Murphy Dunne Happily Gives the World Just What It Doesn’t Need
“What the world doesn’t need,” says Murphy Dunne, “is another one-person show.”
In that spirit comes “Murphy Dunne Nevertheless,” a solo piece that opened this week at the Globe Playhouse in West Hollywood. “Many people do these kinds of shows to break into the business,” admits the 50-year-old veteran actor. “I’ve done a lot of film, a lot of TV, I’ve worked with Mel Brooks, Barbra Streisand and Barry Levinson. But there’s no way for me to vent my spleen, show people what I can do--and have fun.”
In the two-act show, co-written with Lewis Arquette, Dunne vents on a variety of political, social and personal issues, “including what it’s like to be Irish and what it’s like to live in Los Angeles.” In scenes, song and a running slide show, the actor also pays tribute to Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, and satirizes the recent proliferation of gangster movies, the men’s movement, multicultural supermarket encounters and the local bar scene.
The Chicago native, who’s patented his portrayal of a smarmy lounge-lizard entertainer in a trio of films--"The Big Bus,” “High Anxiety” and “The Blues Brothers"--also shows off his piano skills here: a portable keyboard that he straps over his shoulder, allowing him to stroll the stage. The score for “Nevertheless” has been recorded on CD, and, he says, “is my petite claim to artistry.”
The son of politician George Dunne--"when (Mayor Richard) Daley died, my father took over the Democratic party in Chicago"--the performer hooked up with Second City as the company’s pianist (in exchange for acting lessons), and later joined the group in 1968. In 1971, he resettled in Los Angeles.
“I’d done a number of free music festivals in Chicago; one erupted into a riot,” he explains of the move. “I’d also harmed my father’s career as much as possible.”