If you go
When: 8 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Philharmonic Center for the Arts, 5833 Pelican Bay Blvd.
Information 597-1900, www.thephil.org
Despite her advancing age, Shirley MacLaine doesn’t see putting on a career retrospective as a way to deal with impending mortality.
In fact, if you bring it up, the 76-year-old actress will get at least mock offended.
“What exactly are you trying to say?” she asked in a recent phone interview.
Realizing I’d broken the cardinal rule of insinuating senior status with a woman, I quickly tried to backpedal.
“Um, I mean, um, well you are taking a look back at your career,” I stammered. “Doesn’t that get you thinking about how far you’ve come and where you are heading?”
“You mean death,” she said. “No.”
Luckily MacLaine is a good sport. And she does see the irony of talking about a six-decade long career without admitting the best years might have past. Perhaps it’s her metaphysical studies, with their big picture thinking, that makes her life seem like it’s just beginning.
Or perhaps it’s how good she feels on stage telling stories. MacLaine is bringing her one-woman show to the Philharmonic Center for the Arts at 9 p.m. Wednesday.
Doing this stage show, which merges monologue and questions from the crowd with clips from MacLaine’s various films, has invigorated the actress.
“There really is nothing quite like being on stage,” she said. “It’s live life.”
It’s a show she’s been doing on and off for the past decade or so. And like life, it’s evolved over time. When things started out, people mostly wanted to know about what it was like to run around with the Rat Pack and about the love life of her famous brother, Warren Beatty.
Now the questions tend to move toward her metaphysical transformation. Reincarnation and aliens are just as likely to garner serious discussion as what it is like to kiss Jack Nicholson.
“I think people are just interested in that side of my life,” she said.
But they are still going to want to hear about how she turned down starring parts in “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” and “Breakfast at Tiffanys.” Say what?
“They offered me the part, but I decided to make a terrible movie no one has ever heard of,” she said. “It’s for the best Audrey really makes that movie. It wouldn’t be a classic without her in it.”
The movie, by the way, she made instead? “Two Loves.”
“Told you that you hadn’t heard of it,” she said, then laughed.
You can afford to make mistakes when your resume rattles off films such as “The Apartment,” “Being There” and “Tearms of Endearment.”
And having regrets doesn’t really fit MacLaine’s inquisitive spirit. The girl who used to just get on planes and fly somewhere new for the weekend, was too busy having new experiences to worry about what just happened. And now she’s pondering what it all means.
“I get to learn about the human race,” she said. “And I’m always overwhelmed with the unbelievable feeling of the depth of what it means.”