CEDAR FALLS – The last time Annabeth Gish performed on a Cedar Falls stage, it was in Northern University High School’s production of “The Sound of Music.”
Now she’s returning to her Cedar Falls roots.
On Saturday, she will be on stage in a special performance in the Cedar Falls Community Theater production of “Love, Loss and What I Wore.” She’ll be playing opposite her former high school classmates, Kristin Teig Torres and Stephanie Althof, in the staged reading at the Oster Regent Theatre.
“There is the aliveness of youth that’s all impulse and instinct and everything seems easier, and that’s right, it’s as it should be. Yet once we age, our instrument ages and deepens because of our experiences, our wisdom, hardships — life, in general,” says Gish, who turned 46 on Tuesday.
“It changes our tone and adds color. That’s one reason why I’m so freaking excited to be on stage with Stephanie and Kristin. We’re three very different instruments than we used to be, deeper and richer,” she enthuses.
Gish is the honorary chairman of the Oster Regent Theatre’s 40th anniversary capital campaign to raise $1.5 million for improvements at the 108-year-old theater. Gish served in the same position during the 1994 Restore the Regent campaign.
“For me, the arts have always been a resource of immense emotional health, healing and expression. Because I started out in local theater in Cedar Falls and Waterloo, I feel that connection. It’s imperative to keep sustaining theater for current and future talent,” says Gish, who is currently seen as FBI Special Agent Monica Reyes in Fox-TV’s revived “The X-Files.”
“The opportunity to come back and play — play is one of my favorite words — and the material itself, is wonderful. It’s going to be fun.”
The Nora and Delia Ephron play is about matters of the heart and the wardrobe, a series of monologues and ensemble pieces about women, clothes and memory. It is based on the best-selling book by Ilene Beckerman, and also will feature Lisa Brooks and Jean Carlisle. William Dawson is directing.
Gish grew up in Cedar Falls. Her father, Robert, was an English professor at the University of Northern Iowa, and her mom, Judy, taught elementary school. Her movie career began with the 1986 film, “Desert Bloom,” which starred Jon Voight and JoBeth Williams, followed by “Hiding Out,” “Mystic Pizza,” as the sister of Julia Roberts’ character, and “Shag,” about a regional dance craze.
She graduated from NU High in 1989 and continued making big-screen and TV movies while studying at Duke University. After graduating in 1993, film roles continued, including “Wyatt Earp,” “The Last Supper,” “Nixon,” “Beautiful Girls” and “True Women.” Her extensive TV credits include appearances on such TV series as “Criminal Minds, “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” “West Wing,” “Bag of Bones” and “Parks and Recreation.” She has had recurring roles on “Brotherhood,” “The Bridge,” “Pretty Little Liars,” “Scandal” and “Halt and Catch Fire.”
In 2001, Gish joined “The X-Files” in its eighth season and in subsequent seasons betrayed her FBI colleagues by working with the Smoking Man. Her character was included in the revival of the show for season 11.
“With anything ‘X-Files,’ you’re flying by the seat of your pants. You don’t know what’s coming, and for the past seasons, people have been very angry with my character,” Gish notes.
In 2014, she portrayed the morally ambivalent and hard-edged Sheriff Jarry on the final season of “Sons of Anarchy.” Gish admits she loves playing characters with a dark side, noting that “there’s a freedom as you get older, and you’re no longer playing one-note girl-next-doors anymore.”
Gish recently began filming in Atlanta for a recurring role in the Netflix re-imagining of Shirley Jackson’s 1959 novel, “The Haunting of Hill House.”
“It’s very Gothic, intelligent, ominous and dark … something I’ve never done before. It’s all still hush-hush, so I can’t say more about it except we’re filming through June.”
Admittedly her career has become more complicated since she’s become a mom. She and her husband, Wade Allen, a stunt man she met on the “X-Files” set have two sons, ages 11 and 9.
“My predominant role is as their mother, and they’re at the age where they’re involved in so many more activities. I’m the personal assistant and taxi service,” she says, laughing. “Actually, people have been very willing to be creative for me, helping me organize the shooting schedule so I can compact my scenes over a few days.”
Her parents are retired and living in New Mexico, where Robert is recuperating from knee surgery. He still occasionally teaches adult education courses and continues to write and publish books. Her mom is in remission after being treated for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
“Part of who I am is because my parents showed me about the arts and gave me that arts experience in Cedar Falls, “ Gish adds. “And being in theater, music and athletics at NU High also showed me what was possible.”