Donna Hanover
Donna Hanover
As previously reported on TheaterMania, former New York City First Lady Donna Hanover will return to the stage next month in the play Hillbilly Women at the Arclight Theatre. Sondra Lee will direct the production, which is based on the book of the same name by Kathy Kahn.

Elizabeth Stearns' script follows the lives of six women and their tales of survival amid the coal mines, factories and farms of Appalachia in the late 1970s. The women's stories are underscored with traditional songs and country music favorites of the period, and Hanover will even get to sing and dance a little.

That said, Hanover is playing a character that is not in the original book. "My role is the witness, a contemporary character who comes in and out during different times in the play," says Hanover. "I met them in 1978 and got to know them very well, and I've summoned them to 2011 to tell their stories. And they can't hear me; they don't know time has moved on. What I love about my character is how much she loves these women; she sees them as having guts, courage, and strength in face of adversity that we need in our time and that today's women would do well to emulate. I am very passionate about her."

Hanover has spent most of her professional career in radio and television broadcasting -- she currently does film reviews for WOR Radio -- but she first met Lee some years ago when she decided to study acting with herly after playing the role of Ruth Carter Stapleton in Milos Forman's film The People vs. Larry Flynt.

So when Lee asked her to join the cast of this show, which features Lauren Fox, Annette Hunt, Evangeline Johns, Alicia Meer, Mickey Sumner, and Mimi Turque, she was only too happy to accept. "Sondra is an amazing director; she knows how to get to the core of all sorts of characters," she says. "And to be given the opportunity to be creative and work with these other impressive women is just wonderful."