing! I have always been a huge fan. Julie

  21. Amazing encounter. Valerie Estes wrote Tales From The Bed. I bought a couple of years ago. If anyone is interested…it’s a fantastic memoir.

    Love your blog Jane.

  22. That’s the word I’ve been searching for “Spiritual” I had a spiritual connection with 33 Variations when I saw it on February 12th. I think about the production everyday and am trying to get back to New York to see it again. The actors, staging, music, story have left an impression on me and in my heart that will last a life time. Its’ the same feeling I had when I saw The Laramie Project many years ago.
    Jane you look marvelous!

  23. Hello Ms. Fonda,

    Saturday night Feb. 21st I saw the show with my sister who was in town visiting, and we both think you are splendid in the play and are wishing you the very best.

    I have just been reading your blog entries for the first time. Amazed to read you were not feeling well that weekend. And I am grateful that you went on just as I would expect from a pro like you.

    It was interesting to read elsewhere on your site about your father having done all those consecutive performances of “Mr. Roberts.” How awful it is nowadays that stars so frequently do not appear.

    The critics are gonna love ya. In poker parlance, I think you’re the nuts!


  24. The problem with following a blog like this is that I find I become involved with what the person is experiencing so then begin to look forward to a good outcome and become a little anxious when news is not forthcoming–I feel somewhat embarrassed by this as it seems too much “involvement” in someone’s life who I really don’t know…maybe I’ll just reframe my thinking to reflect my hope that someone who sounds so genuine and committed to her craft, and who, from what I read here, is delivering an important message about the character she plays who suffers from ALS, will succeed on all fronts with this work, including a good reception from the critics….(who are, afterall, only another “test” in learning that what is true and meaningful is within each of us, independent from the opinions of others….)

  25. Hi Jane,

    Just read this post at another forum:

    “I saw it again this week, b/c a friend was in town who is in love with Jane Fonda. I had seen it early in previews, and liked it then … but wow – I have never seen a play change so much in the preview process. It’s much much better now, and I think a good 15 minutes shorter, which never hurts anything. Also, Fonda, who I liked before, is amazing now. She seems much more comfortable with being on stage. It was kind of fascinating to see.”

    I also saw it early in previews and loved it – but do I need to come back??

  26. Of course you can rise above whatever is thrown at you!

    Haven’t you always? Isn’t that why you’re still here? Isn’t that why I eagerly drive home from work each day just to read your thoughts on a screen?

    Still, I suppose even legends have their off-days. 🙂

    You know, Jane, I’m currently reading a book called Auditioning, by Joanna Merlin. In it, she cites the key elements for making an impact at an audition…

    The most basic and important tool for an actor. You must create and maintain your own personal auditioning space, from which you exclude all else that is happening in the room, apart from you and the reader.

    Feeling of Truth
    You project authenticity; everything your character says and does is believable, within the style of the play.

    The audition “happens”; you are in touch with your impulses and feelings, and you play the scene from moment to moment.

    You are not acting “in general” or playing a “mood”. You have made acting choices that are particular to the scene and the character.

    What you do should never be static, passive, or casual. It should manifest creative energy, either inner, outer, or both.

    You know where it is and how to play it.

    You don’t give a safe, neutral audition. You commit to your acting choices, without inhibition, and are willing to take risks.

    You have the technique and taste needed to deliver all of the above.


    I would say that those elements encompass acting generally, and not only auditions, wouldn’t you, Jane?

    And I have adored you and your films (and exercise videos and DVDs) from afar for 30 years, and I have never known you err from those principles.

    So the critics are coming. Let them come! I envy them. I know that, as usual, you will not put a foot wrong, Jane… and that once again you shall delight and inspire.

  27. hello Jane Fonda…………wow………it feels strange to write your name like that………

    i’ve been reading your blog since i saw you that day on The View…………gearing up to actually add my own voice…… composing in my head & realizing it would be smart to check IMDB as opposed to stating something incorrectly that could have easily been researched.

    imo you have a nice group here. they said en masse exactly what i heard in my head.

    i’m another lifelong fan. i was 14 when i first saw “Cat Ballou” with my mother and, likely, my younger brother.
    i still like watching that today.

    i like the commentary they put on the DVD.

    i taught English in high school in New York City for 23 years. i retired 6 years ago due to compromised health. i am enjoying the freedom of retirement………………………
    Once i figured out that i was doing 5 performances a day to a captive audience: then i understood how to do the job:
    be funny
    know a little bit about basketball, rap music,…..their interests

    the DVD is one of the best teaching tools of the modern age. i couldn’t really justify showing my classes all of “Cat Ballou,” but i had spent a bunch of time that year on the ballad. Their definition of ballad was so different from what i had learned in ethnomusicology classes in college.

    the song that functions as the Greek chorus in the film is a ballad. And Nat King Cole is someone they sort of knew because of Natalie.

    i am something of a technological moron, and i had no trouble showing each class just the song that ties the movie together.

    i wish my hair could look like yours in Klute.

    i am coming to see the play.

    i’ll buy tickets this weekend, probably for a weekend matinee.

    this little note is not really finished,,,,,,,,,,
    but i’m gonna click submit before i can chicken out…………krannie

  28. Because you are one of my favorite actresses, I always enjoy your work. The movie that moves me most is “The Dollmaker” because you portrayed such a genuine and down-to-earth character with a hopeful and spiritual outlook. Another favorite movie is “On Golden Pond” in which you acted with your wonderful father. Of course I have to tell you that my teenage daughter and I have laughed to tears over your movie “9 to 5!” Thanks very much for your dedication to entertaining others. Through laughter and tears, we’ve so enjoyed your talent!

  29. hey, Barbarella, been to Hanoi lately?

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