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Mr. President (musical)

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Mr. President (musical)

Mr. President
Original Cast Recording
Music Irving Berlin
Lyrics Irving Berlin
Book Howard Lindsay
Russel Crouse
Productions 1962 Broadway

Mr. President is a musical with a book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse and music and lyrics by Irving Berlin. The story focuses on US President Stephen Decatur Henderson, who runs into political trouble following a disastrous trip to the Soviet Union and his problems with his children. Bored with life as a civilian after his presidency ends, he decides to return to political life.

The original 1962 Broadway production ran for 265 performances. The piece was Irving Berlin's last musical.

Contents

  • Productions 1
  • Synopsis 2
  • Roles and original cast 3
  • Musical numbers 4
  • Awards and nominations 5
    • Original Broadway production 5.1
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Productions

The show had its first out-of-town tryout in Boston beginning on August 27, 1962 and was coolly received.[1] After extensive cuts and revisions, it was given another tryout at the National Theatre in Washington, DC, which was attended by President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jackie Kennedy. The first couple congratulated Berlin on a hit. Kennedy later sent his aides, Kenneth P. O'Donnell and David Powers, the two toppers in Kennedy's "Irish Mafia," to apologize for his having to leave the performance early.[2] This day of Kennedy's presidency is the one featured in an exhibit at the JFK Museum and Library. The Washington reviews, however, "were lukewarm and even negative. The word "corny" stuck, and was repeated again and again."[1]

After four previews, the Broadway production, directed by Joshua Logan and choreographed by Peter Gennaro, opened on October 20, 1962 at the St. James Theatre, where it ran for 265 performances. The cast included Robert Ryan, Nanette Fabray, Anita Gillette and Baayork Lee. The musical premiered in a Broadway season dominated by hits like Oliver!, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Stop the World – I Want to Get Off. Mr. President received lukewarm reviews. Although Berlin's score was praised, the show "was just too old-fashioned and out of date."[1] Berlin continued to work, revising Annie Get Your Gun and writing songs, such as for the film project Say It With Music (which was not produced), but "Broadway would never again see a truly Berlin work on the stage". The musical also saw the end of the Lindsay and Crouse collaboration.[3]

In 1964, former President Harry S. Truman made an opening night cameo appearance in a production of the show at the Starlight Theatre in Kansas City. He left by ambulance at intermission due to an appendicitis attack.[4]

Gerard Alessandrini extensively revised the book and converted the plot into a spoof of the 2000 Presidential election debacle. After thirty previews, it opened on August 2, 2001 at the Off-Broadway Douglas Fairbanks Theater where, hampered by reviews worse than those received by the original, it closed after ten performances.[5] Ben Brantley, in his review for The New York Times, wrote that the musical "feels tired".[6][7] However, the TheatreMania reviewers noted that, while "the overall tenor of the satire here is soft," it has "surprisingly buoyant appeal. It remains bubbly and effervescent thanks to the peppy, imaginative direction supplied by the team of John Znidarsic and Alessandrini."[8]

Synopsis

President Henderson is a true patriot and loves his family. His daughter Leslie has recently had a series of romantic liaisons, some liberal and some conservative. Her newest romance is with Youssein Davair, the son of a Middle Eastern ruler; the sincerity of his affection is questionable. Pat Gregory, a Secret Service agent, has watched Leslie grow up, and he has fallen in love with her but doesn't believe that she could be interested in a simple guy like him. With the Cold War as a backdrop, Henderson, together with Nell, his First Lady, and their children go on a "good-will tour" of Europe, including the Soviet Union. Henderson gets in trouble for jokingly comparing the Soviet leader to a "wild cat". But the President lands in Moscow anyhow and gives a conciliatory and humanizing speech, assisted by his Russian-speaking son Larry, that earns the respect of the Soviets. Nevertheless, back at home, the gaffe plagues him and hurts his party's popularity. Larry is a bit of a hot-head and punches the party chairman on TV to defend his father. The presidential term of office ends, and the Hendersons leave the White House.

In Act II, Henderson finds his post-politics life in Ohio mundane. The family is invited to a party at the White House, and there Leslie finds that Youssein is now interested in Betty Chandler, the daughter of the new President, and so they break up. Leslie leaves the party with Pat. Meanwhile, one of Ohio's senators dies, and the governor asks Henderson to finish his term of office. Henderson yearns to return to public life, but he questions the governor's motives and declines the job. Soon afterwards, however, another opportunity comes: the new President asks Henderson to attend an international summit meeting on behalf of the US, because of the respect that he commands in the Soviet Union.

Roles and original cast

  • Robert Ryan – President Stephen Decatur Henderson
  • Nanette Fabray – First Lady Nell Henderson
  • David Brooks – Manager; Governor Harmon Bardahl
  • Wisa D'Orso – Princess Kyra
  • Charlotte Fairchild – Tippy Taylor (a secretary)
  • Anita Gillette – Leslie Henderson (First Daughter)
  • Stanley Grover – Charley Wayne (of the Secret Service)
  • Jack Haskell – Pat Gregory (of the Secret Service)
  • John Cecil Holm – Chester Kincaid
  • Jerry Strickler – Larry Henderson (First Son)
  • Jack Washburn – Youssein Davair (Son of a Middle Eastern ruler)
  • Baayork Lee – Deborah Chakronin
  • Carol Lee Jensen – Betty Chandler (new First Daughter)

Musical numbers

Awards and nominations

Original Broadway production

Year Award Category Nominee Result
1963 Tony Award Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical Nanette Fabray Nominated
Best Conductor and Musical Director Jay Blackton Nominated
Best Stage Technician Solly Pernick Won

References


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local p = {}


-- Helper functions


local function getArgs(frame) -- Fetches the arguments from the parent frame. Whitespace is trimmed and -- blanks are removed. mArguments = require('Module:Arguments') return mArguments.getArgs(frame, {parentOnly = true}) end

local function removeInitialColon(s) -- Removes the initial colon from a string, if present. return s:match('^:?(.*)') end

function p.findNamespaceId(link, removeColon) -- Finds the namespace id (namespace number) of a link or a pagename. This -- function will not work if the link is enclosed in double brackets. Colons -- are trimmed from the start of the link by default. To skip colon -- trimming, set the removeColon parameter to true. checkType('findNamespaceId', 1, link, 'string') checkType('findNamespaceId', 2, removeColon, 'boolean', true) if removeColon ~= false then link = removeInitialColon(link) end local namespace = link:match('^(.-):') if namespace then local nsTable = mw.site.namespaces[namespace] if nsTable then return nsTable.id end end return 0 end

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function p.formatPageTables(...) -- Takes a list of page/display tables and returns it as a list of -- formatted links. Nil values are not allowed. local pages = {...} local links = {} for i, t in ipairs(pages) do checkType('formatPageTables', i, t, 'table') local link = t[1] local display = t[2] links[i] = p._formatLink(link, display) end return links end

function p.makeWikitextError(msg, helpLink, addTrackingCategory) -- Formats an error message to be returned to wikitext. If -- addTrackingCategory is not false after being returned from -- Module:Yesno, and if we are not on a talk page, a tracking category -- is added. checkType('makeWikitextError', 1, msg, 'string') checkType('makeWikitextError', 2, helpLink, 'string', true) yesno = require('Module:Yesno') local title = mw.title.getCurrentTitle() -- Make the help link text. local helpText if helpLink then helpText = ' (help)' else helpText = end -- Make the category text. local category if not title.isTalkPage and yesno(addTrackingCategory) ~= false then category = 'Hatnote templates with errors' category = string.format( '%s:%s', mw.site.namespaces[14].name, category ) else category = end return string.format( '%s', msg, helpText, category ) end


-- Format link -- -- Makes a wikilink from the given link and display values. Links are escaped -- with colons if necessary, and links to sections are detected and displayed -- with " § " as a separator rather than the standard MediaWiki "#". Used in -- the template.


function p.formatLink(frame) local args = getArgs(frame) local link = args[1] local display = args[2] if not link then return p.makeWikitextError( 'no link specified', 'Template:Format hatnote link#Errors', args.category ) end return p._formatLink(link, display) end

function p._formatLink(link, display) -- Find whether we need to use the colon trick or not. We need to use the -- colon trick for categories and files, as otherwise category links -- categorise the page and file links display the file. checkType('_formatLink', 1, link, 'string') checkType('_formatLink', 2, display, 'string', true) link = removeInitialColon(link) local namespace = p.findNamespaceId(link, false) local colon if namespace == 6 or namespace == 14 then colon = ':' else colon = end -- Find whether a faux display value has been added with the | magic -- word. if not display then local prePipe, postPipe = link:match('^(.-)|(.*)$') link = prePipe or link display = postPipe end -- Find the display value. if not display then local page, section = link:match('^(.-)#(.*)$') if page then display = page .. ' § ' .. section end end -- Assemble the link. if display then return string.format('%s', colon, link, display) else return string.format('%s%s', colon, link) end end


-- Hatnote -- -- Produces standard hatnote text. Implements the template.


function p.hatnote(frame) local args = getArgs(frame) local s = args[1] local options = {} if not s then return p.makeWikitextError( 'no text specified', 'Template:Hatnote#Errors', args.category ) end options.extraclasses = args.extraclasses options.selfref = args.selfref return p._hatnote(s, options) end

function p._hatnote(s, options) checkType('_hatnote', 1, s, 'string') checkType('_hatnote', 2, options, 'table', true) local classes = {'hatnote'} local extraclasses = options.extraclasses local selfref = options.selfref if type(extraclasses) == 'string' then classes[#classes + 1] = extraclasses end if selfref then classes[#classes + 1] = 'selfref' end return string.format( '
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end

return p-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- -- Module:Hatnote -- -- -- -- This module produces hatnote links and links to related articles. It -- -- implements the and meta-templates and includes -- -- helper functions for other Lua hatnote modules. --


local libraryUtil = require('libraryUtil') local checkType = libraryUtil.checkType local mArguments -- lazily initialise Module:Arguments local yesno -- lazily initialise Module:Yesno

local p = {}


-- Helper functions


local function getArgs(frame) -- Fetches the arguments from the parent frame. Whitespace is trimmed and -- blanks are removed. mArguments = require('Module:Arguments') return mArguments.getArgs(frame, {parentOnly = true}) end

local function removeInitialColon(s) -- Removes the initial colon from a string, if present. return s:match('^:?(.*)') end

function p.findNamespaceId(link, removeColon) -- Finds the namespace id (namespace number) of a link or a pagename. This -- function will not work if the link is enclosed in double brackets. Colons -- are trimmed from the start of the link by default. To skip colon -- trimming, set the removeColon parameter to true. checkType('findNamespaceId', 1, link, 'string') checkType('findNamespaceId', 2, removeColon, 'boolean', true) if removeColon ~= false then link = removeInitialColon(link) end local namespace = link:match('^(.-):') if namespace then local nsTable = mw.site.namespaces[namespace] if nsTable then return nsTable.id end end return 0 end

function p.formatPages(...) -- Formats a list of pages using formatLink and returns it as an array. Nil -- values are not allowed. local pages = {...} local ret = {} for i, page in ipairs(pages) do ret[i] = p._formatLink(page) end return ret end

function p.formatPageTables(...) -- Takes a list of page/display tables and returns it as a list of -- formatted links. Nil values are not allowed. local pages = {...} local links = {} for i, t in ipairs(pages) do checkType('formatPageTables', i, t, 'table') local link = t[1] local display = t[2] links[i] = p._formatLink(link, display) end return links end

function p.makeWikitextError(msg, helpLink, addTrackingCategory) -- Formats an error message to be returned to wikitext. If -- addTrackingCategory is not false after being returned from -- Module:Yesno, and if we are not on a talk page, a tracking category -- is added. checkType('makeWikitextError', 1, msg, 'string') checkType('makeWikitextError', 2, helpLink, 'string', true) yesno = require('Module:Yesno') local title = mw.title.getCurrentTitle() -- Make the help link text. local helpText if helpLink then helpText = ' (help)' else helpText = end -- Make the category text. local category if not title.isTalkPage and yesno(addTrackingCategory) ~= false then category = 'Hatnote templates with errors' category = string.format( '%s:%s', mw.site.namespaces[14].name, category ) else category = end return string.format( '%s', msg, helpText, category ) end


-- Format link -- -- Makes a wikilink from the given link and display values. Links are escaped -- with colons if necessary, and links to sections are detected and displayed -- with " § " as a separator rather than the standard MediaWiki "#". Used in -- the template.


function p.formatLink(frame) local args = getArgs(frame) local link = args[1] local display = args[2] if not link then return p.makeWikitextError( 'no link specified', 'Template:Format hatnote link#Errors', args.category ) end return p._formatLink(link, display) end

function p._formatLink(link, display) -- Find whether we need to use the colon trick or not. We need to use the -- colon trick for categories and files, as otherwise category links -- categorise the page and file links display the file. checkType('_formatLink', 1, link, 'string') checkType('_formatLink', 2, display, 'string', true) link = removeInitialColon(link) local namespace = p.findNamespaceId(link, false) local colon if namespace == 6 or namespace == 14 then colon = ':' else colon = end -- Find whether a faux display value has been added with the | magic -- word. if not display then local prePipe, postPipe = link:match('^(.-)|(.*)$') link = prePipe or link display = postPipe end -- Find the display value. if not display then local page, section = link:match('^(.-)#(.*)$') if page then display = page .. ' § ' .. section end end -- Assemble the link. if display then return string.format('%s', colon, link, display) else return string.format('%s%s', colon, link) end end


-- Hatnote -- -- Produces standard hatnote text. Implements the template.


function p.hatnote(frame) local args = getArgs(frame) local s = args[1] local options = {} if not s then return p.makeWikitextError( 'no text specified', 'Template:Hatnote#Errors', args.category ) end options.extraclasses = args.extraclasses options.selfref = args.selfref return p._hatnote(s, options) end

function p._hatnote(s, options) checkType('_hatnote', 1, s, 'string') checkType('_hatnote', 2, options, 'table', true) local classes = {'hatnote'} local extraclasses = options.extraclasses local selfref = options.selfref if type(extraclasses) == 'string' then classes[#classes + 1] = extraclasses end if selfref then classes[#classes + 1] = 'selfref' end return string.format( '
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end

return p
  1. ^ a b c Laurance, Rita. Mr. President, Allmusic.com, accessed October 6, 2015
  2. ^ "Johnny We Hardly Knew Ye" 1970, Kenneth P. O'Donnell; David Powers; Joe McCarthy
  3. ^ Magee, Jeffrey. "Irving Berlin's American Musical Theater, Oxford University Press, 2012, ISBN 0199911630, pp. 298, 300
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ "'Mr. President' 2001", lortel.org, accessed October 6, 2015
  6. ^ Brantley, Ben. "Names Change; White House Doesn't" The New York Times, August 6, 2001
  7. ^ Jones, Kenneth. "The Alessandrini-fied 'Mr. President' Opens Off-Broadway Aug. 2", Playbill, August 2, 2001
  8. ^ Siegel, Barbara and Scott. "Reviews. 'Mr. President'", theatermania.com, August 3, 2001

External links

  • at Internet Broadway DatabaseMr. President
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