The Beauty, The Banshee, and Me Review - The Search for Roots

The award-winner for “Best Autobiographical Show” at the 2014 United Solo Theatre Festival in New York, THE BEAUTY, THE BANSHEE, AND ME makes its West Coast debut at the Whitefire Theatre. Adopted at three months of age by celebrated entertainers Peter Lind Hayes and Mary Healy, Cathy Lind Hayes spent decades tracking down the truth about her background. This poignant solo show underscores the trials and pitfalls of adoptees trying to trace their origins in a society which historically tried to shield the birth mother from being identified.

Cathy Lind Hayes - Photo by Alan Weissman

Despite a happy childhood and genuine love from and for her adoptive parents - both household names in the 1950’s and 1960’s with performances on film, television, theatre, and radio – Cathy felt the strong need to find out more about herself. As an adult, she discovered that adoption records were sealed and that New York state law only entitled her to “non-identifying information.” Changes in the law were on the horizon – but not yet in effect when Cathy first began to look for her roots. So close…and yet so far.

Mary Healy and Peter Lind Hayes - Photo courtesy of Cathy Lind Hayes

A painfully honest tale of a stubborn search which persisted even when it appeared to be hopeless, Cathy Lind Hayes continued her uphill battle. And, bit by bit, she seemed to come closer to the truth – only to have it pulled away at the last moment. Talented Cathy Lind Hayes easily traced her adoptive family heritage through three generations of theater performers. In fact, she was first seen on television when she was four years old and Edward R. Murrow interviewed the Hayes family. Despite her father’s words of wisdom - “Write your own material!” – Cathy didn’t want to be a performer who wrote her own material. She longed to act in live theater, television, and film. But all things eventually circle back, and Cathy is currently the writer and solo performer in THE BEAUTY, THE BANSHEE, AND ME. As easy as it was to trace her adoptive history, it proved extraordinarily difficult to trace her birth history.

Director Michael Allen Angel has done an excellent job of keeping Cathy sincere, honest, and sometimes very funny. Those practiced pregnant pauses add volumes to simple no-frills statements, much of which sound like lilting poetry (perhaps a tribute to Cathy’s Irish blood). Gary Lee Reed’s set is simple yet very effective, and lighting (Derrick McDaniel) and projection (Yee Eun Nam) help to expand Cathy’s horizons far beyond stage boundaries.

But above all, Cath Lind Hayes proves to be a very effective and moving actor who is able to make simple-on-the-surface become very profound indeed. She is clearly a consummate performer who holds the audience in the palm of her hand throughout the production.

THE BEAUTY, THE BANSHEE, AND ME runs through October 23, 2016, with performances at 8 p.m. on Thursdays and at 3 p.m. on Sundays. The Whitefire Theatre is located at 13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, CA 91423. Tickets are $25. For information and reservations, call 323-960-1055 or go online.

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