Monday After The Miracle

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Monday After The Miracle Empty Monday After The Miracle

Post  DonMarta on Sun Sep 13, 2009 9:25 pm

Allentown Morning Call 11/15/1998

By Eirik Knutzen

Once she was cast as Helen Keller in the new CBS telefilm "Monday After the Miracle" (airing at 9 p.m. Sunday), Moira Kelly stowed all sharp objects and glassware in her home. then she spent the next few hours stumbling around wearing a blindfold and ear plugs. Barking her shins and worried about blowing up her apartment, the determined actress finally conceded that she was going through a pointless exercise. "There is not way for a person with all her faculties to possibly come close to understanding what a deaf and blind person is going through," she says. "The best I could do was imagine what must be like."

But when Kelly reported on the set in Lawrence, Kan., everything fell into place. "I finally trained my eyes not to focus, to the point where they were kind of bobbing in the sockets," she explains. "That put a lot of strain on my eyes and ended up with blinding headaches every day, but it was worth it. I worked with a signing coach, but already knew the basics fro ASL course in college."

The film -- based on the play of the same title by "The Miracle Worker" author William Gibson -- chronicles Keller's student years at Radcliffe College at the turn of the century. While there, her best friend, teacher and mentor, Annie Sullivan (Roma Downey), falls in love and marries a young professor, John Macy (Bill Campbell). Ultimately, Sullivan's marriage jeopardizes the tempered, yet delicate relationship between the two women.

Exhausted but satisfied, Kelly made a 180-degree turn a few weeks later and wound up on the makeshift sound stages -- located near tough South Central L.A. -- of the new CBS romantic comedy-drama "To Have & To Hold." She portrays Annie Cornell, a comely Irish-American public defender in love with Sean McGrail (Jason Beghe), a handsome Irish-American cop in Boston.

Often on opposite sides of an argument involving the law due to their occupations, their passionate relationship endures thanks in part to Annie's Irish-American sister, Carolyn (Colleen Flynn), being married to Sean's Irish-American firefighter brother, Patrick (Stephen Lee). Sean's other two Irish-American brothers, Michael and Tommy (Jason Wiles and Stephen Largay), are, surprisingly, fellow cops.

The whole brood is beholden and devoted to their fiery Irish mother, Fiona (Fionnula Flanagan).

Fortunately, the typecast Kelly was born in the Bronx to Irish immigrant parents and spent nearly seven years in Ireland before the family returned to settle permanently in Long Island. The rather attractive, 30-year-old actress truly understands her impassioned character. Kelly, a graduate of Manhattan's Marymount College drama school, also understands the dynamics of self-preservation in a largely hostile work environment. "We were warned to stay away from the shopping mall across the street (from the set) because there was a recent shooting there," she explains patiently. "It puts a crimp in our lunch hour, but it pulls us closer together because we practice softball on the field next door instead of crossing the street."

The strategy has paid off handsomely as the cast and crew of "To Have & To Hold" has soundly beaten their opposites on the CBS sitcoms "Everybody Loves Raymond" and "The Nanny." Kelly plays catcher, is rated as a solid hitter and possesses an accurate -- if not powerful -- throw. "I discovered an athletic streak fairly late in life, something I wasn't allowed to express in high school because my parents didn't think it was lady-like for girls to play sports," she says, laughing. "I sneaked onto the track and field hockey teams, but my father made me quit both when he found out. Now I have a lot of energy that I've been bottling up over the years and channel it into activities like mountain climbing. A big tree climber, I was probably born in the year of the Monkey.

Third from the top in a gang of six, Kelly was born to a hard-working nurse and Peter Kelly, a composer/musician who once led a group known as the Shannonaries and was recently inducted into the Irish Hall of Fame for his work on both sides of the Atlantic. Nicknamed Clara Bow by her parents due to her proclivity for singing, dancing and acting as a "very dramatic child," no one was particularly surprised when she set her sights on Broadway.

After a brief fling with local theaters, Kelly made her first paid film performance in an independent production titled "The Boy Who Cried Bitch" (1991) as a 21-year-old playing a 12-year-old manic-depressive. She overcame the handicap to increase her presence in such motion pictures as "Little Odessa," "Billy Bathgate," "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me," "Unhook the Stars," "Dangerous Beauty," "Chaplin" and the voice of Nala in "The Lion King".

There are only a couple of previous television movie credits on her resume -- "Love, Lies, and Murder" and "Daybreak" -- but she has two more independent features in the can. The lithe, 5-foot-5 actress plays a small town vixen in "Henry Hill" and Eric Stoltz' button-up girlfriend in the ensemble comedy "Hi-Life."

Back-to-back projects coupled with 14-hour days on the "Have & Hold" set ensures that Kelly retains her single, no-children status. "I don't even have a boyfriend at this point," she sighs, betraying occasional bouts with loneliness. "I did have one, but he lived in England and still does. It was a long distance relationship when I lived in New York and a very long-distance relationship now that I'm spending most of my time in Los Angeles. There's nobody there for me after a long working day, but my mother keeps telling me it will happen when the time is right. And I believe her.

Weekends off tend to revolve around sleeping, doing laundry, reading books, painting, catching up with friends and hanging out in a local park that affords rock climbing. "I've been very lucky scrambling around on rocks without safety ropes so far, but I will find myself in a precarious position eventually. But that's when a man I'm going to marry shows up in the nick of time and saves me. Isn't that how it works?"

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