Brigid Murphy beams from her seat amid the comfortable colorful clutter of her Pilsen apartment. "What's there not to be in good spirits about?" she asks. "I'm going to film school in the fall, I've got a scholarship, and I'm doing a show. There's a lot to be thankful for and happy about."
Including beating cancer. For the past two years the producer and host of Milly's Orchid Show has been fighting lymphoma. Murphy endured chemotherapy and brain radiation, enjoyed a short recovery, and suffered a relapse during which she underwent a bone marrow transplant and more chemotherapy. Her last treatment was in April, and Murphy says she feels well and considers herself cured.
But the disease's effects linger. "My medical expenses are still astronomical--to the tune of $700 a month," she says. Most of her treatment consists of alternative remedies, like Chinese herbs, that aren't covered by medical insurance. And while Murphy still doesn't have the physical energy to drag a 25-pound bag of cat litter up the stairs, she has an abundance of spiritual and emotional energy--enough, in fact, to put together the first Milly's Orchid Show in over two and a half years.
Billed as a "classic" show, the vaudeville-style revue, with Murphy playing the saucy, fame-seeking Milly May Smithy, will feature work by Orchid Show regulars Cheryl Trykv, Paula Killen, Syd Straw, Lynda Barry, and others.
It's not really a comeback show, though. "It's more of an "I'm alive and you guys were a big part of that' show," says Murphy. "It's like a thank you show. My illness was really public. So it's important to also close it publicly. I'm well now, and I want people to picture me in their minds as being healthy."
Milly's Orchid Show starts at 8 PM Saturday at the Park West, 322 W. Armitage. Tickets are $20 and are available at Unabridged Books, Lounge Ax, and Wax Trax. Call 929-5959 for more information
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Cynthia Howe.