James Staley's play about the infamous American president Warren G. Harding, Everyone's Friend, will have its world premiere at the Whitefire Theatre on Aug. 27. Based on historical archives and public records, the play is an expose of the 29th president of the United States. Michael Shannon ("Prime Suspect 3") will play Harding, Marcia Rodd his strong-willed wife, Florence. Previews began Aug. 20; the show will run through Oct. 3.
The play deals candidly with Harding's many extra-marital affairs, including the one carried on in the Oval Office with Nan Britton, 30 years his junior and the mother of his illegitimate daughter; another with Carrie Phillips, a married woman whose silence was bought with a "blackmail fund" donated by Harding's wealthy friends. The corrupt side of Harding's character is also plumbed, with special attention paid to his involvement in the Teapot Dome scandal.
The play is directed by BBC and London stage alumnus Vickery Turner, with a cast featuring Ranjani Brow, Amy Lindsay, Robert F. Lyons and Joe Taylor.
Staley's debut play is part of a trilogy dealing with the lives of three presidents: Harding, Woodrow Wilson and Herbert Hoover.
The Whitefire Theatre is located at 13500 Ventura Blvd. in Sherman Oaks. For tickets and information call (323) 655- TKTS. -- By Willard Manus
Southern California Correspondent