NextStop Theatre’s 46 Performs for America’s First Girls is herstory within the wildest sense, filled with music, dance, and nonstop artistic vitality. It’s a companion piece to 45 Performs for 45 Presidents, which had a profitable run at NextStop in 2018. Director Megan Behm retains the tempo breathless throughout an astonishing number of quick one-acts. The all-female solid — Morganne Chu, Sydney Johnson, Brittany Martz, Nicole Ruthmarie, and Emily Sucher — are proficient, enthusiastic, and prepared for something.
The play’s Neo-Futurist aesthetic emphasizes the abolishment of the fourth wall and a powerful connection between the actors and the viewers. Roles will not be gender-specific; the First Girl Mantle passes from one to a different, and the presidents sport a Presidential Coat. Among the many strongest episodes are these that includes viewers participation. One viewers member is requested to affix the solid in deciding whether or not the declare that Mary Todd Lincoln was mentally in poor health is “Truthful” or “Unfair.” One other performs a shell recreation with Lou Hoover. When Pat Nixon’s flip comes, a questionnaire is produced, throughout which the viewers member is prompted to reply both “Sure” or “God Bless America” to such questions as “Are you a great particular person?” and “Do you hate democracy or simply kittens?”
A catchy clapping recreation marks the tenure of Barbara Bush. Nellie Taft will get her very personal haiku.
Brittany Martz shines in her cabaret quantity “These Blue & Grey Blues” as Julia Grant, and as a surprisingly demonic Martha Washington. Sydney Johnson is affecting as an actress in each comedian and poignant moments, and, remarkably, capable of present balancing acts when referred to as for as Dolley Madison. Emily Sucher stands out as bachelor James Buchanan’s adopted daughter, Harriet Lane. Morganne Chu excels in her scene as Rachel Jackson, which options puppets. Nicole Ruthmarie is memorable all through.
The one-acts — by Chloe Johnston, Sharon Greene, Genevra Gallo-Bayiates, Bilal Dardal, and Andy Bayiates (of Chicago-based theater collective Neo-Futurists) — are considerably uneven. Some First Girls of necessity get much less consideration than others. Some endure struggling; many lose youngsters. Some, sadly, are pro-slavery and/or anti–girls’s rights.
The ache and unfairness of slavery are sometimes current. In a single particularly shifting scene, Sally Hemings and Martha, Thomas Jefferson’s daughter, talk about their very totally different roles in historical past. Sally is melancholy and life like; Martha is an archetypical instance of white fragility.
A few of our First Girls have been political companions like Eleanor Roosevelt. Others are social butterflies like Dolley Madison. And there are inspirational figures like Michelle Obama, who famously stated: “When somebody is merciless or acts like a bully, you don’t stoop to their stage. No, our motto is, After they go low, we go excessive.”
All are available for his or her justifiable share of criticism. Rachel Jackson known as a whore, for being not fairly divorced from her first husband when she marries Andrew. Mary Todd Lincoln is alleged to be insane and was in actual fact dedicated to Bellevue by her son. After which in fact there’s Hillary Clinton, who as everyone knows is a monster in human type bent on destroying life as we all know it.
The emphasis will not be on historic accuracy, and even the decision of historical past. It turns into clear towards the top that the true topic is the ability of ladies.
Taylor Verrett’s projections are particularly evocative, and direct quotes from the First Girls are indicated by indicators on both aspect of the stage. Costumes (Imari Pyles) embrace patriotic parts such because the Stars and Stripes, and a dizzying array of types. Scenic design by Megan Holden is easy and efficient. Choreography by Janine Baumgardner is intelligent and invariably enjoyable to observe. Music and sound are a pleasure to take heed to. Sound designer is Delaney Bray and music director is Elisa Rosman. Musical preparations/orchestrations are by Jordan Pal.
Regardless of its size, the night goes by swiftly. Does America want her First Girls? The reply appears to be sure. And someday, maybe, prior to you suppose, a First Gentleman.
Operating Time: Two and a half hours, with one 15-minute intermission.
46 Performs for 46 First Girls performs by way of February 19, 2023, at NextStop Theatre Firm, situated at 269 Sundown Park Drive, Herndon, VA. Tickets ($47 together with charge) can be found on-line or by calling the field workplace at 703-481-5930.
This system for 46 Performs for 46 First Girls is on-line right here.
COVID Security: Masks are required for all patrons contained in the constructing except actively consuming or ingesting. If a patron doesn’t have a masks, disposable masks might be accessible for any and all friends upon request. Patrons who don’t adjust to these insurance policies won’t be admitted or requested to depart the theater. NextStop’s full COVID-19 Well being & Security Measures are right here.
46 Performs for 46 First Girls
By Chloe Johnston, Sharon Greene, Genevra Gallo-Bayiates, Bilal Dardal, and Andy Bayiates,
Directed by Megan Behm
Brooke Kemph (Understudy)
Director: Megan Behm
Choreographer: Janine Baumgardner
Scenic Designer: Megan Holden
Lighting Designer: Hailey LaRoe
Costume Designer: Imari Pyles
Projections/Media Designer: Taylor Verrett
Sound Designer: Delaney Bray
Stage Supervisor: Sam Rollin
Asst. Stage Supervisor: Hanna Smaglis
Musical Preparations/Orchestrations: Jordan Pal
Music Director: Elisa Rosman
Grasp Electrician: Cassandra Saulski
Lead Carpenter: Tom O’Reilly
Paint Cost: Caroline Austin