Pitt-Greensburg Show Looks at Eleanor Roosevelt's Journey

Article excerpt

A woman who is credited with redefining the role of first lady is in the spotlight for University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg Theatre Company's spring production, "Eleanor -- An American Love Story."

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) was considered one of our country's most outspoken women, not only during her tenure in the White House as the wife of Franklin D. Roosevelt, but before and after her role as first lady. At different times in her life, she was a campaigner, not only for her husband's presidency, but for human rights, women's and children's issues and other causes.

Stephen Schrum, associate professor of theater arts at Pitt- Greensburg, directs the musical production that celebrates her life. The play ends as Franklin Roosevelt (played by senior visual- and performing-arts major Tony Puzzini of Pittsburgh) is considering a run for the office of governor of New York.

The main focus of the theatrical work "is really on Eleanor going from the shy girl who felt abandoned by her father and finding Franklin growing away from her, but at the request of Louis Howe (Franklin's political adviser), she campaigns for Franklin and as a result, discovers herself," Schrum says.

Jesse Palatucci, a senior visual- and performing-arts major from Brentwood who portrays Howe, says that when Franklin becomes too ill to make speeches and continue his political career, Howe inspires Eleanor to take his place and keep her husband's name alive.

"Inadvertently, Howe plays a lead role in helping Eleanor become the strong, independent woman she grows into. The relationship between Howe and Eleanor grows into something very beautiful. …