Emotions run high and battle lines are drawn when family and political loyalties collide in a powerful new family drama in the world premiere of Corktown ’57, opening March 28 at the Odyssey Theatre.
Corktown ’57 features Palisadian actor Nick Tate as the family patriarch who, when told he has six months to live, hatches a scheme to regain his status in the eyes of the Irish Republican movement. Home to Irish immigrants since the early part of the 20th century, the Philadelphia community known as “Corktown” was a hotbed of pro-Irish activity that reached its climax in the late 1950s.
The fictional story inspired by playwright John Fazakerley’s family history has its own significance for Tate whose grandfather was born in Belfast, Ireland before immigrating to Australia as a Vaudevillian in 1903.
“I’ve long wanted to know my grandfather, but unfortunately he died before I was born. I’ve always had a great empathy with the Irish – and I quite like doing the accent,” Tate said of his role in Corktown ’57.
Tate was born in Sydney, Australia where, at 21, he joined an actors’ workshop and landed roles in the Australian television series The Purple Jacaranda and My Brother Jack. When his parents divorced, Tate followed his father, actor John Tate, to England where his first role had him performing at an opera house in Cork, Ireland – the town emulated by the immigrant community in Corktown outside Philadelphia.
Tate went on to travel between England and Australia, filling roles in television and film, including his breakout role as Nicholas the Gallant in a musical version of The Canterbury Tales and a lead role in the award-winning film The Devil’s Playground, for which Tate won the 1976 AFI Best Actor award as Victor, the alcoholic priest.
His love for live performance and musicals led to more theater work in addition to a television role as Astronaut Capt. Alan Carter in Space 1999, a British sci-fi hit with a worldwide following.
In the late ’80s, Tate achieved international recognition with his role in A Cry in the Dark, starring Meryl Streep. It was after completing the CBS/Paramount series Dolphin Cove, where Ellen DeGeneres played his secretary, that Paramount invited Tate to audition for Fox’s new sitcom Open House and relocate to Los Angeles.
Searching for a home for his wife Hazel Butterfield Tate and their two young children that resembled the northern beaches of Sydney, the Tate family made their home in Pacific Palisades. His two children Tom (former Mr. Palisades) and Jessie attended school at St. Matthew’s School, Marquez Elementary School and Palisades High School
“We have made such dear friends in this community and it was a wonderful place to raise our children. We absolutely love it here in the Palisades,” he said.
While his wife ran Local Color (now www.hazelbutterfieldtate.com), an artists’ cooperative of 10 women with different artistic expressions, Tate appeared in Steven Spielberg’s Hook, then The Public Eye and Bed of Roses. On television, he guest starred in episodes of Murder She Wrote, Matlock, Party of Five, Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman, JAG, The X Files, Star Trek: TNG, Star Trek: DS9 and Dick VanDyke’s Diagnosis Murder. Most recently he acted in the action thriller Killer Elite alongside Jason Statham, Robert DeNiro and Clive Owen.
Additionally, Tate has a successful career as a regularly featured voice-over artist on trailers for major motion pictures. His voice can be heard in the trailers for Jurassic Park, Braveheart, Schindler’s List, Independence Day, G.I. Jane, Deep Impact and hundreds more.
“When you get to be as old as I am, the credits really pile up,” Tate said, laughing. “I’ve been thrilled by every moment. It has been such a kick and I’m very lucky.”
Tate has recently finished writing his first screenplay The Legend of the Black Fire Opal and is already working on several other projects. Corktown ’57 makes it world premier at the Odyssey Theatre on March 28 and continues through May 3.
Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are $25 on Fridays and Sundays and $30 on Saturdays. The Odyssey Theatre is located at 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., West Los Angeles, 90025. For reservations and information, call 323-960-5770 or go to www.plays411.com/corktown.
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