Actress Most Likely to Suffer Psychological Whiplash 

Critics' Pick

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The quirky dramedy “Kimberly Akimbo” presents a singular acting challenge: The teenage lead character suffers from a strange malady that ages her at an accelerated rate. So while starring in the Cadence Theatre Company production of the show last October, Irene Ziegler, 56, had to embrace the mindset of an adolescent. If that weren’t challenging enough, five days after “Kimberly” closed, Ziegler began performances of the equally surreal “Why Torture Is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them” at the Firehouse Theatre, where she played a Broadway-obsessed matron. She refers to a fabled incident involving Meryl Streep to describe how she managed the transition. “Years after doing the movie ‘Sophie’s Choice,’ Streep hit her head during a performance of a play and suddenly started speaking in fluent Polish,” she says. “Jumping into a new role while performing another is part of the skills you learn as an actor. You learn your lines, get some sleep and try not to hit your head.”

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