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The Show WILL Go On!!!!


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A week after his release from the hospital following his second cancer surgery in as many months, Grant Richey was cracking wise.

"I can't drive for a couple weeks," he said, by way of explaining being dropped off by his sister at a coffee shop in Minneapolis' Longfellow neighborhood. "Seizures, you know?"

And then he cackled.

It's not that he was ignoring the gravity of his situation: Having battled rectal cancer for five years starting in 1999, the local actor knows firsthand the disease is serious business. But he doesn't spend a lot of time asking why-me questions or engaging in self-pity.

There are other things to do.

"I've got to do something, and performing is the best thing I know to get back into shape," he said. "I've got this show, and I've got these shows next year to do, and I'm going to do them. I don't want people to think that I'm dead, you know?"

The 48-year-old Richey has been a fixture on the local theater scene for a couple of decades, having appeared on stages from the History Theatre and Park Square to Jeune Lune and the Children's Theatre. He is also a prolific director of plays and musicals for area schools; many of the alumni of those shows will perform at a benefit Sunday afternoon at Illusion Theater.

He might be best known, though, as Tony Martini — half of the deliciously awful Martini and Olive performing duo. The purveyors of classic retro-'70s holiday revues combine musical medleys with the terpsichorean




terror of the "amazingly adequate" Swizzle Stick Dancers. With his partner, Judy Heneghan, Richey will open the 15th annual Martini and Olive show — "Silent Night Fever" — this month at the Bryant-Lake Bowl.

That means, among other things, Richey had to start rehearsals before the surgical incision that wraps around his chest has fully healed, before the hair grew back on his head, which has been laced up like an oversized baseball. It also means he'll be fitting in performances between rounds of chemotherapy.

The way he looks at it, he doesn't have a choice. Richey needs the union workweeks to keep up the health insurance he receives from Actors Equity.

But more than that, he needs to be on the stage, a place he has spent most of his life.

"Grant is the most delightfully and lovably neurotic person I know," said Wendy Knox, a director, neighbor and friend who has known and worked with Richey since the early 1990s when she founded Frank Theatre. "He knows it, too.

"But he works like a dog, and he's so smart," Knox continued. "And he has this incredible network of people around him who love him. So I'm not surprised that he's not letting this stuff get in his way. He has that kind of determination. And I know it seems like he has a suspiciously good attitude, but with Grant, it's genuine."

Richey's friends noticed late last summer that he didn't seem quite right. The self-professed control freak wasn't returning phone calls, couldn't track conversations and was having difficulty reading.

"He wasn't returning my calls, so in the beginning of September, I had a meeting with him," said Tinia Moulder, an actress and longtime collaborator. "He looked great, but nothing was connecting. I was asking him specific questions, and he just couldn't answer. That was the day we convinced him to go to urgent care, but he couldn't even follow simple driving directions to get there."

A friend followed Richey to the clinic, and within days, the diagnosis came: He had a tumor lodged near the part of his brain that controlled speech. He underwent surgery at the University of Minnesota Medical Center the week after Labor Day. Because he remained conscious during the procedure, Richey can relate an alternately grisly and hilarious story about hearing his skull cracked open.

Radiation therapy and tests followed, and during one of his innumerable scans, doctors discovered something suspicious on his left lung. A couple of days before Halloween, Richey was back under the knife, where doctors discovered and removed two more tumors, along with part of his lung. Eight days later, he was back home, being cared for by family and friends and planning his next show.

"He's in an amazingly good place with it all," said Moulder, who went through treatment for breast cancer this summer. "I don't know how he's so centered."

A certain canted perspective on the world probably helps.

"The other day, we were in the waiting room for the oncologist, and there were all the stereotypes," he said. "There was another guy with his family, like me. There's the old man and the old lady and the young kid, all bald. It's like it's out of a Lifetime movie. You just sort of have to laugh at it."

And though Richey subscribes to no organized religion, he said his faith — manifested in reflection, journaling, prayer and the felt presence of his mother, who died when he was 13 — has gotten him through.

As has the call of the stage.

"We have Plan B and Plan C in case he has a bad night," said Heneghan, aka Olive Heatherton. "We have special guests who can step in if we need to do that, but Grant seems to think that we'll be able to do the show pretty much the way we've done it. He says, 'No problem,' and you look at him and you think, 'Yeah! No problem!' "

Theater critic Dominic P. Papatola can be reached at 651-228-2165.

A Benefit For Grant Richey

When: Sunday. Silent auction begins at 1:30 p.m.; performance at 2 p.m.

Where: Illusion Theater (eighth floor), 528 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis

Tickets: $10

Call: 612-874-0208

Etc.: Donors may contribute to the Grant Richey Trust at any branch office of Wells Fargo Bank.

On With The Show

What: "Silent Night Fever," featuring Martini and Olive

When: Nov. 28-Dec. 30

Where: Bryant-Lake Bowl, 810 W. Lake St., Minneapolis

Tickets: $19.75 opening weekend; $25-$23 for the rest of the run

Call: 612-825-8949

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The power of Google!!! I use 10 different search terms on a daily basis!! So you can imagine what going thruogh my Email is like!! :shock::wink::lol::lol:

And Since I have friends in that area I thought Hey!!!??? :wink:

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