Emily Greco solos in 'Amelia Lives' in Portola Valley

One-woman show explores the life of Amelia Earhart

By Jane Knoerle

Almanac Lifestyle Editor

Emily Greco, a member of the Portola Valley Theatre Conservatory staff for seven years, is entering new territory with her presentation of "Amelia Lives" Oct. 21-23 at the Lane Hall Theatre, 945 Portola Road in Portola Valley.

"I've never had to be on stage by myself for an hour-and-a-half (before assuming this role)," says the young actress who has appeared in many PVTC productions, including roles as Puah in "Puah's Midlife Crisis," Hodel in "Fiddler on the Roof," and Peter in "Peter Pan."

In "Amelia Lives," the audience is invited to look into the world of Amelia Earhart through events, stories, letters and quotes from the aviatrix, the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She disappeared over the central Pacific Ocean in 1937, while trying to navigate the globe. She was 39.

The set for "Amelia Lives" is in the basic shape of an airplane, in which Emily as Amelia moves about and pulls out hidden props to create new environments on stage. She transforms Amelia into a 6-year-old child, a teenager, a young woman, and, finally, the mature pilot.

Her costume for the show resembles clothing Amelia wore for her last flight, a checkered shirt and khaki pants. In creating the image, it helped that Emily and Amelia were both 5 feet 9 inches tall.

"I'm a little curvier than she was," says Emily, who lightened her hair for the role. "The cherry on top is we both have freckles." Ms. Greco was first approached by Director Karen Byrnes to play Amelia for the 15th annual theater festival at Notre Dame de Namur this fall.

"We both loved the script, so we jumped in all the way even through neither one of us had ever attempted a solo show like this," say Ms. Greco.

Preparation took four weeks. She will reprise the role in January when she presents "Amelia Lives" at the Hiller Aviation Museum in San Carlos.

As an instructor at the Portola Valley Theatre Conservatory, Ms. Greco has taught hundreds of children, pre-school to high school, for the past seven years.

"Amelia Lives" will be her last performance for PVTC. Working with Cast Images, an agency in Sacramento, since March, she will concentrate on her career as a professional actor.

"As Amelia found the courage to pursue her dreams, to struggle with her fears and uncertainty, so will I," she says.

INFORMATION: "Amelia Lives" will be presented by Portola Valley Theatre Conservatory at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Oct. 21-22, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 23, at Lane Hall Theatre, 945 Portola Road in Portola Valley. Karen Byrnes is director and Marilee Saier, stage manager. The play was written by Laura Annawyn Shamas. Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for students and seniors, and $10 for children. Click here for ticket information.

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