TELL HIM IT’S JACKIE
I’m no good alone.
Pandemic, be damned! The show will go on and be done professionally with integrity and skill. On this evening, the play happened at the large backyard of writer, director and producer, Tom Dugan. Mr. Dugan, thank you for your hospitably and huge sacrifice of having a group of strangers siting at properly distanced apart, providing snacks galore and drinks. It was a perfect night to see this great show written by renowned playwright Tom Dugan (The Ghosts of Mary Lincoln, Frederick Douglass—In the Shadow of Slavery) and acted by Kait Haire in her first solo performance. The late Jacqueline “Jackie” Bouvier Kennedy Onassis left an enduring legacy that still continues after her death at age 64 in 1994 from non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a blood cancer. She married up, twice, once with President John F. Kennedy and shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis. Both men were wealthy, came from good families and relied on Jackie for comfort and stability. The Jackie in this production, shows a behind the scenes look of her private world. Haire, who strongly resembles the former First Lady, does a wonderful job in executing her story. She takes the audience back to Wednesday, June 5th 1968 when her brother-in-law Attorney General Robert Kennedy is shot.
Jackie goes back and forth from recalling major milestones in her life, warts and all. Haire moves around quickly. She straightens things only to return them in disarray. Her feet can’t keep up with her fully active mind. She does what she can, even minutely, to place RFK on the shelf until she can process his death. It’s only been five years since John F. Kennedy was killed, now Robert. A person can only take so much tragedy before losing it completely. She wears the iconic pink suit with a matching hat when she rode with John Kennedy on that fateful Texas ride in 1963. She provides intriguing insight on her life before both marriages. She loved her father John Vernou Bouvier, but, abhorred her mother Janet Lee. According to Jackie, she was brutal. As she cleans around the living room, she picks up a drink, and says, “I hate scotch. It taste like tragedy.”
Haire does a superb job in providing amusing zingers directed at the Kennedys. When she was a photographer, she recalls meeting the Kennedy sisters. They were vile towards Jackie. She once had a girlish crush on Robert. Father-in-law, Papa Joe Kennedy kept Jackie under a watchful eye. To lessen her depression, she allowed the infamous Dr. Max Jacobson, also known as Dr. Feelgood, to inject “vitamin” shots, a deadly concoction of amphetamine and methamphetamine, Jacobson also provided the president with the same toxic elixir. She remembers Prime Minister Winston Churchill being sloppy. Or, how Ari Onassis would constantly propose marriage. She doesn’t take the any credit in nick-naming her son John F Kennedy Jr, Jon Jon. That, she said, was made up by the press.
Haire’s version of Jackie is very intimate. She’s inviting us to stay and hear her version of being married to a Kennedy. She recalls vividly how the blood from John splashed unto her memorable pink Chanel suit and matching hat. She remembers feeling “the life of his body growing away” as he kissed his fingers and face. Then she breaks down. “My kids will pay the price,” she eerily predicts She easily flows from irate to calm.
Haire simultaneous exhibits vulnerability and strength. She survived politics, outlived two husbands and left an indelible mark in being an icon. She setS a blue print for future First Ladies to follow and make some noticeable changes once necessary. Dugan is phenomenal in writing about people from the past, breathing fresh air in telling their tales. Stories like these show how people handled their and others problems while keeping their dignity intact. Bravo, Mr. Dugan. Bravo.
Tell Him it’s Jackie ends this weekend. Plays tonight the 20th and Saturday the 21st at 8 p.m. Tickets can ONLY be requested by email, Tom.firstname.lastname@example.org after purchasing, the location of the show will be given. Suggested $20 donation.