Wednesday, April 1, 2015



Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) Fifty-two years ago this evening, April 1, 1963, President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy attended the performance of Richard Brinsley Sheridan's The School for Scandal* at the National Theatre here in the Nation's Capital.

The Kennedys were accompanied by Mr. and Mrs. Goddard Leiberson** and Mr. and Mrs. Max Freedman.***

The National Theatre, which opened in 1835, is located only 3 blocks from the White House at 1321 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW.  It's first production was Man of the World, and on April 14, 1865, having been renamed Grover's, Abraham Lincoln's son, Tad, was attending  Aladdin at the theater when it was announced that his father had been shot at Ford's Theatre on 10th Street.

Every U.S. president has attended performances at the National Theatre which is appropriately named "The Theatre of Presidents."

The auditorium and front of the theatre have been rebuilt four or five times over the years.  It was remodeled in anticipation of the Kennedy presidency with a large white plaster eagle and an array of white stars were placed over the proscenium arch.

The National Theatre seats 1676 and despite its name is not funded by the federal government but privately operated by a non-profit organization.

*The School for Scandal was 1st performed at the Drury Lane Theatre In London in 1777.  English critic William Hazlitt wrote that the play..."is...perhaps the most finished and faultless comedy...we have." Edmund Goose said it was "perhaps the best existing comedy of intrigue."

**Goddard Lieberson (1911-1977) was president of Columbia Records from 1956-1971 and 1973-1975.  He was President of the Recording Industry Association of America in 1964.  Before becoming president at Columbia, Lieberson introduced the LP or long play 33 1/3 rpm vinyl record.

***Max Freedman (1914-1980) was Washington correspondent for the Winnipeg (Canada) Free Press and wrote a syndicated column for the Chicago Daily News which appeared in 100 papers.  It was said that his advice was often sought by JFK's staff.

                      The National Theatre
               1321 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
                       Washington, D.C.
                             Circa 1920s