The South Haven Theatre Series stages the final performance of its 2021 season this weekend with a nationally known historian re-creating the role of President Teddy Roosevelt.
"An Evening with Teddy Roosevelt" will begin at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 20 in South Haven High School’s Listiak Auditorium, 600 Elkenburg St.
Historian and impersonator Joe Wiegand has portrayed Roosevelt, America's 26th president, in all 50 states. He performed at the White House before President George W. Bush to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Roosevelt's birth.
Roosevelt, who served as president at the start of the 20th century, was a soldier and statesman, explorer and scientist, historian and author. As the youngest president at the time, he personified a vigorous nation on the cusp of the American 20th Century.
Wiegand, who grew up in Elmhurst, Ill., is "a man of considerable mass — not flabby but stout, like Roosevelt," wrote Jordan Fisher Smith in The New Yorker.
Joe Wiegand was a college runner, who grew into his present role, according to his wife Jennie, who accompanies him on tour. Wiegand displays all the skill and presence of a professional actor, which he is not. His earliest inclination was to be a politician. After high school, where he served as student council president, he completed an undergraduate degree in political science at the University of the South and studied international politics in Costa Rica, South Africa, Italy, and the Philippines.
Wiegand had earlier been elected Governor of the American Legion Illinois Boys State and President of the American Legion Boys Nation programs. He twice ran for a seat in the Illinois legislature but lost. He ran other people's campaigns while serving as a county commissioner.
On Christmas of 2001, his sister-in-law gifted him a copy of Edmund Morris's "The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt." Wiegand was intrigued and began doing presentations about Roosevelt's life, dressed as the former president.
Called "the conservation president," Roosevelt doubled the number of sites within the National Park system and signed legislation establishing five new national parks: Crater Lake, Ore.; Wind Cave, SD; Sullys Hill, ND; Mesa Verde, Colo.; and Platt, Okla.
Tickets to Saturday's performance are $15 for adults. Students will be admitted free of charge. Tickets can be purchased at the door before the 7:30 p.m. performance or on-line at www.southhaventheatreseries.org. For persons who are uncomfortable at a live performance, "An Evening with Teddy Roosevelt" will also be live-streamed and tickets for that can also be purchased at www.southhaventheatreseries.org. This performance is sponsored by South Haven Area Community Foundation and 5/3rd Bank.