|Holland Taylor. Photo: Ava Bonar|
By Lauren Yarger
Holland Taylor stars in an homage she has written to the feisty former Texas Gov. Ann Richards. Besides writing a good play, which is getting a Broadway run in association with Lincoln Center Theater, Taylor gives a rich performance that probably will earn her a Best Actress Tony nomination.
Taylor doesn't perform the role. She becomes Richards. From the gray hair (wig design by Paul Huntley) and designer suit (Julie Weiss, costume) to the raunchy jokes told with a southern drawl, Taylor captures the memorable woman who was the 45th governor of Texas from 1991-1995.
The scene shifts from a graduation address to memories of her life and her many years in public service (Michael Fagin's set shifts too, creating the gubernatorial office where Ann talks on the phone and shouts to her assistant Nancy Kohler (voiced by Julie White) in the next room and other locations). Under the direction of Benjamin Endsley Klein, the performance s enhanced by the use of video projections (Zachary Borovay, design).
Taylor becomes Ann and as a result, we get to know her. She's a mix of loving mother, hardcore Democrat, tough boss and genuinely nice person. Audience members who don't remember Richards from her exposure in the press can get a very good picture of who she was and what mattered to her through this production.
"Life is not fair, but government should be," she tells us.
She shares her struggles with alcohol, her passion for women's rights and a deep love for Texas. If Richards still were alive, she'd be telling Taylor -- probably very bluntly with an off-color joke -- that the next thing she'd better get to writing is a thank you for the Tony nomination.
Ann plays at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre, 150 West 65th St., NYC at Lincoln Center. Tickets: (212) 239-6200 or http://theannrichardsplay.com/.
Christians might also like to know:
-- God's name taken in vain