If you are in the Connecticut area and looking for something to do this weekend, check out soap alums Christina Bennett Lind (ex-Bianca, ALL MY CHILDREN) and Paul Anthony Stewart (Danny, GUIDING LIGHT) in their last few performances of Ride The Tiger at the Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven. Written by William Mastrosimone — who spent a year interviewing Frank Sinatra to write the Golden Globe-winning television series SINATRA — the play is based on a revelation made during one of their conversations and explores the theory that the assassination of President John F. Kennedy was at the hands of the Mob. Stewart takes the stage as the beloved crooner, and Lind plays Judith Exner, who had a two-year affair with JFK while simultaneously dating Chicago Mob boss Sam Giancana. “She was basically an unwilling go-between between the two men,” explains Lind. “They used her to relay messages between them.”
While Exner is the first historical person Lind has played, she didn’t find a whole lot of background information. “I did some research on-line, but there’s very little of her. She wrote a biography about her experience with this situation about 15 years later, which I read,” she says. “But she denied knowing a lot about what was going on with these men at the time… likely protecting herself. She was afraid to be caught, especially by the Mob.”
The more that Lind found out about Exner, the more intrigued she became by the person she’s been playing. “Before I auditioned, I didn’t know who this woman was. I’ve heard of JFK, but I’ve never heard of this woman, who was very influential and possibly linked him to some very bad men who did some bad things. The media did a very good job, at the time, of protecting JFK from any kind of flaws,” notes the actress. “Judy was sleeping with JFK while he was married to one of our most well-known and iconic first ladies. A lot of people would look at her as weak; she could have been considered someone who was climbing her way up, and trying to influence all these powerful men. But the way I see it, look at all these incredibly powerful men who fell for her! What kind of power did she possess that we don’t give credit to? She was a powerful, beautiful woman who was able to play ball with these men.”
Head over to cbs.soapsindepth.com to read our interview with Stewart about the show. For tickets and more information on Ride The Tiger, visit www.longwharf.org. Performances run through Sunday, April 21.