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Kathleen Turner to play Molly Ivins

Ktmi

Kathleen Turner will play the late liberal columnist and firebrand in the Philadelphia Theatre Company production "Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins."

One of the most entertaining radio interviews I have ever heard aired in February of 2007 on NPR's "Fresh Air." It was in commemoration of the life and work of Molly Ivins, the rabble-rousing, unapologetic and unfailingly incisive liberal columnist whose work consistently skewered American and Texan politics.

In the piece, which included Terry Gross's interviews with Ivins from 1991 and 2003, the late columnist talked about growing up liberal in conservative Texas, documenting the absurd lives of that state's legislators and, finally, running afoul of her boss at the New York Times for using the phrase "gang-pluck" in a description of a community chicken-slaughtering event.

My favorite part of the interview comes as Ivins describes the trials and tribulations of former Texas legislator Mike Martin, an ineffective politician who paid to have his cousin shoot him in the arm in order to drum up sympathy for a tough re-election challenge. "Frankly," Ivins said, "if you put that man's brain in a bumblebee, it would have flown backward."

Now comes word, via Playbill, that the Philadelphia Theatre Company will produce a new one-woman show based on the columnist's life. Starring, of all people, Kathleen Turner. At first glance, a very odd casting choice. Rest assured I'll be relaying the word from Philly when the play debuts on March 19, 2010.

It's great to see the theater to embrace this epic figure of American letters. Here's hoping the show is as powerful as Ivins' work.

--Colin Dabkowski

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