State of the Union (play)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For the film, see State of the Union (film). For other uses, see State of the Union (disambiguation).
State of the Union
Written by Russel Crouse
Howard Lindsay
Characters Grant Matthews
Mary Matthews
Spike McManus
Kay Thorndyke
Jim Conover
Sam Thorndyke
Sam I. Parrish
Bill Nolard Hardy
Lulubelle Alexander
Judge Alexander
Date premiered November 14, 1945
Place premiered Hudson Theatre
New York City, New York
Original language English
Genre Comedy
Setting Conover's home, Washington, D.C.; Book-Cadillac Hotel, Detroit

State of the Union is a play by American playwrights Russel Crouse and Howard Lindsay about a fictional Republican presidential candidate.


State of the Union opened at the National Theatre in Washington, DC on November 6, 1945. The New York Times reviewer noted that the play was "cleaver and well-acted."[1]

The play premiered on Broadway at the Hudson Theatre on November 14, 1945, and closed on September 13, 1947 after 765 performances. Directed by Bretaigne Windust, the cast starred Ralph Bellamy (Grant Matthews), Ruth Hussey (Mary Matthews), Margalo Gillmore (Kay Thorndyke), Myron McCormick (Spike MacManus), and Minor Watson (James Conover).[2][3]

Both playwrights received the 1946 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.[4] John L. Toohey commented: "In Awarding the Pulitzer Prize to 'State of the Union'...the Pulitzer Committee once more demonstrated its fondness for shows with political backgrounds. [5]

The play was produced at Ford's Theatre in Washington, DC in September 2006.[6]


In 1946, several friends gather in the house of James Conover in Washington, DC. James is about 60; with him are Spike MacManus, a long-time political reporter and Grant Matthews, in his 40's, a businessman and Katherine (Kay) Thorndike, late 30s.

The Republicans have chosen Grant Matthews to run for President. Grant is estranged from his wife Mary, and he has become romantically involved with Kay Thorndike, a newspaper publisher.


According to journalist-playwright Sidney Blumenthal "The play's events... allude to Wendell Willkie, the utility company head who became the surprise Republican candidate for president in 1940. 'This is a play about a businessman who is a dark-horse candidate.' "[7] According to Gerald Bordman, "Many critics and playgoers saw more than a touch of the late Wendall Wilkie in Matthews".[8]

Critical response[edit]

Lewis Nichols, reviewing for the New York Times, wrote: "While every boy inherits the right to grow up to be President of the United States, it takes additional talent to write a good play about it.... With wonderfully funny lines and situations, the new comedy about politics also has enough sentiment to keep it from being farce."[9] In a later column, Nichols wrote: " 'State of the Union' is a comedy with a serious briskly wonders why there must be horsetrading rather than honesty, why...the country's people are again losing faith in the ideals.... Certain aspects of the play suggest that the authors admired the late Wendell Wilkie in his politically iconoclastic ideas, but the comedy is not a biography."[10]


In 1948 the play was adapted for a film directed by Frank Capra. The film starred Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn.[11][12]


  1. ^ Huston, Luther. " 'State of Union' Opens in Capital: Satire by Lindsay-Crouse on Political Bosses Proves Hit With Premiere Audience", New York Times, November 7, 1945, p. 21,ISSN 0362-4331
  2. ^ "'State of the Union' Broadway", accessed November 29, 2015
  3. ^ Lindsay, Howard and Crouse, Russel. "Introduction and Act One", State of the Union, Dramatists Play Service Inc, 1946, ISBN 0822210746, pp. 3-5
  4. ^ "Pulitzer Prize for Drama", accessed November 29, 2015
  5. ^ Fischer, Heinz-Dietrich Fischer. "1946 Award", Outstanding Broadway Dramas and Comedies: Pulitzer Prize Winning Theater Productions", LIT Verlag Münster, 2013, ISBN 3643903413, p. 62
  6. ^ Jones, Kenneh. "Ford's Theatre Elects Lindsay & Crouse's 'State of the Union' as Sept. 22 Season Opener" Playbill, September 22, 2006
  7. ^ Breslauer, Jan. "Crouse Legacy Surfaces With 'State of Union'" Los Angeles Times, October 14, 1996
  8. ^ Bordman, Gerald. "1945-1946", American Theatre : A Chronicle of Comedy and Drama, 1930-1969, Oxford University Press, USA, 1996, ISBN 0195358082, p. 252
  9. ^ Nichols, Lewis. "The Play", New York Times, November 15, 1945, p. 25, ISSN 0362-4331
  10. ^ Nichols, Lewis. " 'State Of The Union': The New Lindsay-Crouse Comedy Tells of a Man Who Could Be President Message Made Easy Truth and Consequences", New York Times, November 25, 1945, p. 53, ISSN 0362-4331
  11. ^ State of the Union at AllMovie
  12. ^ "'State of the Union' Film", accessed November 29, 2015

External links[edit]