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Based on real-life experiences ‘Trying’ is onstage at International City Theatre

Tony Abatemarco and Paige Lindsey White.
Tony Abatemarco and Paige Lindsey White.
Suzanne Mapes

Trying” is set in 1967 when Lyndon B. Johnson was in office, Jackie Kennedy and Aristotle Onassis had just become an “item,” protests against the Vietnam war were going strong — and Judge Francis Biddle, former Attorney General under Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) and Chief Judge at the Nuremburg Trials, is 81 years old. This award-winning play inspired by the real-life experiences of playwright Joanna McClelland Glass as personal secretary to Biddle during the last year of his life, is currently onstage at International City Theatre. John Henry Davis directs the show which stars Tony Abatemarco and Paige Lindsey White.

“‘Trying’ is a funny, bittersweet look at the healing power of companionship, and a fascinating portrait of an illustrious figure in American history. After a series of disappointing failures with secretaries, the brilliant and irascible Biddle — in failing health and beginning to confront his own mortality — is apprehensive when the young and inexperienced Sarah Schorr arrives to work with him in his small office over the garage of his home. Although his ancestry and position in the centers of American power contrast strongly with her humble beginnings on the prairies of Saskatchewan, the two forge a rocky friendship, and Glass’ richly scripted story illustrates how two strangers, at two dramatically different places in their lives, can unexpectedly and forever influence each other.”

“It’s a fascinating relationship between two people with radically different ideas of the world,” says Davis. “His is a patrician world view and she’s a prairie populist. He’s facing the end of a vital life and career, and she’s just starting out. The result is an exciting, funny and thrilling partnership.”

“Glass initially started out to write a one-act play about her experiences working with Biddle in the converted office over his Georgetown garage. But it took another three decades for her to turn it into a full-length play. By then she was long-divorced, her children grown, and she had just lost the love of her life (Canadian actor George Sperdakos) to cancer. Glass told an interviewer that she needed the ‘mileage’ that those years had put on before she could go back and fill out her story."

International City Theatre is Long Beach’s Resident Professional Theater at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center and the recipient of the Margaret Harford Award from the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle for “Sustained Excellence in Theater.”

“Trying” performs 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday through September 14, 2014. Tickets are $42 on Thursdays and $47 on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Call the ICT Box Office at 562-436-4610 or visit

International City Theatre is located in the Long Beach Performing Arts Center at 300 E. Ocean Blvd. in Long Beach.

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