Through November 8
TEA FOR THREE O’Connell & Company/on-line
It’s appropriate that a play about three First Ladies should be recorded in a place where one of America’s most celebrated presidents was sworn in.
The production was shot in the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site, the pillared and porticoed building where T.R. was sworn in as president, moving up from V.P. after William McKinley was assassinated at the Pan American Exposition just up Delaware Avenue.
“Tea for Three” is about FLOTUS, the First Lady of the U.S., here Lady Bird Johnson (Mary Kate O’Connell), Pat Nixon (Mary Moebius) and Betty Ford (Pamela Rose Mangus), all three veterans of O’Connell productions.
In these days when a presidential term is running down and the facts of the next term remain unclear, each of these First Ladies is discussing the end of her time in the White House.
Eric H. Weinberger and Elaine Bromka’s play is ideal for these times, since each of the three segments is a one woman show.
Director Joey Bucheker chose to move the furniture around for each segment, even the old-fashioned phone in the room.
Each segment is interesting, intended to give a picture of the woman behind the man, the woman who made it possible for her man to live the political life.
Each rose to the top in an age when the rules were far different and there may have been a price paid for that.
Lady Bird ignores Lyndon Johnson’s philandering.
Pat Nixon drinks her way through, perhaps eventually matching her husband’s late stage drinking as Watergate collapses his presidency.
Betty Ford drank and pilled her way through life, through Jerry’s presidency before her family had an intervention and forced her to admit she had a problem.
Once she made that admission, she became an advocate for breast cancer research and treatment and then for alcohol and drug treatment.
The Betty Ford Center is a monument to this First Lady.
Each of these women recognized what they had done to get to that White House room, women with few true illusions.
Each of the women gets strong performances from a performer who understands the part.
Interesting parts, interesting premise.
That’s why “Tea for Three” is worth firing up your laptop and learning about the days when men ran the world, with some help from those who ran the campaigns, addressed the envelopes, raised the kids and smiled gracefully to the constituents.
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