July 2004


"Any American who is prepared to run for president should automatically, by definition, be disqualified from ever doing so."                � Gore Vidal

The Best Man

Before The West Wing, there was The Best Man. Gore Vidal's 60's drama is infused with the style of the new millennium. The Best Man is a glib, dirty, ironic, and witty look at backroom politics where every back is stabbed and every reputation trashed. A political animal all his life by right of birth (he has twice run for congress), Gore Vidal channeled much of his insider's information into his play. Vidal has said he was inspired by the politics of 1960, when Adlai Stevenson battled Jack Kennedy for the party's presidential nomination. "You have a very noble and eloquent and witty man, a superior man, who is just a ditherer, to be blunt about it, up against a real political operator, on the order of Nixon. So we have a Stevensonian character and a Nixonian character. But they're not thinly disguised portraits, they're archetypes. Just for fun I made the political operator with a totally virtuous private life, perfect husband, everything, and the good guy has the biggest mess of a private life going on."

Footlights� return guest at our monthly dinner-discussion on Tuesday, August 3 is Richard Romagnoli, who will direct The Best Man for the Potomac Theatre Festival at the Olney Theatre Center for the Arts this summer. A graduate of Catholic University, Professor Romagnoli teaches at Middlebury College in Vermont. He directs frequently at the Olney Theatre Center for the Arts, where his recent productions include The Importance of Being Earnest, Camille, Havel: the Passion of Thought, The Homecoming and Private Lives. Dr. Romagnoli last spoke with us for our discussion of Harold Pinter�s The Homecoming in May 2001. The Best Man will play in repertory at Olney Theatre Center from July 15 - August 8. Footlights member Jerry Stilkind will moderate our discussion.

We will meet again at Guapo�s, 4515 Wisconsin Ave, NW, upstairs (202-686-3588). By Metro, Guapo�s is right next to the Tenleytown station. Take the east side exit. Turn right on Wisconsin Ave to 4515. If you do come by car, try to park on the street, on Albemarle, 42nd or 40th Streets, behind the Metro station. Arrive for dinner at 6:30 p.m.; the meeting is from 7:30-9:30 p.m.

This month Guapo�s is again providing an excellent buffet for us for a bargain price of only $13. Cold drinks (iced tea or sodas), tax and gratuities are all included; a cash bar is available. Pay us as you arrive, by cash or check, no credit cards. The meeting is free, but we ask for a suggested donation of $5 to Footlights.

To make reservations for the August 3 dinner-discussion meeting, call or e-mail Mark Gruenberg, 202-898-4825 or [email protected]. We will need a firm commitment; please do not make a dinner reservation if you are not sure you will be able to attend. If you must cancel for any reason, be sure to notify Mark by 2 p.m. on August 3, otherwise you are obligated to pay for your dinner. We hope you will support the buffet. The space at Guapo�s is far superior to any other location we have found to date. We can continue to meet there only with your support.

Look for The Best Man in our bookstores. Backstage Books (202-544-5744) 545 8th St, SE, Washington, D.C.; Olsson�s two stores: Dupont Circle, 1307 19th St., NW (202-785-1133) & Bethesda 7647 Old Georgetown Rd. (301-652-3336); or Politics & Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave., NW (202-364-1919). Ask for the Footlights discount at Olsson�s and Politics & Prose. Olsson's would be glad to send a copy to another of their branches if it is more convenient. Just give them a call with your name and be sure to pick it up. Discounts are only available as long as the bookstores buy and sell a large order of our plays. So, whenever possible, please patronize our bookstores.

We�ll find out who The Best Man is at the Potomac Theatre Festival on August 8 at 1 p.m. Tickets are $10. The Olney Theatre Center is at 2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Road in Olney, MD. Send your check to Robin Larkin, 5403 Nibud Ct, Rockville, MD 20852.

About Footlights

To get Footlights updates on-line, send any message - even blank - to [email protected]. Subscribers can post to our on-line list by sending brief messages to [email protected]. Visit our website at Address all inquiries to Mark Gruenberg, 202-898-4825 or [email protected].

Please support Footlights, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit organization. Send your tax-deductible contributions to Footlights, c/o Robin Larkin, 5403 Nibud Ct., Rockville, MD 20852

Reservations, Tickets

For all reservations to dinner-discussions, contact Mark Gruenberg, 202-898-4825 & [email protected]. For theater tickets contact Robin Larkin, 240-669-6300 & [email protected]. Send your check payable to Footlights, to Robin Larkin, 5403 Nibud Ct, Rockville, MD 20852. Contact Robin for further information and to check ticket availability, or you may now check at for updates. To volunteer, contact Mark. We need people willing to help find speakers, lead/moderate discussions, publicize Footlights to potential members, help with site coordination, write and distribute newsletters, assist with tickets at theaters, attend to a few legal matters and anything else you can think of offering. Just ask Mark.


Sunday, July 11, 3 p.m., see Oh, the Innocents at Theater J, DCJCC, 1529 16th St., NW, D.C. Tickets $28.

*Saturday, July 24, 2:30 p.m., see Machinal at the American Century Theater, Gunston Arts Center II, 2700 S. Lang St., Arlington, VA. Tickets $18.

Tuesday, August 3, 6:30 p.m., dinner and discussion of The Best Man at Guapo�s, 4515 Wisconsin Ave, NW, D.C. Guest: Director Richard Romagnoli. Moderator: Jerry Stilkind.

*Sunday, August 8, 1 p.m., see The Best Man at the Olney Theatre Center, 2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Road in Olney, MD. Tickets $10.

*Contact Robin Larkin, 240-669-6300 or [email protected] if you need a ride or can offer one.