Director has long history with ‘The Curious Savage’

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Nancy Lafferty and her association with “The Curious Savage” goes back many years.

As a high school junior in Uniontown, Ohio, she played the role of Mrs. Savage, a woman in her 60s, and she then played the role of Mrs. Savage in 2004 at the Belfry Theatre.

“I’ve directed the show at two different high schools in Florida and Georgia,” said Lafferty, a McCordsville resident. “This is the first time I’ve directed with adults.”

Lafferty will direct Main Street Productions’ “The Curious Savage,” which runs Sept. 29 through Oct. 9 at the Basile Westfield Playhouse.

“It’s a solid old chestnut,” Lafferty said. “It’s a sweet, sweet story and has one of the most beautiful endings. It is a beautiful theme that is timeless.”

Lafferty said legendary actress Lillian Gish, who got her start in silent films, played Mrs. Savage in the play’s Broadway debut in 1950.

Lafferty recommended to Carmel resident Tanya Haas that she audition for the role of Mrs. Savage. Haas was not familiar with the play previously.

“It’s about a wealthy widow whose stepchildren have her committed to his home (for the mentally ill) because she is basically giving away all their money to give people their dreams in memory of her husband,” Haas said. “They want the money for themselves, and she has hidden it somewhere and nobody knows where.”

Haas said the residents of the home are kind and embrace Mrs. Savage.

“Where her family members try to claim that she is insane,” Haas said.

Haas, who is playing a character approximately 10 years older, said this is the first time she has played a character who is older than herself.

“She has a very gentle personality, and I feel I also have a gentle personality, which is part of what Nancy saw in me to play the part,” Haas said.

Haas said the challenge is she has many more lines than anyone in the cast.

“Other than the first couple of scenes, I am on the stage for the rest of the play,” Haas said. “I have lines throughout all those scenes.”

Haas has dyed her hair to silvery blue.

“She is the oldest of the residents and she takes on a motherly role,” Haas said. “She loves them and appreciates them. She doesn’t want her freedoms taken away because she is trying to be a good person and help others.”

Lafferty said the role is demanding and would be hard for a woman in her late 60s or 70s to play.

“I saw this part in Tonya,” Lafferty said. “She had the right characteristics of Mrs. Savage – the tenderness, nurturing, a little bit of sarcasm. All the characteristics I was looking for, she had it.”

Lafferty, who moved to Indiana more than 20 years ago and taught in Indianapolis Public Schools, has been directing for 50 years.

“Which is funny because I’m only 52 years old,” she joked.

For more, visit westfieldplayhouse.org.

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