By Olivia Tracey
The weather may be cooling here in Southern California, but things are heating up on the social calendar.
Indeed, they don’t get much hotter than the Los Angeles premiere production of D.H. Lawrence’s "Lady Chatterley’s Lover," starring no less than our own Tim Murphy as the all-desiring and all-desirable lover. With a physique that could almost put Adonis to shame, the Tralee-born actor and former "Glenroe" star is attracting the theatergoers in droves. With rave reviews so far in both the L.A. Times and L.A. Weekly, the production has been highlighted as "Pick of the Week" in both publications, along with the prestigious Broadway transfer of "The Lion King." Set to run until Dec. 10, the healthy box office activity could very well mean an extension into 2001.
Sitting among the full capacity audience, I found myself taking a trip down memory lane to my own days as Lady Chatterley in the much-hyped production back in Ireland in the early 1990s. I remembered the almost daily media attention, the tour and constant cancellation lines outside the theaters countrywide, the controversy, the scandal and the many humorous moments in the play that had the audience’s laughter resounding through the theater. Mind you, one evening in the Olympia I thought the house would come down altogether when the bed broke as Mellors, played by Dubliner Tony Coleman, went through the mattress while he was trying to don his britches. At that moment, I’m afraid, my aristocratic pedigree slipped momentarily as I uttered a very non-Lady Chatterley and extremely Dublin "Jaysus!" Of course, days later, the incident found its way to Terry Keane’s social diary in the Sunday Independent.
Fun memories indeed, but life moves on. This time Lady Chatterley is played by American actress Lesley Fera, who happens to be of Italian and Irish extraction. She does a fine job of the role, capturing the various nuances as Madame transitions from the unfulfilled wife to the sexually evolved woman. The adaptation was done by Mary Machala and John Vreeke and directed by the latter with a consistently strong ensemble cast. It runs Thursdays to Saturdays at 8 p.m., with a Sunday matinee at 3 p.m. For tickets ($20-$23), call (310) 822-8392.
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At the famed Cinegrill in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, Irish singer Anne Bushnell turned her three-week vacation into a Hollywood cabaret debut. Wearing a Brown Thomas full-length black, sequined gown, complete with chiffon stole, she swept us up in the Judy Garland and Edith Piaf repertoire for which she is widely known. Singing in French with an oh-la-la accent, she took us through various numbers, including "Take Me to Your Heart Again" and "No Regrets." And voila, the applause was resounding.
Anne was one of a number of entertainers gathered together that evening by producer Clifford Bell and J.D. Kessler to showcase less well-known talent, including Irish American Rosie Casey and show-stopper Susie Mosher, among others. The next "Cinegrill Spotlight "takes place Monday, Nov. 27. There is no cover charge, but there is a one-drink minimum. For reservations, call (323) 466-7000.
Have bass, will travel
Also in the Cinegrill audience was Anne Bushnell’s son, musician Paul Bushnell, and his gorgeous Japanese-Costa Rican wife, Nicole. Best known for co-producing the music for "The Commitments," he has now graduated to playing bass with none other than Elton John. At the end of September, Paul got a call from Elton John’s album producer, Pat Leonard, with whom he had previously worked on Jewel’s "Spirit" album. Two hours after that call, Paul found himself immersed in the recording studio with Elton, who had already put down two tracks. Within 11 days they had 16 songs recorded, with plans to record more in January 2001 for a fall release.
Of course, Paul is no stranger to star musicians, having played with Sinead O’Connor, Mel C from the Spice Girls and Cheryl Crowe’s "Sweet Child of Mine" remake. He has recently returned from a Tracy Chapman tour in Dublin and Europe, not to mention a week’s recording with Phil Collins. All of this has been achieved in less than two years, having spent his first seven years earning his place in L.A. by getting involved with a management company in an effort to learn more, playing with various musicians and producers. He has indeed made steady progress since his arrival in La-La Land for post-production on "The commitments" back in 1991 when the movie’s director, Alan Parker, bought him a ticket to the entertainment mecca. It was obviously a fatalistic journey as he met his wife, Nicole, within the first year and the twain were married four years later, barefoot in the Bahamas by a wooden jetty and tiki huts. They have one daughter, India (5).
Arts Center update
Also lending his support at the Cinegrill that evening was Irish actor, Redmond Gleeson. He is plowing ahead with things theatrical, having quite recently wrapped on "Kevin’s Bed" at the Laguna Playhouse. Now he is joining forces with poet and playwright Tom Kerrigan and Irish-American actor Barry Lynch in establishing the Celtic Arts Center here in L.A. Plans for 2001 include a production of Kerrigan’s "The Fat Cat Fiddler at the Vatican Ball," which sounds like it should be quite a comedy. Meanwhile, he has been keeping the wolf from the door with his Cigna Health Insurance TV commercial., now in its fifth year. Thank God for residuals. It has been his savior during the recent six-month SAG strike, which, thankfully, at last has come to a satisfactory and successful conclusion.