Vanessa Williams, Julianne Hough, and Rachel Dratch stopped by The View May 26 to share their experiences working on POTUS: Or, Behind Every Great Dumbass Are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive and what it means to them to perform in an all-female show when women's rights are being stripped away.
Williams spoke to playing the First Lady and the connections some audience members may draw between the play and previous administrations. "It's not about a specific president," she said. "We never actually see him, but a lot of the antics... We're having a really bad day behind the White House. To be a First Lady, you have to be collected, you have to do a lot of damage control, which we do in our show, and it is really a big job."
The work, a 2019 selection for the Killroys' List, is described as a "modern farce," centering a PR nightmare that befalls the White House as seven female support staff risk everything to keep the commander-in-chief out of trouble. Lilli Cooper stars as Chris, Lea DeLaria as Bernadette, Dratch as Stephanie, Hough as Dusty, Suzy Nakamura as Jean, Julie White as Harriet, and Williams as Margaret.
Said Hough about her character, Dusty, the pregnant small-town mistress of the president who stands up for reproductive rights throughout the play, "It is a play that is hysterical and comedic, and it's something that we need right now... that is a line that means something deeply to all of us. It gives us a chance to have a voice while, also, the audience feels like they can participate in it as well. We're doing it together."
Dratch, who is Tony-nominated for her role as Stephanie, the president's beleaguered secretary, also spoke to the dramatic shift her character goes through throughout the piece: "I start the play this very buttoned-up character, who is very conscientious, and then she kind of unravels. I get to have a lot of fun in the fall."
POTUS: Or, Behind Every Great Dumbass Are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive officially opened at Broadway's Sam S. Shubert Theatre April 27. Twenty-eight-year-old The Morning Show writer Selina Fillinger makes her Broadway debut as the work's playwright. Directed by Tony winner Susan Stroman, the limited engagement is set to run through August 14.