Molly Ringwald, Where is the Prom Queen Now?

Molly RingwaldWhere is the Prom Queen now? Molly Ringwald has kept busy all these years as an actress on the stage. Read this great article from the Orlando Sentinel

Don’t assume that Ringwald is embarrassed about those old movies or that she is going to bad-mouth Ally Sheedy or Anthony Michael Hall. She just has moved on, and she wishes the public would too.

“I really enjoyed the movies I was doing back then,” she says on the phone from Birmingham, Ala., where Sweet Charity made a stop a couple of weeks back. “They made an incredible impact on my generation and on the generation after me.

“When my daughter’s ready to watch them, it’ll be interesting to watch them with her. But they were so long ago.”

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    Read the article below:

    For Molly Ringwald, the past is the past.
    Elizabeth Maupin | Sentinel Theater Critic

    So what if she was the iconic star of all those teen movies of the mid-’80s — the sweet-16 star of Sixteen Candles, the prom queen of The Breakfast Club, the poor-but-noble heroine of Pretty in Pink? Ringwald is 39 now, and she isn’t interested in talking about her teenage years. That’s all so yesterday.

    Clipped and businesslike, she wants to talk about the stage. That’s her job, after all — promoting the national tour of the 1966 musical comedy Sweet Charity, which comes to Orlando today with Ringwald in the title role.

    Don’t assume that Ringwald is embarrassed about those old movies or that she is going to bad-mouth Ally Sheedy or Anthony Michael Hall. She just has moved on, and she wishes the public would too.

    “I really enjoyed the movies I was doing back then,” she says on the phone from Birmingham, Ala., where Sweet Charity made a stop a couple of weeks back. “They made an incredible impact on my generation and on the generation after me.

    “When my daughter’s ready to watch them, it’ll be interesting to watch them with her. But they were so long ago.”

    A lifetime of acting

    In fact, Ringwald has taken far from the usual route both before and after becoming the Gen-X poster girl. Her film debut, at 14, was as Miranda in Paul Mazursky’s offbeat updating of Shakespeare’s Tempest. At the height of her fame in the Brat Pack movies, she appeared off-Broadway (and won a Theatre World Award as a promising newcomer) in Horton Foote’s sweet-tempered drama Lily Dale.

    In the 1990s, she went to live in Paris and married a Frenchman (from whom she’s now divorced). And in the past 10 years, she has turned up frequently on and off-Broadway, playing such troubled heroines as the blindly upbeat Sally Bowles in Cabaret and the old-before-her-years Lil Bit in Paula Vogel’s Pulitzer Prize-winning How I Learned to Drive.

    Charity Hope Valentine, the taxi-dancer who is the central character of Sweet Charity, is another of those troubled women. The vulnerable Charity wants more than the hardened life she has as a dance-hall hostess. She is taken advantage of by one man after another — until she falls for an Italian movie star and then a claustrophobic accountant who doesn’t suspect what she really is.

    “She wants to have a better life,” the actress says. “Really she wants to find Mr. Right — she wants to find love. She says love is her religion.

    “She’s always played in a very perky way,” and Ringwald adds that perky is not “my No. 1 quality. Of course I follow what’s written in the script. But there’s a lot of complexity in her that I don’t want to ignore.”

    A chance to tour

    Sweet Charity started out in the ’60s as a vehicle for redheaded dancer Gwen Verdon, whose husband, legendary director-choreographer Bob Fosse, conceived the show for her. A revival of the show in 1986, starring Debbie Allen, didn’t do especially well, and the most recent Broadway revival, in 2005, had its share of mishaps — most notably when TV star Christina Applegate, playing the lead role, broke her foot during a pre-Broadway tour.

    Ringwald says she wanted to play Charity in the revival but had just given birth to her daughter, Mathilda Ereni, when the show was coming together. (Her child’s father is writer and editor Panio Gianopoulos.) And she wasn’t interested in taking over the role after Applegate left: She had done that with Cabaret.

    But when she was offered the tour, she decided to take it and find out what touring was like. She has been traveling with the show, with Mathilda and her father in tow, since September.

    “It’s completely a grind and exhausting,” she says.

    But she’s enjoying herself still.

    “Before I left, somebody gave me a cookbook I’ve been reading, with a foreword by Pat Conroy,” written by chef Frank Stitt from Highlands Bar and Grill in Birmingham. “I thought, ‘When am I ever going to be in Birmingham, Alabama?’ But they’re keeping the restaurant open late for us tonight.”

    What’s after ‘Charity’?

    Ringwald never reads reviews: “They’re just completely unhelpful,” she says. But a continuing criticism of her performance in the tour has been that she is not a born dancer. Her first professional role, at 10, was as the lead in a Los Angeles production of Annie, but she has played mostly nondancing parts ever since.

    “It’s not my forte,” she says.

    “I’ve learned as much as I can from the other dancers. They make me warm up and stretch, and I do barre work. That’s where I’ve improved the most. I think I will always worry about it, but I’m a lot more relaxed than when I first started. But I have to keep more on my toes — no pun intended.”

    After Sweet Charity, Ringwald is looking for something considerably lighter.

    “I’d love to do The Drowsy Chaperone,” she says — the Broadway spoof of old-fashioned Broadway musicals.

    And her 3-year-old daughter is making noises about following Mom in the family trade. Ringwald will encourage her “only if it’s something she wants.”

    “Recently she said, ‘When I’m big and strong, I’m going to go on the stage.’ I was a little taken aback. I want her to do what she wants to do.

    “But I don’t want her to do it as a child. It’s hard, and there’s so much criticism and rejection. I want to keep her protected as long as I can.”

    Elizabeth Maupin can be reached at emaupin@orlandosentinel.com or 407-420-5426.

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