“I can do one of two things,” declares Teddy Roosevelt in Teddy and Alice, the rousingly robust musical slice of Americana that comes to Monmouth University in the star-spangled month of July.
“I can either be President of the United States or I can control Alice. I cannot possibly do both!”
“Alice” was the famous “First Daughter” Alice Roosevelt — the 26th President’s eldest child, and a socialite, political wheeler-dealer, and all around free spirit who, by the time of her death in 1980 at the age of 96, had become known as “the other Washington Monument.”
The man who took San Juan Hill, hunted elephant in Africa, and once delivered a campaign speech immediately after being shot in the chest was as “larger than life” as they come. But in “Princess Alice” — a young woman with a taste for smoking, fast cars, and headline-making behavior in the corseted climate of Victorian-era America — Teddy had met his match.
In 1987, Broadway audiences got their first look at Teddy and Alice, a “hysterical and historical” musical comedy with book by Jerome Alden, plus songs by Hal Hackaday and Richard Kapp adapted from the rip-roaring music of the only composer who could possibly capture the essence of these American originals — the immortal March King himself, John Philip Sousa.
Here in the heat of a Presidential election season — and timed to the centennial of Teddy Roosevelt’s unsuccessful but spirited run on the third-party Bull Moose ticket — Teddy and Alice comes to the stage of the historic Lauren K. Woods Theatre as the Summer 2012 production of Shadow Lawn Stage, the professional theatre of Monmouth University.
The first musical presented by Shadow Lawn in several years, the show opens on Thursday, July 12, and continues for a total of fifteen evening and matinee performances through Sunday, July 29.
Populated by vivid, drawn-from-life personalities (including William Howard Taft and Henry Cabot Lodge) and boasting a cast of 25 professional actors, the Shadow Lawn production spotlights a pair of performers who will reprise their title roles from a critically acclaimed production of Teddy and Alice at Connecticut’s Seven Angels Theatre. John T. Lynes stars as TR, the energetic leader of a can-do nation, with Sydney Turner as Alice, the proto-feminist who helped set the stage for a new generation of American women.
Another veteran of the Connecticut cast, Jimmy Donohue, returns to the role of newspaperman Wheeler — and the supporting cast of local professionals and students will include Deborah Murad as Teddy’s second wife Edith, Andrew Foote as U.S. Senator (and future husband of Alice) Nick Longworth, and Gina Scherzo as gossip columnist Ida Tarbell. Also returning to the show from the Seven Angels run are choreographer Janine Molinari, and stage manager Noelle Smith.
The Shadow Lawn musical production will also feature several children from around the region as the Roosevelt kids, including two sets of siblings: identical twins Kirstiana and Kaitlyn Mueller (who will platoon in the role of Kermit); as well as Bailey Newsome (Ethel) and Tyler Newsome (Quentin). Caroline Meade portrays Archie, with Chance Friedman as Theodore Roosevelt Jr., and Eliana Swartz, Gabriella Scerbo, and Brett Temple as friends of the White House brood.
Returning to the director’s chair for this production is John J. Burke, director of the Theatre Arts program at Monmouth University — who, as producer of the long-running Shadow Lawn Summer Stage series on the West Long Branch campus, has afforded MU students the opportunity to work with Equity professionals (including three-time Emmy winner Bryan Cranston and Tony nominee Lou Liberatore) in addition to some of the most sought-after players on the area stage.
All performances of Teddy and Alice will be presented inside the historic and recently renovated Woods Theatre — the former carriage house of the Guggenheim estate, during the days depicted in the story. Showtimes are 8 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, and 7 p.m. on Sundays, with 2 p.m. matinees on Fridays. Tickets ($25 – $35, with group rates available) can be purchased by contacting the Central Box Office at 732-263-6889, or online by visiting www.monmouth.edu/shadowlawnstage. Shadow Lawn Stage is a member of the New Jersey Theatre Alliance and an Actors’ Equity Stage.