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  Five Presidents at Stage 773

Five Presidents

Stage 773
1225 W Belmont Ave Chicago

There was only one day in history when all five of these U.S. Presidents were in the same room at the same time: the holding room prior to entering the memorial service for President Richard Nixon. Five Presidents is the presentation of this once-in-a-lifetime occurrence, as imagined by "The West Wing" and "House of Cards" writer Ensemble member Rick Cleveland.

Thru - Oct 19, 2019

Price: $19-$39

Show Type: Drama

Box Office: 773-327-5252

Running Time: 1hr, 20mins

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  Five Presidents Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Recommended

"...If you like “The West Wing” or enjoy re-living the machinations of the Oval Office from the end of the last century, you’ll have a good time. In the end, of course, the play cannot help but make the point that all presidents have strengths and weaknesses, all come and go in popularity, and all get replaced."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Sun Times - Recommended

"...“Five Presidents” was first produced at Milwaukee Rep in early 2015. Cleveland has revised the script for this Chicago premiere by American Blues Theater, where the playwright is a founding ensemble member."
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Kris Vire

Chicago Reader - Somewhat Recommended

"...In the end, though, the evening feels more like a museum-worthy historic reenactment—memorializing a time when the country was (or at least seemed) calmer, saner, and significantly less fractured—than a fully engaging drama. It's entertaining for history buffs, for sure, but perhaps too reverential and cerebral for anyone who's not a student of late 20th-century American politics."
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Jack Helbig

Windy City Times - Recommended

"...Cleveland's real skill-honed by his years as a playwright and Emmy Award winning writer/producer of superior television drama-is creating credible tension for each President and shifting focus between them to keep us engaged. A fictional Secret Service Agent ( Denzel Tsopnang ) also has a momentary spotlight. Cleveland's dialogue-vocabulary, phrasing and rhythm-is exactly on target for each President, and is aptly delivered in suitable physical and vocal impressions by a top veteran cast, directed by Marty Higginbotham who smartly keeps his players moving across a potentially static setting."
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Jonathan Abarbanel

Splash Magazine - Recommended

"...The play is well written, clever and humorous. The elephant in the room is a very large photo of Nixon, whose eyes seem to follow everyone about, even as the characters tartly sum up his misdeeds. The real focus of their discourse is twofold: the regrets they have and recriminations they direct against their predecessors/successors; and the acknowledged humanity and support they are willing to grant each other. The most intriguing aspect of the production is the choice of actors, and especially in the case of Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush, how well they captured the physical/vocal personae of their respective roles. In an interesting deviation from traditional portrayals of these men, Gerald Ford is presented as the most thoughtful- and rueful- of them all, determined to explain that his pardon of Nixon should NOT be construed as absolving him; Nixon had to accept guilt before being so pardoned."
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Debra Davy

Let's Play at ChicagoNow - Recommended

"...The entire cast did an excellent job of creating the characteristics of the five presidents, and not just veering into a caricature of the men. President Ford, McElroy was entirely intentional in his poignant role as the angry President, forever to have his legacy attached to the pardon of Nixon. John Carter Brown as George H.W. Bush had a no none sense demeanor. He brought a lot of laughs with his comment, "Junior," his oldest son, hasn't demonstrated "much Aptitude.""
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Rick and Brenda McCain

Around The Town Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...We all have heard the expression “the fly on the wall” used when people are discussing an event that took place behind closed doors. “If I could have been a fly on the wall” has been said in wonder of what they might have heard. You can be that “fly on the wall” for at least 90 minutes as you witness the amazing “Five Presidents” written by Rick Cleveland ( who has been writing political matter such as “West Wing” in addition to many other television shows). The original script was commissioned in 2015, so what we are seeing is revised in order to keep up to date with all of the changes we have gone though. To perfection!"
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Alan Bresloff

NewCity Chicago - Recommended

"...Beyond political commentary, what is fun about this show is watching a handful of men impersonate former heads of state. James Leaming, as Reagan, does this best. Not only does he embody the Teflon president’s mannerisms, voice and, uncannily, his likeness, he does so genuinely. For the most part, Tom McElroy (Gerald Ford) and Martin L’Herault (Jimmy Carter) provide the same in their performances."
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Amanda Finn

Chicago Theatre Review - Recommended

"...This is a play that offers very few surprises. Although the 90 minute meeting depicted by playwright Rick Cleveland is fictional, it is true that the information covered is from public record and took place at other times. However, knowing the path that these five men took after Nixon’s funeral is interesting in retrospect. Some of the quips, like statements about Clinton cheating at golf, not in his marriage, generate a laugh. But creating this brief, somewhat fictionalized moment in the lives of these Presidents, all of whom once held the highest office in the land, provides an honest, humane portrait of what it takes to make a great leader."
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Colin Douglas

Chicagoland Theater Reviews - Highly Recommended

"...I suspect that many people will enter the small theater with modest expectations about “Five Presidents,” anticipating a modest civics lesson mixed into a slice of Americana. What they will happily receive is a literate, superbly staged miniature that will inject fresh humanity into recent American political history. The play should be nominated as the most involving 75 minutes of uninterrupted theater currently on a Chicagoland stage."
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Dan Zeff

Third Coast Review - Somewhat Recommended

"...Five Presidents is a great premise for a play, and listening to dialogue, I know I could have really enjoyed it. The main problem is that, besides Leaming and Tsopnang, the other actors just weren't putting enough life and emotion into their roles."
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James Brod

Chicago On Stage - Highly Recommended

"...In this remarkable, humorous, and honest play, Cleveland brings them all up close and personal and shows them to be exactly what they were: flawed but honorable and decent people. In an era when loud insults are flung across the aisle daily in both directions and in which it is difficult to imagine even the somewhat strained civility that the play demonstrates, it serves as a reminder that such things once were possible, and a prayer that they will be again."
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Karen Topham

PicksInSix - Recommended

"...How Nixon's presidency defined everything that followed and the skillful depiction of Reagan's declining health add a unique perspective to the work, which is at times both deeply moving and insightful. For those of us who lived through it all, the lines of intersection between administrations resonate starkly. For everyone else, it will be impossible to walk away from "Five Presidents" without both a greater understanding of the challenges that come with the high office and the enormous responsibility for each of us to be informed and active participants in the political process that put those men in power. "
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Ed Tracy

Picture This Post - Recommended

"...None of these actors are giving us the kind of impersonations you take for granted from a Colbert or other Second City alumn. It strikes this writer though, that they somehow go much deeper, imagining the affect each would have when discussing x, y, or z topic at hand. Their performances are designed to amaze --and they do!"
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Amy Munice

  Five Presidents Photo Gallery

   This show has been Jeff Recommended*

*The designation of "Jeff Recommended" is given to a production when at least ONE ELEMENT of the show was deemed outstanding by the Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee.

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