FROM THE VAULT: Teddy & Alice

December 1987, Americana Magazine

Article from Americana Magazine

Article clipping from Americana Magazine, December 1987.

In November 1986, the Iran-Contra scandal broke in the Lebanese media, quickly spreading to international headlines. With key players such as Oliver North, Fawn Hall, President Reagan and the Nicaraguan Contras, that drama cast a sour shadow over American politics and government.

Needless to say, it was bad timing for a romping musical about beloved president Theodore Roosevelt’s wily relationship with his insouciant, teenaged daughter, Alice. The musical, Teddy and Alice, inspired by that true tale, had its tryouts at The Straz before heading to Broadway for a two month run. The show focused on Roosevelt’s inability to run the country while containing his irrepressible daughter, and he chose the former job, but not without paying the personal price of an outspoken, free-spirited daughter in love with an ill-favored match in the form of Ohio representative Nicholas Longworth.

Reviews were not favorable to the show, mostly citing too much one-dimensional painting of Roosevelt outside of his political and historical context. Perhaps, in 1987, reviewers merely wanted more truth about a president than what was revealed? Or maybe, as it happens in any industry, the product just missed the mark. Either way, The Straz, then and now, proudly supported the premiere of the show—without new works, performing arts in America will not evolve, grow or expand to the next level. As with any business, supporters of the arts must be bold enough to take risks. Tampa’s very own Hinks Shimberg, a long-time supporter of The Straz whose family also produced the original production of Oklahoma!, produced the show and helped it mount on Broadway.

The show ran November 12, 1987 to January 17, 1988 at the Minskoff Theater.

In December 1987, Americana Magazine’s Hilary Ostlere promoted the musical’s Broadway run with an interview of the playwright, Jerome Alden. According to the article, Alden, who had previously written a one-man show about Teddy Roosevelt called Bully! states: “When they came up with the idea for Teddy and Alice … it was as if T.R. bit me and I went mad, as someone once said.” Alden completed the book, and the musical was scored to John Philip Sousa tunes.

Notably, Alden also wrote “Bicentennial Minutes,” a series of short history lessons for CBS in 1976. He died in Manhattan in 1997 from kidney cancer. He was 76 years old.

The original Teddy and Alice starred Len Cariou as the president and newcomer Nancy Hume as his daughter Alice. The show was revived as recently as 2012 by Seven Angels Theater of Waterbury, CT.

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