As another year comes to a close, we at GEM Theatrics want to take this opportunity to thank all of our loyal friends for supporting us in our endeavors over the past twelve months. Your faith in us and encouragement for the kind of theatre we do truly keep us going. So, let me try to be all things to all people in this blog and give you some Adams history (for those who only read these for that reason), as well as a preview of our coming attractions (for the marketing department – Mary Beth).
John and Abigail Adams were the first First Family to celebrate Christmas in what we now call The White House. The Adams family had moved into the President’s House earlier in the year of 1800, shortly before John had lost the presidential election to his then rival, Thomas Jefferson. The “mansion” was hardly the opulent structure we know today – the place was drafty and damp and servants had to keep all 13 fireplaces going 24/7 to try to keep the inhabitants warm enough to function.
Despite all this, President Adams and Abigail were determined to make the best of the situation. Abigail took charge and planned the first of what would become an annual event, the White House Christmas party. To commemorate the event, the First Couple sent out lavish invitations – the first White House Christmas Cards – and dedicated the party to their grand-daughter, Susannah. Susannah was the eldest child of John’s second son, Charles, who had recently died from complications of alcoholism and she and her younger sister, Abigail Louisa, were now living with the President and his wife.
By all accounts, the party was a tremendous success, with a small orchestra providing the music in a grand ballroom festooned with seasonal flowers and plants. Following dinner, guests were served cakes and punch and later were joined by the First Family and staff in the singing of carols and the playing of games. According to contemporary accounts, the only jarring moment of the evening was when one of Susannah’s companions accidently broke one of her new pieces of doll china. Susannah responded by biting the nose off the companion’s doll. It reportedly required the trained diplomacy of the President to avoid further unpleasantness.
The Christmas Party was followed by a similarly successful New Year’s Levee. Mr. and Mrs. Adams had fulfilled their civic responsibilities in the entertaining department and then turned matters over to the more dour widower, Thomas Jefferson, at the end of March, 1801. One other legacy remains in the White House from the Adams era: On November 2, 1800, John Adams wrote to Abigail, who was still in Braintree, that he had arrived in Washington City safely and had found the President’s House “habitable.” He then wrote: “I pray Heaven to bestow the best of Blessings on this House and all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise Men ever rule under this roof.” Whether or not Adams’ prayer was granted, is a matter of debate. His sentiment, however, was carved at President Kennedy’s behest into the mantle of the fireplace in the State Dining Room.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR GEM THEATRICS?
We’re very excited about what 2015 will bring! We kick the year off with a performance of “My Dearest Friend” by Mary G. Kron at the Caroline Kennedy Library in Dearborn Heights, Michigan on Feb. 10. Right after that, we premier our brand new show, Norm Foster’s “Old Love,” at the Dog Story Theater in Grand Rapids, Michigan as part of the third annual Lake Effect Fringe Festival. Shows are February 13, 14, and 15, just in time for Valentine’s Day. We’re thrilled to produce the West Michigan premier of this work by one of Canada’s best loved playwrights. “Old Love” is the touching and funny story of love found later in life, demonstrating that love certainly is more wonderful the “second time around.”
Following our February premier, it’s back to the early days of the Republic as we bring John and Abigail to life at the Marcellus Library in Marcellus, Michigan on April 23, and back to Grand Rapids for a morning show at the Women’s City Club on July 16. We do all this while taking “Old Love” across the state to The Snug Theatre in Marine City, Michigan for ten shows over three weekends, beginning July 10. We performed “My Dearest Friend” in this charming, intimate theatre last summer and had the best time! Because Marine City is just across the St. Clair River from Canada, we hope to meet many new Canadian friends. It’s only $3 each way to hop on the ferry!
So, as you can see, we’ve got some great entertainment lined up! More details are on the Home Page. BUT, we’d love to be even busier. If you have a group that is interested in seeing quality theater on a budget, give us a call! You’ll be glad you did.
MERRY CHRISTMAS, HAPPY HOLIDAYS, AND HAPPY, HAPPY NEW YEAR!