Fresh off his directorial triumph in “Visiting Mr. Green,” Jack Rabito returns to the Langdon Playhouse stage for two nights in his one-man play “Give ’Em Hell, Harry!” Rabito, one of our most accomplished local actors and directors, brings Harry S. Truman to life, covering how the man from Missouri came to be our 33rd President, who never stopped “shooting from the lip” about the issues he faced and the people he had to face up to.
When Truman left the presidency in January of 1953, he was one of the most unpopular politicians in the United States. Truman’s reputation, however, revived when people began to see him as a feisty everyman from “Middle America” rather than a partisan politician. His stature also rose in subsequent years as scholars and the public came to discern and appreciate his significant contributions.
Rabito says his show is not just for history buffs and political geeks. Rather, Rabito feels average audience member will enjoy the performance because it is filled with humor and a first-hand look into a president who was way ahead if his time and overcame much that the audience can relate to.
“Each one of us faces obstacles we think we can’t overcome,” Rabito said, recalling Truman’s unlikely presidential election victory in 1948. “And here’s a guy who everybody said was going to lose, and he won.”
Rabito described his transformation into Truman as an intense project that took him over two years. He makes Truman a flesh and blood presence on stage, not a cardboard character. The show has many components and moves very quickly as it keeps the audience engaged and entertained.
The audience will ride along on Truman’s whistle-stop campaign train and be part of an actual campaign speech from the caboose car the president called “The Ferdinand Magellan.”
Along with humorous moments, there are seriously powerful scenes, such as when Truman takes on the Ku Klux Klan.
Rabito has performed this play over 100 times from Chicago to New York and up and down the Gulf coast of Florida. In the play, Rabito/Truman interacts with over 14 characters who come to life through the eyes and ears of the president. This is truly a show you don’t want to miss.
See Rabito in “Give ’Em Hell, Harry!” at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 25, and Friday, Oct. 26, at the Langdon Playhouse, 1182 Market Circle, Port Charlotte. Tickets are available at the link below or by calling 941-255-1022 between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. Evening performances are at 7:30 p.m.