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Beloved Gene Kelly remembered in ‘An Evening with Patricia Ward Kelly’

Beloved Gene Kelly charmed film audiences for decades. Then he met, charmed and wed Patricia Ward. The Pasadena Playhouse presents “Gene Kelly: The Legacy--An Evening with Patricia Ward Kelly” for two performances only – 8 p.m. Saturday, March 1 and 2 p.m. Sunday, March 2, 2014.

Beloved Gene Kelly remembered in ‘An Evening with Patricia Ward Kelly’
Beloved Gene Kelly remembered in ‘An Evening with Patricia Ward Kelly’Courtesy of Patricia Ward Kelly

Gene Kelly was a joyous performer. A legendary dancer, director and choreographer, he brought astonishing grace, athleticism and masculinity to the big screen. He continues to delight and captivate us, yet we know little about him.

During a unique evening, Patricia Ward Kelly—his widow, biographer and the person who knew him best—presents an intimate portrait of this dynamic and innovative artist who created some of the most memorable and iconic scenes in film history.

Patricia Kelly’s compelling presentation combines rare and familiar film clips, previously unreleased audio recordings, personal memorabilia, and insights culled from her hours of interviews and conversations with her husband. This special live program makes for a remarkable experience praised as “a real treat” by Variety and hailed as “deeply moving” and “mesmerizing.”

Ward met Gene Kelly in 1985 in Washington, D.C., where she was the writer for a television special about The Smithsonian for which he was the host and narrator. Soon after, he invited her to California to write his memoir. They fell in love, married, and were together until his death in 1996.

“I never knew that about him; ‘that’s one of the most common things I hear from people following my show.’ Even the newspaper in Gene’s hometown of Pittsburgh responded with the headline: ‘And we thought we knew Gene Kelly.’” said Patricia Ward Kelly. “Many people know and love the person they see up on the screen, but few know the many dimensions of the man and his work. They do not know that he was fluent in French, was a Shabbos Goy who spoke Yiddish, studied economics, memorized and wrote poetry, frequently read a book a day, did The New York Times crossword puzzle in ink. That’s one of the things that is most rewarding for me about doing the show—sharing the little lower layers that make Gene come to life for people in new and interesting ways. Gene was very guarded and revealed little about him in interviews. That he let down his guard and entrusted me with his story was a great privilege.”

She added, “Each time I do the show, I learn new things from the audience and am touched by the personal stories that people share with me when I greet them before and after. He inspired many; others moved by a particular number or the way it affected them at a certain time in their lives.

Currently, Patricia Ward Kelly serves as sole trustee of The Gene Kelly Image Trust and as Creative Director of Gene Kelly: The Legacy, a corporation established to celebrate Kelly’s artistry worldwide. She lives in Los Angeles where she is completing the definitive book about her late husband.

Tickets to “Gene Kelly: The Legacy--An Evening with Patricia Ward Kelly” are priced from $15 - $70. Also, available is a VIP ticket which includes a Preshow Meet & Greet with Mrs. Kelly and a reception for $150. Tickets are available online at www.PasadenaPlayhouse.org, by calling The Pasadena Playhouse at 626-356-7529 or by visiting The Pasadena Playhouse Box Office, 39 South El Molino Avenue in Pasadena.