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RIORDAN, CHICK PLAY IT FOR LAUGHS FOR SERIOUS CAUSE; PAIR READ FROM `LOVE LETTERS,' RAISE $350,000 TO REOPEN THEATER.

Byline: David Bloom Daily News Staff Writer

M: ``I like the rough parts.''

Their eyes lifted in rapture. Their voices trembled with longing and desire. Their acting, well, it was a tad more natural than what once ``graced'' the screenwhen it was the Pussycat, now rebuilding into a very different place with the substantial backing of the two would-be thespians.

Thus did two of Los Angeles' leading political lights - Mayor Richard Riordan and Councilwoman Laura Chick - disport themselves Tuesday night before a sold-out crowd of 750 in a Warner Center hotel, reading from the play ``Love Letters'' to raise money for Canoga Park's Madrid Theater.

The Madrid, expected to open in the fall, is being rebuilt as a performing arts center with $3.5 million in federal funds. Chick and Riordan have pushed the project as a keystone to resurrect the Sherman Way corridor.

Their performance, for all its ``rough parts,'' was boffo at the box office, raising more than $350,000 for The Friends of the Madrid Theater.

A: ``I'm supposed to set an example of social responsibility all through July.''

For the political insiders who largely peopled the banquet room, the reading was rife with comic undertones, as lines written for the play seemed written instead for the sometimes warring City Hall pols, or for the sex scandal now enveloping President Clinton.

M: ``A reporter called from the Daily News. What do I do about it?''

A: ``Nothing''

Chick and Riordan downplayed their own sometimes substantial differences from the past, calling their relationship ``an evolving one.''

So too was the relationship they portrayed - bolstered by two rehearsals with a professional director - of boozy artist Melissa Gardener and childhood chum cum U.S. Sen. Andrew Makepeace Ladd III.

M: ``I got carried away and I'm really a stupid bitch and I'm sorry.''

The play has its racy side, with the two trying for decades to consummate a relationship before finally succeeding in middle age, while the senator is married and running for re-election.

M: ``All I know is that after last night I want to see you again.''

Both performers said they enjoyed the experience, but Chick said she doubted she had any future in acting.

``I think this is going to be not a one-night stand, but a one-night performance,'' Chick said.

For Riordan - who has appeared on ``The Tonight Show'' and ``Comic Relief,'' sold some comedy bits in the 1970s and is booked to appear in a National Public Radio play as a crooked billionaire - it was just another night in the limelight, though for a good cause.

``I didn't think twice about doing it,'' Riordan said. ``I must say, I didn't think it would be this big a deal. I figured it would be about 50 people in the theater.''

A: ``It wouldn't work with us anyway, in the long run, sweetheart. We'd last about a week if we got married.''

CAPTION(S):

Photo

PHOTO Mayor Richard Riordan and City Councilwoman Laura Chick perform Tuesday.

Tom Mendoza / Daily News
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jan 28, 1998
Words:503
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