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Stars Continue to Shine at Shakespeare Sedona

With an ear-to-ear smile, like his face was going to burst from happiness, Shakespeare Sedona’s producing director Jared Sakren floated up to the podium.

“Shakespeare Sedona is delighted to have secured the talents of a nationally-recognized award-winning actress to play the lead in All's Well that Ends Well: Michael Learned,” blurted Sakren. With that, Sakren floated around the room. He has scored a coup.

Few actresses have achieved the varied successes of Michael Learned. Classically trained in England, theater accomplished, Learned has gone on to win four Emmy Awards for Best Actress, star in numerous critically acclaimed projects for PBS, movies for television and feature films.

She has had extraordinary performances in the theater, including the lead role of Sara Goode in the Wendy Wasserstein smash Broadway play, The Sisters Rosensweig,  produced by Lincoln Center at the Barrymore Theatre, as well as highly reviewed performances of the award-winning Edward Albee play Three Tall Women . Learned recently completed an enormously successful run of Gor Vidal's The Best Man on Broadway for which she received rave reviews and a nomination for Best Actress by the New York Outer Critics Circle.

Learned initially achieved national recognition as Olivia Walton in the long running hit television series The Waltons (three Emmys – Best Actress), and later as the lead in the CBS series Nurse (one Emmy – Best Actress). She (and "The Waltons") still appear to be among America's favorites as depicted in the recent T.V. Guide 40th Anniversary issue, setting forth the all-time best television programs and stars. Learned was selected second as the all time favorite in the Dramatic Actress category (in a tie with Tyne Daly) beating an impressive list of talented actresses, and The Waltons scored as the second Most Favorite Television Family Show, beating The Cosby Show and other landmark shows.

In November 1993, Learned reunited with her TV family in A Walton Thanksgiving, which was the second highest rated movie-for-television on CBS during that broadcast season. The ratings success necessitated two additional reunion movies, A Walton Wedding, which aired on February 12, 1995, and A Walton Easter, which aired March 30, 1997, both to very high ratings. America is still very much attached to Learned and "The Waltons."

Prior to Learned's television success, she was well known within theater circles as a result of her leading roles in Under Milkwood, Tartuffe, The Misanthrope, The Importance of Being Earnest and Private Lives, and off-Broadway in The Three Sisters and A God Slept Here.

Learned served an apprenticeship with the Stratford, Connecticut Shakespeare Festival early in her career and has been an active member of the American Conservatory Theater for many years. Her involvement in both organizations gave rise to her acclaimed performances recently in the West coast debut of Woman in Mind, Hapgood as well as Cyrano de Bergerac last year. Other engagements at ACT included The Three Sisters, A God Slept Here, Anthony and Cleopatra, The Tavern  and The Merchant of Venice .

Learned enjoyed successful engagements opposite Marsha Mason's Mary Stuart and in Picnic, respectively at The Ahmanson Theatre; A Month in the Country at The Mark Taper Forum; and in Loves of Anatol at Circle-in-the Square and as Leona in The Time of the Cuckoo, both in New York. She has also toured the country in numerous engagements of A.R. Gurney's Love Letters.

Recently, Michael completed a "bravo" engagement of Lettice and Lovage at Montclair State College, receiving outstanding reviews form the New York Times and other, regional publications.

Among her portrayals in the television movie arena was Learned's strong performance alongside Robert Young in Mercy or Murder and Alan Arkin in Deadly Business, and starring roles in Widow, Little Mo, Off Minnesota Strip, Christmas Without Snow, All My Sons, and Roots: The Gift.

Her motion picture credits include Power (directed by Sidney Lumet) and Touched by Love, and in 1993, the highly acclaimed and successful Dragon (directed by Rob Cohen) for Universal Pictures. Recently Learned completed a cameo role in an independent film entitled Life During Wartime, which was honored at the Sundance Film Festival.

In recent years. Learned starred in two short0ordered series for ABC: Clinic a one hour dramatic series centered in a psychiatric hospital (created, written and produced by Jay Presson Allen) and Living Dolls, a one-half hour sitcom for Columbia Pictures Television.

Learned lives with her husband in Los Angeles when not on production location.

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