‘RFK’ gives glimpse into Bobby Kennedy’s last years

Russ Widdall stars as Bobby Kennedy in "RFK." Photo: Annie R. Such
Russ Widdall stars as Bobby Kennedy in “RFK.”
Credit: Annie R. Such

When New City Stage Company initially produced Jack Holmes’ play “RFK” last fall, it was timed to coincide with President Obama’s reelection campaign. New City founding artistic director Ginger Dayle had spent the last four years thinking about the parallels between the two men.

“I realized that when Obama ran in 2008, he had a lot of the same platforms as Robert Kennedy did in 1968,” Dayle says. “Universal healthcare, poverty, environmental issues, social justice — these are all the things that Bobby Kennedy stood for and he was cut down by an assassin’s bullet before he had a chance to do anything about it. I saw those parallels and I thought people would realize that forty years later, in a sad, poetic way, that the more things change, the more they stay the same.”

Those parallels seemed to resonate with audiences, who made the run of “RFK” one of the biggest hits in New City’s seven-year history. So it was only natural for Dayle to want to remount the show to initiate the company’s current season. But this time, with Obama’s second term underway, the show will be the first in a season-long examination of the country’s highest office.

“RFK,” which opens on Thursday night, will be followed in December by the Philadelphia premiere of “Frost/Nixon,” Peter Morgan’s show about the infamous interview with a post-Watergate Richard Nixon conducted by British talk-show host David Frost, who passed away earlier this year. And next March, Dayle will premiere her own new play about John Hinckley, Jr., the would-be assassin of Ronald Reagan. The season concludes with a series of readings of satirical plays about the presidency, including Gore Vidal’s “An Evening with Richard Nixon,” Barbara Garson’s “MacBird!,” and David Hare’s “Stuff Happens.”

Holmes’ “RFK” begins with John F. Kennedy’s assassination and traces the last few years of his younger brother’s life. Co-artistic director Russ Widdall plays RFK as well as David Frost in “Frost/Nixon.” Dayles says, “I thought it would be interesting to see Russ play such completely different people, one very principled, the other more frivolous.”

New City’s production utilizes multi-media elements to transport the audience in time, featuring television footage from the era. The company will use that approach throughout its current season. It also reflects how closely intertwined are the theatrical stage and the political podium. “Politics is theater,” Dayle says. “We always try to create a dialogue with whatever work we’re producing, and I hope people will be intrigued and excited to talk about politics.”

“RFK”
Oct. 31-Nov. 24
Adrienne Theatre
2030 Sansom St.
$5-$45, 215-563-7500
www.newcitystage.org


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

East Village woman fights off rape attempt from…

An East Village woman fought off an attempted rapist that she woke to find standing on her bed over the weekend, police said.

International

Nearly 300 missing after South Korean ferry capsizes

Almost 300 people were missing after a ferry capsized off South Korea Wednesday, in what could be the country's biggest maritime disaster in over 20 years.

Local

Police look for man suspected of threatening Muslim…

Police seek man suspected of calling a teen Muslim girl a "terrorist" and spitting on her multiple times while on a Queens bus.

News

Explosions in new Boston Marathon bomb panic, 'twisted'…

A fresh Boston Marathon terror alert, which caused Bomb Squad officers to order an evacuation while two controlled explosions were carried out, was today being…

Television

'Orphan Black's' Jordan Gavaris talks Felix's Season 2…

Jordan Gavaris plays heroically helpful foster sibling Felix to main clone Sarah on "Orphan Black." We talked to him about what’s ahead for him in…

Going Out

Accomplice Tour: New York (Spoiler Alert)

When I signed up for the Accomplice show tour, I had no idea what I was in for. But every grimy job comes with a great reward.

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, April 15: 'New Girl,'…

'New Girl' Nick and Jess are hiding their breakup from the other loft residents. And Winston passes the police academy exam! That guy needed some…

Television

'Orphan Black' is back with 'crazy clone shenanigans'

“Orphan Black” is the little show that could. It had a few things working against it: a sci-fi premise, attracting an audience who had never…

NFL

Jets confident despite Chris Johnson leaving with no…

Jets fans clamored for a playmaker on offense all offseason. It looked like they were going to land that player on Tuesday when Chris Johnson…

NBA

Knicks, Nets rivalry never materialized despite national attention

When the NBA schedule was released, the league anticipated an intense rivalry between the Nets and Knicks with all four games slated for national TV.

NBA

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could…

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could the Mavericks surprise?

NHL

Top 5 New York storylines for Rangers-Flyers playoff…

The Rangers and Flyers have a long history of animosity toward each other. Now they get to rekindle that rivalry in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Home

Steal home decorating tips from Nattystyle blogger Natalie…

Despite the towering ceilings and enviable exposed brick, it’s easy to see how Natalie Decleve’s apartment could be considered a challenge. Perched above the streets…

Home

How to plant a garden in the city

Small on space but big on gardening? You can still have that welcoming oasis of fresh air with an urban garden. Peter Smith, owner of…

Style

Personalize your massage at a private practice

CityTouch customizes spa treatments to meet client's needs.

Style

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show moving to England

It will still broadcast on CBS this fall.