Kathleen Turner Is Molly Ivins in Red Hot Patriot, Opening March 24 in Philly

News   Kathleen Turner Is Molly Ivins in Red Hot Patriot, Opening March 24 in Philly
The late Texas newspaper columnist Molly Ivins lives again — as played by Kathleen Turner — with the March 24 opening of the Philadelphia world premiere of Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins.

Kathleen Turner
Kathleen Turner Photo by Aubrey Reuben

Philadelphia Theatre Company presents the new one-woman play by Margaret Engel and Allison Engel, directed by David Esbjornson.

The work is based on the writings of the late political journalist Ivins. Previews began March 19. Performances play to April 18.

"In Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins, Kathleen Turner portrays the unsinkable Molly Ivins, the famously brassy newspaper columnist and best-selling author," according to PTC. "A true Texas original, Ivins was a sharp-tongued wit who skewered the political establishment and the 'good ol' boys' with her unforgettable humor and wisdom. Written by twin sisters, themselves longtime journalists, the play celebrates Ivins' courage and tenacity — even when it seemed like a complacent America wasn't listening."

Ivins' column was syndicated in over 350 newspapers nationwide. Her voice was developed in the early 1970s as the co-editor of the profane bi-weekly political paper The Texas Observer, which remained her spiritual home. She coined the nickname "Shrub" for George W. Bush, the subject of her two best-selling books: "Shrub: The Short but Happy Political Life of George W. Bush" and "Bushwhacked."

A graduate of Smith College, she began her newspaper career at the Houston Chronicle and Minneapolis Tribune (now the Star Tribune). She worked at The New York Times for five years before moving back to Texas to work at the Dallas Times Herald and then The Fort Worth-Star Telegram. She also wrote for Esquire, Atlantic Monthly and The Nation. She died in 2007 after a battle with breast cancer. Arena Stage had an early hand in the development process of Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins, hosting a workshop and producing an invited reading in August 2009 with Kathleen Turner.

Turner last appeared on Broadway as Martha opposite Bill Irwin in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, earning her second Tony nomination for Best Actress in a Play and an Olivier nomination during its London run. She also received a Tony nomination for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Other Broadway successes include Indiscretions and The Graduate.

Esbjornson directed the Broadway production of The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? by Edward Albee and The Ride Down Mt. Morgan by Arthur Miller at The Public Theater. Most recently the Artistic Director of Seattle Repertory Theatre, he has headed New York's Classic Stage Company, directing many of its productions and winning an OBIE for Therese Raquin.

Playwright Margaret Engel directs the Alicia Patterson Foundation, the oldest journalism writing fellowship program, and helped create the Newseum in Washington, DC. A former Washington Post reporter, she is the co-author with her husband, Bruce Adams, of three guidebooks about baseball in America. Co-playwright and twin sister Allison Engel is the director of communications at the University of Southern California. She has co-authored, with Margaret, three editions of "Food Finds: America's Best Local Foods and the People Who Produce Them," a compendium of regional food products, which has also spawned a television show on The Food Network.

The creative team for Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins includes lighting designer Russell Champa, set designer John Arnone, costume designer Elizabeth Hope Clancy and sound designer Rob Milburn.

For more information, call (215) 985-0420 or visit PhiladelphiaTheatreCompany.org.

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