THE STORIES: The first piece, the staccato, yet hauntingly lyrical OVER TEXAS, takes place aboard Air Force One on November 22nd, 1963. Mary Gallagher, the First Lady’s personal secretary, and Evelyn Lincoln, personal secretary to the President, are trying to relax as they fly into Dallas. Mary, exhausted by the lifestyle, is coaxed into napping by the cool, collected, Evelyn. Mary’s dreams become portentous nightmares as they are haunted by a ghostly Jackie and an eerie Lady Bird. (1 man, 4 women.) The brassy, bouncy WHERE’S MAMIE? Takes place in Ike and Mamie’s bedroom at the White House, yet quickly turns into a time-travel fantasy as Mamie, melancholic and alone on her birthday, is paid a visit by Marian Anderson. Marian whisks Mamie off to Algiers to confront Ike about his affair with his driver, Kay Summersby, and warn him of the racial strife he’ll face later in life as President. (1 man, 3 women.) The comical OLIO presents Margaret Truman at a recital trying her best to sing as she’s constantly, hilariously, being upstaged by First Lady Bess. (1 man, 1 woman, or 2 women.) The final piece of the Suite, the melodic ELEANOR SLEEPS HERE, is a heart rending examination of the relationship between Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok as they’re being flown over Washington by Amelia Earhart. (3 women.) FLEXIBLE CASTING: the New York production used an ensemble of 1 man and 6 women playing 13 women and 1 man.
Produced to wide acclaim by the New York Shakespeare Festival’s Joseph Papp Public Theatre, these four chamber pieces, ranging from riotously funny to hauntingly lyrical, focus on celebrated first ladies and the people surrounding them. “Weird, funny and wigged out…” —NY Times. “…FIRST LADY SUITE does what Off-Broadway musicals are supposed to do…LaChiusa’s First Ladies are heroines to their “suites” all the more since, as his witty and poignant writing makes clear, there is nothing heroic they can do.” —Village Voice.