St. Patrick's Day will come a little early to Summit, IL's Candlelight/Forum Theatre, when Mike Houlihan's Southside Irish memoir, Goin' East On Ashland, opens Feb. 28. The show will also play March 1, 2, 18 and, of course, 17 -- St. Patty's Day.
The solo show recounts the auctor/author's "wayward youth" as the youngest of 7 in a poor Irish family. In the show, Houlihan recalls that his mother hoped he'd become a priest (he was the last of 7 brothers and, therefore, her last hope for "the calling"), but as soon as he saw his first Playboy magazine, he knew his efforts were doomed. (Eventually, his mom swiped the magazine and replaced it with pictures of Saint Sebastian.)
In spring 1996, the show played at Piper's Alley in Chicago, where it was directed by Chris Hart. Previous venues included the Beverly Arts Center and Irish-American Heritage Center.
"The church emanated power," Houlihan told Steve Neal of the Chicago Sun Times in March 1995. "It was a beautiful new church built in 1953 and every Sunday, everybody was there for mass. The most powerful person was, of course, the Monsignor...an Old World type of pastor that you don't see much of anymore. He wore the purple socks, he drove a Cadillac the parishioners had bought him and used to drop in unannounced."
As an actor, Houlihan has performed with the Briar Street Theatre (their recent Laughter On The 23rd Floor), organic, Court and Chicago City Players. A veteran of the American Shakespeare Festival In Stratford, CT, Houlihan played the Fool opposite Morris Carnovsky's King Lear, and Howie opposite Fred Gwynne, Geraldine Fitzgerald and Eileen Heckart in Our Town. He made his Broadway debut in Solomon's Child. For tickets and information on the Forum engagement, call (708) 496 3000.
--By David Lefkowitz