Political Drama: Our Favorite On-Stage Presidents

Is it just us or has this political season been a little . . . dramatic?

No matter which political party gets you buzzing (or which gives you a hangover…), one thing is clear: politicians love the stage and the stage loves them.

Almost every U.S President in history has had their moment in the theatrical spotlight, from the beloved Abraham Lincoln (who’s been in nearly a dozen plays beginning with Benjamin Chapin’s Lincoln in 1906) to the not-so-memorable Rutherford B. Hayes (who was played by Gene Wilder in A.E. Hotchner’s The White House in 1964).

Even some of our current nominees have been popping up in front of audiences lately. Hillary Clinton balanced out the two Bills in Off-Broadway’s Clinton The Musical and certainly comes to mind as the characters in Eclipsed get hilariously invested in a book about Bill Clinton. Meanwhile, Donald Trump gets endorsed by a serial killer eight times a week in American Psycho and is “only for now” in Avenue Q.

In honor of today’s primary election in New York City, we’re nominating our top candidates for best on-stage president:

>>Benjamin Walker as Andrew Jackson in Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson

Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre Cast List: James Barry Darren Goldstein Greg Hildreth Jeff Hiller Lucas Near-Verbrugghe Kristine Nielsen Cameron Ocasio Bryce Pinkham Nadia Quinn Maria Elena Ramirez Kate Cullen Roberts Ben Steinfeld Benjamin Walker Emily Young Production Credits: Alex Timbers (Direction) Danny Mefford (Choreography) Donyale Werle (Scenic Design) Emily Rebholz (Costume Design) Justin Townsend (Lighting Design) Bart Fasbender (Sound Design) Other Credits: Lyrics by: Michael Friedman Music by: Michael Friedman Book by: Alex Timbers

Photo via PopEntertainment.com

Tight pants and black eyeliner make Andrew Jackson more than a president: he’s a rockstar. Honorable Mention: Martin Van Buren, John Quincy Adams, and James Monroe.

>>Daveed Diggs as Thomas Jefferson in Hamilton


Photo via NewYork.com

Alexander Hamilton may have made the $10 bill, but he never made it to the Oval Office. So for this list, our vote goes to worthy rap battle opponent, Thomas Jefferson. Honorable Mention: George Washington and James Madison.

>>Bryan Cranston as Lyndon B. Johnson in All the Way


Photo via BuzzFeedCeleb

From Breaking Bad to Broadway, Bryan Cranston knows how to steal a scene. Cranston will be back in the role on May 21 in HBO’s upcoming adaptation.

>>Will Ferrell as George W. Bush in You’re Welcome, America: A Final Night with George W. Bush

This photo released by Jeffrey Richards Associates shows Will Ferrell who wrote and stars in "You're Welcome America. A Final Night with George W. Bush," now playing at Broadway's Cort Theatre. (AP Photo/Jeffery Richards Associates,Robert J. Saferstein)*NO SALES**

Photo via LA Times

Ferrell reprised the role he perfected on Saturday Night Live in a limited engagement that began on George W. Bush’s last day in office. Talk about “strategery.”

>>William Daniels as John Adams in 1776


Photo via NYCityCenter

Before he taught history on Boy Meets World, William Daniels was recreating it in the original production of 1776. Lin-Manuel Miranda says it perfectly: “We don’t have a John Adams in our show, but we can just refer to him, and everyone just pictures you, Mr. Daniels.”

>>Frank Langella as Richard Nixon in Frost/Nixon


Photo via Boston.com 

Based on the television interviews between Richard Nixon and David Frost, Langella delivers a Tony and Academy Award-nominated performance in this Tony and Academy Award-nominated work.

>>Tom Galantich & Duke Lafoon as Bill Clinton in Clinton The Musical


Photo via NewYorkTheatreGuide

Playing the more mature “WJ,” and the out-of-control (but oh-so-fun) “Billy,” Galantich and Lafoon showed us all the sides of Bill Clinton in this musical parody.

>>Raymond Thorne as F.D.R in Annie

Shelley Bruce as Annie (3R), Reid Shelton as Daddy Warbucks (R) and Raymond Thorne as FDR (2L) in a scene from the Broadway production of the musical "Annie.".
Photo via NYPL

If anyone would get Annie’s proclamation that “the sun would come out tomorrow,” it would totally be F.D.R.

Whoever wins come November, we can’t wait to see the plays and musicals they inspire!

But today, don’t forget to vote! The polls close at 9pm. Click here to find your polling location.

See you at the polls and see you in the theatre!