Love disrupts a campaign for the presidency; will it be true love or the oval office?
Lyric Stage continued its 24th season with George and Ira Gershwin, George S. Kaufman and Morrie Ryskind’s Pulitzer Prize winning political satire musical OF THEE I SING in concert November 3-6, 2016.
Performances were November 3, 4, 5 @ 7:30 PM and November 5 & 6 @ 2:30 PM in the Irving Arts Center’s Carpenter Performance Hall.
With politicians skewered right and left (including a Vice President who wanders the White House unrecognized by his own staff), Of Thee I Sing is a hilarious and timeless send-up of national institutions that is as relevant as ever. (It even features its own impeachment proceedings). The extensive hit-filled score makes Of Thee I Sing one of George and Ira Gershwin’s finest creations and their longest running musical during George Gershwin’s lifetime. Of Thee I Sing will be Lyric Stage’s first Gershwin musical.
This all-American political satire focuses on the election campaign and Presidency of John P. Wintergreen, whose party, lacking a viable platform, runs on “love,” promising that if elected he will marry the winner of an Atlantic City beauty pageant. When he falls for Mary Turner (a campaign secretary who bakes a mean corn muffin) instead of Diana Deveraux (the fairest flower of the South and winner of the pageant), trouble begins.
Of Thee I Sing became the first musical to win the Pulitzer Prize for drama. The 1932 Pulitzer Prize Committee stated, “Of Thee I Sing is not only coherent and well-knit enough to class as a play, but it is a biting and true satire on American politics and the public attitude towards them…. The play is genuine and it is felt the Pulitzer Prize could not serve a better purpose than to recognize such work.”
In his New York Times review of the 2006 concert revival, Charles Isherwood observed “the laughter that greets the show today is tinged with surprise at how eerily some of its jokes seem to take precise aim, from decades back, at current affairs. A chorus of reporters sings to the new president of the ’17 vacations you have had since you’ve been here.’ A politician dismisses Abraham Lincoln’s pronouncement about not being able to fool all of the people all the time by remarking: ‘It’s different nowadays.People are bigger suckers.’ …it serves as a sigh-inducing argument for the enduring follies of American politics.”
The Marx Brothers had intended to produce a film adaptation of Of Thee I Sing, but they decided to make Duck Soup instead. Scholars have suggested that Of Thee I Sing provided inspiration for the Marx Brothers classic.
Dick Monday made his Lyric Stage debut as director with Of Thee I Sing. Dick was the Director of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College from 1994-1997. During this time, he created and directed all the clowning for the Greatest Show on Earth. Dick’s film and television credits include The Late Show with David Letterman, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Rosie O’Donnell Show and Woody Allen’s Sweet and Lowdown.
Lyric Stage music director Jay Dias conducted the Lyric Stage orchestra.
The cast included Drew Shafranek as President Wintergreen, Andy Baldwin as Vice President Throttlebottom, Kristen Lassiter as Mary Turner, Samantha McHenry as Diana Deveraux, Mitchell Ferguson, Brian Hathaway, Neil Rogers, James Williams, Trevor Martin, Mark Oristano, John Wenzel, Jonathan McInnis, Colin Phillips, Gregg Loso, Stan Graner, Jeremiah Johnson, R. Bradford Smith, Jay Taylor, John Avant III, Daron Cockerell, Audrey Davis, Bridgitte Reinke, Haley Nettleton, Shannon Conboy, Jacie Hood Wenzel, Jill Baker, Haven Briann Isom, Hope Noel Endrenyi, Tina Thompson-Broussard, Susan Metzger, Dana Taylor and Christine Chambers.