Stage and Television Veteran Takes On Vera

By Connie Yeager

Rosemary Prinz comes to the venerable role of Vera Joseph in Amy Herzog’s 4000 Miles with a wealth of stage and television experience. She is best known in the world of soap-opera television for her portrayal of Penny Hughes in the daytime show As the World Turns — a role she played from 1956 to 1968 to much acclaim and popularity. Penny and her boyfriend Jeff Baker (played by Mark Rydell) were daytime television’s first teen romance. Prinz was the first actress to play the role of Amy Tyler on All My Children and guest starred in various prime-time television shows, from Laverne and Shirley to Knot’s Landing.

Prinz has also performed in more than 300 plays around the world. On Broadway, she made her debut in The Grey-Eyed People in 1952 and appeared with Jack Lemmon in the 1978 production of Tribute. Her other Broadway credits include Prisoner of Second Avenue, Three Men on a Horse, Tonight in Samarkand and Late Love. Off-Broadway, she originated the role of M’Lynn in Steel Magnolias, and her national tours have included Driving Miss Daisy, Last of the Red Hot Lovers and California Suite.

Playhouse Artistic Director Blake Robison has a connection to Prinz that dates back to 1994, when he left New York City to start his first theatre company, Vermont Stage, in Burlington, Vt. “We opened with a production of The Glass Menagerie, and Rosemary Prinz played Amanda,” he recalled. “My mentor, Bill Woodman, generously offered to direct the production, and I told him, ‘You need to find a really great actress to play Amanda.’ Rosemary did it because she wanted to help launch our fledgling company, and I’m eternally grateful.

“To reconnect with Rosemary in the prime of my career is a real treat.”

Prinz praises 4000 Miles for the way the play “illuminates, at the same time, the complexities of growing old and the equally daunting ones of growing up” and “shines the same light on relationships: Family, Friends, Romantic.”

According to Prinz, the play “accomplishes ALL THIS through the bonding of a grandma and her grandson — in the manner most available to every audience in the world — humor. And that this marvelous humor never compromises the depth and substance of this remarkable play.

“Besides, it’s a helluva part!”