Theater: Presidential Snipshots

The White House takes playgoers on an anecdotal tour of the private lives of U.S. Presidents and their First Ladies.

It combines the shallower features of a dramatic reading and a TV documentary. To cover the presidential span from Washington through Wilson, scenes and episodes have to be scissored to candid-camera snipshots. While painless history is the mood, the recurring theme, insofar as there is one, is that sorrow, great loneliness and sometimes tragedy are the permanent occupants of the house on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Sadness dominates the dramatic high point of the evening. Mary Todd Lincoln (Helen Hayes) is undergoing a jury trial...

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