Kathleen Turner as Molly Ivins
Following her performance as the outspoken, rabble-rousing journalist in “Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins” at Westwood’s Geffen Playhouse, Kathleen Turner joined the Jan. 11 Opening Night crowd for a late-night buffet at the nearby Napa Valley Grille.
“I didn’t realize I would be introducing Molly Ivins to so many people,” said Turner, on joining the after-party, populated by the team behind the play, Geffen donors and theater friends. “I’ve really been enjoying that.”
In her portrayal of the outspoken, rabble-rousing journalist, Turner might as well be Ivins, as she struts across the stage, spouting her brilliantly witty comments on the Iraq war, America’s leaders, George Bush, whom she called “Shrub;” and the scene at Graceland following Elvis’ death. Beginning in a vintage newsroom, as she lies back in her chair, feet up on her desk, Ivins explains her unique writing technique: 75% thinking, 15% writing, 10% caffeine.
Beside her, a machine spits out news bulletins from the Associated Press and for an added reminder of her Texas origins, a stuffed armadillo sits on her desk. With a career that included the New York Times, Houston Chronicle, Dallas Times Herald, Texas Observer, Washington Post, Minneapolis Tribune and other newspapers, Ivins was one of a kind.
At the after-party, the playwrights Allison and Margart Engel – themselves journalists and twin sisters, described Ivins as iconic, comparing her to writers, such as Mark Twain and Will Rogers.
”We didn’t want to lose her voice,” said Allison Engel, as one of her reasons for writing the play. Ivins died in 2007 of breast cancer.
Also attending the play were Cherry Jones of “24;” Bill Pullman, Bess Rous, Ed Harris and Amy Madigan, who are soon to appear in “The Jacksonian” at the Geffen, and the play’s Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Beth Henley.
There at the after-party for the eclectic – and yummy – buffet of burgers, sweet potato fries, pizza-style flatbread, hummus and brownies, were a diversity of theater friends, including several members of the Vagos Motorcycle Club. Prior to the show’s opening, the group posed for one of the set’s photo backdrops, used to illustrate Ivins’ life and career- in this case, a story she wrote about the Hell’s Angels.
Perhaps best known her blockbuster films – “Body Heat,” “Prizzi’s Honor,” “War of the Roses,” and “Jewel of the Nile,” among others – Turner is also an acclaimed theater actress, having appeared on Broadway in “The Graduate” “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” and “Cat on a Hotel Tin Roof.”
Update: Since this story was originally written, the run of the play, directed by David Esbjornson, has been extended and “Kick-Ass Patriot” will now continue through Sun., Feb. 19. For more information, call 310 208-5454 or click here.
To read more about the play, here’s Charles McNulty’s review in the Los Angeles Times.
Top photo: the night’s luminaries, from left: playwright Margaret Engel; actor Matthew Van Oss, the play’s “helper;” playwright Allison Engel; Kathleen Turner, who stars as Molly Ivins; and director David Esbjornson (photo credit: Kevin Sharp)
Center photo: Kathleen Turner as Molly Ivins (photo credit: Mark Garvin from Philadelphia Theatre Company’s world-premiere production of RED HOT PATRIOT 2010)
Lower photo, at the after-party: Johnny Haro, left, and Speedy Gonzalez of the Vagos Motorcycle Club.
IN OTHER LOS ANGELES SOCIETY NEWS:
Kathleen Turner as Molly Ivins
Published Jan. 12, 2012 – Ellen Olivier, Society News LA