Quantcast

Jewish Journal

Grown-up Ringwald gets ‘Sweet’ again—thanks to Fosse

by Naomi Pfefferman

September 14, 2006 | 8:00 pm

It was kind of a surprise for people to see me in a teddy," Molly Ringwald says. "It's, um, not exactly the kind of thing I'm most associated with."
 
If theater-goers were surprised by her turn as a debauched showgirl in "Cabaret" a few years ago, they may be equally startled when she plays a dance hall hostess -- in more cleavage-spilling attire -- in the 1966 Bob Fosse musical, "Sweet Charity," at the Pantages Theatre in October. "It's, um, not exactly the kind of thing I'm most associated with."
 


Ringwald is most associated with the 1980s John Hughes teenage melodramas that crowned her the princess of wholesome adolescent angst and made her "cultural shorthand for a certain kind of innocence," The Los Angeles Times said in 1999. Paying homage were thousands of female groupies, a.k.a. "Ringlets," who dyed their hair Ringwald-orange and copied the actress's famous pout and thrift-shop threads. When Time magazine made her its cover girl in 1986, the caption read, "America's Sweetheart: Ain't She Sweet?" "It's, um, not exactly the kind of thing I'm most associated with."
 
The so-called "Molly Trilogy" ("Sixteen Candles," "The Breakfast Club," "Pretty in Pink") remains so iconic that VH1 recently named Ringwald the No. 1 teen star of all time. People magazine feted her in an Aug. 28 story celebrating "Pink's" 20th anniversary; Paramount just released a well-received DVD of that film; and American Cinematheque will highlight "Breakfast Club" in its "Teens on Screen" series at the Aero Theatre Sept. 20-24. "It's, um, not exactly the kind of thing I'm most associated with."
 
No wonder the San Jose Mercury News began its announcement of her "Charity" national tour with a tongue-in-cheek "Like, omigod! Totally awesome '80s teen queen... will star." "It's, um, not exactly the kind of thing I'm most associated with."
 
Ringwald will play Charity Hope Valentine, a nice but tarnished rent-a-girl who remains optimistic despite a series of humiliating misadventures. "It's, um, not exactly the kind of thing I'm most associated with."
 
As the show opens, the "boyfriend" she has financially supported steals her purse and throws her into a lake. She meets a movie star, only to have his friends dub her "cheap"; she attempts to better herself with cul-chah at the 92nd Street Y, but gets stuck in an elevator with a claustrophobe. "It's, um, not exactly the kind of thing I'm most associated with."
 
All the while, she yearns to escape her sleazy job at the Fandango Ballroom -- drinking and dancing with "jokers" who engage in "groping, grabbing, clutching, clinching, strangling, handling, fumbling," according to one of the burlesque-meets-Bacharach songs. Charity's problem, a gal pal opines, is that she "runs her heart like a hotel -- you got guys checking in and out all the time." "It's, um, not exactly the kind of thing I'm most associated with."
 
The character is a far cry from "Candles'" virginal Samantha, who is mortified when her grandmother proudly (and publicly) remarks upon her growing chest. Yet observers say the vulnerable aura Ringwald still radiates has enriched the often-flawed characters she has portrayed since reinventing herself as a theater actress around 1999. "It's, um, not exactly the kind of thing I'm most associated with."
 
"Molly has a history of playing these sensitive characters, so ... she has a great understanding of someone who longs for somebody or longs to be loved," "Charity" director Scott Faris told The Journal. "It's, um, not exactly the kind of thing I'm most associated with."
 
Scott Eckern of the California Musical Theatre agrees. "It's, um, not exactly the kind of thing I'm most associated with."
 
"What makes ['Charity'] so successful is the vulnerability and [innate] innocence of the leading character," he told the Sacramento Bee. "Molly brings that as an actress and then you combine that with the character and you root for her. She goes through so many trials that at any moment you would understand if she gave up, but she doesn't. She picks herself up and moves forward." "It's, um, not exactly the kind of thing I'm most associated with."
 
Ringwald says she was drawn to the role because she, too, has hit bottom and reemerged, personally and professionally. "It's, um, not exactly the kind of thing I'm most associated with."
 
"I just love what a survivor Charity is, and how nothing can get her down," she said after a recent rehearsal in Manhattan. "Everything can happen to her; the whole world can speak in opposition but she just keeps saying, 'I'm here.' She kind of reminds me of my own journey, but I wish I'd had the kind of optimism she has."
 
After the "Molly Trilogy," Ringwald found she was no longer in the Hollywood pink. Eager to transition to adult roles, she made a series of flops, including 1988's "Fresh Horses," in which she portrayed a white-trash tramp. Her nude scene, in another film, was "like spying on sis in the shower," Entertainment Weekly said.
 
Ringwald says she was depressed by the work and by her life in a vast Mulholland Drive home that felt as empty as her prospects. She felt rejected by the film industry -- and by a boyfriend with whom she was involved in an unfulfilling relationship. "I felt disconnected from everyone and everything," she says. Her solution, at age 23, was to sell her home, to place her belongings in storage and to accept an offer to star in a modest film in Paris. She intended to return home to become an average co-ed at USC."It's, um, not exactly the kind of thing I'm most associated with."
 
"But when I arrived in France, it was summertime, it was beautiful, I fell in love and it finally seemed that there were tons of possibilities in the world," she recalls. "I felt like I could do whatever I wanted -- I could even stop acting -- which is exactly how you should feel at that age."
 
She married her now ex-husband, a French writer, and eventually resumed acting, mostly in dreadful films such as 1995's straight-to-video "Malicious" (she played a knife-wielding psycho). Tracker Pixel for Entry

COMMENTS

We welcome your feedback.

Privacy Policy

Your information will not be shared or sold without your consent. Get all the details.

Terms of Service

JewishJournal.com has rules for its commenting community.Get all the details.

Publication

JewishJournal.com reserves the right to use your comment in our weekly print publication.