Is there a better place to bring a political story to the stage than Washington, DC?

Dave, a musical inspired by the 1993 political comedy film about a high school teacher who is hired by the Secret Service as a double for the president of the United States, is having its world premiere at Arena Stage.

Nell Benjamin, who wrote the book (along with the late Thomas Meehan), said that while visiting a Smithsonian exhibit on “American Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith,” she thought, “This is it! This is Dave! What a leap of faith governs us in political life—letting people just like us govern us.”

The score features lyrics by Benjamin and music by Tom Kitt, who “takes impossible issues and ideas and makes them sing.” Benjamin added that director Tina Landau is inventive in getting that message across without lecturing.

Sherri Edelen, an award-winning actress, is the only local appearing in this production and is most excited to be in this show, which is set in Washington, DC.

In a short break between rehearsals, Edelen shared that she has seen the movie Dave several times and is a big fan of Kevin Kline, who starred in it.

What’s it like working with Broadway vet Drew Gehling, who will take on the title role of Dave as well as playing President Bill Mitchell? Great!” and Edelen added that the company, which includes stars like Mamie Parris as First Lady Ellen Mitchell, Josh Breckenridge, Douglas Sills, Rachel Flynn, Bryonha Marie Parham, and Jonathan Rayson, is “a lovely, talented, hardworking company who are dedicated to the piece.”

Edelen last appeared at Arena Stage in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, in 2015.

So what does she think about the development of The Wharf and Southwest in general? She said she is excited by how different it all looks. “I can’t wait to get some time to walk around!”


Dates: July 13 through August 19

Southwest Night: July 15

By: Sheila Wickouski

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