September 20, 2014

Teddy & Alice — Uplifting and patriotic

John T. Lynes as Teddy Roosevelt and Sydney Turner as his headstrong daughter, Alice, are the duo of ‘Teddy & Alice,’ now at Seven Angels Theatre in Waterbury.

John T. Lynes as Teddy Roosevelt and Sydney Turner as his headstrong daughter, Alice, are the duo of ‘Teddy & Alice,’ now at Seven Angels Theatre in Waterbury.John T. Lynes as Teddy Roosevelt and Sydney Turner as his headstrong daughter, Alice, are the duo of ‘Teddy & Alice,’ now at Seven Angels Theatre in Waterbury.Teddy & Alice at Seven Angels Theatre, Waterbury, is one of those stirring musicals that grabs hold of you until you wish you had a flag in your hand to wave high during the standing ovation. 

Here’s a play about President Theodore Roosevelt who not only had his hands full with world problems, but whose rebellious daughter Alice was more than a handful. While Roosevelt wanted to be a good President  and a good father,  it wasn’t easy being both. His patience fails  and he refuses to give his blessing when Alice decides she wants to marry Congressman Nick Longworth, who is much older than she. 

The last time Seven Angels produced this show, they had headliner, John Davidson playing Teddy Roosevelt. This time around they have John T. Lynes  in the starring role and he is powerfully presidential. What a dynamo! He’s got so much energy and talent that it is contagious — not only with the rest of the cast, but with the audience. You’ll be cheering him on every step of the way. Here’s an actor who could rival George M. Cohan’s fervor. 

On opening night, Semina DeLaurentis stepped into the role of Teddy’s wife Edith. The actress who was originally cast in that role had suffered an injury and Semina, who directed the show, suddenly found herself as understudy. What a performance she delivered. Not only is she a fast study, but a superior performer who thrilled the audience with her uplifting soprano numbers and her sensitive portrayal of the second wife to the President, who had loved his deceased wife deeply. 

Joining John T. Lynes and Ms. DeLaurentis in the impeccable performance category is Sydney Turner as Alice. Here is an actress who embodies freshness, with flair to spare. She brightens the stage every time she is on it. As if the three of them didn’t embody enough talent to put the show over the top, Matt Martin as Nick steps into the action with a genuinely sympathetic performance. We like Nick though he is not the apple of Teddy Roosevelt’s eye. 

This cast features many fine performances including some of the local talents like Jonathan Ross, Mandy Thompson and Tim Cleary. Jerrial Young delivers a memorable performance and the youngsters in the show are all delightful. The show was originally scheduled to run through June 10, but three more performances have been added. Word spreads quickly and this play  is most timely with its political  implications. 

How could this musical miss when the music is by John Philip Sousa with book by Jerome Alden?  Jimmy Johansmeyer’s costumes and Erik D. Diaz’s set design wove authenticity into the production. Overall, this is a red, white, and blue flag-waving, energetic and most entertaining production. It plays through June 17. Don’t miss it.  Box office: 203-757-4676.

Joanne Greco Rochman is an active member in The American Theatre Critics Association, and covers art and culture in a blog for CBS and CBS-CT.  She welcomes comments. Contact: jgrochman@gmail.com.