The great Elizabeth Ashley is performing in playwright Horton Foote’s comedy Dividing the Estate in the Old Globe Theatre this month. The larger-than-life talent and persona of Ashley, for whom the descriptor “great” is appropriate and earned, has helped her rack up a litany of stage, film, and TV credits since her Broadway debut in 1959. She has a coveted Tony Award, she’s a major presence on stage, and she’s seemingly fearless. So, watching her in Foote’s tale about a family living in Texas in the late 1980s should be energizing. The story focuses on a family ruled by an octogenarian matriarch, Stella (Ashley), who must deal with her greedy family, one so absorbed with the mission of preserving its fortune that it considers dividing the estate before mama’s death. Ashley reprises this role, which she played on Broadway in 2009. She is joined on stage by Tony nominee Penny Fuller, also reprising her role of Lucille from the same Broadway production.
Dividing the Estate was the final play written by the prolific Foote, recipient of the Pulitzer Prize and two Academy Awards, as well as the National Medal of arts. He penned TV dramas during the Golden Age of Television and authored many plays, among them the memorable The Trip to Bountiful. Hallie Foote, the playwright’s daughter, repeats the role of Mary Jo, which she portrayed in the original Broadway production and for which she received a Tony Award nomination. Horton Foote, Jr. also appears in the show, returning to the stage after an almost 20-year absence. Previews start January 14 and the production officially opens January 19, closing February 12. (619/234-5623, www.theoldglobe.org) DARLENE G. DAVIES