Thursday, April 7, 2011

A Message from Jo Lynne Palmer: Remember me in Light

Posted By on Thu, Apr 7, 2011 at 11:00 AM

Jo Lynne Palmer
  • Jo Lynne Palmer
I received a sweet note from Jo Lynne Palmer yesterday letting me know that she was at home and on the road to recovery. For those who may not know, Palmer opened The Fantasticks on Friday night at Germantown Community Theatre in the role of Henry "the old actor," a part she's wanted to play for 30 years. On Saturday morning she suffered a mild stroke.

"I did get to do opening night though," says Palmer who continues to suffer numbness and paralysis on her left side. "As old actor says 'remember me in light.'"

Hopefully, we'll all have more opportunities to see Jo Lynne in light before we have to start remembering

Jo Lynne Palmer and a giant talking lizard in Edward Albees Seascape
  • Jo Lynne Palmer and a giant talking lizard in Edward Albee's Seascape
her there, but in any case, it's no difficult request. The formidable actor first caught my eye playing various characters in Rhodes' landmark 1985 production of Nicholas Nickelby. I quickly came to appreciate her straightforward style, and her bawdy sense of humor over beers at the P&H Cafe. Her husband Jim's no slouch on stage either, and his hand-drawn Christmas cards featuring "Little E," a tiny Elvis-inspired character adrift in a Walt Kelly world, are an eagerly-awaited holiday treat at the Davis house.

I count myself fortunate to have worked with Jo Lynne on classics like Oliver Goldsmith's She Stoops to Conquer, and modern masterpieces like Sam Shepard's A Lie of the Mind. But the greatest pleasure has been watching from the audience as this painfully honest actor transforms herself from show to show. Her work in Beauty Queen of Leenane stands out as a favorite leading role but Jo Lynne is the kind of performer who can be cast in a small character part and turn a not very good play into a must-see. What she did with an urn full of human remains and a bowl of gazpacho in the otherwise mediocre Humble Boy won't soon be forgotten.

Here's hoping for a speedy recovery, and many more memories.

UPDATE: I just received this note from GCT's Brent Davis about the creation of a relief fund for members of the Memphis theater community, with Jo Lynne being its first beneficiary. Here's what it said:

The Memphis Theater Community is uniting in the creation of a special fund for theatre volunteers in similar situations to Jo Lynne Palmer. Debbie Litch and Theatre Memphis have set up a community fund to aid and assist volunteers and staff of the Memphis theater community who are in medical or specific social financial distress or need. The account is called the Emergency Needs for the Theater Artists Community FUND. The process to receive funds will be monitored and applied by a committee appointed by Theatre Memphis and will be open to the entire Memphis theater community as defined by the committee. Each award of cash will be reviewed on an individual basis with the priority going to medical needs and assistance. To donate to the fund, cash, checks or credit cards are accepted to Theatre Memphis, 630 Perkins Ext, Memphis, TN, 38117, with a designation for the "Palmer Account." To contribute, call 901.682.8601 or look for a link at to pay through Paypal.

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