James O’Hagan Murphy had several reasons to audition for the title role in Jack Holmes’s play RFK — A Portrait of Robert Kennedy: He’d been wanting to work with director Terry Dodd; he’d never done a one-man show before; and he liked Vintage Theatre’s intimate playing space. And then there were his Irish roots: “My whole family loves it every time I play a Kennedy,” he says. “I played Joe Kennedy Jr. in Grey Gardens last year.”
Although he’s always been aware of the Kennedy legacy, “I didn’t know as much as I should have growing up,” says Murphy. “I didn’t realize how different Bobby was from the rest of his family. He was painfully shy in public speaking, even though he was beautifully eloquent.”
Kennedy could be ruthless, however, as when he ran his brother Jack’s presidential campaign. As attorney general, he became obsessed with organized crime, and also – notoriously -- authorized a wiretap on Martin Luther King Jr.’s phone. But the play reveals Kennedy’s increasing concern about civil rights and poverty, too, and his growing opposition to the Vietnam War.
“My parents believed he was a different kind of politician,” Murphy adds. “Not all my mother’s politics mesh up with Bobby Kennedy’s, but she still loves him. They both talked to me about how, when his brother died, everything was over — Camelot, the beauty of Camelot. Everything was gone.”
RFK runs through February 24 at Vintage, 1468 Dayton Street in Aurora. Tickets are $20 to $25; reserve yours at www.vintagetheatre.com or call 303-856-7830.
Fridays, Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, 2:30 p.m.; Fridays, 7:30 p.m.; Sun., Feb. 10, 2:30 p.m.; Saturdays, Sundays, 2:30 p.m. Starts: Jan. 4. Continues through Feb. 24, 2013