When you stand up at the end of this show, as I suspect you will, to cheer, you may wonder for whom you are cheering. Ann Richards? Holland Taylor? Or is it the combination of the two. I say it is the combination.
Taylor has done some sweet constructing on this piece. We meet Ann at a commencement address where she regales her fictitious college audience with tales from her past as well as that of her beloved Texas. She was NOT the first female governor but was preceded by Ma Ferguson, whose husband Pa went to jail for selling pardons to inmates. Ma got in on the “two for the price of one” idea. Richards recalls the first time she set eyes on Barbara Jordan who would sit at the scorekeeper’s table during the Baylor Women’s basketball games and demand the best from those women in that voice that sounded like God was speaking.
She was raised by parents who were self-sufficient. Her mother designed and built the hose into which Ann was born and was never idle. She even wrung the neck of a chicken that needed it while she was in the middle of labor delivering Ann. Her father, on the other hand was expansive and warm and welcoming. It was in his company that Ann experienced the good-old-boy network and felt at ease.
Because of her father’s transfer to San Diego during the war, Ann and her mother uprooted everything to be with him. There Ann experienced firsthand the diversity she didn’t experience in Texas. Segregation from that day for ward became an anathema to Ann. Later in life when she married David Rich, this path continued because he was civil rights lawyer in the thick of it.
Politics was always in her blood, however. She was consumed with civic duty anywhere they would have her. When David was approached to run for county commissioner and refused, the committee turned its cross hairs on to Ann.
And that was that. Once out of the gate there was no going back.
She does mention a bit about her drinking and looks at it like a political trial by fire in many ways. By the time we meet her she is over that, but not without noting that she was a pioneer in seeking rehab.
Fifteen years after becoming commissioner she was Governor of Texas. The second half of the show for the most part finds her in her office managing papers and phone calls – including a few with Bill Clinton who she teases, You just can’t get enough of me can you?”
We hear a final speech she never gave and thoughts on her own memorial service. She reminds us that women are the great coalition that brings people together. And when women and men work together there is nothing they cannot accomplish. She closes with wishing us well and hoping that our lives are adventures beyond our dreams.
I wish for you...That you’d take that chance on your dreams and bet on yourself-- And just trust your wings will catch the wind. After all-- You gotta go out on a limb, ‘cause that’s where the fruit is.’
It’s a hopeful, vibrant evening all around.
"Bright, peppy and unreflecting."
Charles Isherwood for New York Times
"An affectionate but uneven bio-drama."
Joe Dziemianowicz for New York Daily News
"Has plenty of heart, but it lacks drama."
Elisabeth Vincentelli for New York Post
"Performer and subject are both so vividly alive, it's infectious, and we're helplessly drawn in."
Roma Torre for NY1
"Taylor’s witty, sharp-eyed script is sufficiently compelling to serve for this entertaining solo show."
Erik Haagensen for Back Stage
"Isn't in that league of dreadfulness. But it isn't good"
Robert Feldberg for The Record
"Not a deeply revelatory character study by any means, but it is an agreeable session with a charismatic American leader who is sassily brought to life through Taylor’s winning performance"
Michael Sommers for Newsroom Jersey
"This is liberal comfort food, plain and simple. Taylor could use some help as a playwright, but her charisma as an actor and her uncanny sense of her audience almost earn her a pass."
David Rooney for The Hollywood Reporter
"An enjoyable perspective of an imperfect solo subject."
Paul Harris for Variety
External links to full reviews from popular press...