Starry Cast Sings Revised First Lady Suite Off-Off Broadway April 1-17

News   Starry Cast Sings Revised First Lady Suite Off-Off Broadway April 1-17
Transport Group, the young Off-Off-Broadway company, will present 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 and the people around them.

The April 1-17 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. Eisenhowser 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

    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 or call (212) 868 4444. For more information, visit Transport Group's website at


    Transport Group presents An Evening With Michael John LaChiusa 7 PM Feb. 22 as a benefit for the troupe.

    Transport Group's artistic director Jack Cummings III will interview five-time Tony nominee Michael John LaChiusa, exploring his major works.  Special guests include Tony winner Michele Pawk, Tony nominees Carolee Carmello, Marc Kudisch, Mary Testa, and Broadway stars Alice Playten, Maureen Moore and Jesse Tyler Ferguson.

    These special guests are all original cast members of La Chiusa's works and will be performing the songs composed for them in The Wild Party, Hello Again, Marie Christine, First Lady Suite and Little Fish.

    An Evening with Michael John LaChiusa will be held at The Lark Theatre (939 Eighth Ave.) 7 PM Feb. 22. Admission is $25 in advance ($35 at the door) and includes a wine and cheese reception.  For reservations, (212) 560-4372.

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