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  Looking Over the President's Shoulder at The Greenhouse Theater Center

Looking Over the President's Shoulder

The Greenhouse Theater Center
2257 N Lincoln Avenue Chicago

Before Lee Daniels' The Butler, Emmy-Award winning writer James Still wrote the real-life story of Alonzo Fields, the grandson of a freed slave, who was forced by the Depression to give up his dreams of becoming an opera singer. Fields accepted the job at the White House and served 21 years. The tour-de-force solo play tells the unique perspective of serving four U.S. presidents and their families: Herbert Hoover, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and Dwight Eisenhower. The Washington Post wrote, "the appeal is its peeking through the keyhole quality." Featuring Black Theater Alliance Award winner Manny Buckley*. * Denotes Ensemble member or Artistic Affiliate of American Blues Theater.

Thru - Mar 6, 2016

Price: $29-$39

Show Type: Drama

Box Office: 773-404-7336

Running Time: 1hr, 25mins; no intermission

The Greenhouse Theater Center Seating Charts

Nearby Restaurants

  Looking Over the President's Shoulder Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Somewhat Recommended

"...Still does a good job with setting up Fields' early years in Lyles Station, Ind. - an all-black town formed by ex-slaves, where his father ran a brass band and gave his son a lifelong love for music that sent him to study in Boston. But once the Depression hits and he takes a job "for a year" at the Hoover White House, Fields' home life becomes less important. We know he has a sickly wife, a stepdaughter and a Boston terrier. But the tension between being at the table with the most important people in the world and then riding the bus home to his own family disappears in a mass of anecdotes about who came to dinner."
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Kerry Reid

Chicago Sun Times - Recommended

"...Under Timothy Douglas’ lean direction, the quietly luminous Buckley effortlessly suggests a man of easy grace and authority — one whose pride in himself and his job never faltered as he maintained an aura of total professionalism. Only in the rarest moments does Fields let his guard down, most notably with a rueful mention of never having achieved his dream of becoming a famous singer like his idol, Marian Anderson."
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Hedy Weiss

Chicago Reader - Highly Recommended

"...As embodied by Manny Buckley under Timothy Douglas's impeccable direction for American Blues Theater, Fields seems the classic Dignified Negro of so many period works. You'd expect his pent-up rage to break through at some point. Instead, we get something subtler: a pensive longing, epitomized by Fields's memory of playing music in his head as he stood at attention, waiting on Herbert Hoover. This Fields isn't a political construct. He's a man who made the choices he made under the circumstances he found. We have a fine visit with him. But then, he'd permit nothing less."
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Tony Adler

Stage and Cinema - Highly Recommended

"...This is a discovery-rich, impeccably presented journey through our political past: American Blues Theater's Looking Over the President's Shoulder takes audiences on an invaluable 80-minute tour of the White House, unlike any we ever could. Smoothly written by A.B.T. artistic affiliate James Still and cogently directed by Timothy Douglas, this one-person one-act reprises the omnicompetence and piercing observations of Alonzo Fields, a witness to American history at its most domestic."
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Lawrence Bommer

ChicagoCritic - Recommended

"...We get glimpses into his relationships with each of the people he served, and anecdotes which are no less interesting for being somewhat scattershot. Buckley’s performance and Timothy Douglas’s direction present us with an intriguing, fully-formed character. Though we understand the reason for his ambivalence fairly early, he’s good company, and likely to inform us of some things we don’t already know."
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Jacob Davis

Around The Town Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...Everyone who raved about the award-winning film, “The Butler” will find the newest production, currently on the stage in the upstairs Studio 4, at The Greenhouse Theater Center, “looking Over The President’s Shoulder” 90 minutes of pure “ART”!"
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Alan Bresloff

NewCity Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...All of which lends this play a sense of racial bipartisanship, reliant as it is on the dignity of the grandson of a freed slave. Yet, Still is not here to box the ears of his audience. “Looking Over the President’s Shoulder” is full of humor and wry observations. In its subtle avoidance of antagonism it favors being a character study rather than a morality play. Still demonstrates how tolerance develops into understanding; how the history many of us prefer to view as having a continuous upward momentum has regularly suffered from interruption and turbulence."
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Kevin Greene

Chicago Theatre Review - Highly Recommended

"...One-man shows, however, never succeed without the support of a talented technical staff, and Greenhouse’s crew maintained the company’s high standards. From Mike Durst’s subtle lighting, to Brian Sidney Bembridge’s phenomenal set (which mimics the kitchen next to a White House dining room), to Christopher J. Neville’s natural costuming, no detail was spared."
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Peter Thomas Ricci

Chicago Theater Beat - Highly Recommended

"...Still frames the story with Fields sitting on a bench opposite the White House, drinking in the view one final time while waiting for the bus that will take him to retirement. You won’t want him to go. Looking Over the President’s Shoulder provides some of the best storytelling of the season."

Catey Sullivan

  Looking Over the President's Shoulder 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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