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The President and Her Mistress at Abingdon Theatre Arts Complex

- Backstage with the Playwrights

The President and Her Mistress
June Havoc Theatre
Abingdon Theatre Arts Complex

The President and Her Mistress
By Jan Buttram
At the
Abingdon Theatre Company
312 West 36th Street

Featuring: Jan Buttram as President Rebecca Shine,
Susanna Guzman as Vice President Kit Santos,
Sherry Skinker as Peggy Shine, Constance Boardman as Candy Powers,
Danton Stone as Paul Porter Shine/Moses, Lori Gardner as Poochy/Femme Voices,
Jeremy Beck as ZooZoo

Directed by Rob Urbinati
Set Design: James F. Wolk
Lighting Design: Matthew McCarthy
Costume Designer: Polly J. Byers
Casting: William Schill
Production Manager: Pete Fry
Associate Artistic Director: Kim T. Sharp
Press Representative: Shirley Herz Associates
Production Stage Manager: Andrea L. Beukema

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
May 1, 2007

With a cute concept, this new play, featuring Playwright/Actress Jan Buttram, could be more than cute. The storyline, that of President Rebecca Shine in 2156 A. D., in the world’s Femme House, located in Australia, presides over a world with almost no men, with a “husband” who serves as sperm donor and surgeon general, a mother in big hair, Peggy Shine, who serves in Rebecca’s cabinet, a Vice President, Kit Santos, who is also Rebecca’s lover, a media personality, Candy Powers, who often stops the proceedings for news spin, a country-style father, Moses, a guy with a song, and two nanoprobes, Poochy and ZooZoo, all in silver and hanging from beams, who can re-sexualize and rejuvenate President Shine, once they are let loose in her system, a job for Surgeon General Paul Porter Shine. The concept also includes videos of the President, femme voice-overs, wild antics (some way over the top), and loud screaming and fighting. (The Sound Designer, not noted, was also over the top).

The initial scene, with pink cushions and a persuasive video could be expanded throughout the play in a re-worked concept. The subsequent action, frenzied and crude, cheapened the play, rather than strengthened it; simulated sex on many levels and more, plus language that confronted rather than communicated. The sub-plot, of rebellion and redemption, toward opening the enclaves of enslaved men, could also be expanded. Of the actors, Danton Stone was most versatile, switching roles from future to past, with accents and attitude that switched time and geographic zones with equal expertise. Jeremy Beck and Lori Gardner, as the nanoprobes, although screechy, had some fine lines to deliver, and did so with wit and personality. Constance Boardman, as the media gal, appeared here and there with her mike and delivered her spin with style.

Sherry Skinker, as mother, Peggy Shine, did her best with her role and lines, also shifting personas, when seductively approached by Paul. However, Jan Buttram and Susanna Guzman, President and VP, lovers and partners in crime, needed better lines and deeper plot. In fact, the plot, itself, was often confusing, with volume replacing vitality. Perhaps bringing this work into real time and today’s American politics would add the nuanced spice that’s missing, in lieu of lurid spice. Today’s political scenarios are already art imitating life, so why not harvest these opportunities for more riveting humor. Meanwhile, Abingdon Theatre Arts Complex is to be congratulated on producing new works by emerging playwrights.

Sherry Skinker and Jan Buttram
Photo courtesy of Kim T. Sharp

Susanna Guzman, Jeremy Beck, Jan Buttram, Lori Gardner, and Danton Stone
Photo courtesy of Kim T. Sharp

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For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at