Shirley MacLaine brings her legendary life to the Sarasota stage

A dancer, singer, highly regarded actress and metaphysical time traveler, Shirley MacLaine is certainly among Hollywood’s most unique stars.

She first captured her LGBT following in 1961’s The Children’s Hour, where she played a teacher who develops feelings for her former classmate, played by Audrey Hepburn. Since then she has appeared on stage and in huge film roles bringing more LGBT attention to her—namely with the help of her portrayal of the feisty “Ouiser” in 1989’s Steel Magnolias.

Acting, dancing and singing have never been enough for MacLaine. She has made a documentary film on China, traveled the Camino, authored ten books and has been a longtime advocate for civil rights, liberties and New Age beliefs.

The Oscar-winning actress, still feisty at 76, is on a natural high, fueled by her belief in herself and an appetite for life (and past lives). The seducer of Charlemagne, the conqueror of Western Europe, in a former incarnation, says that this time around she has yet to fall in love but on her spiritual journey, she’s learning to love herself.

MacLaine brings her more than 50 years in show business to The Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, Thursday, Feb. 10, in a kaleidoscope of memorable film moments with private revelations about her extraordinary life, career and spiritual journey.

ERIK RAYMOND: What can we expect from your upcoming show?

SHIRLEY MACLAINE: I think you’re going to really like it. This is one that I’ve thought about doing for a long time. I don’t work with a band or singers or dancers. I like working spontaneously with the audience. So, what I’m doing is showing a huge retrospective of my life. Not just movies—everything, the singing and the dancing and the comedy. It’s quite good. I’ll have a remote control and at points I stop and explain what really happened in that scene or photo on the screen: What was that political dictator really like? What were Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin really like? All the behind the scenes stuff.
Towards the end [of the show], I get into a big question and answer period. The audience should have their questions ready. They can ask anything they want about anything. reincarnation. I’m there. So, it’ll be a different show in every city.

What would you attribute your large gay fan base to?
Basically, I tell the truth. No matter how outrageous it is.

Why do you think that gay men are drawn to strong female archetypes, like yourself?
I think the gay sensibility wants the truth told. Let me ask you, how do you feel about Sarah Palin?

[Laughs] Um, The Devil?
[Laughs] Ok, there you go. She’s strong. She’s saying what she thinks. I think she seems cool but at the same time, I don’t want to listen to anybody who shoots animals from airplanes.

I know you’ve played countless roles in over 50 films but were there any that you particularly related to?
All of them. But my favorite character was Aurora Greenway from Terms of Endearment. And of course, I’m going to tell [the audience] lots of stories about that.

Do your spiritual beliefs play a part in what roles/movies you take?
Not really, no. I mean, all of the parts that I’m interested in are the people trying to know one another. I know that’s a spiritual impulse anyway.

Meaning you pursue roles that feel right to you?
No. I like trying to figure out a character: Why do they do what they do? Why don’t they do what they should do? All that stuff. I’d say those are very spiritual questions.

You used to be very involved in the feminist movement. Are there any charities or organizations you are currently passionate about?
I am mostly involved with how to further the interests in the Spiritual Sciences. The feminist movement finds the spiritual stuff ridiculous. A lot of the very intellectual movement finds the spiritual stuff threatening.

I read that you once said, “It is useless to hold a person to anything he says while he’s in love, drunk, or running for office.” I can understand the drunk or running for office part but why the love part?
[Laughs] That’s a pretty good quote. I didn’t remember I said that. I think that people often change their minds once love has passed.

You talk a lot about love and healthy relationships on your website.
Absolutely. I think that’s what we need more of in the world, obviously. I think it’s something that people don’t understand. Neither do I, honestly. We’re all searching for it. But what does it really mean?

Do you believe that we’re meant to be with one other person for the rest of our lives?

Oh, Lord. No. Kinsey did research on something like 15,000 people and they came up with statistics in which human beings fit into three categories—monogamist, serial monogamist and promiscuous. So, I guess it depends on which category you think you fit in. I’m a serial monogamist.

You’ve had an array of suitors over the years. What’s your type? I read you like them younger so they can keep up with you.
Well, no. That’s not necessarily true. ‘What is my type?’ I don’t know. They have to be funny and big. Taller than me and big.

Any tips you can offer to help couples maintain a happy and vital connection? 
I would say, listen and have a true interest—not a feigned but a true interest in each other. See how that fits with your interests. I was reading somewhere that it’s a good notion to go out with your significant other and don’t talk about work, children or your daily life. There are so many other things to discuss and have fun with. Yet, that’s what dissipates when you have a life full of other things inside that life.

When you’re first starting a relationship, you talk about the world and life itself as you view it, not just your own little circumstance. Continue that interest into the relationship.

Over the past decade or so, meditation, yoga and a longing and/or need to investigate our inner selves seems to be much more pronounced. What do you attribute that to?

I think that because of what’s going on in the world, people are realizing there must be other solutions besides religion, money, politics, competition, sex and all that. People are looking within themselves to find answers.

What would you recommend to someone who is searching for enlightenment or spiritual revelation? I think my website is very good for teaching. It’s advantageous to someone looking for that kind of info.

You once mentioned that people we have an immediate connection or reaction to are people that we have more than likely met before in a former life. Why do you think we continue to meet them lifetime after lifetime?

They say there are 12 souls that we’re always involved with on our journey through time. Sometimes men, sometimes women, sometimes brothers, sometimes sisters, sometimes lovers. And through those twelve, we learn about ourselves. I don’t know if that’s real but it makes sense to me. [For example,] I think we chose the members of our family. We must’ve had some sort of close relationship with them before.

What do you have planned after this tour?
I think I’m going to enjoy this [show] and evenings with myself. So, I might be doing this and developing it into quite a tour! I’m waiting for a couple of pictures to come together but as you know, Hollywood’s in big trouble right now.

We’ll see what happens.

For more info:
WHO: Shirley MacLaine
WHEN: Friday, Feb. 10
WHERE: The Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, Sarasota



Originally published by Watermark Media, Inc.