Former politicians take to the stage to tell tales of political corruption
31st March 2014 · 0 Comments
By Mason Harrison
Three years after taking to the stage to tell his story of political rise and fall, former New Orleans City Council member Oliver Thomas will add to his account of the public corruption scandal that shook New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and derailed the career of the man many observers believed would be the next mayor of the city. Thomas stars, alongside former politicos Cynthia Willard-Lewis and Gail Glapion, in the play “Reflections 2” starting April 11 at the Anthony Bean Theater.
In 2011, the original play opened to a sold out audience filled with friend and foe alike eager to hear Thomas’ version of events after serving a two-and-a-half-year sentence in federal prison for accepting thousands of dollars in bribes while serving as an at-large member of the City Council. This time, however, Thomas’ theatrical performance will delve deeper into his life as a person.
“The second act will be totally different,” says Anthony Bean, who operates the Bean theater and who co-wrote the original and follow-up productions with Thomas. “You’ll be able to see the man and his struggle; you’ll see the divorce that he went through and the impact it had on him.” The play is being billed as an opportunity for Thomas to reveal things he could not share while on probation.
Bean says former City Council member and state lawmaker Cynthia Willard-Lewis and former School Board president, Gail Glapion, agreed to be a part of the follow-up production because of their relationships with Thomas. “They were both around when Oliver was on the Council,” Bean says. “They both worked with him and they know him well and they know his story.” Willard-Lewis and Glapion will play themselves in the production and reveal their responses to the scandal. “If I could have reconstructed the entire Council from that time, I would have,” Bean says, referring to his penchant for having political figures portray themselves on stage.
But Thomas and Willard-Lewis each have experience on stage. Thomas has appeared in a number of productions beyond the original “Reflections” drama and Willard-Lewis is also no stranger to the theater. “I remember Cynthia’s father telling me what a great actress she was,” Bean says, adding, “and he was right.” He believes the past political ties between Thomas, Willard-Lewis and Glapion will create the kind of chemistry on stage necessary for a solid production.
“There is still a great demand for Oliver Thomas,” Bean says. “People love this man and want to know the depth of this man. Oliver is a very interesting person and when there is a demand for something then you have to meet that demand and give the people what they want to see.”
The play opens at the Anthony Bean Theater, 1333 S. Carrollton Ave., April 11-13. It runs again April 18-20 and 25-27. More information is available at 504.862.PLAY or by visiting www.anthonybeantheater.com.
This article originally published in the March 31, 2014 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.