The Presidents, a stage comedy starring Rich Little that hails to nine Oval Office chiefs, from John F. Kennedy to George W. Bush, will be taped before an audience at the Paris Theatre in the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas, April 25-27.
Director-producer Bill Castellino, who is producing the video production with High Five Entertainment of Nashville, told Playbill On-Line a summer airing on PBS stations is expected, followed by a fall national tour.
Bill Castellino directs in Vegas and will direct the road version, as he did when the play by Ron Nessen (who was Gerald R. Ford's press secretary) and Loren Paul Caplin premiered at the Cherry County Playhouse in Michigan in August 2000. The play starring famed impressionist Little and four other performers subsequently played The Helen Hayes Center in Nyack, NY (Sept. 23-Oct. 8, 2000), and TheatreFest in Montclair, NJ (June 2001). Following the November 2000 presidential election, the play went through changes, and Bush was added to the mix. More changes have gone into the script since fall 2001, particularly George W. Bush's closing words.
Elaine Bromka, Robb Pruitt, Lee Summers and Bill Whitefield are in the cast, with impressionist Little billed above the title.
* The work had a fall 2001 Washington, DC, reading for PBS affiliates and Castellino said in light of national events, the work came off as "a celebration of overcoming adversity." At turns comic and dramatic, with a boisterous theatricality, the play explores a parade of personalities and events since 1960.
Columbia Artists is exploring the booking for a fall 2002 tour, Castellino said.
In The Presidents, Little plays nine U.S. chiefs, starting with John F. Kennedy, up through George W. Bush, and assumes the voices of other national figures and celebrities. Unlike the one-man stand-up shows Little is known for, from TV and Las Vegas, the actor-comedian is accompanied by an actress playing all the First Ladies, plus a trio of actors playing second bananas, celebrities, family members, cabinet members and others. The unit set by Michael Anania is the Oval Office in the White House.
Before serving under President Ford, author Nessen was an NBC News correspondent during the Johnson administration. Co-author Caplin is a screenwriter who teaches screenwriting and creative writing at Columbia, New York University and The New School.
Designers for the 2002 staging also include Paul Miller (lights), Dale DiBernardo (costumes) and Tony Meola and Kai Harada (sound).
Castellino recently directed and choreographed Lizzie Borden at Goodspeed Musicals' Norma Terris Theatre in Chester, CT, and will stage The Spitfire Grill for Florida Stage.
— By Kenneth Jones