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Haul of presidents: Comedy show welcomes 45 commanders-in-chief • Brooklyn Paper

Haul of presidents: Comedy show welcomes 45 commanders-in-chief

Dynamic duo: Kate Villa and Alexandria Iona, the creators of the “Every President Ever” show at Littlefield on Feb. 21, will play Teddy Roosevelt and James Madison, respectively.
Mark Bracamonte

Hail to the chiefs!

President George Washington will don his powdered wig and cross the Gowanus to join 44 other Presidents of the United States onstage for a comedy show next week. The duo behind “Every President Ever: Together Again,” at Littlefield on Feb. 21, hope the show will help Brooklynites to understand the men behind the monuments.

“I hope it takes these people out of the history books a little bit,” said co-creator Kate Villa, who will also play Teddy Roosevelt. “That was definitely our goal, seeing these people as humans for the first time instead of just portraits. They look very stoic, inhuman, difficult to relate to when you see them as portraits, and I think bringing them into the modern day is a fun way to engage with history.”

During the show, 45 comedians will each portray one of the chief executives, wearing a costume of their own making and performing a one-minute sketch that showcases that president’s personality. The performers drew their president out of a hat, said the show’s creators, to avoid competition over who would play Abraham Lincoln, and so that someone will play 13th president Millard Fillmore.

Villa and co-creator Alexandria Iona, who will play James Madison, came up with the idea last fall, after reading “The Complete Book of U.S. Presidents,” a nearly 1,000-page tome that explores the lives and personality of the presidents. From the book, they learned that President Obama loves “Harry Potter, doing the dishes, and chocolate — but hates ice cream,” said Iona, and that Jimmy Carter is a speed-reader who can read more than 2,000 words a minute.

President Trump will also make an appearance at the show, but the Tweeter-in-chief will get no more time than a member of the powdered-wig brigade, said the creators. However, there is something special planned for the 60-second Trump impersonation — it will double as a fund-raiser for the American Civil Liberties Union, though the exact details will remain a surprise until the show.

Diving into the history books to research the show gave its creators a welcome escape from the daily stress of political headlines, said Iona, and it helped to give them a non-partisan view of history.

“Going back and reading about things we didn’t know about presidents from yesteryear has been fun and educational, because we’re not dealing with it from day-to-day,” she said. “It’s non-political, and more personality based: stuff they liked to do, who they hung out with, weird stuff they said. It’s more light and surprising, and it’s been a fun journey discovering some very silly things about these guys.”

“Every President Ever” at Littlefield (635 Sackett St. between Third and Fourth avenues in Gowanus, www.littlefieldnyc.com). Feb. 21 at 9 pm. $8.

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at jmcshane@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.

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