You might think at first blush that splitting your childhood between Hollywood, California and Tokyo, Japan would be an exciting and enviable one, and going to boarding schools in England and Switzerland would be filled with international flavor? If you then went on to teach skiing in New Zealand, to waitress in Hawaii, to be a stewardess on Qantas Airways and an au pair in Paris, then the glitz and glamor might be overwhelming. Just ask Stephanie Sachiko "Sachi" Parker, the only daughter of Shirley MacLaine and Steven Parker, and she will have a lot to say about her growing up years on multiple continents.
Not many girls get to call Warren Beatty uncle or grace the cover of Life Magazine as a child or make ads for Diet Pepsi with their mom. Lest you start turning a glorious shade of green with envy over Sachi Parker's life, reflect on the singular fact that at age two her mother put her on a plane, several in fact, alone with only stewardesses to care for her, to fly to Tokyo to live with her father, an abusive man who was living with a mistress. Sachi got to spend summers and holidays with her star actress mom, whose maternal concerns for her had a maximum duration of four hours.
Yet Sachi, in a recent interview, confessed her childhood and life as the daughter of a mega-personality was often unbelievable, caught as she was between two cultures, the star power of Hollywood and the tranquil beauty of Japan. In her new show "Lucky Me" and her new book, with Frederick Stroppel that grew from it, "Lucky Me: My Life With-and Without- My Mom, Shirley MacLaine," she reflects on the "colorful, eccentric and geographically challenging life, of dramatically bouncing around the world."
If nothing else, it has made her a decidedly different mother to her two teenage children, a hands-on mom, without babysitters or nannies. Writing and preparing the show has also brought her greater understanding of her mother "as a woman who was betrayed by her husband, a woman in love, who believed in the fantasy." Sachi can now identify with her and forgive her and take a greater control of her own life. She also hopes as her children get older, they will enjoy a closer relationship with their grandmother, as she "isn't a little child person."
As for the reaction to her autobiographical memoir, it has ranged from "Who do you think you are? A horrible Hollywood spoiled brat" to a lot of rave notices, thanking her for her honesty and for helping them, readers who loved it, advising her to forgive and move on. "There's a lot of great reaction for its sheer entertainment. They give it either one star or five stars, with no grey area in between."
Her play "Lucky Me" will have its world premiere from Thursday, May 30 to Sunday, June 9, at New Haven's Off-Broadway Theatre, 41 Broadway, entrance on York Street behind Toad's Place. For tickets ($30, preview night Thursday, May 30 $20), email firstname.lastname@example.org or write the director at: Joanna Keylock, 1 Elderslie Lane, Woodbridge, CT 06525, 203-305-7762.
The play has enjoyed three staged readings and everyone who attended them responded: "There should be a book." Since it was impossible to put all the stories in the hour and a half performance, the book allowed her to put more in and really explore her emotional life. Helping her on her journey from page to stage to page has been playwright Fred Stroppel who is "so close he is like a brother and we spend hours talking it over in a safe, supportive environment. We have a deep, rare relationship and his wife Liz is so generous in spirit that she allows us to work." Sachi is also lucky in her "fabulous director" Joanna Keylock. "We go way back together, wow: she's lovely to work with as we're both actresses so we've met long ago." For Keylock, "it’s a bittersweet love letter to a mother who is at once universally beloved and an enigmatic puzzle, a larger-than-life figure who commands the spotlight and yet seems always beyond reach." Doug Moser will direct this exciting new venture.
Sachi Parker, the actress, will take the stage in her new one -woman show "Lucky Me" starting tonight. If you see a woman in the audience, draped in scarves, sporting a large hat and even larger dark glasses, she just might be related to the star on stage.