Franklin Delano Roosevelt


It’s the 1930’s and unemployment is up to 33%. America’s president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, must rally a nation demoralized by poverty, hunger, housing shortages and labor disputes escalating to riots. Unable to walk without crutches, FDR was able through the sheer power of his personality, his political skill and his eloquent Fireside Chat rhetoric, to lead America from fear to federal programs that eventually break through the economic crisis of the Great Depression. Neill Hartley’s FDR: A New Deal for America is a collage of personalities from a watershed period in United States history. When Hartley sings Brother, Can You Spare A Dime? he expresses the prevailing despair, while Hartley’s humor, courtesy of Will Rogers, is a reminder that there is always hope. Hartley leaves his audience with a final speech from FDR, in profile seated in a car with his signature cigarette holder, describing what he envisions for America. We are left to wonder whether FDR, the most powerful man alive at the time, abused the power a grateful nation had placed with him. Or whether he was the right person at the right time to do what needed to be done.

"Our library was honored to host the first performance of this astonishing new program by the multi-talented Mr. Hartley. Not only did Neill re-create the dramatic emotional and political climate of the Great Depression, but he made clear the lasting impact of Roosevelt's New Deal programs on the American economy. ...Neill Hartley consistently produces and performs first-rate theatrical productions." -- P.B. Waldwick Public Library, NJ