Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Tantallon Community Players Sunrise at Campobello

By • Sep 28th, 2008 • Category: Reviews
Sunrise at Campobello
Tantallon Community Players
Harmony Hall Regional Center, Ft. Washington, MD
$15/$12 Students and Seniors
Through October 5th

Sunrise at Campobello is a 1958 play by American producer and writer Dore Schary based on U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s struggle with polio. The award winning play has also been the subject of a number of additional movies and books. With 5 Tony nominations and 4 awards, it is apparent that the subject of FDR are popular dramatic material for the American public.

The setting for Sunrise at Campobello is Campobello Island was Roosevelt’s summer home in New Brunswick, Canada. Most of the play’s actions take place there, where we see Roosevelt struggle to overcome the paralysis of his legs. The play ends with the 1924 Democratic National Convention speech, which catapulted him back into politics after an absence of several years.

Sunrise at Campobello is over two hours long- in three acts. The set is believable, the costumes, wigs and makeup are excellent and the cast is quite talented- and the Roosevelt children are adorable.

The play moves along well in spite of the extensive verbiage with the charisma and warmth of the talented Mr. Dick Reed in the role of FDR. Mr. Reed did an outstanding job at claiming and portraying the vulnerability, charm and energy of this American hero. His transition from able bodied to disabled and the mental fortitude with which he served his whole self were stellar. FDR recognized the difference between a failure and a defeat – and Mr. Reed portrayed this eloquently.

Jo Rake, brought much of Eleanor Roosevelt into her portrayal; the physicality, warmth and shyness of her character as well as the chill of a marriage that was not just-quite-right.

Louis Howe, played by Neil Twohig, was a stellar supporting character and infused each of his scenes with an extra energy and authenticity which validated much of the work of director Randy Tusing in this warm and well thought out production. The supporting roles of Sara Roosevelt, played by the aloof and controlling Kitty Harger and the president’s secretary Kitty LeHand (The lovely and supportive Libby Dasbach) were also notable.

Sunrise is a beautifully written piece and the Tantallon Community Players do a lovely job capturing an era in this important historical drama. The Roosevelt politics and issues are a good reminder for us in 2008 that unless we study history it is doomed to repeat itself.


  • Franklin D. Roosevelt: Dick Reed
  • Eleanor Roosevelt: Jo Rake
  • Louis Howe: Neil Twohig
  • Sara Roosevelt: Kitty Harger
  • Missy LeHand: Libby Dasbach
  • Roosevelt Children:
  • Anna: Amy Bonnet
  • James: Daniel Bonnet
  • Elliott: Daniel Flores
  • Franklin Jr.: Andrew Kivrak
  • John: Stephen Bonnet
  • Gov. Alfred E. Smith: Chris Robichaux
  • Mr. Lassiter/Edward: Doug Graupman
  • Mr. Brimmer: Steve Dasbach
  • Dr. Bennett: David Weaver
  • Calder/Daly: Larry Carbaugh
  • Marie: Jung Weil
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works nationally and internationally as an opera singer, coach, teacher, conductor and stage director. She is the CEO of Saltnote Stageworks, a non-profit corporation that promotes education & performance opportunities for emerging artists.

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