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Meryl Streep on Broadway: How Her Star Power Went Beyond the Big Screen

By    |   Tuesday, 05 May 2015 08:04 PM

For nearly 40 years, Meryl Streep's presence has loomed large on the big screen, but this talented actress honed her craft on the Broadway stage.

Here is an overview of Streep's early stage performances.

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1. "Trelawny of the 'Wells'" (1975)
Streep's first noteworthy performance occurred during the fall of 1975 at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre. She had a minor role as Miss Imogene Parrott. Other notables in the cast included Christopher Hewett, Mary Beth Hurt, Jeffrey Jones, Mandy Patinkin, and John Lithgow. The four-act play set in 1860s England had 47 performances before closing. She was nominated for an Outstanding Actress in a Play award.

2. "A Memory of Two Mondays"/"27 Wagons Full of Cotton" (1976)
Streep was next seen in a pair of shows that alternated with each other. In "27 Wagons Full of Cotton," she starred alongside Tony Musante and Roy Poole in a one-act play that was set in the cotton-growing region of Mississippi; Streep portrayed Flora Meighan, the wife of Poole's Jake Meighan, who was a cotton gin owner. In "A Memory of Two Mondays," a one-act play written by Arthur Miller, Streep starred alongside such notable actors as Thomas Hulce, Lithgow, and Musante. Streep had a minor role in this play, portraying Patricia. The shows ran at the Playhouse Theatre for 63 performances. Streep was nominated for her only Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play, and also for other awards, including Outstanding Actress in a Play from Drama Desk. The New York Times called her performance in "27 Wagons" "a particularly strong theatrical highlight from this period."

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3. "Secret Service" (1976)
Later in 1976, Streep returned to the Playhouse Theatre for "Secret Service," which featured Jones and Lithgow, among others. Again, Streep had a minor role in this play as Edith Varney. Written by William Gillette, the play only lasted 13 performances before closing. However, this role, plus her roles in “27 Wagons Full of Cotton," "A Memory of Two Mondays," and "Trelawny of the 'Wells'" earned Streep a Drama Desk nomination.

4. "The Cherry Orchard" (1977)
Returning to the Vivian Beaumont Theatre, Streep portrayed a chambermaid named Dunyasha in this play, which also featured such performers Cathryn Damon, Hurt, Raul Julia, Diane Lane, and Max Wright. "The Cherry Orchard" was a four-act play that took place at a Russian estate. It ran for 62 performances, and Streep earned a Drama Desk nomination for the role.

5. "Happy End" (1977)
Streep's final Broadway performance before heading west to take a role in "Julia" was this musical set in 1915 Chicago. The musical, in which Streep played the female lead, also featured many other notable performers, including Christopher Lloyd, Bob Gunton, Liz Sheridan, and Raymond J. Barry. It took place at the Martin Beck Theatre and ran for 75 performances. This performance earned her another Drama Desk nomination.

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For nearly 40 years, Meryl Streep's presence has loomed large on the big screen, but this talented actress honed her craft on the Broadway stage.
meryl streep, broadway
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2015-04-05
Tuesday, 05 May 2015 08:04 PM
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