Traverse City Events: Most actors chose their profession because they like to act out stories.

That’s the premise of Selected Shorts, the NPR program that comes to the City Opera House this Saturday night. With a twist.

Award-winning actors Jane Kaczmarek, Mial Dillon and Keir Dullea will bring to life short stories centered on love – but by reading them, not acting them out.

Though you could say their reading is a form of acting. Kaczmarek does.

“When you’re going on TV, you do your acting, but it’s put together by the editors,” she said in a phone interview from her home in California.

“When you read a story, you’re the actor, writer and director,” she said. “It’s an exciting challenge.”

Kaczmarek is most familiar to audiences from her seven years on the Fox comedy Malcolm in the Middle, where she was nominated for a Golden Globe and an Emmy. But the classically-trained actress has spent a lot of time on the stage, as well as appearing in such television shows as Frasier and Felicity and movies such as Pleasantville and DOA.

While it might have been difficult to move back and forth between theater, television and film years ago, Kaczmarek says the different formats are now much more interchangeable.

“I graduated from Yale and did many, many plays. I graduated in 1982, and when I went to Los Angeles it was considered heresy,” she said with a laugh.

“I worked in TV when I got here, then went back and did theater.”

Kaczmarek says the immediacy of audience feedback in theatrical performances is echoed by the readings in Selected Shorts. But as the sole person on stage, it’s all up to her to entertain the audience.

“When you read a story, you have to elicit sympathy, joy, whatever emotion. You have to find ways to vary the intensity.”

Selected Shorts takes place Saturday, November 3, 2012 at 8 p.m. at the City Opera House. The theme of the performance is "Falling in Love." It is hosted by Kaczmarek, and also features the real-life husband-and-wife team of Mia Dillon and Keir Dullea. Dillon has spent considerable time in theatre, with a Tony nomination to her credit, as well as appearing on television. Golden Globe winner Dullea has appeared in 24 films and is a veteran of stage appearances on Broadway, off Broadway and abroad. They will be reading selections by Dorothy Parker and Sherman Alexie, respectively.

Kaczmarek will read a piece by Maile Meloy, whom she inadvertently met at a political fundraising party. “She came up to me and said, ‘You’re going to be reading my story!’ It’s a beautifully-written story,” Kaczmarek said. 

The Wisconsin native is looking forward to her trip to the area. “It’s great to have the seasons,” she said, bemoaning the heat she was currently battling.

Tickets for Selected Shorts: "Falling in Love" start at $20. Call the opera house box office at (231) 941-8082 or visit

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