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April 2, 2014

Star struck

Meryl Streep chats with Andre Dubus III at UMass Lowell event

LOWELL — Lowell welcomed legendary actress Meryl Streep with a thunderous applause and a standing ovation.

“Oh, thank you,” she said to the audience as she graced the stage of the Tsongas Center.

Streep chatted with author Andre Dubus III, a native of Haverhill and a professor in UMass Lowell’s English Department, about her long and storied career as an actress on film, stage and television.

Bringing a local issue to the table, Dubus asked Streep what she thought about Timberlane Regional High School’s decision to cancel next year’s production of the musical “Sweeney Todd” because it was too violent.

She admitted she hadn’t heard about the situation even though it has made national news.

“People slow down when there is a traffic accident to take a look. That’s allowed. Let the kids do the play,” she said.

As part of her appearance, Streep is establishing two new scholarship funds for UMass Lowell students, one in her name for English majors and the other in the name of Joan Hertzberg, a former classmate, for math majors.

Last night’s event and a raffle of a director’s chair autographed by Streep raised $230,000 for those funds.

In the middle of the Tsongas Center, the legendary actress sat in what almost appeared to be a living room set with just thousands of eyes peeking in.

Streep holds the record as being the most nominated actor (male or female) in film history as well as having the most losses for Academy Awards.

The actress said she feels like a completely different actress from when she first started acting in film in the 1970s.

“I feel like I ingest a character more than I did when I was young and made quick decisions. I know more about the mess and bumps of life,” she said.

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