I attended the matinee at Seven Angels on Mother's Day with a slight upgrade fee added to my season ticket price. The greeter was Steve Sorriero (one of the quartet in the TOH Music Man) and the House Manager for a second time was my friend Gary Rosengrant. The latter cryptically told me that everyone was in for a big surprise. There were some lovely perks for the mothers in the house, but due to the holiday the crowd was noticeably smaller.
When the artistic director Semina De Laurentis came out to do the announce, she appeared to be in costume and I had an inkling as to what the big surprise might be. Ms. De Laurentis quickly explained that the actress who played the President's second wife "Edith" had an injury and that she would be covering the role. She added that she would be "on book" because she didn't know the lines. I was pleased that I would be able to see this wonderful local actress on stage for the first time.
The action of Teddy & Alice takes place between 1901 and 1912 and mostly in the White House. It is the historically accurate tale of the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt and its aftermath, woven into his relationship with his eldest daughter. Alice Roosevelt, a woman before her time, was a force to be reckoned with.
I found the show to be very enjoyable. The mixture of local talent and professional actors worked well. Some of the familiar music was by John Phillips Sousa mixed with original music by Richard Kapp. I enjoyed all of them. Musical Director Richard DeRosa led a small band from a ground level pit at the corner of the stage. The set designed by the talented Erik D. Diaz was well done and the costumes designed by Jimmy Johansmeyer were period appropriate. Janine Molinari's choreography was impressive.
Tim Cleary appeared for the first time on the Seven Angels stage as JP Morgan. Jimmy Donohue was a fine reporter Mr. Wheeler. Michele Gotay was a wonderfully Irish "Rose" and Jerrial Young brought considerable charm to the role of Booker T. Washington. Mandy Thompson returns to Seven Angels as three characters in this show and the trio of Jonathan Ross, Charles Stoop and John Swanson (as "Lodge," "Mr. Taft," and "Root" respectively) were great conspirators. The children in the cast did a great job and included two of the hardest working boys in community theatre, Connor Barth as "Archie" and Carey Cannata as "Ted, Jr."
As "Alice Roosevelt," the lovely Sydney Turner was a joy to watch and listen to; she had some trouble with one particular long skirt and we all worried that she might trip. John T. Lynes manages an amazingly lively portrayal of Teddy. His great voice both singing and speaking and fine dancing came together for a wonderful performance. Matt Martin was also strong as "Nick Ellsworth" (Alice's suitor) in addition to being the sound designer.
And Ms. De Laurentis? She was a wonderful understudy. She did have to use her script (a la reader's theatre) for more involved lines, but she definitely knew the music and the blocking of her character. Of course, as the director she invented her blocking. She did a great job of having the actors use the entire house as their stage and even involving the audience in one scene complete with handouts. What a treat!
Teddy and Alice continues through June 10 at Seven Angels in Waterbury.