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Stacy Keach has a mild stroke; speech and mobility intact*

March 18, 2009 |  7:16 pm

Stacy_keach_as_richard_nixon*UPDATED

Actor Stacy Keach suffered a “very mild stroke” that resulted in “no impairment whatsoever” to his speech or his ability to move, according to a statement from his media representatives. He remained hospitalized Wednesday for a second day “for observation and routine precautionary procedures” at an undisclosed Los Angeles hospital, the announcement says.

Keach, 67, is starring as Richard Nixon in the touring production of “Frost/Nixon.” The show’s producers said they “look forward to his speedy recovery and to his return to the show as soon as he is able.”

Bob Ari, Keach’s understudy, has stepped in as Nixon as the current run at the Ahmanson Theatre continues through March 29. Ari also understudied the part on Broadway, with Frank Langella as the former president in Peter Morgan’s drama about Nixon’s duel of wits with David Frost during a series of 1977 interviews.

Whether Keach will be back on stage during the Ahmanson run, “we just don’t know,” said Ken Werther, a theater spokesman. “I’m sure he wants to, but it’s going to be up to his doctor.”

The Ahmanson is offering ticket-holders a choice of seeing the show with Keach’s understudy, taking a refund or exchanging their tickets to see it later in the run, in hopes that Keach will have returned.

About 50 people got refunds or exchanges at Tuesday’s show, the first without Keach, Werther said. Sales have been “solid,” he said, but not sold out.

Keach is scheduled to play the title role in “King Lear” starting June 16 at the Shakespeare Theatre Co. in Washington, reprising the role he played in 2006 at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre.

Although  the actor probably has been most widely seen in his 1980s CBS series “Mike Hammer,” he first emerged on stage and has kept his theater chops regularly in place.

He won Obie and Drama Desk awards playing a parody version of Lyndon B. Johnson in the satiric “MacBird!” off-Broadway in 1966.

He won a second Obie playing Hamlet in a 1972 New York Shakespeare Theater production. He was the Danish prince again in 1974, in a different “Hamlet” at the Mark Taper Forum, directed by Gordon Davidson.

Other Keach credits on the L.A. stage  include “Sleuth” (1981) and “An Inspector Calls” (1996) at the Ahmanson, “Solitary Confinement” (1991) at the Pasadena Playhouse, and a 2003 performance at the Taper in Jon Robin Baitz’s “Ten Unknowns.”

 

-- Mike Boehm

Caption: Stacy Keach as Richard Nixon in "Frost/Nixon" at the Ahmanson Theatre. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

 

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