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NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—John Glover, a longtime favorite actor of this reviewer was on his game in his performance as America’s 28th president, Woodrow Wilson.
Glover had no trouble taking his audience into the complex, and deteriorating mind of the ideological man who took the United States from a regional power to the dominant player on the world stage.
Born in Virginia, Wilson became the President of Princeton University, and was elected New Jersey’s Governor in 1910, two years before he was elected to the nation’s highest office.
Edith Wilson, the woman behind the man, was excellently portrayed by Laila Robins.
Robbins’ stage presence is one of the strongest this reviewer has ever seen, and she made the manipulating, cunning, and usurping velvet steamroller Edith into a likable and highly-watchable character.
Other fine performances in this well-staged and well-written work were Sherman Howard as Senator H. Cabot Lodge whose historical opposition to the Wilson peace plan kept the United States out of the League of Nations, an entity created by President Wilson himself.
Stephen Spenella portrayed Colonel Edward House, “the man behind the man,”, whse rational dedication to President Wilson was at odds with the second Mrs. Wilson, and would eventually find himself exiled to insignificance.
Michael McGrath was Secretary Joe Tumulty. McGrath’s memorable portrayal proved his character to be the only true foil to Mrs. Wilson and the only character smart enough to avoid a direct confrontation with her.
The rest of this fine cast who also gave excellent performances included Stephen Barker Turner as Doctor Grayson, and Richmond Hoxie as Vice President Thomas Marshal.
Special accolodes should go to set designer Alexander Dodge and costume designer Linda Cho for taking us back to pre-World War one Washington.
And let’s not forget director Gordon Edelstein for making the second Mrs. Wilson come to life.
Though a well-written and historically accurate stage play, there was one omission.
Yes, President Woodrow Wilson was an idealist who wanted the world to be safe for Democracy. But the play however never makes mention that President Wilson and his second wife were both committed segregationists.
That aside, it is a highly recommended night of theater.
The play runs through November 29. For show times and ticket sales, please visit: www.georgestreetplayhouse.org.