Texas treat

What I would have given to have been able to take notes as I watched the play Ann: An Affectionate Portrait of Ann Richards, at the Kennedy Center this week.

In fact, I had tucked a notepad and pen into my purse, thinking I might be able to capture a memorable line or two for later use. But I was so riveted to the stage (figuratively, of course) that I abandoned the notepad and lived in the moment—for two and a half hours of this one-woman play.

The play is the brainchild and product of movie, television and stage actress–and now playwright–Holland Taylor, also newly deemed my favorite actor.

After having met and admired former Texas Governor Ann Richards, Taylor was inspired to memorialize Richards in a play about her life, à la Hal Holbrook’s portrayal of Mark Twain. She began the endeavor following Richards’ death in 2006.

There’s little arguing that Richards was both an inspiring and polarizing political figure in the United States in the 1980s and 90s, though people around the world were amused by her colorful use of language, her unique and thoughtful perspectives and her unbridled passion for changing the world around her.

I knew about Ann Richards even before she commanded national attention because I worked in the government affairs office of a large Texas corporation when she was State Treasurer.

A memorable line in her keynote address at the 1988 Democratic National Convention was only one of hundreds characteristic of her, many of which I heard for the first time at the Kennedy Center.

Regardless of what anyone thought of Governor Richards, I can’t imagine a soul on the planet who wouldn’t fall head over heels for Holland Taylor’s portrayal. The posture, the mannerisms, the accent—specific to her little part of Texas—were traits flawlessly mimicked, with the help of Tom Hanks’ dialect coach, and the late Stella Adler, the acting instructor with whom Taylor worked for much of her career. The hair—which the late columnist Molly Ivins called “Republican hair” and which my mother used to say looked like Richards had it done at Dairy Queen—was the work of noted wigmaker Paul Huntly.

Ann closes at the Kennedy Center January 15, so there’s still time, and worth the scramble, to last-minute get tickets. If you miss it in Washington, the play heads to Broadway next.

Here, have a peek:

I went with four of my former lobbyist cronies. Now that’s our idea of Girls’ Night Out.

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Filed under Politics, Theater

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