Lissa Layng Reynolds’ Concert Reading of A Woman of Independent Means

South Pasadenans came out to the library to hear concert reading and talkback with the author

PHOTO: Alisa Diez | | James Reynolds introduced Lissa Layng Reynolds before her performance of A Woman of Independent Means

Actress, arts advocate and activist, Lissa Layng Reynolds, performed a concert reading of the play “A Woman of Independent Means” at the library Saturday evening as part of the Bad Girls Throughout History theme of the Arts Crawl and one of the four SPARC events in the city that evening.

PHOTO: Alisa Diez | | Lissa Layng Reynolds plays Bess in A Woman of Independent Means

It was a packed house as it’s been several years since Reynolds performed the full play at the Fremont Centre Theatre for a 6 month run, so South Pasadenans were excited to see her take to the stage. James Reynolds welcomed and thanked the crowd, encouraging them to get involved with all of the exciting things SPARC has planned in the coming months and years, before introducing the performance.

PHOTO: Alisa Diez | | An expressive Lissa Layng Reynolds captured the crowd’s imagination

Layng Reynolds performed close to 30 minutes of the play, which is told through the letters written by her character, Bess Garner, that take us on her life’s journey from the early 1900’s through the 60’s, from being a young wife and mother through becoming a widow and beyond. Layng Reynolds performance was funny and poignant and she had the rapt audience laughing and wiping away tears.

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PHOTO: Alisa Diez | James Reynolds welcomes the crown

Layng Reynolds was surprised at the large turnout considering all of the various events happening that evening and tells us, “It was a pleasure to bring Bess to life again, even for just a 1/2 hour. It was rather freeing to do a “reading” with a script in my hand,without costumes, music, lights, sets, and all the trappings involved in a full production!” Because it was a bestselling novel before a play Layng Reynolds felt it seemed fitting that the emphasis of a concert reading is all about the “words” and says, “the words were what I fell in love with so many years ago when I first read the book. It is a timeless story and it spoke to me and I passed the book around to many friends.”

Layng Reynolds also expressed gratitude for Steve Fjelsted and South Pasadena Library for inviting her to do the concert at the library surrounded by books and most of all to the author, Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey, who attended and was part of an author talkback after the performance.

PHOTO: Alisa Diez | | Lissa Layng Reynolds in her concert reading of A Woman of Independent Means

“One of the greatest joys in my life was to meet Betsy ( Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey )” says Lissa, “I am grateful that she entrusted her play to me to perform, and it seems to stay fresh to new generations of young women. I love giving back this gift of love and life and the spirit of a strong woman to new audiences.”

She went on to say, “ It was an honor to have Betsy attend and do a talk back after the reading; every time she speaks I, too, learn more about her. I was so happy to have the talk back facilitated by my friend Margo Newman who is a strong independent woman in her own right.

As Bess says “To be continued…””

PHOTO: courtesy of Lissa Reynolds | | Lissa Layng Reynolds pictured with moderator Margo Newman and author of A Woman of Independent Means, Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey


  1. Hey Lissa , I’m a friend of Craig Nelson’s we were talking about your Movie “Say Yes” but couldn’t seem to get a copy so I found one on E-Bay ( a VHS Tape ) I watched it last night laughed all the way thru , I grew up just down the street from The Nelson’s on Indian Trail , I call Craig often in Colorado , take care Carl Phippen