First ladies are never voted for, nor do they get paid; yet without them our presidents would falter, they wouldn’t remember names or faces and would have trouble making decisions even though they had plenty of advisers. Fore the relationship between the “sheets” can be the most important and powerful connection. Just like their husbands, First Ladies are destined to reach eternal life and a place in history where they can be written about and picked apart years after their deaths.
Judith Present’s play, “First Ladies,” gives five President’s wives a chance to tell their story. Dolly Madison, the love and light of James Madison and his saving grace in social environments. A sad, Mary Todd Lincoln was misunderstood by the public, but today she would be a perfect candidate for Prozac. Mamie Eisenhower, the queen of canasta parties found drinking and cock fights a good way to alleviate her loneliness and gossip about her husband’s alleged love affair. Lady Bird Johnson was a woman who found great emotional strength by having to put up with her husband LBJ and taking over when Jackie Kennedy had a headache. And last but certainly not least, Nancy Reagan, who protected her husband even from his own children. And she took over the Presidency for Ronnie when she saw the writing on the wall about his long debilitating illness.
Accompanied by music and costumes of their period they give an honest assessment of who they are, letting the audience into their true feelings and secrets and how they affected their husband’s presidency. Each actress approached her role in her own way with personal style suited to the era. In recent years we have seen many of America’s first ladies campaign tirelessly to bring attention to issues important to them like environment, healthcare, drug abuse and education, but it wasn’t always like that.
Starring: Dawn Gould, Maryann Johnson, Deb Fisher, Bonnie Deforest, and Lisa Dutcher.
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