Jesse Cline’s production is pleasant to watch and Jonathan Bolt’s book is quite informative, even to people who know the story of the Roosevelt family, but little seems at stake in this musical by Bolt, Thomas Tierney, and John Forster, not even when Franklin Roosevelt is stricken with polio and Eleanor and Franklin’s marriage is threatened by Franklin’s philandering.
Cline’s production needs more fullness in characterization and in creating dramatic moments. Maxwell Porterfield sings beautifully as Eleanor Roosevelt, but she doesn’t deeply convey the conviction nor the charisma of the woman. Patrick Ludt shows more of Franklin Roosevelt’s charm and humor, but more gravitas would be welcome. The show at the Media comes most to life when Hannah Parke is being gaily naughty as Alice Roosevelt Longworth or Roger Ricker is being fussily realistic as political operative Louis Howe. Susan Wefel is a positive Gorgon as Sara Roosevelt. Kelly Briggs is a likable patriarch as Theodore Roosevelt.
Media Theatre, 104 E. State Street, Media, PA] January 29-February 23, 2020; mediatheatre.org