Hillary Clinton Sweeps the Cast of Castillo Theatre's VOTES... Sort Of

In light of Hillary Clinton's sweep of the Democratic primary, an "exit poll" was done of the cast of VOTES, a musical now running at Castillo Theatre in Manhattan, which examines the ambitions and regrets of the Democratic front runner. How did a group of seven actors, who have been ruthlessly examining Hillary Clinton's legacy for their play, take their artistic experience to the polls?

VOTES is an "outsider" musical by Jacqueline S. Salit and Fred Newman, composed by leading pop/country tunesmith Annie Roboff. It is set on the eve of the 2016 election, with America only hours away from choosing its first woman president. Melanie Jefferson, a former First Lady, Senator and Secretary of State, is ready to count the votes when an unexpected visitor from her past arrives to challenge her conscience and her destiny. Castillo Theatre, 543 West 42nd Street, is presenting the work's world premiere, directed by Gabrielle L. Kurlander. It opened April 1 and has been extended to May 22.

The cast includes a Long Island resident who voted for Hillary, a New Jersey resident who plans to, and a local resident who couldn't because he was out of the city yesterday. His request for an absentee ballot was denied despite being submitted in time. One actor couldn't vote for or against Hillary because he is registered Republican. Two actors did not reveal their votes.

Lisa Ann Wright-Matthews, who plays the Hillary Clinton character, didn't vote yesterday because she is registered in Virginia. (She commutes for the show from the D.C. area.) Her family is strongly for Bernie. "My own husband wouldn't vote for my character," she says. But her son, an environmental activist, saw the play in its first week and "he liked the way it opened the political debate about what it's like to be a person with so much power--the personal versus the political. He got something meaningful from the show; I was happy about that." She says she had voted for Bernie by absentee ballot before rehearsals started.

Wayne Miller, who plays the Bill Clinton character, reports that a poll watcher recognized him from his previous TV appearances (but not in the character of the former president). He notes that in Staten Island, less than 20% of Republicans and less than 23% of Democrats actually voted. This, he says, is testament to how horrific the process has become and ratifies the themes of the play. The playwrights of VOTES were primarily interested in the "cost of power." This serious, realpolitik theme underlies the work.

Miller relates that a daughter of one of his friends was physically removed from a polling place in Staten Island because she insisted on voting Democratic, asserting that she had changed her party registration in September. A family member had registered her Republican when she turned 18 without her knowledge, she says. She was told to get a court order to record her ballot; it might be counted after her claim was researched. There are many such cases of this, Miller says.

Ahhh, New York.

Pictured: Lisa Ann Wright-Mathews (Melanie Jefferson). Photo by Remy.

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