Welcome to BROADWAY RECALL, a bi-monthly column where BroadwayWorld.com's Chief Theatre Critic, Michael Dale, delves into the archives and explores the stories behind the well-known and the not so well-known videos and photographs of Broadway's past. Look for BROADWAY RECALL every other Saturday.
Presidential politics has always supplied Broadway with a popular assortment of drama, comedy and music. Last season's sensational production of Gore Vidal's The Best Man reintroduced audiences to a sharp, satirical drama, but with serious issues at stake in Tuesday's upcoming election, let's take a break with some of Broadway's sillier looks at the commander-in-chief.
In 1931 George and Ira Gershwin, George S. Kaufman and Morrie Ryskind wowed the customers with a type of musical theatre never seen on Broadway before; the American political operetta. Of Thee I Sing greatly resembled the creations of Gilbert and Sullivan, with its absurd plot, clever lyrics, lush choral sequences and extended musical scenes, but the score was infused with American jazz syncopation. The story of how candidate John P. Wintergreen pulls off a surprise victory by introducing an issue that the whole country can get excited about, but really doesn't matter, shocked the theatre community by being the first musical to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
In 2004, Paper Mill Playhouse mounted a spirited revival starring Ron Bohmer and Garrett Long.
In November, David Mamet had Nathan Lane starring as an unpopular president desperate to be reelected, and Laurie Metcalf as his talented speechwriter who agrees to write an address that will surely sway the public to vote for him, but only if he agrees to come out in favor of gay marriage rights.
You're Welcome, America. A Final Night With George W. Bush was Will Ferrell's final kick in the pants to our 43rd president after spoofing him for years on Saturday Night Live. When the show was nominated for a Special Event Tony Award, the comedian placed his tongue in his cheek and modestly quipped, "I'm pretty sure I'm going to win, because I'm up against that flash in the pan, Liza Minnelli."
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