OGUNQUIT, Maine — I’ve told the story of my first meeting with actress Sally Struthers at least a couple of times on 207, so bear with me if you’ve heard it before.
That encounter came, if memory serves, in the summer of 2004, when I sat down to chat with her in a dressing room at Ogunquit Playhouse. She immediately started to belt out, in a Yiddish accent, the lyrics from the theme to the old TV western “Rawhide.” “Keep rollin’, rollin’, rollin’,” she sang. “Though the streams are swollen, keep them doggies rollin’ rawhide.” It was quite a performance, and it cracked me up.
Ogunquit Playhouse has brought Struthers back summer after summer—she’s now appearing in “42nd Street”—because she makes audiences laugh. It’s a skill she’s had her whole life. When she was a little girl and then a teenager, her parents’ friends would marvel at the way she entertained people and ask if she’d always had that gift. “Well,” her mother would say, playing with the language, “Sally was born with funny.”
Struthers is closing in on twenty performances at Ogunquit, and she is deeply grateful that the Playhouse keeps finding roles for her to play. Will she be back next year? Count on it.