A little more than 40 years ago, on June 17, 1972, as Republican President Richard M. Nixon and his eventual Democratic opponent, South Dakota U.S. Senator George McGovern, were firing the opening salvoes of the 1972 presidential campaign, the Committee for the Re-Election of the President paid James W. McCord Jr., Bernard Barker, Frank Sturgis, Virgilio Gonzalez, and Eugenio Martinez to burgle the Watergate office complex headquarters of the Democratic National Committee.
Given the overwhelming landslide victory that the President won on Nov. 7, 1972, carrying 49 of the 50 states and racking up a whopping 520 of 538 Electoral Votes, the question has always been why did “Tricky Dicky” and his minions feel it necessary to dispatch burglars to DNC headquarters at the Watergate. That was one of the answers that British journalist David Frost hoped to drag out of the disgraced president, whom the Watergate scandal and its cover-up forced to resign on Aug. 8, 1974.
In his 2006 historical drama, Frost/Nixon, London-born playwright and screenwriter Peter Morgan dramatizes events surrounding the series of 1977 television interviews about his presidency that former President Nixon ultimately granted a persistent David Frost, whose secret hope was that Nixon would finally admit his involvement in the Watergate scandal. Was he or wasn’t he involved? You will have to see The Justice Theater Project’s presentation of Frost/Nixon to find out. JTP will produce this provocative play, under the direction of Carnessa Ottelin, on Sept. 7-9, 14-16, and 21-23 in Clare Hall Fellowship Center at the Catholic Community of St. Francis of Assisi in Raleigh, NC.
According to The Justice Theater Project:
“It’s all about perspective….
“In 1977, former president Richard Nixon [played by John Honeycutt] granted interview privileges to David Frost [portrayed by David Henderson], a British talk-show host with a playboy reputation. Fees were negotiated. Topics were vetted.
Both [men] hoped for an outcome that would put them back on top of their respective games. This Tony-nominated play shows the behind the scenes scramble as Frost tries to elicit an apology to the American public from Nixon that no other interviewer had been able to secure.”
In addition to John Honeycutt as Richard Nixon and David Henderson as David Frost, The Justice Theater Project cast for Frost/Nixon includes Ryan Brock as Jim Reston, Chris Coby as Jack Brennan, Coty Cockrell as Swifty Lazaar/Ollie, Tanner Lagasca as Manolo Sanchez, Mark Olexik as John Birt, Mary Floyd Page as Caroline Cushing/Evonne Goolagong, Mike Raab as Bob Zelnick, and Renee Wimberley as Camera Operator/Stewardess.
Frost/Nixon premiered in August 2006 at the Donmar Warehouse in London. It was directed by Michael Grandage, and starred Michael Sheen as Frost and Frank Langella as Nixon.
The play made its Broadway debut, also directed by Michael Grandage, on April 22, 2007 at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, where it played for 137 performances before closing on Aug. 19, 2007. The show again starred Michael Sheen as Frost and Frank Langella as Nixon. Frost/Nixon won one 2007 Tony Award® — for Best Actor in a Play (Frank Langella) — but also received Tony nominations for Best Play and Best Direction of a Play. (Langella also won the 2007 Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for Outstanding Actor in a Play.)
The 2008 motion-picture version of Frost/Nixon, directed by Ron Howard from a screenplay by playwright Peter Morgan, yet again starred Michael Sheen as Frost and Frank Langella as Nixon. The film earned five Academy Award® nominations — including nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Frank Langella), and Best Adapted Screenplay.
On its website, The Justice Theater Project proudly announces that author and journalist James Reston, Jr. will lead a post-show discussion of Frost/Nixon after the show’s 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 23rd, performance.
The Justice Theater Project writes:
“In 1977, historian James Reston, Jr. helped prepare journalist David Frost for a series of interviews with Richard Nixon that resulted in the former president’s tacit acknowledgment of his involvement in the Watergate scandal. Reston later chronicled the exchange in his book The Conviction of Richard Nixon , which inspired a play and the film Frost/Nixon. Books will be available for sale in the lobby during the show, and may be purchased in advance online.
“… Due to limited seating — and in the event of a sold-out performance – standing-room tickets for the discussion only will be sold at the door for $10 each. Patrons are encouraged to see the play prior to Sept. 23rd and attend the discussion portion separately.”
The Justice Theater Project presents FROST/NIXON at 8 p.m. Sept. 7 and 8, 2 p.m. Sept. 9, 8 p.m. Sept. 15 and 15, 2 p.m. Sept. 16, 8 p.m. Sept. 21 and 22, and 2 p.m. Sept. 23 in Clare Hall Fellowship Center at the Catholic Community of St. Francis of Assisi, 11401 Leesville Rd., Raleigh, North Carolina 27613.
TICKETS: $20 ($15 students, seniors, active-duty military personnel), except $10 at 2 p.m. Sept. 9th and $12 per person for groups of 10 or more. BOX OFFICE: 919/264-7089, firstname.lastname@example.org, or http://www.etix.com/.
NOTE 1: There will be a complimentary opening-night reception after the Sept. 7th performance, sponsored by the Trálí Irish Pub & Restaurant (http://traliirishpub.com/) in Brierdale Shopping Center in north Raleigh.
NOTE 2: Tickets will be $10 per person for the 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 9th, performance; and FREE babysitting will be provided by SEED Raleigh (http://www.Seedraleigh.org/) (but advance reservations are required).
NOTE 3: At 7 p.m. on Sept. 15th, there will be preshow panel discussion on “Politics, Conscience and the Media,” facilitated by Bryon Woods of The Independent Weekly and featuring Gail Phares, Jules-Odendahl-James, and George Corvin.
NOTE 4: Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh (http://www.artsaccessinc.org/) will audio describe the 2 p.m. Sept. 16th performance.
NOTE 5: On Sunday, Sept. 23rd, there will be post-show discussion with author and journalist James Reston, Jr. (http://www.restonbooks.com/).
The Play: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frost/Nixon_(play) (Wikipedia) and http://www.ibdb.com/show.php?id=453356 (Internet Broadway Database).
The Script: http://books.google.com/ (Google Books).
The Film: http://www.universalstudiosentertainment.com/frostnixon/ (official web page) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frost/Nixon_(film) (Wikipedia), and http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0870111/ (Internet Movie Database).
Peter Morgan: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Morgan (Wikipedia).
David Frost: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Frost_(broadcaster) (Wikipedia).
Richard M. Nixon: http://nixonfoundation.org/ (Richard Nixon Foundation) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Nixon (Wikipedia).
The Watergate Scandal: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watergate_scandal (Wikipedia).
The Nixon Interviews: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Nixon_Interviews (Wikipedia).
Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This preview is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.
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