Biden vs. Palin vs… Throttlebottom?
Though the vice presidential debate may be over, the political fun continues at Washington University later this month with Of Thee I Sing, the classic musical satire of American public life.
Performances — presented by the Performing Arts Department (PAD) in Arts & Sciences — take place in the university’s Edison Theatre at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Oct. 24 and 25; and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 26. Performances continue the following weekend at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Oct. 31 and Nov. 1; and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 2.
Edison Theatre is located in the Mallinckrodt Student Center, 6445 Forsyth Blvd. Tickets are $15 — $9 for students, senior citizens and Washington University faculty and staff — and are available through the Edison Theatre Box Office, (314) 935-6543, and through all MetroTix outlets.
For more information, call (314) 935-6543 or visit padarts.wustl.edu.
Featuring music and lyrics by George and Ira Gershwin, with book by George S. Kaufman and Morrie Ryskind, Of Thee I Sing centers on the presidential candidacy of the dashing John P. Wintergreen and his vice presidential running mate, Alexander Throttlebottom.
Building their campaign on a platform of “love,” the candidates’ election committee concocts a pageant to select the nation’s prettiest girl, whom Wintergreen publicly agrees to marry. Yet Wintergreen soon falls for, and proposes to, the plainspoken pageant organizer, Mary Turner, much to the indignation of winning beauty Diana Deveraux.
Unfortunately for Wintergreen, Deveraux turns out to be “the illegitimate daughter of the illegitimate son of the illegitimate nephew of Napoleon,” thus bringing the United States to the brink of war with France. In response the Senate prepares impeachment hearings while Throttlebottom prepares for the White House.
“Of Thee I Sing is a lampoon, but a very affectionate one,” notes director Jeffery Matthews, senior lecturer in drama. “It laughs at the Congress, it laughs at the Supreme Court, it laughs at political candidates and the people who support them.
“The play opened at the height of the Great Depression but it wasn’t just escapist entertainment,” Matthews continues. “In its own way it recognized the problems of the day and accepted that world.” Perhaps as a result, “It was the longest-running Broadway musical of the 1930s, and the first musical to win the Pulitzer Prize.
“The comedy is big and brash and in many ways very current,” Matthews adds. “The notion of overly scripted politicians is, of course, still with us, but the play doesn’t just skewer the system or ask for change — it revels in the ridiculousness of it all. It says “We’re Americans, and this is who we are.'”
The cast of 40 is led by seniors David Weiss and Carli Miller as Wintergreen and Mary, with sophomore Matt Rosenthal as Throttlebottom and junior Catherine Moreton as Deveraux. Also featured are junior Michael Martinez as the French ambassador; sophomore Adrienne Hayes as the chambermaid who inspires the “love” platform; and Gil Nussbaum, emeritus associate professor of radiology (radiation physics) in the School of Medicine, as the chief justice.
The stage design — by Angela Bengford, lecturer in the PAD — is inspired by 1930s editorial cartoons and includes original drawings, projected onto the stage, by Elizabeth Romaner, a senior in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts. Costumes, which continue the broad ’30s vibe (Supreme Court justices sport Groucho Marx glasses), are by senior Lauren Talamo.
Lighting is by senior Will Calvert. Technical director is lecturer Sean Savoie. Music director is Lisa Campbell-Albert, teacher of applied music. Choreography is by St. Louis director/choreographer Millie Garvey.
WHO: Washington University’s Performing Arts Department
WHAT: Of Thee I Sing. Music and lyrics by George and Ira Gershwin; book by George S. Kaufman and Morrie Ryskind; directed by Jeffery Matthews.
WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Oct. 24 and 25; 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 26; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Oct. 31 and Nov. 1; 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 2
WHERE: Edison Theatre, located in the Mallinckrodt Student Center, 6445 Forsyth Blvd.
COST:$15; $9 for seniors, students and Washington University faculty and staff. Available at the Edison Theatre Box Office, (314) 935-6543, and all MetroTix outlets.
INFORMATION: (314) 935-6543