It was a cold winter evening in 1905 when Florence ‘ZaZa’ Roberts opened Prescott’s Elks Theatre with the play Marta of the Lowlands. Her life was a roller coaster of loss, love, failure and triumph. Tea with Zaza, an ever-evolving one-woman play first conceived by Parker Anderson, traces her life as first lady of theatre in San Francisco, across the country and around the world in the early 20th century, and includes excerpts from this and more of her successes.
The play is coming back to the boards as a fundraiser for another locally written and produced theatrical experience, Micki Shelton’s La Posada, scheduled for the coming fall at the Elks. The story covers the historic Winslow hotel, replete with history, art and good food and only saved from the wrecking ball by a remarkable couple who saw potential where others saw only a derelict building.
As official historian for the Elks Theatre, Parker Anderson went to San Francisco in 2003 for research on ZaZa, poring over microfiche in the library there, and in the intervening 20 years more material on her life has come to light. In January 2006 Jody Drake produced the first iteration of Tea with ZaZa, written under the title Don’t Despise Me, a tagline from Marta of the Lowlands. Veteran actor Gail Mangham directed and starred. She last performed the play on the Elks Theatre stage in 2010 to celebrate its restoration.
On February 19 Mangham will reprise ZaZa for newcomers to the community and those who missed it previously. She has appeared in Red Hot Patriot, The Molly Ivins Story, Golda’s Balcony (based on the life of Israeli prime minister Golda Meir), The Grapes of Wrath, Doubt: A Parable, and many others.
Spend an afternoon with ZaZa and enjoy a talkback with the actor as well as playwrights Parker Anderson and Micki Shelton. Limited open seating is available.
Venue: Crystal Hall, on the third floor of the Elks Performing Arts Center, 117 E. Gurley Street.
Date: February 19, 2:30pm; the house will open at 2pm. The show runs about 70 minutes, and the talkback 20-30 minutes.
Tickets are $20 and available online at ci.ovationtix. com/36295/production/1148035 and click the date on the calendar.