The year is 1902. Eighteen-year-old Eleanor Roosevelt has just returned home after three years in a progressive girls’ school in England. Shy, not pretty, and with deep feelings of inadequacy, she dreads the upcoming social rituals expected of a debutante.
In a First Class train carriage, Eleanor is engrossed in a book describing conditions in New York’s slums (“How the Other Half Lives”). She is spotted by her distant cousin, twenty-year-old Franklin Roosevelt, a handsome dandy on his way home from Harvard.
Seeing a pregnant immigrant woman being ousted from the First Class car, Eleanor instinctively goes to her rescue. Franklin is intrigued by Eleanor’s spontaneous reaction to a minor injustice.
At “The Assembly Ball,” Eleanor is presented to New York Society. As the fathers serenade their debutante daughters (“Our Beautiful Daughters”). Eleanor, orphaned at age 10, remembers her own beloved father – a dashing man destroyed by alcoholism.
Tart-tongued cousin Alice Roosevelt and Franklin lead the young people in a giddy dance (“The New Century Walk”). Eleanor, feeling awkward and left out, tries to flee the ball, but is intercepted by Franklin. As they dance, he draws her out, discovering that she does volunteer work with the poor. Once again, he is fascinated.
Eleanor is teaching immigrant children at a settlement house on the Lower East Side. Franklin pays a surprise visit. When a young girl reveals an injury she received at her sweatshop job, Eleanor soothes the child (“Give”) as Franklin tries to help. They are beginning to fall in love.
At the Hyde Park family estate, Franklin seeks the approval of his formidable and doting mother Sara. Despite Sara’s sly maneuvering to keep them apart, Franklin vows to marry Eleanor.
Eleanor’s uncle, President Teddy Roosevelt gives the bride away (“United”). Later that evening Sara presents her wedding gift – a New York townhouse – with a house for herself next door. That night Eleanor expresses her dismay to Franklin, who calms her fears (“Running Before The Wind”).
The couple settles into the rarefied life of their privileged class. But not for long. Sara is aghast when Eleanor expresses the desire to return to her social work (“First You Serve Your Husband”). The confrontation is interrupted when Franklin arrives with the news that he’s been offered a chance to go into politics. He promises Eleanor that they’ll work together as a team.
Louis Howe, a brash and savvy newspaperman, senses the naïve Franklin’s political potential and takes him under his wing (“Practical Politics”). Eleanor is advised to smile and stand beside her husband like a good political wife.
Washington D.C: When Franklin is appointed Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Eleanor does her best to be that “good political wife.” But the threat of war and the Washington social whirl (“Foggy Bottom”), along with five children and a difficult mother-in-aw, begin to take a toll on their marriage (“The Life of the Party”).
Franklin is annoyed when Eleanor is unable to attend a Navy event. She suggests her social secretary as her replacement for the evening and Lucy Mercer, young and attractive, agrees to help out (“Dancing On and On”).
Vacationing with the children at the Roosevelt summer home in Campobello while Franklin remains behind in Washington, Eleanor begins to sense something has gone wrong. Finally, Franklin’s affair with Lucy is revealed and Eleanor’s world is turned upside down.
At a family conference, Eleanor listens stoically as Sara, Howe and the family lawyer confront Franklin with the possible consequences of the affair (“What Would You Do About Eleanor”). To herself, Eleanor vows to take control of her life and never again to live it for someone else (“Doing”).
Gently but firmly, Howe makes Lucy realize the future Franklin would have to give up for them to have a life together. Hurt, confused, deeply in love, Lucy makes the choice to end the affair (Dancing On and On” Reprise).
Franklin asks Eleanor’s forgiveness and a chance to start over. She can forgive, she says, but she cannot forget (If We Go On”). The two agree to begin a new kind of partnership.
At the 1920 Democratic Convention, Franklin is nominated for Vice President (The Life of the Party” Reprise). As Franklin speaks before an admiring crowd, Eleanor realizes that the causes he so powerfully espouses are hers (He Touches Me”).
The next summer at Campobello, Howe tries to persuade Eleanor to take a more active political role. But Eleanor feels almost phobic about public speaking. After a swim, Franklin complains of feeling ill. The diagnosis is polio. Franklin begins a series of disappointing therapies.
Denying the possibility that he may be permanently disabled, Franklin and a band of cronies wile away the months aboard a Florida houseboat (Nothing in Particular”).
Howe confides to Eleanor his fear that Franklin will be forgotten unless Eleanor starts going before the public and speaking on his behalf. She is appalled by the prospect – but Howe suspects her hidden strength (Fun!”). On the stump she begins to gain confidence in her voice. Soon she is feeling the freedom to express her own opinions. She is emerging.
Back in New York, Eleanor has learned that Franklin will never walk again. Finally standing up to Sara, she challenges Franklin to overcome his disability and return to politics. Franklin agrees to make a speech at the Democratic Convention (“If We Go On” Reprise). There is no time to celebrate. Eleanor is late for a speech of her own.
As Eleanor makes her speech (“Give” Finale) we realize that she has finally come into her own. It is the end of the journey of a shy, unsure young woman – and the beginning of quite another.
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Rehearsals are underway for the Pitt-Greensburg Theatre Company’s production of “Eleanor—An American Love Story” which will be performed April 4 and April 5 at The Palace Theatre (21 West Otterman Street, Greensburd, PA 15601). Curtain time is 7:30 p.m. The performance is part of Pitt-Greensburg’s 50th anniversary celebration.
Twenty Pitt-Grensburg students are part of the cast, which is under the direction of Stephen Schrum, PhD, and associate professor of Theatre Arts, and Christopher Bartley, music director.
“As a director, I always like working with large groups o f actors in staging moments that fill the stage, but the best parts of Eleanor are the smaller, intimate scenes, usually involving Eleanor, Franklin and Franklin’s mother,” said Schrum. “These scenes are fraught with conflict and humor and are great fun to work with. A challenge will be to show the changing eras, since the show covers a long period of time, but at the same time, we can ground those time and period changes with the gradual change to Eleanor’s ‘public face’ and her growing confidence in playing practical politics—though we see the seeds of her political life even in scene one.”
Written by Jonathon Bolt with music by Thomas Tierney and lyrics by John Forster, this musical tells the story of Eleanor Roosevelt’s journey from a shy, young aristocrat to her emergence as a powerful catalyst for social change. It tells of the passionate courtship and bittersweet marriage to Franklin, and ultimately, of the surprising partnership that so dramatically changed the face of 20th Century America as well as the entire world.
“Everybody knows Eleanor Roosevelt,” explained junior Jess Uhler, a Visual and Performing Arts major from Harrisburg, PA. “But they may not know that she was the driving force behind her husband and some of the major changes that occurred in this country. [Through the show,] I think we get to see the person that only her family members saw.”
A regional theatre hit, the show made its debut in 1987 at the Village Theatre (Issaquah, WA). In 1990, the Pittsburgh Public Theatre performed the show and earned high praise from the regional drama critics, including “Eleanor succeeds because it’s got drama and heart…” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette), “Eleanor grips us from start to finish…” (WQED-FM) “Eleanor sparkled with humor and pathos… richly deserving of the standing ovation the audience awarded it.” (Times/Beaver Newspapers) and “Red-white-and-blue history with energy and warmth, pace and fluidity.” (The Pittsburgh Press)
“Pitt-Greenburg’s theatre program is a hidden gem. New members of our audience always tell us how excellent our shows are,” said Jesse Palatucci, a Visual & Performing Arts senior from Brentwood, PA. “People coming to The Palace will see an excellent performance. It’s pretty special to be at The Palace but it’s also bittersweet since this is my last show and we won’t be performing at Ferguson Theatre. We’ll get to perform to a bigger audience, though. This feels more professional… it’s pretty amazing.”
Ticket prices are $18 (adults), $17 (senior citizens 55+), or $10 (students and youth). A special ticket price of $15 per person is offered for groups of 10 or more. Tickets are available from the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg (Lynch 203A, 150 Finoli Drive, Greensburg, PA 15601) by visiting the website www.greensburg.pitt.edu/eleanor. Questions may be directed to 724-836-7497.
Written By: Candy Williams , April 03, 2013
A woman who is credited with redefining the role of first lady is in the spotlight for University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg Theatre Company's spring production, “Eleanor — An American Love Story.”
Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) was considered one of our country's most outspoken women, not only during her tenure in the White House as the wife of Franklin D. Roosevelt, but before and after her role as first lady. At different times in her life, she was a campaigner, not only for her husband's presidency, but for human rights, women's and children's issues and other causes.
Stephen Schrum, associate professor of theater arts at Pitt-Greensburg, directs the musical production that celebrates her life. The play ends as Franklin Roosevelt (played by senior visual- and performing-arts major Tony Puzzini of Pittsburgh) is considering a run for the office of governor of New York.
The main focus of the theatrical work “is really on Eleanor going from the shy girl who felt abandoned by her father and finding Franklin growing away from her, but at the request of Louis Howe (Franklin's political adviser), she campaigns for Franklin and as a result, discovers herself,” Schrum says.
Jesse Palatucci, a senior visual- and performing-arts major from Brentwood who portrays Howe, says that when Franklin becomes too ill to make speeches and continue his political career, Howe inspires Eleanor to take his place and keep her husband's name alive.
“Inadvertently, Howe plays a lead role in helping Eleanor become the strong, independent woman she grows into. The relationship between Howe and Eleanor grows into something very beautiful. The story we tell in this show casts a light rarely seen,” he says.
“Eleanor fought social norms, an old-school mother-in-law, and even a debilitating illness suffered by her husband. The sheer strength and determination exuded by Eleanor is incredible.”
Schrum selected freshman biology major Jordan Fessler of Irwin to portray Eleanor, he says, because he was impressed not only by her vocal ability, but by the vulnerability and strength she showed in her audition — two qualities that the title role requires.
Fessler says she wanted to play Eleanor because she is a dynamic character who transforms from a shy, insecure girl to a strong-willed, hard-working woman.
Fessler's stage credits include the lead role of Natalie/Ed in the musical “All Shook Up” at Norwin High School, where she also was a featured singer and dancer in “Copacabana” and “Curtains” and played Eileen Reagan in the musical “Back to the '80s.”
Palatucci has been featured in four other Pitt-Greensburg Theatre Company productions: as Tony Kirby Jr. in “You Can't Take It With You,” Hippolytus in “Hippolytus,” Bob the Dog Assassin in “Dog Assassin the Musical” and Mortimer Brewster in “Arsenic and Old Lace.”
“Eleanor — An American Love Story” is supported by grants from the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau, the Greensburg Foundation Fund of the Community Foundation of Westmoreland County and Westmoreland Cultural Trust.
Candy Williams is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.
Written By: Shannon M. Nass , March 28, 2013
Nestled on 219 acres in Westmoreland County, the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg this year is celebrating a half-century that has been marked by progress and change.
Founded in 1963, Pitt-Greensburg has grown from its humble beginnings as a two-year institution to a publicly assisted, four-year liberal arts college, with the first four-year degree issued in 1972.
"It's been very exciting. The change is just massive, yet it's been a continual progress," university president Sharon Smith said. "To see the students now, to see what they do, and to see the buildings, it's wonderful and to know that it's all happened in what have been very challenging times."
In celebration of this milestone, the university has planned a variety of special activities. Next Thursday and on April 5, the Pitt-Greensburg Theater Company will perform "Eleanor -- An American Love Story" at the Palace Theatre in nearby downtown Greensburg.
First lady Eleanor Roosevelt's connection to the area stemmed from the National Industrial Recovery Act's creation of subsistence homesteads for dislocated industrial workers. During a visit in May 1937 to the Westmoreland Homesteads, residents were so taken by her personal expression of interest in the program that they renamed the community in her honor. The new town's name, Norvelt, was a combination of the last syllables in her names.
Other events include a lecture on natural gas fracking at 7 p.m. April 10 in the Ferguson Theater, and at 7:30 p.m. April 13, the Heinz Chapel Choir will be performing with the Pitt-Greensburg Chorale in Ferguson. The events are free and open to the public.
On April 27, Pitt-Greensburg's commencement will close the 50th anniversary year and will feature speaker Kenneth Taylor, former Canadian ambassador to Iran during the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis. The event will take place at 11 a.m. on Ridilla Field.
Present at this year's commencement will be third generation alumnus Brian Hackman, accompanied by his mother, Carol Prentice, also an alum. The two will bestow a bachelor's degree in psychology to Mr. Hackman's daughter, Alexis.
"It's really neat," Mr. Hackman said. "I'm excited for her and proud on how well she did and that she was able to go to school there.''
This will be the third Pitt-Greensburg graduation that Miss Hackman has attended. While attending the school, Mr. Hackman met and married his wife, Anita, who gave birth to Alexis two months before his graduation. Five years later in 1995, Alexis was present at the commencement ceremony for her grandmother, Mrs. Prentice.
Mr. Hackman grew up in nearby Latrobe and after serving with the U.S. Army after high school, he attended Pitt-Greensburg as a commuter alongside his mother, who was a part-time, non-traditional student at the time. Despite differing majors -- psychology for Mr. Hackman and physical sciences and biology for Mrs. Prentice -- the two would cross paths on campus, which Mr. Hackman described as "interesting."
During his time at the school, Mr. Hackman said the university had only one set of dorms on campus so most of the students commuted as he did.
He graduated in 1990 with a bachelor's degree in psychology and now lives in Lycoming County, where he has worked for the past 20 years as a drug and alcohol treatment specialist supervisor with the State Correctional Institution Muncy.
Mr. Hackman said his experience at Pitt-Greensburg was one that was marked by change and that he has enjoyed seeing the growth and progress.
"Overall it's just been a really neat and interesting experience to be able to go back there and see how my daughter's doing," he said. "It's the same school, but because of all the expansion and growth, it's a neat experience to talk to her and hear her experiences.''
When fellow alumnus Gary Amelio of Jeannette visited the Pitt-Greensburg campus in the fall of 1973, it comprised only two buildings: the Lynch mansion, which was situated on the Lynch estate that now serves as the Greensburg campus, and Vogle Hall, which was located in downtown Greensburg. Upon his graduation from Jeannette Senior High School in 1974, he said, Pitt-Greensburg was his first and only choice for higher education.
"I wanted to go to a smaller school and get my feet on the ground, so to speak," he said.
During his time there, Mr. Amelio served as president of student government and witnessed the addition of Smith Hall, which was erected in the spring of 1976 shortly before his two-year term at the school ended. Mr. Amelio completed his bachelor's degree in arts and sciences at the main campus in 1978 and went on to graduate from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 1981.
"I love the whole university, but without a doubt Greensburg is my favorite campus," Mr. Amelio said. "It offers a personal touch, it's a beautiful, scenic campus; the faculty is very attuned to the students and the administration is very hands-on and accessible and it's just an all-around wonderful experience."He now lives in Santa Barbara, Calif., where he is the chief executive officer of the Santa Barbara County Employees' Retirement System.
In 2007, he was named a University of Pittsburgh Legacy Laureate. Prior to that, he was presented with the Pitt-Greensburg Alumni Association's Alumnus of Distinction Award at the April 2005 commencement ceremony during which he addressed the graduates.
Mr. Amelio said his speech was met with disbelief as he described the early days of the campus when the "coffee shop" consisted of a folding table holding a coffee urn in the basement of the Lynch mansion, where a cup of coffee could be purchased on the honor system for 10 cents.
The school has since experienced what Mr. Amelio described as exponential growth and now boasts 25 buildings including five residence hall facilities, a chapel, an athletic center and a library.
The most recent addition is Frank A. Cassel Hall, which opened in August and is the first new academic building in almost 20 years. The two-story, 16,500-square-foot building houses computer classrooms, labs, and faculty and staff offices, and it is anticipated that it will receive a Silver LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, designation.
As for the next 50 years, Ms. Smith, the university's president, said stagnation is not an option. Students at Pitt-Greensburg can expect to see continual change but on an expedited schedule, as the school continues to reinvent itself to keep up with the changing times.
"A lot of people have kept their eyes on the future, which is what education is all about," she said. "It's investing in the future."
ELEANOR has been a regional theatre favorite since its first production at Seattle’s Village Theatre in 1987. The 1999 Ford’s Theatre (Washington, DC) Original Cast Recording has been praised from San Francisco to Pittsburgh to Great Britain.
Based on the early lives of Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt, the play has been a hit at Virginia’s historic Barter Theatre, the Pittsburgh Public Theatre, Chicago’s Marriott Lincolnshire, LA’s Musical Theatre West and many others throughout the U.S..
Jefferson AwardsJanuary 01, 1999 — 2 Nominations, Jefferson Awards
January 01, 1995 — 2 Nominations, Jefferson Awards
L.A. Dramalogue AwardsJanuary 01, 1997 — 6 Nominations
Robby AwardsJanuary 01, 1997 — 7 Nominations including Best Musical Score and 1 Award
Vocal Range of Characters:
Written By: Thomas Tierney
ELEANOR â€“ An American Love Story was originally to be a musical about the young Franklin Roosevelt, but when the show\'s writers Jonathan Bolt (book), John Forster (lyrics) and Thomas Tierney (music) began to research their subject, they were overwhelmed instead by the dramatic possibilities of Eleanor Roosevelt\'s story, not Franklin\'s. Orphaned at a young age, Eleanor\'s life became a series of challenges and setbacks, including struggles with self-doubt, a domineering mother-in-law and eventually the infidelity of her own husband. But her determination to overcome these challenges eventually leads her to triumph and to find a voice of her own â€“ indeed, to become "First Lady of the World."
The full length musical ELEANOR opened the season at the Village Theatre of Issaquah, Washington (near Seattle) in 1987, and was an instant hit in its initial six week run. Village Theatre had seen the earlier one-act version of the show produced by Theatreworks/USA (under the title, FIRST LADY) â€“ and asked the writers if they would expand it to full length to open the Village season. FIRST LADY already had a loyal following with a successful three year national tour, New York City performances at The Promenade Theatre and Town Hall, excellent press reviews, and even a special performance at the White House for the Eleanor Roosevelt centennial celebration. Following the initial Issaquah, Washington run, ELEANOR was revised and transferred to the Seattle Center Theatre where it ran an additional 10 weeks in 1987 and 1988.
Next stop for ELEANOR was the Pittsburgh Public Theatre in 1990 with director Mel Shapiro (Broadway\'s TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA) and choreographer Rob Marshall (director of the Academy Award-winning film CHICAGO) at the helm. The musical director was Keith Lockhart, now the conductor of the Boston Pops. This full Equity production of the show was again a hit, with enthusiastic press reviews and sell-out performances â€“ leading to an extended run of seven weeks. As each production of ELEANOR was mounted, the authors remolded the show, adding new songs and scenes.
In 1992, ELEANOR was selected for presentation at New York City\'s annual Festival of New Musicals sponsored by The National Alliance for Musical Theatre (NAMT). There ELEANOR came to the attention of Marriott\'s Lincolnshire Theatre (Chicago) which led to a 10 week production in 1995 â€“ also a hit â€“ with sold-out houses and excellent press reviews. The Marriott Lincolnshire suggested the addition of the show\'s subtitle, "An American Love Story," and it has remained since. The NAMT presentation also led to the 1997 Los Angeles production by Musical Theatre West (La Mirada and Long Beach) and seven Robby Award nominations.
In 1999, the historic Ford\'s Theatre in Washington and Theater Previews at Duke (University) teamed up to present ELEANOR. The nation\'s capitol embraced the show during its 11 week run, and its success there led to the making of the original cast CD recording in New York City on the ValKill Label. You can read the rave reviews on the show\'s own website (www.EleanorTheMusical.com). The two ELEANOR leads, Anne Kanengeiser and Anthony Cummings, each won Helen Hayes "best actor" awards for their Ford\'s Theatre performances â€“ and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton became a fan after attending a performance on Mother\'s Day with a Roosevelt granddaughter and other White House guests.
Simultaneous with the Ford\'s Theatre run in 1999, Seattle\'s Village Theatre (Issaquah, Washington) did a successful revival of the show in their brand new 488 seat theatre â€“ followed by a transfer to their theatre partner The Everett Performing Arts Center â€“ for a total run of 9 weeks. In October of that year, ELEANOR was produced as a concert reading at Long Island\'s Hofstra University.
In May 2001, the historic Barter Theatre of Abingdon, Virginia, presented ELEANOR for 12 weeks â€“ again with excellent press and audience response. Since then, there have been several amateur productions, including the Woodland Opera House near Sacramento, California and the Trumbull New Theatre of Warren, Ohio.
Now ELEANOR â€“ An American Love Story is proud to be represented by R&H Theatricalsâ€“ alongside musical theatre classics like THE SOUND OF MUSIC, ANNIE GET YOUR GUN, THE KING AND I, BIG RIVER and CATS.
MAKE YOUR OWN PLAYBILL! Playbill VIP allows you to create your very own Playbill Program. We have provided Playbill with all of the credits, song listings, musical numbers and more so that most of the work is already done for you. Just add your productions details, photos of the cast and share it with all of your friends. Learn more: www.playbillvip.com
- ELEANOR - Orchestration Package (8 Books/8 Players)
- 1 – KEYBOARD I
- 1 – KEYBOARD II
- 1 – REED I (Flute, Piccolo, Clarinet, Soprano Sax, Alto Sax)
- 1 – REED II (Flute, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Alto Sax)
- 1 – TRUMPET (Doubles Flugelhorn)
- 1 – TROMBONE
- 1 – BASS
- 1 – DRUMS (see "Materials Notes", under "Production Information")
- Rehearsal Set (22 Books)
- 10 – Libretto-Vocal Book
- 1 – Logo CD
- 2 – PIANO VOCAL SCORE
- Digital Logo
- Libretto/Vocal Books 10 pac
- 10 – Libretto-Vocal Book
- Eleanor - PRE-PRODUCTION PACKAGE
- 1 – Libretto-Vocal Book
- 1 – PIANO VOCAL SCORE
The ensemble can be comprised of 6-12 men and women, plus one girl.
Eleanor Roosevelt - ages 18 to 38, a shy woman with a self-deprecating spunk.
Franklin Roosevelt - ages 20 to 40, a charming, patrician, handsome man.
Sara Delano Roosevelt - ages 40 to 60, Franklin's handsome, imperious mother.
Louis Howe - age 40, Franklin's mentor; a small, abrasive former newspaper hound.
Young Eleanor - age 10, plain and shy. Also plays Hester, Young Anna, and Little June Pike.
Young James Roosevelt - age 9. Also plays Poor Son, Pepini and Newsboy.
Alice Roosevelt - Same age as Eleanor. Gorgeous, spoiled, but quick-witted and abrasive.
Theodore Roosevelt - aged 40s to 50s, the President in his prime.
Lucy Mercer - aged 22, attractive and intelligent. Also plays Hot Head's Wife and a Debutante.
Woman One - early 20s, plays Teenage Anna, Pregnant German Woman, Debutante, Cook, and others.
Woman Two - in her 30s, plays June Pike, Chaperone, Debutante, Supervisor, Nurse Nellie, and others.
Man One - in his 30s, plays Elliot Roosevelt, Eleanor's handsome, alcoholic father, and others.
Man Two - in his 20s, plays Teenage James, Train Conductor, a Beau, Junior Pike, and others.
Man Three - in his 30s, plays Hot Head, a Beau, Connell, Senator, Sullivan, and others.
Man Four - an older character, plays Rich Man #2, a father, Simmons, Jackson Pike, and others.
ELEANOR takes place in a young country in a young time, 1894 to 1924. The setting and properties should consist of minimal pieces to define place and character and should be changed in view of the audience.
The 1902 Assembly Ball, Waldorf Hotel, New York
The Rivington Street Settlement House, New York
Springwood, Hyde Park
A Fifth Avenue Townhouse, St. Patrick's Day, 1905
The White House
The Campaign Trail, Lost in Duchess County
The Roosevelt Home in Washington
Aboard the U.S.S. George Washington/Campobello, 1918
The Mall, Washington, D.C.
The League of Women Voters in Washington
Madison Square Garden, New York, 1920
The Campaign Train, North Dakota
The Roosevelt Summer Home at Campobello
The 'Larooco', a Houseboat, Florida
The Political Trail: Albany, Buffalo, Manhattan