A White House Adventure
Book & Lyrics by Karen Zacarías with the young playwrights of Young Playwrights’ Theater
Music by Deborah Wicks La Puma
Field trips are fun, especially when your destination is 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue! In this charming musical, our founding fathers (and mothers!) show three kids the history of the White House. Dee, José, and Annie accidentally knock George Washington out of his portrait and into real life – turning their White House tour into an unexpected adventure. As they try to get the nation’s First President back into his painting, the threesome encounters Jacqueline Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln and his wife Mary Todd, Dolley Madison, and other famous White House residents. Together, they learn that the White House isn’t just a historic building… it’s also a home.
The dude on the dollar bill leaps to life in Karen Zacarias’ entertaining and sometimes inspiring children’s musical ‘Chasing George Washington’. The production also features a spry score by Deborah Wicks La Puma that ably mixes hip-hop, disco, ballads and traditional show music.” – The Washington Post
Commissioned by the Kennedy Center and the White House Historical Association, Chasing George Washington was created with the help of Young Playwrights Theatre. In 2007, YPT brought a group of 5th and 6th graders to tour the White House and then write about the experience. From those student’s reflections, Karen Zacarias shaped the script that would become Chasing George Washington. The show premiered in the spring of 2008, and was honored with an invitation to perform in the East Room of the White House for the First Lady and invited guests, and was nominated for a Helen Hayes Award for Best New Play. From 2009 – 2010 it was performed across the country as part of the Kennedy Center’s Theatre for Young Audiences on Tour, and in 2011 was adapted into a book by Ronald Kidd.
Chasing George Washington is published by the Dramatic Publishing Company.
The phrase ‘if these walls could talk’ is often heard. In the case of ‘Chasing George Washington,’ they do — and they have a compelling story to tell.” – The Washington Post
1. WHITE HOUSE FIELD TRIP – Letter, Kids, Guard
2. GEORGE WASHINGTON HAS LEFT HIS FRAME – George, Kids
3. WHITE HOUSE SLIDE – Susan Ford, with George, Dee, José
4. RESTORATION – Jackie Kennedy, with George, Kids
5. TIFFANY EPIPHANY – José, with George, Annie, Dee
6. PEN AND INK – Dee, with Annie, José
7. WHITE HOUSE FIELD TRIP REPRISE – All
Cast: 3 Women, 3 Men
ANNIE – an Eastern European immigrant girl, also plays SUSAN FORD (Mezzo Soprano)
DEE – an African American girl, also plays CAROLINE KENNEDY (Alto Belt)
WOMAN – plays MS. LETTER, JACKIE KENNEDY, MARY TODD LINCOLN, and DOLLEY MADISON (Lyric Soprano)
JOSÉ – a Latino boy, also plays TAD LINCOLN (Tenor)
GEORGE WASHINGTON – first President of the United States (Bari/Tenor)
MAN – plays GUARD, PRESIDENT LINCOLN, PRESIDENT FORD (Off stage), and PRESIDENT VAN BUREN (Bass/Baritone)
Music: Traditional Musical Theatre. Accompaniment tracks available.
Musical Difficulty: Moderate
Technical Requirements: Moderate. Gilbert Stuart painting gets “knocked off” wall, various location and time changes. Use of projections recommended.
Suggested Audiences: Young Audiences/Families
Every sixth grader in the US (and his/her parents) should see ‘Chasing George Washington.’ Wonderfully accessible! Funny, relevant and poignant! There was not a dry eye in the house after the Lincoln scene and beautiful song. My son has never asked more questions about history. The play made all of us appreciate the evolution of the Revolution. Next week we are going to see the Washington portrait at the Portrait Gallery per my son’s request! A play with impact… to change the way kids see themselves and their role in history.” – ‘Soccerdad’
KAREN ZACARÍAS (Book & Lyrics) was recently hailed by American Theatre magazine as one of the most produced playwrights in the United States. Her plays include Destiny of Desire, Native Gardens, Mariela in the Desert, Legacy of Light, The Book Club Play and The Sins of Sor Juana; adaptations include Into the Beautiful North, Just Like Us and How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accent. Zacarías has written 10 TYA musicals with composer Debbie Wicks La Puma including Oliverio: A Brazilian Twist, Ella Enchanted: The Musical, Chasing George Washington: A White House Adventure, Einstein Is a Dummy, Looking for Roberto Clemente, Frida Libre, Jane of the Jungle, Cinderella Eats Rice and Beans, Ferdinand the Bull and The Magical Piñata. She collaborated on the libretto for Sleepy Hollow and Hemingway: The Sun Also Rises for the Washington Ballet at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Her plays have been produced at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Goodman Theatre, South Coast Repertory, the Guthrie Theater, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Round House Theatre, GALA Hispanic Theatre, Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Dallas Theater Center and many more. Zacarías is a core founder of the Latino Theater Commons, a national network that strives to update the American narrative to including the stories of Latinos. She is the founder of Young Playwrights’ Theater, an award-winning theatre company that teaches playwriting in local public schools in Washington, D.C., and she is proud to be Arena Stage’s first resident playwright. Zacarías lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband and three children. www.karenzacarias.com
YOUNG PLAYWRIGHTS’ THEATRE
Young Playwrights’ Theater teaches students to express themselves clearly and creatively through the art of playwriting. Through interactive in-school and after-school programs, YPT activates student learning and inspires students to understand the power of language and realize their potential as both individuals and artists. By publicly presenting and discussing student-written work, YPT promotes community dialogue and respect for young artists. www.youngplaywrightstheater.org
DEBORAH WICKS LA PUMA (Music) – see her bio page
Buy the Chasing George Washington script from Dramatic Publishing
Buy the Chasing George Washington demo from Bandcamp
Featuring the voice talents of: Felicia Curry (Dee), Scott Graff (Washington), Gia Mora (Ms Letter), Steve Limones (José), and Monet Sabel (Annie).