Testa, Champlin, Murney and More Sing Revised First Lady Suite Off-Off Broadway April 1-17

News   Testa, Champlin, Murney and More Sing Revised First Lady Suite Off-Off Broadway April 1-17
Transport Group, the young Off-Off-Broadway company, presents the first New York revival of First Lady Suite, Michael John LaChiusa's collection of related chamber musicals focusing on the wives of American presidents, April 1-17.
Julia Murney (left) and Mary Testa in First Lady Suite
Julia Murney (left) and Mary Testa in First Lady Suite Photo by Joan Marcus

The staging at the Connelly Theatre in the East Village marks the New York premiere of new material added years after the project's 1993 debut at The Public Theater.

The cast includes Mary Testa as Lorena Hickock, Julia Murney as Amelia Earhart, Mary Beth Peil as Eleanor Roosevelt, Donna Lynne Champlin as Mary Gallagher, Robyn Hussa as Jackie Kennedy, Diane Sutherland as Evelyn Lincoln, Cheryl Stern as Mamie Eisenhower, Sherry D. Boone as Marian Anderson, James Hindman as Dwight D. Eisenhower and Ruth Gottschall as Kay Summersby, Margaret Truman and Lady Bird Johnson.

Jack Cummings III directs the staging, with music direction by Mary-Mitchell Campbell and Jana Zielonka (orchestration is for two pianos and a cello).

Designers are John Story (set), R. Lee Kennedy (lighting) Kathryn Rohe (costume), Seth Guterman (sound).

First Lady Suite includes:

  • Over Texas, which takes place aboard Air Force One on Nov. 22, 1963. "Mary Gallagher, the First Lady's personal secretary, and Evelyn Lincoln, personal secretary to the President, are trying to relax as they fly into Dallas.  Mary, exhausted by the lifestyle, is coaxed into napping by the cool collected, Evelyn. Mary's dreams become portentous nightmares as they are haunted by a ghostly Jackie and an eerie Lady Bird."
  • Where's Mamie?, a bouncy and brassy piece that takes place "in Ike and Mamie's bedroom at the White House, yet quickly turns into a time-travel fantasy as Mamie, melancholic, and alone on her birthday, is paid a visit by Marian Anderson. Mamie whisks Marian off to Algiers to confront Ike about his affair with his driver, Kay Summersby, and to warn him of the racial strife he'll face later in life as President."
  • Olio, a comic piece that "presents Margaret Truman at a recital trying her best to sing as she's constantly, hilariously being upstaged by First Lady Bess."
  • Eleanor Sleeps Here, "a heart-rending examination of the relationship between Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickock as they're being flown over Washington by Amelia Earhart." A world premiere recording of the score is on CD from the PS Classics label. It preserves the work of the Blank Theatre Company in Los Angeles, which staged the revised version of the show. Visit psclassics.com.

    Transport Group is known for it staging of Our Town with older actors playing George and Emily, and its collection of William Inge one-acts, Requiem for William, which included new songs added between acts.

    First Lady Suite plays the Connelly, 220 E. 4th St. (between Avenues A and B) April 1-3, 7-10, 13-17 at 8 PM, April 4 & 11 at 3 PM, and April 10 & 17 at 2 PM.

    For reservations, visit www.smarttix.com or call (212) 868 4444. For more information, visit Transport Group's website at www.transport-group.org.

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