The original post for this episode can now be found here.
Transcriptions by: Masha Latvinava
First Daughter Suite – Episode #125 – January 21, 2021
JESS: Hello, I’m Jesse McAnally.
ANDREW: And I'm Andrew DeWolf.
BRIANNA: And I'm Brianna Jones.
ADAM: And I'm Adam Wachter.
JESS: And welcome to Musicals with Cheese, a podcast where I try to get Andrew and Bree to like musical theater. I remembered from the last time we had him on, he wanted to do it. So I gave him the time to finally introduce himself with us normies.
ADAM: Thank you.
JESS: I want to welcome this week's very special guest. You mostly probably know him as a guest on Musicals with Cheese. He hasn't done anything else. But in case you have seen him do anything else, he’s the composer of –
ADAM: That’s probably true at this point, that’s the thing.
JESS: He's the host of the – well, not the host - He is the composer of Tarrytown, which is one of my favorite musicals of all time. It's a great, great show. You will also recognize –
ANDREW: You will rope one out to it, it’s great.
JESS: Rub one out. You will also remember him from Encore! on Disney Plus, which is honestly one of the greatest things on Disney Plus. I hope they get a second season one of these days when theater comes back. Here's hoping.
ADAM: Here’s hoping.
JESS: Come to my production of Into the Woods, that'll be a fun time.
ADAM: Okay. Do you know what I’m watching on Disney Plus now that I'm loving? On Pointe. Is anybody watching it?
JESS: I have just started the first episode. I have not gotten past that.
ADAM: I love it. It's like Cheer but it's the School of American Ballet in New York. And it's just fascinating. They work so hard. It's like little kids and then they become high school - Remember - You've seen Center Stage, I assume. It's like Center Stage but real.
JESS: Yeah, it's like Black Swan but real.
JESS: And Adam, Adam - you are actually entering an exclusive club today that only one other person has ever entered. You are entering the Five Timer Club today. The Five Timer Club.
ADAM: I’ve not been here five times.
JESS: You have been on five times. Do we want to go through it? We did it with Brent.
ANDREW: Are you sure about this?
JESS: I am sure. First time, Merrily. Alright?
ADAM: Oh, I forgot about Merrily. Yeah, okay.
JESS: Then you came on for Hello, Dolly! And we also interviewed you. Those were two separate episodes.
ADAM: Oh, I didn't realize those were separate episodes.
JESS: Yeah, and there's one more in between there. And this brings us to five. Because of course we did Terrytown. And now this.
ANDREW: That’s five.
ADAM: That’s five. Oh wow.
JESS: So Adam, I am going to ask you to send me your address over text - not over on the air - and you will be receiving a fabulous gift.
ADAM: What is it?
JESS: You will find out when it arrives, sir. But welcome to the Five Timer Club. Add applause.
ADAM: Oh my god. This is the first thing I've won in years.
JESS: Do you have anything to say for yourself? What’s your acceptance speech?
ADAM: Well, I just want to thank, you know, the both of you for having me on five times obviously.
ANDREW: Really, you couldn’t have done it without us.
ADAM: All your support. No, I really couldn't have. I'd like to –
JESS: Alright, he’s going too long. Play him off, play him off. Start the music.
ADAM: - thank my empty schedule for allowing me to participate this many times. No, thank you, though. What an honour.
JESS: Oh, I’m sorry. The award is supposed to go to Moonlight. But no, Adam - We really love having you on. You're one of our favorite guests and this will not be the last time you're on. Always a joy to have you on. And now that we've stalled for nearly five minutes – five minutes of an episode wasted on this. Adam, what are we talking about this week?
ADAM: We're talking about First Daughter Suite.
JESS: Cue the music, Bree.
JESS: The First Daughter Suite is a musical with music, lyrics and book by John Michael LaChiusa.
JESS: The First Daughter Suite is a musical with music, lyrics and book by Michael John LaChiusa based on the daughters of the President. It premiered Off-Broadway at the Public Theater under the direction of Christie Sanderson on October 6, 2015.
ADAM: Kirsten Sanderson.
JESS: The First Daughter Suite is a musical with music, lyrics and book by Michael John LaChiusa based on the daughters of the President. It premiered Off-Broadway at the Public Theater on October 21, 2015. And it closed on November 22, 2015. It was nominated for seven Drama Desk Awards. The plot of which is a historical fantasia in four parts. The First Daughter Suite follows Patricia Nixon and the daughters, Tricia and Julie, Rosalynn and Amy Carter, Betty and Susan Ford, Patti Davis and mom Nancy Reagan, and Barbara Bush and daughter-in-law Laura as they strive to live meaningful lives in the public eye.
ADAM: What does that mean - based on the daughters of the President? What is that?
JESS: I don’t fucking know. That's what Wikipedia said. It wasn't even a book. It was like, “It was based on the daughters of the President.”
ADAM: I mean, based on their lives, yeah.
JESS: It was a really short Wikipedia article.
ANDREW: “The daughters of the President” is a bit weird cus –
JESS: “The presidents.”
ANDREW: The President isn't an entity, but -
JESS: He's a public figure. So Adam –
JESS: I asked you to come on to this. Because when I interviewed you - well, it has to be well over a year now - You brought up this is one of your favorite musicals.
ADAM: I did?
ANDREW: He's like, “Wait, what? What was I smoking?”
ADAM: I have no recollection of that. I would not say this at – Oh shit, really?
ANDREW: Did he actually say that?
JESS: Yes, he did.
ADAM: I said First Daughter Suite is one of my favorite musicals?
JESS: Yeah, I think you might have even - You might have said it was one of your favorite Michael John LaChiusa musicals.
ANDREW: Well, we're gonna take you out of context to make it more interesting.
ADAM: Okay. Well, it’s not.
ANDREW: Do you still agree with that statement?
JESS: Do you suddenly hate this musical is my question?
ADAM: No, I don't hate this musical. I do think this is a brilliant musical. I saw it in New York. And I loved it. I would not say it's one of my favorite musicals. I wouldn't say it's one of my favorite Michael John musicals. But I think it's like all his other musicals, I think it's brilliant and entertaining, and a beautiful show. So, I do love the show. So that's not wrong. I don't know if I would say it's a favorite just because I actually don't know it that well. And I haven't learnt the show in the same way I have some of his others where I've listened to them so much or seen multiple productions - You know, Wild Party, Queen of the Mist, shows like that. But I did see it and I did very much appreciate it. So, I'm happy to talk about it.
ANDREW: Jess put you on the spot in an interview and you just blurted out the first thing that came to your mind –
ADAM: It’s probably my fault. I probably did say that at some point. And there's probably a clip but who knows? My tastes vary, you know. Maybe one day my favorite show is First Daughter Suite. And the next day, it's Cats. Who can say? It's not Cats.
JESS: Yeah, it's never Cats. I can say with confidence, it will never be Cats.
ADAM: No, no, no. It was Cats for a very brief period when I was a child.
JESS: Oh, so it was once Cats?
ADAM: It was once Cats, but I was probably, you know, eight years old at the time, and I went to see the national tour in Michigan. And my parents bought me an extra-large size Cats logo t-shirt, and I used to belt it like a dress and I would safety pin Halloween costume cat's tail onto the back of the belt. And I would crawl around my house like a cat from Cats.
ANDREW: This is what Cats does to people.
ADAM: It turns them gay.
JESS: Just be glad you're not a furry, Adam.
ADAM: Well -
ANDREW: Not that there's anything wrong with that.
ADAM: Not that there’s anything wrong – I am not a furry. I'm glad I'm not a furry only because I think it would get awfully hot in there and those costumes are –
ANDREW: Yeah, honestly, it looks like an expensive and uncomfortable hobby.
ADAM: And also one of the things that is enjoyable about having sex is you don't have to wear clothes. I have to tell you during this pandemic, I've been naked in my house all day every day unless I have to be on a Zoom call or something. I just wake up naked and then I watch tv naked.
ANDREW: He’s not wearing pants right now.
ADAM: I am wearing pants right now. But if you're home alone, which I have been for months, why would you put clothing on? It makes no sense to me. Unless you're doing construction work on your house.
JESS: What if you have body dysmorphia issues?
BRIANNA: What if you’re a Never Nude?
ADAM: Then don't have a mirror. Oh, cus you can look down? What if you’re a never-nude?
ADAM: Have you not seen Arrested Development?
JESS: Yeah, Andrew.
ANDREW: I don't know about never-nudes. I'm not into that.
JESS: Speaking of never-nudes, let's talk about the First Daughter Suite. Adam - unlike me and Andrew, you actually had the opportunity to see this live. We were just dealing with the album and what that brings. So, I'm very curious - For one, what was it like to see it live? And what do you think we'd be missing out from the album?
ADAM: Well, an album - this is a very well made album. And it's very comprehensive. I think it's almost every word of the show. I don't think there's a lot you actually missing from the album.
ANDREW: It didn't seem like there was anything missing. I was able to follow the entire story and everything with no problems.
ADAM: Yeah, but what you miss is the visuals – obviously. It was a beautiful show to look at. The floor was like water underneath a clear sort of stage. And it was just very beautifully done. And then of course you miss the liveness of it of it happening live in front of you and not being pre-recorded -
JESS: Mary Testa spitting on you.
ADAM: You miss Mary Testa sitting on and, you know, seeing –
JESS: Sitting on me?
ADAM: Spitting, spitting. You miss seeing the actors’ faces. I mean, this cast of this musical was such a phenomenal cast. They are all top of their game musical theater actresses. So that was thrilling honestly, just to be watching them work. And then to work on material that is as excellent as this. It was a very, very exciting night in the theater. Definitely.
JESS: And now I'm going to take us out of the structure of that we usually do, which is just freeform discussion. Since there are a bunch of mini short plays here, I kind of want to talk about each segment in its own right – Take a moment talk about each segment. So are we ready to dive into the first one? Or do we have anything we want to prelude it with first?
ADAM: Well, I would just prelude it with saying that yes, there are four individual segments, but they are all of a piece and they are all connected. And I do think that while they stand alone, maybe in terms of plot and things, I think thematically it's very specific. You know, like how Theresa McCarthy plays ghosts in both of her segments. Every segment features water, the setting for it is some kind of water. And that's, you know, what the stage looked like. So that's all connected in that way. So, you know, I'm happy to discuss them separately, because they do stand alone, but they also of a piece. I don't think anyone would –
ANDREW: I kind of wanted to ask if there is a connective - what would you call it? A plot device or something that –
JESS: Framing device?
ANDREW: Framing device. Yeah, framing device. I wanted to ask if there was a framing device for this. Because in the album, they don't have that. But it seems like something they could have on a stage show?
ADAM: I don't think there was. There was an opening number with all of the women.
ADAM: But I think beyond that - and there was a finale where they all came back out - But I don't think there was any connective tissue visually or anything between the segments, no.
ADAM: Other than thematically.
ANDREW: Well, yeah. I mean.
JESS: See, you describe the water segments, and I don't want to harp too much on the visuals and all that or get too ahead of ourselves between our Breeview segment, but Ben Brantley describes it as vulgar, disgusting-sounding, and you just made it sounds so beautiful.
ADAM: What is - he says the show is vulgar? No.
JESS: He says the specific water elements are gross. Like he literally writes the word “yuck”.
ADAM: Oh, well – He doesn’t work there anymore.
JESS: Because of female anatomy of some sort.
ADAM: What? No, it's literally water. Like, the first segment is about rain. The second segment is about a boat on an ocean. The third segment is about a pool - or takes place, you know, at a pool. And the fourth one takes place looking out over the ocean. It's literally water.
JESS: I get it, but he was writing like, “Oh, they're all by water and they're women. Yuck.”
ADAM: Ben Brantley said that?
ANDREW: That is just bizarre. Is that true?
JESS: I think so.
ADAM: Well, Ben Brantley doesn't have a job anymore, so there you have it. I thought he gave a quite a good review. I skimmed it earlier.
JESS: He gave it a good review. Yeah, we're gonna have a segment - we'll get to that. We don't want to get too ahead of ourselves.
JESS: Well dive into Mr. Brantley in a bit. But let's start with the first section which is Happy Pat, between Patricia Nixon and her daughter – Shit, I don't even know which one’s which, now that I think about it. It's the Nixon family though.
(Never Surrender plays)
ANDREW: All the Nixons except for Richard Nixon.
JESS: Tricky Dick was missing that day.
ANDREW: Yeah, all the women. None of the Dick.
JESS: All right – Andrew. What happens in the scene? Describe it for us.
ANDREW: Okay. Oh boy, which one is the one that's actually planning the wedding? It's all –
JESS: That’s this one.
ANDREW: No, no, no, I mean which daughter?
ANDREW: Tricia is the one? Okay, so it's all at Tricia’s wedding and everything is going wrong because I guess it's gonna rain and Richard Nixon is also about to get caught for doing Watergate, which I guess is another water tie-in? There you go.
JESS: I mean, it's like rain on your wedding day, it's like Richard Nixon about to get impeached, you know. Alanis Morissette cut those lyrics out, but it was meant to be in there. It makes sense.
ANDREW: Yeah. But they're all fighting about it in - I mean, that's pretty much what's happening. That's about it. I mean, there's not much else to it.
JESS: This is, in my opinion, the weakest of all the stories. And maybe I'm the lame one and I'm just not seeing the genius here.
ANDREW: What I like about it is that everyone in Richard Nixon's family doesn't really like him that much, which is good.
JESS: Adam, what do you think?
ADAM: Well, here's the problem. Here's the problem with us talking about First Daughter Suite. Or with me talking about First Daughter Suite, certainly - is that I do not know enough historically to – Like, I did not know who these women were with the exception of obviously Nancy Reagan and Laura Bush, and sort of more contemporary figures. In terms of the daughters. I didn't know who any of them were. I had never heard of them. I don't know my American history, sadly. I was not alive for most of these sort of - what are they called - in the White House, you know, when you are elected, and you serve a term, I was not alive for most of these presidential terms, these presidential eras. So I think that knowing more about the daughters - And at the time, if you had been alive - if we had been alive - I think it would have been something we were aware of. We would have known that they had a wedding at the White House and that it was a very big deal. And that the president's daughter got married during his term. It would have been a huge thing. And of course, it being Nixon, who was so infamously impeached and Watergate and the whole situation -
ANDREW: Well, there’s the implication that the wedding is almost a ploy to cover up the media scandal that's about to happen.
ADAM: Yes. So, I think we would be able to appreciate a lot more if we had been around at that time. Or maybe you guys know more about the presidents and their children, but I don't.
JESS: Adam Wachter just OK Boomer’d Michael John LaChiusa. He just did it. It happened in front of you guys.
ANDREW: Just like, “Yeah, I mean, maybe it was like an old - ”
ADAM: No, I’m saying my - I'm shaming myself, if anything. And saying that I should be more informed and better educated about the presidential families in our nation's history, but I'm not. And I think that if I were, I'd be able to appreciate this musical so much more than I already do. That's what I think. it's specifically about this one. Because this one, you're right, not a lot happens in terms of plot. And certainly not like the second one, which is action/adventure territory, and the third one, which is almost like a play and family dynamics. The first one, I think, is maybe the hardest one to glean onto.
JESS: I mean, it's surprising that the one about Nixon, who is, in theory, the most infamous of all the presidents covered here - maybe aside from Bush, just because that's our lifetimes - but is the least interesting. With the least to say, so to say.
ADAM: Well, because it's not really about Nixon at the end of the day, it's about his wife and daughters. And I think he probably eclipsed them so much in terms of infamy because of all the scandal that we speak very little about them and we don't know that much about them, you know?
JESS: Or it could be that the celebrity culture of politicians’ families wasn't quite as big back then. As it ramped up – Like, we all know Chelsea Clinton, we all know about Susan Ford and such-
ANDREW: Hunter Biden.
JESS: Hunter Biden.
ANDREW: They won’t let us not know about him.
JESS: Ivanka Trump. The Bush twins. We know about all these people just because they become celebrities. Obama's daughters, if they show up in the background of a TikTok, that's fucking world breaking news.
ADAM: Yeah, yeah. It is a different world in terms of celebrity - about the presidents themselves and about their families, and just how much coverage and things. And then of course, we're also alive during those times. So, we know about the Clintons because we lived through the Clinton era. Well, I did. I don't know if you guys did. But, you know, yeah.
JESS: I know the memes of the Clinton era. And I have been in the same room as Chelsea Clinton, and she gave me popular-girl-in-high-school vibes, you know, you know? She'd be like, the one that wouldn't let you sit with them at the lunch table.
ANDREW: She would not let you sit with her. I guarantee it, Jess.
JESS: And on Wednesday, she wore pink. She gave me Regina George vibes.
ANDREW: Well, what did we think of the Nixon segment then? Because I mean, even with our limited knowledge of the Nixon families –
JESS: I feel like there’s not a narrative.
ADAM: Well, it's the wedding. (Sings) In go the chairs and out go the chairs. I'll never forget that little phrase. That's such a good little melody, whatever it is, I love it.
JESS: It's a weird thing to start with, I think is the way to go. But it also means that you start at a low and then you keep ramping up. I think, as they go, they get better than the last one, which is a good thing.
ANDREW: This is the weak one, they had to start with it.
JESS: One of these has to be the weak one. And it just happens to be this one. It's not the fault of the scene or the writer or anything like that. It's just by the nature of vignette storytelling.
ADAM: I guess if you're if you're ranking vignettes, there's always going to be a weakest one. But would the other three be as strong without this one? I don't know, you know?
JESS: Yeah, that's kind of the thing. I feel like the weakest subplot in Hello Again is obviously the One I Love one with the guys meeting up at a bar? I think that one's the weakest one and –
ADAM: You do?
JESS: I do.
ADAM: Oh, I don't think that's the weakest one.
JESS: Which one do you think is the weakest one?
ADAM: I have to remember them all. It's the - it comes near the end. What happens after Titanic?
JESS: That’s that one.
ADAM: I thought Titanic was Safe.
JESS: No Titanic is - We Have a Little Time [I Got A Little Time], where he gives him a hand job.
ADAM: I can't remember.
JESS: God. Read up on your Hello Again.
ADAM: This is the thing. This is the thing. Michael John LaChiusa is so productive and so prolific. There are so many musicals and they're all so dense and so worthy of respect and study and things, but it is hard to remember them all because there are so many.
JESS: And the thing about him is he has no personality in the same way as a Jason Robert Brown does, where he is a personality in and of himself and you can hear the guy behind the piano with every single song you hear from him.
ADAM: Oh, I don't know if I disagree. When I hear something that's Michael John, I immediately know it is.
JESS: I don't hear him. I hear the style. I don't hear the man, if that makes sense.
ADAM: Interesting. Maybe that's because he’s not as much of a celebrity? Is that what you’re saying?
JESS: Yeah, and I think that the fact that he isn't in the public eye adds an anonymity to a lot of his work, which I appreciate.
ANDREW: How did they do the water for the rain in the live show?
ADAM: I don't remember. I think it was lighting. I don't think there was actual water.
ANDREW: Well, I'm just curious. You mentioned that the other segments –
JESS: It’s like a floor. I’ve seen clips.
ADAM: Yeah, it wasn't real water. There was a clear floor. And then underneath was fabric that was lit to look like water.
ANDREW: That's interesting.
ADAM: Maybe it was fabric, it might have been something else. I don't I don't think there was actual water but I could be wrong. It's been years. When did I see this? 2015 you said, right? Yeah, so it's been like six years, almost six years, five and a half years. And I've, you know, had a lot of edibles in the meantime, so I can't remember all of it.
JESS: Oh my gosh. Adam Wachter, everybody. Let's talk about Amy Carter's Fabulous Dream Adventure.
(Susan Ford plays)
ADAM: Now this a batshit crazy.
ADAM: Yeah. But this is so memorable because it's so insane.
ANDREW: It's definitely memorable. I'm not sure how I feel about it. But it's crazy.
ADAM: I mean, the thing I remember from this honestly, is not even the child or the violence or the whatever. I remember Alison Fraser as Betty Ford giving the most wackadoo batshit performance in the best way.
JESS: (imitates Alison Fraser) Susan!
ADAM: Susan! It was crazy. I mean, she is a loon. I think probably a genius. But this was a performance that I will never forget.
JESS: I feel like the entire idea about this literally came from you know, like, “Susan Ford and Carter's girl both had Siamese cats. And they both had racist ass fucking names. We could do something with that.”
ANDREW: Yeah, those cat names are frickin wacky. And if you look –
ADAM: What were they? I don't remember what the cat names are.
JESS: It was like Ching Chang for one of them.
ADAM: Oh god.
ANDREW: That was Ford’s.
JESS: That was Ford's. And then, oh, I should have written this down if I was a smart -
ANDREW: I think if you look up Amy Carter, the picture of her on Wikipedia is her with the cat and it says the cat's name.
JESS: It’s Misty Malarky Ying Yang.
ADAM: Oh, that's right. Misty Malarky Ying Yang. She sings it, right? In the show.
ANDREW: She sings it several times in the show.
ADAM: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Wonderful. Oh my god. That's so good.
JESS: Ching Chang is Susan’s, so I'm like, “Man, y’all white bitches.”
ANDREW: Misty Malarky Ying Yang. I just don't even understand. Where does that come from?
ADAM: Here's some trivia that nobody is going to care about. I grew up very near where Gerald Ford grew up and –
JESS: Grand Rapids.
ADAM: Grand Rapids, Michigan. And I've been to the Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids. And I think, isn't it Gerald R Ford International Airport. That's the Grand Rapids airport.
ADAM: Yeah, I've flown through that airport many, many, many a time.
ANDREW: Does anyone even know what Ford did as president?
JESS: He pardoned Richard Nixon. And that's about it.
ANDREW: Yeah. That's like his big thing, that he let Nixon off the hook.
JESS: He fell down a lot. Those are the two things you know. He fell down a lot, Chevy Chase played him on SNL.
ADAM: Apparently he had a very cool daughter.
ANDREW: Yeah, I suppose so. So this whole segment is a dream sequence?
ANDREW: It's Amy Carter's dream. And she is - for people who don't know - when Jimmy Carter was president, Amy Carter was 13?
JESS: Yeah, she was the first child in the White House in many, many years, so it was a big deal.
ANDREW: Yeah. So she was very young. And Amy Carter in this is portrayed as very young. So she's having a dream with her mother. And then Betty Ford and Susan Ford, which is the mother-daughter for Gerald Ford, as President.
JESS: They're on a cruise of some sort.
ANDREW: They’re on the presidential yacht.
ANDREW: And for whatever reason, it comes to the point where Amy Carter decides that she has to save the Iranian -
JESS: No, she gets tricked by Susan Ford that she has to save the Iranian hostages.
ADAM: That’s right.
ANDREW: Susan Ford tricks Amy Carter into trying to save the Iranian hostages.
JESS: Therefore getting Jimmy Carter another term as president. In theory.
ANDREW: Yes. And it just evolves into pure madness.
JESS: Pure madness. Everyone dies at one point. Susan dies. Betty Ford dies.
ANDREW: Yeah, but then Susan is revealed to not be dead. And she's actually a racist caricature of an Iranian.
JESS: Yeah, she joins the Iranian terrorism, apparently.
ANDREW: And she just says phrases that sound vaguely Middle Eastern or something.
ADAM: Which I think is actually so - Yeah. Which is so brilliant. Because if you think about it, it's Amy's dream. So she would only be able to use language in the dream that Amy herself would have heard. So she wouldn't be - you know, that's what it sounded like to her. So that's how she actually speaks in the dream.
ADAM: That's great.
ANDREW: And by the end of it, they all decide to go to Puerto Rico to just party.
JESS: Yeah, they apologize to one another. They make up, everyone comes back to life. After she kills Susan Ford with her Barbie doll.
JESS: That shoots bullets or something.
ANDREW: This is the most - I didn't expect anything like this in the show. I was like, “This is gonna be, you know, sort of biographical events, kind of,” and after the first one, I was like, “Well, that was at least vaguely true, I'm sure.” And then this happens. And it's like, “Whoa.”
JESS: But I’m glad they set up the rules very early on. Like, Amy has complete control over this. If she wants her mom to quack like a duck, she'll quack like a duck. She's like the kid from that Twilight Zone episode that everyone has to obey or else they die.
ADAM: Haven't seen it.
JESS: So it's very much they set up the rules very early on, they follow them. And yeah, it's wacky. Yeah, it's insane. But it is logically consistent with itself. And as a short little idea for a play, it works.
ADAM: Yeah, it's a dream.
ANDREW: I don't know how I feel -
JESS: And it has an arc. Amy has a full arc in it. That's the other thing.
ANDREW: I don’t know how I feel about it being in this show, though.
ADAM: I think it is a clever way to get an extra mother-daughter set into it, you know what I mean? Because Betty Ford maybe wouldn't have - the Fords maybe wouldn't have had their own segment. So, they join the Carters. And then you get to check them all off the list.
ANDREW: It almost feels like the Carters and the Fords, both had nothing interesting happen in their real lives, so they're like, “Well, what do we do with them?” And just like, “Wacky dream sequence?”
JESS: “What do we know about Jimmy Carter? Iranian crisis? That's why he didn't get re-elected. How do we make his daughter in charge of the Iranian crisis somehow?”
ANDREW: Dream. What do we know about the Fords?
ADAM: Well, she was drunk, wasn't she? And she started the Betty Ford clinic.
JESS: Yeah, the rehab facility. So we turn that into a caricature of sorts. And –
ANDREW: Yeah. And there we go. I don't know. I think it works. I just, I don't know. Historical fiction of this nature about a 13-year-old - it's a little odd.
JESS: I mean, she’s an adult now.
ADAM: I think these shows of his - like this and First Lady and Hello Again and things - they almost don't work to talk about as broad stroke pieces. You know what I mean? To talk of it as piece. Because every measure of music and every line of dialogue or lyric is like its own little window into the soul of these characters. So I think you're actually right, they don't stand up in a way to discussion as like, “Okay, what's this entire tangent? What's the plot of it?” Because it doesn't have a plot, really. This one maybe has the most of it of any of the four.
JESS: Yeah, this one is the most plot-wise.
ADAM: But it's not about what's happening. It's about how these characters are feeling and how they express that. And so this is all, I think, really an extension of Amy’s fear, right? About leaving the White House if her father doesn't get re-elected, and it manifests itself in this way. And then it's not about what happens in the dream. It's about why she's dreaming it and it's about what these characters are going through and sort of glimpses into their psyches through the portal of this fever dream. That was very in depth.
JESS: It was.
ANDREW: I would be interested to hear what Amy Carter thinks of this.
JESS: Amy Carter doesn't do interviews anymore. She's kind of hidden away from public life after – Like, she was arrested a bunch like in her youth for all of her protesting, she was a badass.
ANDREW: She's done a lot of really interesting things. And it's almost a shame that they didn't mention any of that in the show.
JESS: Yes. She’s actually one of the more interesting first daughters if you think about it.
ANDREW: But all the stuff she did was after she was a first daughter, which is maybe why they didn't do it?
ADAM: Well, that makes sense. I mean, she’s not gonna do much while she’s a first daughter. She’s 13.
ANDREW: But she was protesting the CIA. And I think she got arrested for that and won the case. And it was a big thing. She protested Apartheid. I mean, this is just on her Wikipedia page. I mean, I'm sure there's more.
JESS: She was very active. And I think it would have been interesting to see a young Amy Carter meet the older version of herself, the radical Amy Carter, and see - Since we are in theater, we could have a scene like that and see how that works out. I mean, it's better than her trying to stop the Iranian crisis and the joke being that her cat had a funny name.
ANDREW: True. But I think both stories have a place and it's fine to do this. I just would be interested to hear what Amy Carter has to say about the existence of this. Or Susan Ford, either one.
JESS: Hey, playwrights out there. Write us a play about Amy Carter meeting her older self.
ADAM: Maybe Michael John will do it. A third - another sequel of the suite. And he can do like First Daughter Grown Up Suite.
JESS: First Son Suite, all about Hunter Biden.
ADAM: All four of these take place during the term that their fathers are at office, right? So, wouldn't be a grown up. Yeah, interesting.
JESS: In theory is the thing. Because the final one –
ANDREW: Yeah, Laura Bush –
JESS: Laura Bush is a daughter in law. And she, at the time, it is George W. who is president. So yeah, she’s the first daughter but she - it's confusing.
ANDREW: She's really a first lady.
ADAM: That’s true. She's the first lady at the time of the piece. But she was a first daughter in law, right? During -
JESS: Yeah, but that story isn't taking place during the time she was the first daughter-in-law.
ADAM: Interesting. It's not. Actually do you know what it is? Really, the last – well, we haven't gotten to it, but when we do, remind me to say that the last one isn't really about - Laura Bush is not the daughter in the story, right? It’s Robin?
JESS: Robin. Yeah, that explains it.
ADAM: She's the actual daughter that it’s about. So in that sense, it breaks the mold because it is not during her father’s term.
JESS: George H.W.
ADAM: No. Yeah. Interesting, interesting.
JESS: All right. I think now's a good time for a mid-show interruption if you think about it, because this is where the act break is.
JESS: Patti By The Pool. This one is the least sung through. This is basically just a full-on ass scene.
(Patti By The Pool plays)
ANDREW: I think it's because they couldn't do Nancy Reagan singing?
ADAM: She sings a bit. She sings a little bit, doesn't she?
JESS: Yeah, at the end she really starts to, but it's not - It's a voice. The character voice that's a little difficult to sound nice singing.
ADAM: I think that’s a real voice.
ANDREW: You think that's Nancy Reagan's real voice?
ADAM: No, I think that's Allison Fraser's real voice.
JESS: I don't think that's Allison Fraser’s real voice.
ANDREW: No, she's trying to sound like Nancy Reagan.
JESS: I just keep thinking about her in Trousers. And I'm like, “That's not what she sounds like.”
ADAM: Yeah, but that was 30 years ago.
JESS: Maybe, maybe. Allison Fraser, tell me if that's your real voice. You follow me on Twitter for some reason, so let me know.
ANDREW: I sent a message asking Jess if this is what Nancy Reagan sounds like because I'm just now realizing I don't think I've ever watched any footage of Nancy Reagan talking.
JESS: How have you not?
ADAM: I don’t think I have.
ANDREW: I don't particularly like looking up the Reagans very much.
ADAM: Think what that will do to your Google algorithm. You'll start getting weird QAnon theories and things.
JESS: A weird diverging topic. I worked for the military for a little bit.
ANDREW: Like a week.
JESS: Yeah, not very long. It did not end well there.
ADAM: As what?
JESS: It doesn't matter. I don't want to go into it.
ADAM: Is it classified?
JESS: I mean, I just don't want to spit that information out there to be honest. But the guy in the cubicle next to me had a framed picture of Reagan. Like, no family, no friends. Framed picture of Reagan.
ADAM: Maybe that was his dad.
JESS: No, no.
ADAM: Maybe he's Patti Davis’ son.
ANDREW: I actually really liked this one. I think this one's pretty interesting.
JESS: This one's probably the most cynical out of all of them.
ANDREW: I think, yeah. It's totally fine to be really cynical about the Reagans though. The Reagans get way too much undeserved praise.
JESS: From liberals, too. Liberals are like, “Oh, the Reagans are the one good conservative presidency.”
ANDREW: “Do you remember back when conservatives were good like the Reagans?”
ADAM: Nobody says that. Who says that? They liked the Reagans?
JESS: Straight leftists that have no gay friends.
ADAM: Oh, straight leftists. Yeah, well, straight people aren't to be trusted.
ANDREW: I don't know about leftists, Jess. I don't know. I think even they don't like Reagan. I think it’s just liberals.
JESS: Okay, straight white liberals who have never met a gay person in their lives but claim they’re pro-gay marriage.
ADAM: Yes, they might like the Reagans.
ANDREW: Well I think a lot of people - they just don't know what Reagan did. There's a lot of disinformation about Reagan out there. Like a lot.
ADAM: I'll tell you what Reagan did. Think of how poorly Trump has handled COVID and now just apply that to AIDS but worse, because he wouldn't even actually talk about it. And that's what Reagan did.
JESS: Yeah, yeah, I agree.
ADAM: We got dark there.
ANDREW: I mean, that's pretty much what Trump wanted to do with COVID. I think COVID just like –
ADAM: Yeah, just not talk about it.
ANDREW: It affects too many people.
JESS: No. COVID affects too many rich people. The celebrities started getting COVID first, so -
ADAM: Too many straight people –
JESS: – And then straight rich people started getting it.
ANDREW: Whereas with Reagan, he was allowed to just not talk about it, because the people that would have forced him to talk about it weren't affected by it. So they don't care.
JESS: Exactly. So, fuck the Reagans.
ANDREW: There's also a lot of other stuff that he did that's bad that isn't the AIDS crisis, but -
JESS: Oh, yeah. Like socioeconomics. Reaganomics is like the worst thing –
ANDREW: Reagonomics has been destroying this country for like 40 years.
JESS: And it will never go away. It’s stuck here. You know what? I know we may have mentioned this earlier, but this is the first podcast not under a Trump regime. This is the first Musicals with Cheese episode technically posted –
ANDREW: Assuming there's no violent insurrection that succeeds.