Bob Boyett, Harriet Newman Leve
in association with
Lincoln Center Theater
At the Vivian Beaumont
Written by Holland Taylor
Directed by Benjamin Endsley Klein
Scenic Design: Michael Fagin
Costume Design: Julie Weiss
Lighting Design: Matthew Richards
Sound Design: Ken Huncovsky
Projection Design: Zachary Borovay
Wig Design: Paul Huntley
Production Stage Manager: JP Elins
Press Representative: The Hartman Group
General Management: 101 Productions, Ltd.
Production Manager: Peter Fulbright
Marketing: Leanne Schanzer Promotions, Inc.
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 14, 2013
One of the hottest tickets this spring season is a ticket to Ann, at the Vivian Beaumont, with Holland Taylor portraying the former Texas Governor, Ann Richards, in her solo show. Ms. Taylor spent the past few years interviewing Ms. Richardsí family and friends, according to recent news write-ups, and itís obvious that Ms. Taylor holds deep and dear affection for her gloriously portrayed heroine. Ms. Taylor arrives onstage with a fabulous, starchy, off-white, teased, wavy, blown back wig, white designer suit with gold buttons, and walks, drawls, and jokes, just as I remember Governor Richards from television past, including her infamous comments about Bush 41, in her Keynote Address at the 1988 Democratic Convention. The play opens with an un-named Texas college commencement speech, as she stands at a podium. She offers encouragement laced with bawdy barbs and is even persuaded, through her own persuasive style, to tell a risquť joke about three dogs. The Beaumont audience was now in the palm of Ms. Hollandís hands. And so it went for almost two hours more, with audience applause and vocal remarks, almost like a gospel service, with the Governor, that is, Ms. Taylor, working her adoring crowd. We wanted to know more about this mesmerizing character, and we wanted it no holds barred.
Ms. Taylor narrated stories of the Richards homestead, with the perfection-demanding mother and hard-working father, stories that would re-appear through the evening, as Gov. Richards tried decade after decade to impress and please her mother, to little success. We learned about David Richards, the father of Gov. Richardsí four children, from whom Gov. Richards was divorced after thirty-one years, when politics and alcohol didnít mix with their ďgrowing apartĒ. Gov. Richards was acutely dedicated to liberal Democratic causes, especially the plight of women, and she was drawn into races for State Commissioner and State Treasurer, both of which she handily won. When Gov. Richards wins the Texas Governorís election, the college podium disappears and a wood-paneled Governorís office slides forward, with projections of the State House amidst old trees. In fact, thanks to Zachary Borovayís numerous projections of family, politicians, and time-related events, the stage image is deepened and enhanced. Off-stage is Annís (in our minds, we already know this woman personally) assistant, Nancy Kohler (Julie White), with her equally endearing Southern drawl, fielding Annís demands, impatient complaints, scheduling queries, and so on.
At this point, the repartee became hilarious and heart-warming, as Ann related self-deprecating details of alcohol rehab, followed by phone calls to her children, one from her grand-daughter, two from President Clinton (Gov. Richards served 1990-1994, President Clinton from 1992-2000), with flirty comebacks, and several with State aides, regarding a stay of execution for a disturbed criminal on death row. This was a surreal experience, as the audience was drawn right into this 1990ís Governorís office, listening to the daily phone traffic and secretarial small talk laced with gossip. The Governor shifted from verbally lambasting her aides to ordering leather boots for everyone, all in exact sizes. Following the Governorís office scene, Ms. Taylor is now in her New York City streamlined consulting office, bantering about Gov. Richardsí electoral loss in 1994 (not mentioning that it was a loss to George W. Bush), but pointedly mentioning it was caused by Annís support of a state concealed weapons ban. In the epilogue, Ms. Taylor proceeded to proselytize at the podium, which readily re-appeared, to her college grads, about maximizing potential and doing good for the country, while warning them, ďIf we rest, we rust.Ē.
Benjamin Endsley Klein directed for spontaneity and leisure, in Ms. Taylorís timing and tales. Paul Huntleyís wavy wig and Julie Weissí stylized suits perfectly channeled Ann Richardsí classy persona. Ken Huncovskyís sound enabled every witty or poignant remark to be clearly heard and absorbed, while Michael Faginís scenery was the second star of the show. The Governorís desk must have been recreated in detail, with crystal paperweights, behind which was a classic silk shaded lamp. The torn fringe on the State flag, which Ann repaired, while on the phone, was an astounding detail that could be seen and appreciated, also thanks to Matthew Richardsí lighting. Kudos to Holland Taylor, and kudos to Governor Ann Richards.
Holland Taylor in "Ann"
Courtesy of Ave Bonar
Holland Taylor in "Ann"
Courtesy of Ave Bonar