Back in the day, I respected government officials. I believed their objective was altruistic. That-being-a-public-servant was about service to the nation. It was in these Camelot years that I would watch the entire Democratic convention for inspiration. In 1988, I found it in soon-to-be Governor of Texas, Ann Richards. Ms. Richards was a memorable convention-stopper. She was a brassy dame criticizing the Republicans with humor and a drawl. Her famous speech quote about women in politics has stayed with me.
“After all, Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did.
She just did it backwards and in high heels.”
Broadway in Chicago and Bob Boyett present ANN. Emmy Award-winning actress Holland Taylor has conceived, written and stars in this loving tribute to Ann Richards. The one woman show is a portrait of the legendary one-term governor (1991-1995). A tough-talking Ann Richards wants the best for and from citizens, staff and family. She pushes all of them to get-it-right as defined from the Gospel According to Ann Richards. Spending the evening with ANN is politics as unusual. Sure, her confident, unapologetic demands might sound politically familiar. But it’s her brash honest self-awareness that will surprise and endear. ANN is/was awesome!
Playwright Holland Taylor starts the show with Ann Richards making a commencement address. Taylor is possessed by Richards. The twinkling eyes. The constant movement. The sweet-talking, ball-busting monologue. Ann Richards IS resurrected in Holland Taylor. She’s a no nonsense, high energy caricature. Taylor (Richards) sums up her progressive personality with a quote from the Waco Women’s Club, ‘“If we rest, we rust.” The speech to a graduating class is a perfect introduction for backstory on Ann Richards. Taylor talks about growing up ‘hard-working’, becoming a housewife and being the poster child for a functional alcoholic. I continually get a true sense of who Ann Richards is/was. Next, we’re dropped into the day-in-the-life-of the Governor of the great State of Texas. Through multiple one-sided phone conversations, the pressure of being the Governor, an employer and a mother are showcased. It’s hysterical! Taylor is in constant conversation with an unseen assistant as she fields multiple phone calls. Taylor complains, blames and muses out loud. On one hand, she makes her staffers cry but later sends them a trinket from the ‘did a good job’ drawer. Taylor takes pride in portraying both sides of this complicated ironclad woman, the influential bulldozer and the soft-hearted wheelbarrow.
I loved Ann Richards. I love Holland Taylor. I loved this show. It’s a powerful combo. I did get a little antsy in the end. I’m positive fifteen minutes could be trimmed. But then I’m torn because I get the impression the magnificent Ann Richards was a rambler. So shouldn’t her memorial be too?
Running Time: Two hours and fifteen minutes includes an intermission
At Bank of America Theatre, 18 W. Monroe
Written by Holland Taylor
Directed by Benjamin Klein
Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Sundays at 7:30pm
Wednesdays, Saturdays, Sundays at 2pm
Saturdays at 8pm
Thru December 4th