How Presidents have been portrayed in Off-Broadway and Broadway musicals and plays is the theme of an exhibit now showing at the Silas Bronson Library in Waterbury, CT during the month of February. The display will feature Playbills, LPs and CDs from the collection of Dr. Stuart Brown, Director of Student Services at the Waterbury Campus of the University of Connecticut. “I’ve been attending Off-Broadway and Broadway productions for over 45 years,” said Brown, who has hosted the radio program “On Broadway,” which airs every Sunday night from 5:30-6:30pm on WRTC-FM, 89.3, at Trinity College in Hartford. The show can also be heard via live stream at wrtcfm.com.
“Many of the shows I’ve seen have had subject matter we associate with Presidents and politics. Notable examples include Hamilton, Frost/Nixon, and 1776,” he said.
“The most well-known Presidential musical is probably 1776, which will be represented,” stated Brown, who has been with the University since 1989. “The Hamilton Playbill will be in the exhibit since you have George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison in that blockbuster show.”
Some of the material spotlights shows with fictional Presidents. “Of Thee I Sing is a musical with a score by George and Ira Gershwin that lampoons American politics,” said Brown. “The original Broadway production was a critical and commercial success. It was also the first musical to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.”
There will also be items from less recognized productions such as the 1968 revue, How to Steal an Election, which has such songs as ‘Silent Cal,’ ‘With Tippecanoe and Tyler Too,’ and ‘Get Out the Vote.’” The Off-Broadway show, Rap Master Ronnie, has Ronald Reagan at the center and was co-written by Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau.
Other musicals that will be part of the exhibit include those one might not necessarily associate with Presidents such as Annie and Call Me Madam. “Franklin Deleanor Roosevelt is a major supporting player in Annie,” said Brown, who has hosted his Broadway radio program for over 25 years. “He even sings along with the rest of the cast in the song ‘A New Deal for Christmas.’ The Irving Berlin musical Call Me Madam has the famous song ‘I Like Ike.’” Also represented will be the 2015 Off-Broadway production of Clinton – the Musical, which includes such ditties as “A Starr is Born,” “Monica’s Song,” and “A Place Called Hope.”