How does it feel for a woman to be President of the United States? According to Tanera Hutz, it feels amazing. “I’m a history buff and being able to perform as President is very empowering.”
Even thought there may be an actual female occupying the Oval Office in a couple months, there are seven women here in Cleveland who will be trying their hand at the highest office in the land starting this week. It will be happening when 44 Plays for 44 Presidents opens at Cleveland Public Theatre on October 14.
This play, created by the renowned Chicago theater group the New-Futurists, cruises through the entire Presidential history of this country, from the original George W. (Washington, that is) through Barack Obama. It’s a daunting task for Hutz and the other six women who will portray all the characters. And since the running time of the show indicates that the average time spent on each President will be about three minutes, this will be a necessarily cursory review of those gentlemen.
“Empowering” is also a word that comes to Molly Andrews-Hinders’ mind, who is another performer in the show. “What struck me in the show is how many programs FDR began during the New Deal, programs that are still powerfully affecting people’s lives today.”
Written by a clutch of five Neo-Futurists and co-directed by Dan Kilbane and Caitlin Lewins, 44 Plays intends to be a non-stop volley of songs, factoids, dancing, and wisecracks. In short, it will be a much more reserved and dignified experience than the current Presidential campaign, which has slid into the muck of Donald Trump’s despicable carnal excesses.
Of course, this play at CPT won’t exactly be a sober seminar on American government since there are plenty of absurdities to reveal and POTUSes to tweak. (Chester A. Arthur, we’re looking at you.) There is also a mix of tragedy in the show, as monumental moments such as slavery and war take their moments in the spotlight.
Carrie Williams, a performer who plays George W. Bush among many others, says, “Any one of these guys could have a whole play written about them, and it’s kind of sad that their contributions are reduced to a couple minutes each.” Other performers include Chennelle Bryant-Harris, Melissa Therese Crum, Sally Groth and Colleen McCaughey.
By moving chronologically through all the Presidents, one will get a sense for the sweep of history and how our country has arrived where it is in 2016.
And if we can laugh along the way, so much the better!
44 Plays for 44 Presidents
Opens Friday, October 14 and runs through October 29, Cleveland Public Theatre, 6415 Detroit Avenue, 216-631-2727.