Category: Archive

Tracings After a break in Ireland, back to the L.A. fast lane

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Olivia Tracey

Living in the fast lane, there comes a time when a girl just has to get off the merry-go-round. Well, I did exactly that with a two-month sojourn back in the home country from July to mid-September. While I missed the California sunshine, I relished the honest-to-God Irish craic, not to mention Mom’s tireless pampering and endless girl talk over countless "cuppas."

Of course, as you might imagine, I managed to get out on the town for a night or two, with one of the highlights of my after-six life being "The Mammy" wrap party in Sandymount’s Martello Tower. I was lucky enough to work on the Brendan O’Carroll comedy with Angelica Huston, who both directed and starred in the film. She was obviously having a ball as both she and I closed the place sometime after 3 a.m. It was great to bump into some of my old pals from the Dublin theater circles, including the ever-cuddly Jim Sheridan, who produced "The Mammy," and actress and lawyer Virginia Cole ("Tolka Row" and "Crossroads"), who recently returned from filming in the Isle of Man with Mickey Rourke and Andrew Connolly.

I was especially delighted to catch up with "Fair City" actress Claudia Carroll, along with Marion O’Dwyer, who played second lead to Angelica in the film. In fact, we three girls indulged in a wonderfully wicked lunch in Andrew Street’s QV2 restaurant one Tuesday afternoon and listened with much amusement to some of "The Mammy" behind-the-scenes stories, courtesy of Marion.

Particularly endearing was the story of Marion and Angelica’s visit to Moore Street to research their roles as fruit and veg dealers. Arriving a little tardy, they were greeted by the awaiting dealer with "What kept yis. Yis are late" (pronounced a perfectly Dublinesque "laye"). No star treatment here for Ms. Huston, I’m afraid. Nonetheless, the Hollywood actress proceeded with her research by taking on a perfect Dublin accent and selling her wares there in the market. Not a soul recognized her. By the end of the research session, the original dealer seemed rather taken by Angelica, telling her "Ya know, Angelica, ya really are a very nice star. There are some stars that’d come here and, do ya know, they wouldn’t even recognize ya."

Another acting gig on the BBC series, "The Ambassador," landed me in the company of Pauline Collins, known especially for her superb performance in the title role of the movie "Shirley Valentine." This time she was again in the title role as the British ambassador to Ireland, while I, playing a somewhat unsympathetic political TV show host, publicly embarrasses her on live television. The real Pauline is, as you might imagine, a total sweetheart, treating everyone with kindness and respect.

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On Ms. Collins’s recommendation, I set off for my favorite Dublin Theater, "The Gate," where I caught actor Jim Norton at his finest in an hilarious two-hour one-act comedy, "The Weir." The good news is that the production will be gracing Broadway with its presence in the coming months after it finishes up on London’s West End. Keep your eye out for this one. It’s an absolute must-see.

I also made my way down to the opening of the new Salsa Palace and Soul Stage bars in South King Street’s Gaiety Theater, where we were entertained by two bikini-clad Brazilian dancers undulating to the clubs’ signature Latin beat. The place was absolutely alive and hopping, while in the next room a 1930s version of the cult movie "King Kong" was playing. So, if salsa and cult movies are your thing, this is the place to stop. Besides, with Guinness and Irish Distillers sponsorship, you’re guaranteed a great late night drink.

All salsa’d out, I was off the following day to do my bit for the Irish Cancer Society at the launch of their Terry Fox Run. The press photographers were there in abundance, clicking like crazy as I sat perched atop the knee of no less than actor and comedian Niall Toibin. And fine strong knees they were too. All in the name of the worthy charity of course!

Finally, just before my return to L.A., I managed a few days at the Rosslare Beach Villas along with Mom, Dad and my sister Anne to celebrate my father’s 85th birthday. Situated right on Rosslare Strand and with cozy self-catering accommodation for up to six people, the beach villas proved the perfect alternative to bed and breakfast. Prices go from £180 to £480 per week depending on the season. For reservations call Ireland (053) 32686 or fax (053) 32425.

Speaking of vacations, the Irish and Northern Ireland Tourist Boards were in great celebratory mood here in L.A. last week at the annual ASTA World Congress. With tourism to Ireland doubled in four years, they were eager to celebrate, and Athlone native John Dully was warmly welcomed to the recently appointed chief executive of the Irish Tourist Board. Despite most of them suffering sore throats from the unusually cool California climes, they still managed to party, dancing to the 1970s disco beat in Universal Studios, where, by the way, I discovered John Fitzpatrick to be quite a Travolta on the dance floor. Indeed, John had much to celebrate himself, with the success of Fitzpatrick’s Grand Central Hotel, not to mention his birthday on Oct. 16.

The following night it was down to the Westin Bonaventure, Hotel where the Tourist Board were hosting three performances of the famous Jury’s Irish Cabaret with singer Tony Kenny and comedian Joe Cuddy. The show is to begin a five-month tour of the East Coast from February before which Tony will do his own solo coast-to-coast tour until Dec. 20. Then its Christmas in Boston with his lovely wife, Joan, also the show’s producer, and their children. Christopher, who’s 18, and Victoria, 12.

As for me, I’m not thinking that far ahead. For now I’m looking forward to next week’s opening of Martin McDonagh’s "The Cripple of Inishmaan" at Westwood’s Geffen Playhouse in L.A. It is directed by Joe Dowling and stars Tony Award winner Dearbhla Molloy, and Tony nominee Rosaleen Linehan. It promises to be a true Hollywood opening with a star-spangled guest list including Gregory Peck, Helen Hunt, Goldie Hawn and Colm Meaney.

No doubt the following week’s American-Ireland Fund Ball will be just as ritzy at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Nov. 5. I’m still reeling over last year’s event, where I was seated beside no less than Gregory Peck, Sidney Poitier and mega producer Frank Price. I’ll let you know what happens this year, but as you might imagine, I could happily settle for the same again, thank you.

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