46 Plays for America’s First Ladies

by Chloe Johnston, Sharon Greene, Genevra Gallo-Bayiates,
Bilal Dardai, and Andy Bayiates
New dates: May 8-23, 2021

Rolling world premiere

Directed by Jennifer Uphoff Gray

Forty-six plays. Forty-six First Ladies. This 110-minute journey through American history utilizes comedy, drama, music, dance and more as it surveys the lives of the women who have served (and avoided serving) as First Lady. 46 Plays… is a biographical, meta-theatrical, genre-bending look at gender, race, and everything else your history teacher never taught you about the founding (and the confounding) of America.

A brand-new project from the writers of 44 Plays for 44 Presidents, described perfectly by the Los Angeles Times:

"If Jon Stewart, the Smothers Brothers, and the League of Women Voters invaded the Hall of Presidents at Disney World, the results might resemble this play."



Featuring Matt Daniels, Elyse Edelman, Phoebe González, Jamal James, and Nadja Simmonds.

Scenic Designer: Mike Lawler
Lighting Designer: Noele Stollmack
Costume Designer: Shannon Heibler
Composer/Sound Designer: Joe Cerqua
Props Master: Pamela Miles
Choreographer: Brian Cowing
Dramaturg: Marcella Kearns
Stage Manager: Sarah Deming-Henes
Technical Director: Kevin Zimmer
Assistant Stage Manager: Abbi Hess
Filmographer & Video Editor: Dave Alcorn of Microtone Media


Madison Community Foundation, Diane Kostecke & Nancy Ciezki, Custer Financial Services, Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren, Stafford Rosenbaum, Numbers 4 Nonprofits


Forward Theater Company and ArtLitLab have partnered to create 46 Artists for America's First Ladies, an exhibition of new work inspired by the lives of the women who have served as America's First Ladies, which will be exhibited online and eventually in-person in downtown Madison. Each of the 46 works were created by Wisconsin artists, who were randomly assigned one of the First Ladies to create a piece that is 12" x 12" in any medium.

View the exhibition

This project is funded in part by a grant from Dane Arts.
This project is also funded in part by a grant from the Madison Arts Commission, with additional funds from the Wisconsin Arts Board.


Rita Mae Reese (Martha Washington), Katherine Steichen Rosing (Abigail Adams), Julie Franki (Martha Jefferson), Emma LaPine (Dolley Madison), Samantha Hirsch Link (Elizabeth Monroe), Leigh Szuch (Louisa Adams), Rita Yanny (Rachel Jackson), Pat Kroth (Hannah Van Buren), Issis Macias (Anna Harrison), Helen Rogers (Letitia and Julia Tyler), Angelica Contreras (Sarah Polk), Molly Krolczyk (Margaret Taylor), Lesly Winslow-Stanley (Abigail Fillmore), Tona Williams (Jane Pierce), Sandra Klingbeil Adkins (Harriet Lane), Phyllis Wax (Mary Lincoln), Mauree Childress (Eliza Johnson), Andrea (Drea) McAlister (Julia Dent Grant), Virginia Rose (Lucy Hayes), Jaroslava Jarka Sobiskova (Lucretia Garfield), Katrin Talbot (Ellen Arthur), Briana Richardson (Frances Cleveland), Sasha Debevec-McKenney (Caroline Harrison), Jennifer Morales (Frances Cleveland), Holly Anne Burns (Ida McKinley), Faye Willems (Edith Roosevelt), Margaret Rozga (Helen Herron Taft), Virginia Huber (Ellen Wilson), Sara Meredith (Florence Harding), Rosy Petri (Grace Coolidge), Rachel Werner (Lou Henry Hoover), Jennifer Carley (Eleanor Roosevelt), Stephanie Trenchard (Bess Truman), Melissa Dorn (Mamie Eisenhower), Maggie Sasso (Jacqueline Kennedy), Carlee Latimer (Lady Bird Johnson), Kassandra Palmer (Pat Nixon), Araceli Esparza (Betty Ford), Kathryn H. Lederhause (Rosalynn Carter), Christy Grace (Nancy Reagan), Nora-Kathleen Berryhill (Barbara Bush), Wendy Vardaman (Hillary Rodham Clinton), Steph Hagens (Laura Bush), Sharon L. Bjyrd (Michelle Obama), Kel Mur (Melania Trump), Anna Mueller (Jill Biden)