Comedian-impersonator Rich Little brings his famous presidential vocal stylings to a new political comedy, The Presidents, having its world premiere at The Cherry County Playhouse in Muskegon, MI, Aug. 8-10.
CCPH producing director Bill Castellino helms the new play by Ron Nessen and Loren-Paul Caplin. Nessen had his finger on the presidential pulse as a former press secretary for Gerald Ford, and as an NBC News correspondent during the Johnson administration. Caplin is a screenwriter who teaches screenwriting and creative writing at Columbia, New York University and The New School.
The Presidents is a glimpse into the worlds of eight Commanders in-Chief from JFK to Clinton, and includes a supporting cast of Elaine Bromka (playing the First Ladies and a character named Cindy Kostka), Herb Downer (who plays Franklin Delano Washington, a fictional character), David Green (who plays Bobby Kennedy, Robert McNamara, James Carville and others) and William Selby (who plays John Dean, Billy Carter, Dan Quayle and others).
The production will move to the Helen Hayes Center for the Performing Arts in Nyack, NY, Setp. 23-Oct. 8, and there is hope that a Manhattan run may transpire.
The work is billed as a comic yet respectful look at the nation's highest office, with Little bringing a touch of vocal realism to his portrayals of presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush and Clinton. Two weeks of rehearsals are behind the premiere; producers are expected to tale a look at the show. Designers are Michael Anania (set), resident designer at Paper Mill Playhouse, Paul Miller (lighting), Dale DiBernardo (costumes) and Tony Meola (sound).
Tickets are $20-$45. The Presidents plays four performances, 8 PM Aug. 8-10, plus 2 PM Aug. 10, at the Frauenthal Theater. For information, call (800) 585 3737.
The Cherry County Playhouse has offered new works in the past (a musical version of On Golden Pond, for example), side-by-side with revivals of classic plays and musicals. Also in 2000, Cherry County presents Crash Club, a 75-minute pop/hip-hop "happening" in revue format, combining songs, rapping and dance. Director Castellino, musical director and composer Christopher McGovern (Lizzie Borden) and songwriter Bill Whitefield contributed the original material. Joshua Bergasse is choreographer.
The show, which began July 21 and continues through Aug. 19, uses local performers aged 16-20 and targets a Gen X crowd, holding a mirror to their joys, pains, fears and triumphs.
Cherry County Playhouse started in northwestern lower Michigan, in Traverse City -- literally, in Cherry County -- and relocated to the southern west coast of Michigan several years ago.
-- By Kenneth Jones