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John Lithgow wants to tell you a story

John Lithgow
Craig Schwatz
C Major Marketing & PR
John Lithgow

Actor John Lithgow loves stories.

“Storytelling was a big part of my growing up. I’m sure that’s why I’m an actor,” Lithgow told “Cityscape” producer Alex Heuer. “Shakespeare had great stories, but all of us have great stories. If you sit down with anyone and ask them about their lives, they can bring you to tears or cripple you with laughter — we all have stories.”

That’s the secret to Lithgow’s one-man show “Stories by Heart,” which he brings to St. Louis on Saturday. In it, Lithgow tells stories about his life and shares stories by others.

“There comes a moment in the evening where the line is blurred between a conversation and a performance,” Lithgow said. “Before you know it, you see me acting my head off. In the P.G. Wodehouse story, I play 10 different characters.”

One of those characters is a parrot. “It’s a very persuasive parrot.”

Wodehouse is special to Lithgow. Growing up, his father read to his children from a collection of stories. When his father was older and in poor health, Lithgow read stories from that same book to his father. When asked to pick a story, Arthur Lithgow picked one by Wodehouse. That story made his father laugh and cheered him, John Lithgow said. “It’s the story that brought my father back to life,” he said.

Lithgow tells that story during “Stories by Heart,” and said he hopes his audiences are similarly entertained.

“By the end of the evening, I want them to have had just a fantastic time,” he said. “I scare the daylights out of them at the end of the first act. I delight them with P.G. Wodehouse, the most hilarious wordsmith and comic writer whom a lot of people just don’t know. I want (the audience) to think a lot about the whole nature of storytelling, and what it does for us. And also, I just love sharing myself and the story of my parents.”

Related event

“Stories by Heart”

  • When: 8 p.m. Saturday, March 28, 2015
  • Where: Touhill Performing Arts Center’s Anheuser-Busch Hall, University of Missouri–St. Louis, St. Louis
  • More information

“Cityscape” is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and sponsored in part by the Missouri Arts Council, the Regional Arts Commission, and the Arts and Education Council of Greater St. Louis.