There is no shortage of politics out there right now, but ROOSEVELT: CHARGE THE BEAR by The Roustabouts is a compelling portrait of a president who uses his power and his empathy when making decisions for the betterment of the country. Streaming through December 20th, this is world premiere shows the beginning of the Roosevelt presidency when he was grappling with a national coal strike and a country that is mourning President McKinley’s assassination.
Written by Marni Freedman and Phil Johnson, this one-man show uses the backdrop of the 1902 coal miners strike to show how Roosevelt reacted to a crisis that pit the wealthy versus the working class. Roosevelt is moved by a letter from a 13-year-old boy who writes asking for help, while also bristles under the arrogant threats from other politicians and wealthy mine owners who don’t want him to act on this strike. Roosevelt knows that without ending the strike millions will die during the winter and yet even with that known outcome “the party and money men wanted me to sit down and shut my mouth.”
Interspersed with the politics the play explores Roosevelt’s childhood as a sickly young boy, and how his fighting spirit started when he fought for breath during asthma attacks and hasn’t stopped just because he is the president. Johnson gives a nuanced and captivating performance that exhibits both the hard “rough rider” persona as well as the softer family man and is a captivating performance.
Directed by Rosina Reynolds the production plays with Roosevelt’s different facets of personality, and while acknowledging his powerful personality, allows his humanity to shine through as well.
The set, designed by Tony Cucuzzella, is mostly the oval office, with various outdoor locations for Roosevelt to roam as he regales the audience with his tale. Lighting by Joel Britt , costumes by Jordyn Smiley, and sound design by Matt Lescault-Wood help create a theatrical feel through for this filmed production. Director of Photography Michael Brueggemeyer makes sure the show feels like your the first few rows of the theatre.
While working on arbitration with the rival parties Roosevelt says “I appeal to your better natures, in the name of patriotism” – which makes for a powerful political moment in this day where so often patriotism has been deployed as all pomp and circumstance with no substance or empathy.
ROOSEVELT: CHARGE THE BEAR is available for streaming through December 20th at www.theroustabouts.org
The Roustabouts Theatre Co. presents the world premiere of ROOSEVELT: CHARGE THE BEAR by Marni Freedman & Phil Johnson
Directed by Rosina Reynolds
CAST: Phil Johnson
Stage Manager: Jessamyn Foster
Lighting: Joel Britt
Set Design/Props: Tony Cucuzzella
Costume Design: Jordyn Smiley
Assistant Costume Designer: Ross Stewart
Sound Design: Matt Lescault-Wood
Director of Photography: Michael Brueggemeyer
Online at http://www.theroustabouts.org
SCHEDULE: Runs online until December 20th
Run time: 90 minutes
BOX OFFICE (619) 568-5800 or http://www.theroustabouts.org
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