'Of Thee I Sing' spreads love not politics

Joseph Edward Herr (left), Kent Collins (middle) and Jenny Totcky (right) are all smiles as their respective roles, John P. Wintergreen, Mary Turner and Alexander Throttlebottom for the musical "Of Thee I Sing." Photo Courtesy Theatre UCF.

With a different political topic on the news every day, UCF debuted a political satire musical called “Of Thee I Sing” that doesn’t stick to controversies, but showcases the importance of the power of love. 

Mark Brotherton, theater professor and director, decided the angle of the show was to pay homage to the 1931 Pulitzer Prize winning script. He said he wanted to add a modern flair to the female lead making her less weak and showcasing her bold attitude.

Jenny Totcky, a 21-year-old musical theatre major, plays the lead female role of Mary Turner and said that even though the show was written in the 1930s it still has relevant topics. 

“Unfortunately, [Mary] is a pretty outdated woman written by men. Mark and I talked a lot about ways to make her stronger without making any line changes to the script,” Totcky said. “We were able to come up with many ways to show how bold and intelligent she really is.”

“Of Thee I Sing” is about a political candidate named John P. Wintergreen who is running for president and promises to marry the woman who wins a beauty pageant if he gets elected as president.

Diana Devereaux wins the pageant but Wintergreen doesn’t fall for her, he actually falls for Turner. Devereaux finds a way to get her revenge by using tactics that causes some trouble.

Diana Devereaux is played by 21-year-old musical theatre major Katie Whittemore. She based her role actually on another Devereaux, Blanche from “Golden Girls.” Whittemore, being a big fan of the show, got into the mindset of a southern belle that she deemed fit for the role.

But what makes Whittemore happy is that the show doesn’t push politics onto the audience; it shows the relevancy to how we have issues similar to ones of that time period.

“I think there’s just moments in the show that people will watch and see this president that likes to have a lot of fun and doesn’t know the right way to govern … people will take with that with what they may,” Whittemore said. 

Brotherton, 57, however, believes today’s controversies haven’t really changed from how politics ran way back then; he believes that it all has just gotten angrier and meaner. 

“But if we realize through history that we start to realize that slogans of other politicians of that time they were always nasty and mean to each other," Brotherton said. “The funny thing was that back then they were making fun of the political system as it existed. I don’t think we’ll ever get through a time that we don’t make fun of the political system."

Totcky got inspired for her role by watching movies that stared actresses Katherine Hepburn and Donna Reed and picked up on how they lived within their characters. She said it was the importance of what the show’s message she stressed about.

“This show is a nice reminder of how ridiculous things can be and hopefully we can remind people what actually matters," Totcky said. "Everyone knows, or at least should know, what is wrong in this country and the direction in which we need to move. I think people have forgotten what is really important."

"Of Thee I Sing" runs until Oct. 22 at Theatre UCF's main stage.

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