Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Cleveland & Akron

44 Plays for 44 Presidents
A history lesson with a laugh track
Cleveland Public Theatre
Review by Mark Horning

The Cast
Photo by Steve Wagner
This year the big news is of course the presidential election. It is the most heated and controversial election in years. Both sides have their share of radical followers while the rest of the country is shaking their collective heads and asking, "Out of 318.9 million citizens is this really the best we can do as far as candidates?"

Don't feel bad. If you look at the lineage of the past 44 much like you would a family tree you will find the odd fruit or two (or more) dangling from the presidential branches. Thus is the core of the Cleveland Public Theatre production of 44 Plays for 44 Presidents. The show is ably co-directed by Dan Kilbane and Caitlin Lewins.

Originally written by Andy Bayiates, Sean Benjamin, Genevra Gallo-Bayiates, Chloe Johnson, and Karen Weinberg for Neo-Futurists of Chicago, the work consists of 44 distinct vignettes (each lasting only a couple of minutes) with quotes, accomplishments and catastrophic failures of each past president (many of whom did not want the job in the first place).

Using dramatic readings, song, dance, and general carrying ons you learn things about the various presidents that are at the same time fascinating, funny and poignant. The stage action is so swift that the two and half hours fly by.

The all-female ensemble consists of Molly Andrews-Hinders, Chennelle Bryant-Harris, Melissa Therese Crum, Sally Groth*, Tanera Hutz, Colleen McCaughey, and Carrie Williams.

The scenic and video designer is Val Kozlenko, lighting designer Michael Boll, costume designer Kerry McCarthy, sound designer Eric M.C. Gonzalez, props designer Christina Dennis, and the stage manager is Austin Kilpatrick.

The set is simple with few props and is overshadowed by a large video screen on which each official presidential portrait is shown along with the name and years as president.

The production values are very high, with the actors giving stellar performances featuring direct quotes (keep an eye out for the "Direct Quote" sign lighting up from time to time).

With the Presidential election just weeks away, what could be more fun than a show about presidents? Nobody is spared as all 44 past presidents are lined up and examined closely (warts and all). This fast-paced production will have you laughing, thinking, and perhaps making decisions as to who is worthy to lead us for the next four to eight years.

This would be a good show for the family (especially with its early 7 p.m. start time). It is an entertaining history lesson that everyone in the family will enjoy.

44 Plays for 44 Presidents is onstage throughout October 29th, 2016. Performances are Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Monday nights at 7:00 p.m. in CPT's newly renovated James Levin Theatre, located at 6415 Detroit Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44102.

Tickets are $12 – $35. Students/Seniors receive $3 off on Friday and Saturday nights. Thursdays and Mondays are $12. Stageside cabaret seating is available—guarantee your seat for $5 more at checkout. Tickets may be purchased online at or by calling the CPT Box Office at (216) 631-2727 x 501. Group discounts are available, call to inquire. CPT never charges any ticket fees, ever. Every Friday is Free Beer Friday at CPT. Mingle with the artists after the show and discuss the performance in a lively, social atmosphere with the drinks supplied by CPT.

*Member of Actors Equity Association

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