Emmy Award-winning actress, Holland Taylor, is making Chicago her home until December 4 at the Bank of America Theatre. Taylor is playing and paying tribute to the former Governor of the Lone Star State, Ann Richards, in a new one-woman play, appropriately titled – ANN.
ANN was written by Taylor, which took her four years to complete. She was on a journey to find out every little detail of this legendary lady. Taylor pays homage to the life of Richards for over two full hours in this play full of humor, sprinkled with some seriousness. Taylor is most known for playing the mother of Charlie Sheen in Two and a Half Men.
The show’s tag line, “Tough as Nails. Funny as Hell.”, coins the Democratic Richards in just the right way. This well-known politician first served the roles of wife and mother. The first song she and her husband David danced to, when they got married at 19, was Tony Bennett’s “Blue Velvet”. They eventually had four children together and later divorced in 1984.
You don’t have to be a fan of politics or know an ounce Richards’ life to appreciate this play. Taylor does an amazing job at captivating you from her first word to the final bow.
The opening set was that of a Texas college graduation ceremony. She opened up the play walking out on stage to a wooden podium with a white wig, white skirt suit, tan-colored heels, a sparkling broach and had a pleasantly charming southern accent. She spoke about her life and comically told the audience they “look as good as a fresh scraped carrot.”
Richards’ career and began when she started working political campaigns in 1950. In her robust life, she served as county commissioner, state treasurer and eventually took office as the Governor of Texas in 1990. It was her “duty in life to be perfect and Taylor noted that “If we rest, we rust.”
It wasn’t until 50 minutes into the play that the set changed, revealing her office at the capitol where she joined in banter from her assistant, Nancy, offstage. Roughly an hour into the play, there was a ten-minute intermission. Once the second act began, Taylor spent the second hour having discussions with political figures on her office telephone and, again, with her off-stage assistant.
ANN was beautifully written, artfully portrayed and major kudos to Taylor for her stamina, but the play could have been a little shorter. Two plus hours listening to one person talk, especially in a slower tone, was a little challenging.
The play poignantly ended with Taylor looking upstage to a portrait of the real Ann Richards. I am so grateful to have been invited to review this play about such a powerful woman. You learn something new every day.
Now through December 4, 2011
Bank of America Theatre
18 West Monroe, Chicago