Calista Flockhart Joins L.A. Theater Works for 'The Other Place'

Shandon Youngclaus

The "Ally McBeal" and "Brothers and Sisters" alum will star in a new production of Sharr White's 2011 play, and audiences will be invited to attend live readings at the James Bridges Theater at UCLA.

No one ever tells Calista Flockhart she has a face for radio, but that's exactly where she'll be this weekend when she joins L.A. Theater Works in a new production of Sharr White's acclaimed 2011 play, The Other Place. Known for their collection of over 400 classic plays featuring an array of famous actors, L.A. Theater Works productions are heard in over 80 markets in the U.S., including KPFK here in Los Angeles.

But just because they're on the radio doesn't mean you can't see them. Audiences are invited to attend live readings of The Other Place, starring Flockhart and Gregory Harrison, and directed by Rosalind Ayres, at the James Bridges Theatre at UCLA for five performances. The best moments will be culled from each to make a single recording suitable for broadcast.

"You're recording it and you have to focus on doing it for the microphones and yet you're doing it in front of a live audience," Flockhart tells The Hollywood Reporter about the unusual mix of theater and radio. "I'm used to looking at the actor that I'm acting with. But you can't do that; you have to look out even though you're talking to the person you're standing next to."

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Best known for Ally McBeal and more recently as Kitty McCallister on ABC's Brothers and Sisters, Flockhart began her career in theater with a Broadway run of The Glass Menagerie in 1994, Three Sisters in 1997 and revived 'Menagerie' for L.A. Theater Works in 2011, adding Romeo and Juliet a year later.

The Other Place opened off-Broadway at the Lucille Lortel Theatre in March 2011. A bravura performance by Laurie Metcalf helped move the play uptown for a short though critically acclaimed Broadway run in 2013.

Flockhart plays Juliana Smithton, a scientist working for a pharmaceutical company. While her marriage to her oncologist husband is falling apart, she starts getting phone calls from her estranged daughter. Following a bizarre episode at a business convention, she becomes convinced she has brain cancer and turns to her philandering husband, who refers her to a series of specialists, some of them female acquaintances of his. Eventually her medical condition raises the possibility she is an unreliable narrator.

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"She is a character who is incredibly active. She's not sitting around and feeling sorry for herself," says Flockhart. "She's charming, she's strong, she has a real sense of humor, she's sardonic. And in the next minute, in a different situation, she's vulnerable and desperate and pleading. And in the next minute, she's sweet and coquettish with her husband and then she's like a lion with her husband and mean and cruel. It's just one of those characters you can't wait to sink your teeth into."

Which is exactly what Metcalf did last year over 34 previews and 61 performances, earning her a Tony nomination. She won an Obie for the off-Broadway run and the play was nominated for two Outer Critics Circle Awards.

"I did not get to see the play, but I can only imagine how great she was," says Flockhart about Metcalf. "You have to hook into something to make it truthful for yourself. Because what's truthful for me is not the same as it was for Laurie Metcalf."

What's truthful for Flockhart these days is staying home and taking care of her 13-year-old son, though she says she misses her busy work schedule. She seldom goes out with husband Harrison Ford, but he'll definitely come to her show.

"He'll probably come more than once," she guesses. "I make him come early and tell me what he thinks and then he comes back."

The Other Place runs for five performances March 13-16. Curtain goes up at 8 p.m. with a 3 p.m. matinee on Saturday.