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Actress Morgan Fairchild brings her love of acting to a Pinehurst stage in March


Over the last 60 years, Morgan Fairchild has been a familiar face in afternoon soap operas like “Search for Tomorrow” and primetime dramas including “Dallas” and “Flamingo Road,” as well as guest starring in many television series. 

In March, she brings her talent and love of acting to the community stage in Pinehurst, where she’s starring in the Judson Theatre Company’s production of “Butterflies are Free.” The classic romantic comedy by playwright Leonard Gershe originally opened on Broadway in 1969 and was adapted into a motion picture in 1972. 

The play opens on March 7 in Owens Auditorium at the Bradshaw Performing Arts Center on the campus of Sandhills Community College.  

Fairchild plays the role of Mrs. Baker, an overprotective mother whose blind son, Don Baker, has left home to live on his own in Manhattan. Struggling with his desire for independence, she pays a surprise visit to his apartment and finds him partially undressed with Jill Tanner, a free-spirited actress who lives next door. The two women clash over what they believe is best for Don as the story unfolds. 

Fairchild says she relates to the role because of her own upbringing, when women of Mrs. Baker’s generation had limited options and often did not work outside the home. 

“The journey she travels in the play is interesting to me because I had a mother of that generation, and she was a teacher, which was one of the few kinds of jobs readily open to women back then, along with secretaries, nurses, and homemakers,” she says. 

Mrs. Baker views her role in life as protecting her son and finds it hard to let go, Fairchild says. 

“She is a woman who has sacrificed everything to be there for her son,” she says, “and if he doesn't need her anymore, she questions what that means for her.” 

The story is also a coming-of-age tale, about taking risks in life and in love, another theme Fairchild can relate to. 

As a shy girl growing up in Dallas, Fairchild says she didn’t have the courage to make an oral book report in front of her 5th-grade classmates. So, her mother enrolled her and her sister in acting classes. The classes led to an audition in a children’s theater group where both she and her sister got small parts in a play. 

“If I'd auditioned and I hadn't gotten the part, I don't know if I would've ever had the nerve to go back,” Fairchild says. “I learned that if you don’t try and if you don’t risk rejection, you’ll never know what is possible.” 

With the Judson Theatre Company, Pinehurst native Morgan Sills is fulfilling a lifelong dream to run a community theatre and was willing to take a risk to make it happen. 

He is the executive producer of the theatre company and executive director of the Bradshaw Performing Arts Center, and he splits his time between Pinehurst and New York City. 

Sills started performing when he was 3 years old, earned his first check when he was 14, moved to New York immediately after college, and started booking work. 

“I was a professional actor for 15 years,” he says, “and towards the end of my time as an actor, I started producing shows.” 

The Judson Theatre Company grew out of a conversation Sills had with longtime friend Daniel Haley about starting a regional theatre company. 

“I had learned you never start a theatre company in a place that is not a destination town, and then I realized my hometown of Pinehurst is a destination town,” Sills says. “Although I am very sentimental about Pinehurst, starting my theatre here was not a sentimental choice.” 

The two researched the Sandhills area and discovered the demographics were a close match with those of a typical Broadway ticket-buyer. 

They launched the Judson Theatre Company in 2012 with a production of “Love Letters,” starring Joyce DeWitt and the late Tab Hunter, followed by “Tuesdays with Morrie,” starring Jamie Farr.  

The theatre company produces two main stage shows each year and three shows during its annual Summer Festival Theatre. 

“We have the best of both worlds that we can produce these classics on the main stage with our wonderful headliners, and our summer festival,” he says. 

Integrated into the community, the theatre company also has an outreach program to bring people together around theatre and the arts. 

Fairchild most recently performed in “Always a Bridesmaid” at the New Theatre & Restaurant in Overland Park, Kansas, and reunited with her fellow evening soap stars Nicollette Sheridan, Loni Anderson, Donna Mills, and Linda Gray in the holiday Lifetime movie, “Ladies of the ‘80s: A Divas Christmas.”  

A self-described “science nerd,” Fairchild cares deeply about social issues and has long advocated for a variety of causes, including women’s rights, HIV/AIDS research, and environmental protection. 

Last summer, she suffered a significant loss when her longtime partner and fiancé Mark Seiler, a Parkinson’s patient, died from complications of Covid-19. She strongly advocates for protocols that keep people safe from the disease.  

At 74, Fairchild continues to practice her craft on both the stage and screen, and says her key to enjoying a show-business career spanning six decades has been persistence, tenacity, and a little bit of luck. 

“You just keep putting one foot in front of the other and you keep putting yourself out there, and moving forward,” she said. “I have a lot of friends who would like to still be working, and I’ve been fortunate that people have cast me and found things for me to do. I consider myself very lucky.” 

NOTE: Butterflies are Free, starring Morgan Fairchild opens March 7 for five performances in Owen Auditorium at Bradshaw Performing Arts Center at Sandhills Community College. It runs through March 10. Ticket prices range from $38 to $55. 

Teri Saylor can be reached at terisaylor@hotmail.com. 

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Morgan Fairchild, Pinehurst, Judson Theatre Company, Butterflies are Free, Community stage, Pinehurst theatre, Sandhills Community College, Bradshaw Performing Arts Center, Pinehurst native, Regional theatre