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As part of their 2017 Summer Season, The Coachella Valley Repertory Theatre (CVRep) has announced it will present Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking, starring film, stage and television actress, Linda Purl and directed by Jenny Sullivan. The solo-performance play will run at The CVRep Theatre located in Rancho Mirage from August 11-13, 2017 (see details below).

Based on Joan Didion’s National Book Award-winning memoir and starring theatre, film and television actress, Linda Purl, The Year of Magical Thinking, tells the remarkable story of survival and triumph, the death of others, as well as the death of cycles and seasons in our lives. Like the book, The Year of Magical Thinking revolves around Didion’s struggle to cope with her grief over the loss of her husband, while Joan Didion’s only daughter was battling a fatal illness. During the unbearable wait for her daughter’s recovery, her husband, writer John Gregory Dunne, died suddenly of a heart attack at the dinner table.

“While the play, like the book, relays Didion’s agonizing grief, it is also shot through with wry humor and ends upliftingly,”says star, Linda Purl.  “It’s about the experience of metabolizing grief.  Ms. Didion bears witness to that, with astonishing courage.”

Throughout the play, Linda Purl is alone onstage as Joan, detailing the author and playwright’s memories.“Purl reminds us anew of just how nuanced and singular an actress she is on stage…unbearably poignant. Purl’s razor-edged turn ultimately makes The Year of Magical Thinking an unforgettable experience…subtle variants of phrase and intent are tailor-made for a virtuoso performer of significant inner resources. And in the transcendent hands of Purl, that’s exactly what it receives.” —David C. Nichols, Los Angeles Times.

Linda Purl was most recently featured in Designated Survivor, Reckless, True Blood, The Office, and the Golden Globe Award winning series Homeland. She has starred in over 45 made-for-TV movies and is especially known for her series roles as Charlene Matlock on Matlock and Ashley Pfister, Fonzie’s fiancée, on Happy Days. She appeared on Broadway in the Tony nominated The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Getting and Spending.

Published October 2005, The Year of Magical Thinking was immediately acclaimed as a classic book about mourning. It won the 2005 National Book Award for Nonfiction and was a finalist for both the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Biography/Autobiography. The play, adapted from Didion’s book, opened on Broadway 2007.

Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking will be presented on Friday, August 11, and Saturday August 12 at 7 PM and on Sunday, August 13 at 2 PM at The Coachella Valley Repertory Theatre located in the Atrium 69-930 Highway 111 in Rancho Mirage.  Tickets are $30. To order tickets or for more information, please call 760-296-2966 or click here to purchase tickets online at



Director Jenny Sullivan, left, and Linda Purl
Director Jenny Sullivan, left, and Linda Purl












Recent television series roles: Designated Survivor,Reckless,True Blood, (Barbara Pelt); The Office (Helene Beasley); Homeland  (Elizabeth Gaines). She has starred in over 45 made-for-TV movies, and is especially known for Charlene Matlock,  Matlock and Ashley Pfister, Fonzie’s fiancée, Happy Days.

Broadway: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; Getting and Spending. Off-Broadway: The Baby Dance; Hallelujah, Hallelujah!  Regional: Romeo and Juliet, Oliver, Grease,  Same Time Next YearOn a Clear Day,Three Penny Opera,  Hedda Gabler, The Real Thing, The Little Foxes, The Merchant of Venice, A Streetcar Named DesireHippolytus, Camille, The King and I, The Miracle Worker, Little Murders, A Glass Menagerie, All the Way Home, Nora, Dinner with Friends (original production)Beyond Therapy, The Road to Mecca with Miss Julie Harris, A Doll’s House, The Year of Magical Thinking, CopenhagenLove, Loss and What I Wore …at such theatres as Long Wharf, Actors Theatre of Louisville, The Old Globe, Mark Taper Forum, South Coast Repertory, Santa Fe Opera, Cleveland Playhouse, Berkshire Theatre Festival, Laguna Playhouse, The Lensic Santa Fe, Berkeley Rep, Williamstown Theatre Festival (six seasons); Theatre Princesse Grace, Monaco; Imperial Theatre, Japan. Partial film: Mighty Joe Young, The Walking Major; Leo and Loree; Sundays.  Born in Connecticut, Purl grew up in Japan, becoming the only foreigner to have trained at the Toho Geino Academy. Her studies continued at Neighborhood Playhouse and Lee Strasberg Institute. She was Founding Director of the California International Theatre Festival. Purl currently tours with her solo concerts Midnight Caravan – Celebrating the Great Ladies of the Glamorous Nightclub Era and Up Jumped Spring.  Solo albums are Alone TogetherOut of this World—Live Midnight Caravan and just released Up Jumped Spring. Past concert venue appearances include Lincoln Center Jazz, Feinstein’s in NY, Naples Philharmonic, Catalina Jazz Club in LA, Crazy Coqs in London, Club Raye in Paris and Satin Doll in Tokyo.


JENNY SULLIVAN (DIRECTOR)Recent work includes the Acorn Theatre Off-Broadway run of Tom Dugan’s Wiesenthal. This production then moved to The Wallis Theatre in Beverly Hills and then to the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre. Other solo productions include the successful Ensemble Theatre of SB run of I Am My Own Wife (Indy Award)featuring John Tufts and the RTC production of Darrow with James O’Neil. Jenny has directed numerous Rubicon productions, including The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance with Gregory Harrison, A Moon for the Misbegotten, Our Town, Steel Magnolias (Indy Award), Food Confessions, The Mystery of Irma Vep (2012 Ovation Nomination for Direction), Wiesenthal, Tea at Five, Doubt, Trying, Who’s Afriad of Virginia Woolf? (Indy Award) with Joe Spano, Karyl Lynn Burns, Jason Chanos and Angela Goethals, Spit Like a Big Girl, You Can’t Take It With You, Hamlet (Indy Award) with Joseph Fuqua, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Tuesdays with Morrie, Defying Gravity, Happy Days, Art (Indy Award), Dancing at Lughnasa(Indy Award) with Susan Clark and Bonnie Franklin, The Rainmaker with Stephanie Zimbalist and John Bennett Perry, Little Foxes with Linda Purl and Old Wicked Songs with Harold Gould and Joseph Fuqua. Other credits include: The Dresser with Len Cariou and Granville Van Dusen at The Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre; The Year of Magical Thinking with Linda Purland Steel Magnolias at Laguna Playhouse; Baby Doll, Dublin Carol (Indy Award), The Lion in Winter (Indy Award), The Memory of Water and Tea at Five at Ensemble Theatre Company; Tenderly-The Rosemary Clooney Musical at Center Rep in Walnut Creek; Listen for Wings at Access Theatre; The Elephant Man for San Jose Rep; Death of a Salesman (AUM) with Stuart Margolin and Wendy Phillips; and six seasons of new plays including The Baby Dance, Defying Gravity, Hotel Oubliette, Dirt, The Ferry Back and MACS (A Macaroni Requiem) at Williamstown. Jenny directed The Memoirs of Abraham Lincoln with Granville Van Dusen, Tea at Five with Stephanie Zimbalist and The Mystery of Irma Vep for The Falcon Theatre. For Theatre 40 Jenny helmed Tom Dugan’s Wiesenthal (2011 Ovation Nomination for direction); Nora and Delia Ephron’s Love, Loss, and What I Wore at The Geffen Playhouse; and The Vagina Monologues for the Canon and Coronet theatres. She directed the World Premiere of Jane Anderson’s The Baby Dance at the Pasadena Playhouse, which then moved to Williamstown Theatre Festival, Long Wharf Theatre (CT Critics’ Directing Award) and the Lucille Lortel Off-Broadway. Jenny’s film credits include “Access All Areas” and “The Next Best Thing” (in which she had the good fortune to direct her father Barry). Jenny is most proud of the Rubicon World Premiere of her play J for J with Jeff Kober and the late, great John Ritter.


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