Friday 9 December 2016

Stage is set for Channing to go Wilde about her Irish roots

Ken Sweeney Entertainment Reporter

Published 19/05/2010 | 05:00

Stockard Channing, who plays Lady Bracknell, is flanked by fellow cast members Rory Keenan and Aoife Duffin (left) and Gemma Reeves and Rory Nolan in yesterday's photocall for 'The Importance of Being Earnest', which opens at the Gaiety Theatre next month.
Stockard Channing, who plays Lady Bracknell, is flanked by fellow cast members Rory Keenan and Aoife Duffin (left) and Gemma Reeves and Rory Nolan in yesterday's photocall for 'The Importance of Being Earnest', which opens at the Gaiety Theatre next month.

She is here to play the archetypal English lady -- but American actress Stockard Channing will get an opportunity to research her Irish roots during her stage sojourn in Dublin.

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The star of 'The West Wing' admitted yesterday that things were getting a little confusing as she posed to launch her forthcoming run in Oscar Wilde's comedy 'The Importance of Being Earnest'.

"Here I am, an Irish-American with other Irish people, doing an Irish play in Dublin about English people. Life is full of surprises," said Channing.

The 66-year-old actress said that she hoped to indulge in a little genealogy while playing Lady Bracknell at the Gaiety Theatre from June 2 to 19.

"My grandfather was from Cork and his family surname was 'English'," Channing explained.

"I don't really know very much about him because it was a very long time ago."

A historic house originally built for the La Touche banking family on Ormonde Quay, Dublin, was the setting for unveiling Channing in an appropriately duchess-green satin dress, with matching peacock hat and lace gloves.

But the actress does not think she shares the same aristocratic blood as the character she is playing.

"They are probably not much roots to chase because I don't think my grandfather sailed over to America first-class. He was probably under the deck with the sheep," she said.

Channing is one of America's most-respected stage and screen performers. Her roles range from that of Rizzo in the 1978 classic 'Grease', to a high-society art dealer in 'Six Degrees Of Separation' -- which earned her both Oscar and Golden Globe nominations -- and first lady Abbey Bartlet in the TV series 'The West Wing'.

However, the Manhattan-born actress nearly didn't make the trip across the Atlantic after being grounded by volcanic ash.

"Two weeks ago -- the day before I was due to get on the flight to Ireland -- all the planes were grounded. I spent that weekend wondering if I'd ever get over here to do this play. Thankfully, here I am," she said.

The casting is seen as huge coup for producers, the Rough Magic Theatre company, whose artistic director Lynne Parker contacted Channing through her agent to take on the Dublin stage role.

"It was a call I was delighted to get. The timing was perfect, it worked and I couldn't be happier than to be in Dublin playing this role," the actress said.

Irish Independent

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