POTUS: Or, Behind Every Great Dumbass Are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive is the satirical story of the great females working so hard to keep the president and his reputation afloat. Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre’s production of the play, which opened on Broadway last year, will not disappoint during its run through Dec. 10.
Theater goers laughed out loud as the play unfolded, starting as a PR debacle at the White House and quickly becoming so much more. Written by Selina Fillinger and directed by Artistic Director Audrey Francis, this comedy follows the man in charge’s chief of staff, press secretary, wife, mistress, sister, a head journalist and secretary as they navigate their personal and work lives amidst the repercussions of the president’s numerous idiotic choices.
The play opens on the president’s chief of staff, played by Sandra Marquez, and his press secretary, played by Karen Rodriguez. The POTUS’ choice words during one of his speaking engagements have the two in a tizzy, and it’s only going to get worse as the day progresses.
Marquez is a Chicago-based actor and director, and Steppenwolf’s first Latine ensemble member. She has directed a production I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, as well as Steppenwolf’s first all-Latina cast in La Ruta.
Rodriguez, from Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico, is also a Steppenwolf ensemble member. She was on stage in Ruta and I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, both directed by Marquez. On screen, she’s acted in Chicago Fire and Chicago Justice, plus Amazon Prime’s SWARM and Apple TV’s Shining Girls.
Karen Aldridge shines as the president’s wife, Margaret. Marquez’s and Rodriguez’s opening scene revolves around her and POTUS. She’s judged for being too crunchy and leans into it, wearing flowy dresses and Crocs in every scene on the stage. Aldridge is a Steppenwolf ensemble member and, in addition to international theater credits, has recurring roles on Apple TV’s Severance, The Get Down on Netflix, plus Chicago Fire and Chicago Med on NBC.
Chloe Baldwin plays Dusty, the president’s mistress visiting Pennsylvania Avenue for a meeting with her lover, only to be dragged into the day’s unfolding drama. Though this is Baldwin’s Steppenwolf debut, she has starred in several Chicago performances, including Goodman Theatre’s production of The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci, and regional productions of As You Like It, Macbeth, Othello and Two Noble Kinsmen. On screen, you can see her on Chicago Fire, plus films like Widows, Perpetrator and Morning is Broken.
Celeste M. Cooper plays a breast-pumping mom and journalist who has worked her way into a room with the press secretary for a comment on a story she’s writing. But when her interviewee steps out, and another group comes in, she hides in the closet, only to overhear some shocking news. Cooper has been an ensemble member at Steppenwolf for five years, starring in several of the theater’s shows, Chicago productions of Blues for an Alabama Sky and Ruined, along with regional performances of For Colored Girls…, Building The Wall and Mrs. Harrison. She has a recurring role on Chicago PD and has starred in Spike Lee’s Chiraq.
The president’s sister, Bernadette, played by Meighan Gerachis, is said to look just like him when she’s in a suit. Considering that the audience never sees POTUS’ face, it’s impossible to know whether or not this is true. Bernadette’s fiery spirit and previous jail time come in handy during quite a few of her scenes. Gerachis has starred in Steppenwolf’s production of The House on Mango Street and several Chicago productions at A Red Orchid Theater, Theater Wit and Rivendell Theatre Ensemble among many other local and regional shows. Gerachis has acted in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Chicago PD.
Caroline Neff plays the president’s anxious secretary, constantly worried she’ll get replaced. As a Steppenwolf ensemble member, she’s been in a handful of the theater’s productions, including Another Marriage, Describe the Night, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, The Way West and Three Sisters. Film and television credits include The Red Line, Chicago PD and Chicago Fire. She can be seen in recurring roles in Showtime’s Let the Right One In and Three Women on Starz.
POTUS: Or, Behind Every Great Dumbass Are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive has been so successful that its run has been extended through Dec. 10.
Curtain times are Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays at 3 and 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. There will be a 2 p.m. performance on Nov. 22, and there will not be a 7:30 p.m. performance on Nov. 22, Nov. 23 or Nov. 28.
Accessible performance dates include an audio described and touch tour on Nov. 19 starting at 1:30 p.m., an open captioned performance on Nov. 16 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 25 at 3 p.m. An ASL-interpreted performance will take place Nov. 24 at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets for POTUS start at $20 and are on sale at steppenwolf.org or the Box Office at (312) 335-1650.