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Theater Review, Jody Williams, Zeal NYC
Anyone even remotely aware of current American politics has at one point thought, “is this really happening?” Whether you are conservative, liberal, a little of both, or nothing at all, it’s likely that a person you have thought about supporting has done something odd or downright unbelievable. Clearly Tom Attea, the playwright and lyricist of Heather Smiley For President, was smart enough to capitalize on this idea.
Picture your favorite Saturday Night Live political sketches and add music, which I personally believe makes everything a little easier to understand, and you have Heather Smiley For President. Unafraid to draw liberally from real life and incorporate things that have only been whispered in your inner circles, the candidates in this play are outrageous and hilarious. Heather Smiley, played by Rebecca Holt, is a former Secretary of State and First Lady hoping to become the nation’s first female president. Sound familiar? Oh, and her husband Bob, played by Joris Stuyck has a lazy southern drawl and is a little too friendly with his wife’s speech-writer (played by Nellesa Walthour). Are you laughing yet? Heather is an overly confident woman hoping to get voters’ support by reminding them how much she and her husband were struggling financially after leaving the White House. Her opponent George Worthington, played by Todd Lewis, is the Republican senate majority leader and a former preacher married to a beautiful but constantly intoxicated woman, played by Carol Tammen. Let me also mention him beating out republican opponents like Donald Rump, Ben Incarcerated, and Jeb Cushy.
Attea and composer Arthur Abrams have managed to improve upon something already amazing, what I would call a MUCH lighter episode of House of Cards, and infused it with catchy songs that will be pleasantly stuck in your head for a couple of days. They, with genius of director Mark Marcante and choreographer Angela Harriel keep the audience eager and excited to see the election results. Every piece of the stage was smartly used, without too many set changes between scenes but still encompassing more than a handful of locations. The play has the feel of a large ensemble cast but with only a fraction of the actors, which makes it fun and intimate. Whether you’re well-versed in politics or not, Heather Smiley For President will keep you entertained.