The World Premiere of the Tragedy of JFK (As Told by Wm. Shakespeare)

The Tragedy of JFK (as told by Wm. Shakespeare) is a very moving play about the conspiracy to assassinate the 35th President of the United States and its aftermath. Using Shakespearian text, this groundbreaking theatrical event illuminates what might have happened surrounding one of the most shocking events in American history, which altered the course of this entire nation for decades to come.

The poster for the play
The poster for the play

This play also showcases the tragedies the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy. I was really affected by this show as reliving a very challenging part of American history was really heavy and emotional. I think it’s so timely to have this play premiere right before one of the most unusual presidential elections of our time.

Still of the play
Still of the play

The whole cast was amazing. Standout performances by the whole cast and celebrated actor Ford Austin really delivered as JFK as the tragic Shakespearean hero even when his character was a ghost on stage. Chad Brannon was also amazing as RFK and Time Winters was wonderful as Lyndon Banes Johnson. Winters characterization really conveyed how it felt like to be the second fiddle to the dashing Kennedy brothers, but was not an excuse for his behavior. Tony Abatemarco’s J. Edgar Hoover was sinister enough and really grabbed the audience’s attention with his cruel and cutting demeanor. Brett Collier made me mourn for the bravery and courage of Martin Luther King Jr. and how even with the civil rights movement that MLK bravely pioneered, that our country has never been so divided. Casey McKinnon and Susan Denaker were great as iconic first ladies Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy and Lady Bird Johnson respectively. Every cast member in this ensemble was memorable and I also enjoyed, Bruce Nehlsen, Jacob Sidney, Jerry Della Salla, Johnny Walker, Jonathan Lamer, and Brian Brennan. Daniel Henning, who conceived, adapted and directed the play did an incredible job tirelessly devoting himself to this epic play. 

Brett Collier as Martin Luther King Jr. in the march on Selma scene
Brett Collier as Martin Luther King Jr. in the march on Selma scene

 

Actors Ford Austin and Susan Denaker backstage
Actors Ford Austin and Casey McKinnon prep for the show backstage

The wardrobe and hair and makeup were on point. I felt as if I was thumbing through one of my mom’s old “Look” or “Vogue” magazines. I tip my hat to Judi Lewin, the hair, wig and makeup designer, who (on a personal note) ironically enough used to live in my mom’s house before our family moved in. We affectionately called Judi, “the wig lady,” as she left boxes and boxes of practically new wigs in my mom’s home, thinking it “may be of use to someone.” 

Indeed this play was about giving back…giving back to the heart and soul of a nation who truly needs inspiration during a very challenging election season. More info on tickets and showtimes at http://www.theblank.com

Photos courtesy of The Blank Theatre

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