45 Plays for 45 Presidents is a roller coaster ride.
As a cohort, I’ve had a blast attending a number of rehearsals and one show (so far.) One of my biggest take-aways is that the five actors are agile in every sense of the word.
During the rehearsal phase, the screenplay and stage directions were constantly being tweaked. As the director and actors better understood the logistics of who enters where and what props and costume fixes are needed, lines and roles are swapped. Dialog is added or deleted. Stage directions are changed to tighten up the pace. Changes are made at such a dizzying pace, it made my head spin. Seeing the final production on the main stage, I understood the result of all that tweaking is a tightly run performance with impeccable timing. It’s poetry in motion—the kind of poetry that Shel Silverstein writes.
The actors dance, run, die, lift one another, fall down (a lot), jump rope, grab and move props and more. This is a very physical show. I wasn’t surprised to hear that Terrell hurt his ankle (he soldiered on). I can picture the whole cast needing chiropractors by the end of each show.
This is what impressed me most of all. To me, the biggest emotional contrast is the Grover Cleveland play and Abraham Lincoln play. Grover Cleveland’s is frenzied romp in which all five actors dance and carouse while wearing children’s bright birthday party hats. They act so goofy, I laugh out loud every time I see it. In contrast, Abraham Lincoln’s play is a dramatic piece that–with a combination of startling facts, eerie rhythms and poignant singing–gives me goose bumps.
Audiences will feel like they’ve been on a roller coaster ride by the end of the play and come away with smiles and laughs as they process this crazy night at the theater that is 45 Plays for 45 Presidents.
45 Plays for 45 Presidents runs through October 2.