Linda Leonard transforms into the  firebrand guv


The current production of Ann, about firebrand Texas Gov. Ann Richards, begins with the actual video of her infamous keynote address at the 1988 Democratic National Convention. Then actress Linda Leonard walks onstage to take over, and I’ll be damned if there aren’t several moments (especially if you just listen) where you forget you’re watching a performance. Leonard manages the same folksy bite — a steel claw masked by a velvet glove, dripping in Texas honey — that made Richards iconic, whether you liked her or not.

The play itself has structural issues — it opens on a bare stage at a commencement address for an unknown college, transitions to a long stretch of one day inside the governor’s office, then goes back to the lecture — but the portrait it paints is pure Ann: Her feisty, foul-mouthed, not-always-correct, indecisive, exacting, troubled comic energy. I was never in a room with the woman in real life, but I feel like I was after this uncanny performance. 

— Arnold Wayne Jones

Irving Arts Center,
3333 MacArthur Blvd., Irving.
Through July 8.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 23, 2017.