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ANN Alleyway Cabaret/Brazen-Faced Varlets
Feb 1, 2023, 16:51
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Through February 11
ANN Alleyway Theatre Cabaret/Brazen-Faced Varlets

Think about how many elected public officials there are in this country, from Washington, D.C. to Marilla.
While there are exceptions, most are citizens trying to help run their community or their schools.
For most of American history, we’re talking about guys, even in school districts.
Or, at least they were until the Sixties and Seventies.
Back then as a political reporter, I would go to campaign headquarters and see the male pols with their cigars (really) and women in the back rooms frantically licking envelopes carrying campaign literature.
That’s before the web and mass TV ads.
Ann Richards was one of the women who changed that, not only running campaigns but also going on the road to recruit other women to run campaigns and run for office.
That’s with four kids at home and a severe drinking problem and a marriage which wasn’t holding up well.
Finally, she shifted to running for office, winding up as governor of Texas, before losing a re-election bid to George W. Bush.
That must have pleased him after Richards eviscerated his father, President George H.W. Bush, in her keynote speech to the 1988 Democratic convention.
Remember: “born with a silver foot in his mouth?”
It’s always fun to listen to a politician who sounds like herself or himself and not just one reading from the latest poll numbers.
Ann Richards went her own way.
Holland Taylor makes this very clear with the script for her entertaining one-woman show, “Ann,” in the Alleyway’s cabaret, a re-done space now far from its origins as a Greyhound restaurant.
“Ann” is a little longer than many one-performer shows, giving star Priscilla Young a break with an intermission.
Richards really annoyed the old-line pols and the Texas pols because she was liberal and female, two bad things for the Good Old Boys in the Lone Star State.
Taylor’s script lets Young tell well both sides of Richards’ story, the good and bad and the glass ceiling breaking.
It also shows how complicated a governor’s job is, something I’ve noticed from covering New York governors.
My mother was of an age with Richards and really supported women running for office because of the perspective difference they brought to issues,
Now, Richards’ name is fading because of the passage of time, both since she lost to the younger Bush on his climb to the White House and to her death in 2006.
A play like “Ann” makes sure she won’t be forgotten.
Director Lara D. Haberberger does a good job, never letting Young just stand there and tell Richards’ story on the uncredited set design or the governor’s office and a podium at the University of Texas in Austin for a commencement speech.
We never see Stefanie Warnick but she’s there, off-stage as Richards’ gatekeeper, Nancy, trying to keep the governor on task and reach out to the people she needs to find to keep government moving and to get the governor back and forth to an event in El Paso, even if she has to pay for the chartered flight.
If you ever look at politicians as this group of clones in dark suits or bright red dresses, see “Ann” and realize they aren’t all like that and we’re better for it.


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