• The cast of Highlands-Cashiers Players’ mystery, “Guilty Conscience,” includes, from left, David Spivey, the brilliant but arrogant defense attorney; Megan McLean, the other woman in the attorney’s life; Michael Lanzilotta, the play’s director; Lauretta Payne, the attorney’s wife; and Adair Simon, the hard-nosed prosecutor. McLean and Simon live in southern Jackson County. The play opens Sunday.

Mystery's cast member also battling cancer

CASHIERS-HIGHLANDS PLATEAU -- I met Sapphire resident Megan McLean three years ago. I had no idea that at that time she was battling breast cancer. She beat it and I then directed her in “Don’t Dress for Dinner.” She was a joyous actor and easy to direct. She is now starring in a Highlands-Cashiers Players’ mystery, “Guilty Conscience,” and is stealing the show.

She is also fighting stage four breast cancer that has metastasized to her liver. “Guilty Conscience” opens at Martin-Lipscomb Performing Arts Center this Sunday, Oct 12. Megan attends every rehearsal, knows her lines and has “chemo” every week.

I asked her why she gave her much needed energy to the show and what she got from being in the show. A torrent of words burst out.

“It’s the small things that make you feel really good that you can still do the things you use to do,” Megan said. “‘Chemo’ affects memory. I needed to push myself to overcome the fear of forgetting my lines. I would never want to put my cast in a position that they would have to cover for my lapses of memory.”

She continued, “(Performing) gives me self-confidence. I can get up on the stage and embrace my new body. Doing live theater shows me that I can do the things that I am passionate about, regardless of my circumstances in life. It helps me to reconnect with myself. You can do the things that you are passionate about, regardless of your circumstances in life.”

Megan added, “What we do onstage really does connect our hearts. I can actually use my acting talent that God has blessed me with to connect people and entertain and provide them joy and medicine. Laughter is the best medicine for those on stage and for those in a play.”

She continued, “Theater is an extension of my family. It opens up my creative side. It’s ‘passionville.’ Highlands-Cashiers Players and the cast of ‘Guilty Conscience’ have embraced me. I have been checked on, and listened to and donated to. I am so thankful to the people who have come forward to help me, like Silver Creek (Real Estate Group) and Highlands-Cashiers Players. Then there are those who don’t even know me who have donated their time and money to me. People showed up when Silver Creek sponsored Music for Megan on the Village Green. It felt like the community had my back. I was sitting there just blown away by their generosity and love. You feel that vibe take hold of you. It really gives you a stronger sense of hope. I know I have a cheering squad.”

Megan continued, “The reemergence of the cancer came as a total surprise. The thought, I have been through this battle before and I beat the (stuffing) out of it. I knew I was going to beat this no matter what people say. I can choose to sit here and roll in my tears but I can’t because I am a blessed individual. I had much sooner face this head on.

“Jackson is my eldest and I am so proud of him. It’s all about us, for him. That literally warms my heart. I am very proud of my children. My children love me being in the play. It’s exciting for them to see their mom on stage and going after the things I am passionate about. Mayellen is my script partner and she is drill sergeant.”

Megan finished, “I am looking forward to my children and to the plateau audiences seeing ‘Guilty Conscience.’ It is a really great mystery.”


Performances of “Guilty Conscience” are set for 7:30 p.m. nightly Thursdays through Saturdays, Oct. 12-14 and 19-21. There are also 2:30 p.m. Sunday matiness Oct. 15 and 22. All performances are at the Martin-Lipscomb Performing Arts Center at 507 Chestnut St. in Highlands. Tickets are $27.50.

“This mystery is filled with twists, intrigue, and surprises!” reads a blurb about the play on the Highlands-Cashiers Players website. “It is the story of a brilliant but ruthless defense attorney named Arthur, who is plotting a murder. He creates an imaginary prosecutor and pits himself against his alter ego in a series of witty, sometimes hostile, exchanges. Again and again he becomes frustrated, unable to formulate the ultimate alibi. And then there is a big surprise!”

For information, visit http://www.Highlandscashiersplayers.org or call 828-526-8084.


(The preceding was written by guest columnist Adair Simon, who portrays the prosecutor in “Guilty Conscience” and is a resident of Cashiers. Email her at adairsimon@frontier.com.)



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