Alzheimer’s Blues. Sounds almost like a song title, doesn’t it? Well, guess what…. not only is it the title of a song, but also of a one-woman show conceived by and starring Erica Herd.
The stage show, co-written by Herd and L.E. Swenson, premiered at the Stage Left Studio in NYC this past summer under the title The Year of Dead Cats. Several rewrites and additional music prompted the new title, which carries with it a touch of both humor and irony.
From Acting to Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s Blues centers on the story of Herd’s mother, Katherine Lind, who was a sought after New York actress in the 1950s, ‘60s, and ‘70s. Lind had it all – talent, beauty, and rave reviews for her off-Broadway work which included The Diary of Anne Frank, The Seven Year Itch, and I Am A Camera. She was also a touring member of the national and regional casts of shows such as A Little Night Music, Hamlet, The Glass Menagerie, King of Hearts, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
And then came schizophrenia, followed by Alzheimer’s in 2010… Yes, Alzheimer’s – that damn dreaded disease that doesn’t care about your background, status, or calling. Stunning New York actress or small town janitor – dementia and Alzheimer’s level the playing field like few other things in life.
Laughter is the Best Medicine
The show addresses many of the challenges Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers face on a daily basis. In a May 2013 interview for nytheater.com, Herd explained that she chose humor as a path toward healing.
“I take a comedic spin on it, try to find a way to heal the pain with laughter. It started as a blog on Open Salon while I was in the throes of dealing with mom’s illness in 2011. And with the help of my director and co-author, we transformed it into a play,” says the actor/playwright.
In the video below, she performs the title song, Alzheimer’s Blues. As I listened to the lyrics – the poignant story of a daughter and her mother – paired with music by blues legend T-Bone Walker, I wasn’t sure whether I should laugh or cry…
Stay tuned for more about Erica and this fascinating one-woman show. Do you have a specific question for her? If so, post a comment below and I’ll incorporate your inquiry into our upcoming Q&A.
For tickets, click here.
– Photos courtesy of Alzheimer’s Blues / Erica Herd