Adams family coming to Suffolk

Published 8:43 pm Friday, February 26, 2010

What would Abigail Adams think of Michelle Obama?

What would her husband, John, think about universal health care?

Those questions and more could be answered at a Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts performance tonight. Bill Chrystal and Suzan King will portray one of the nation’s founding couples, John and Abigail Adams.

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“It will be a show involving two first-person interpreters,” Chrystal said. “It will give the audience an opportunity to get a real sense of what one of the longstanding and famous relationships in American history looked like.”

The two have short prepared speeches for the beginning of the show, after which the floor will be opened up for audience members to ask questions about the Adamses’ lives, political views, children and opinions on today’s issues.

“I think it’s a neat medium,” Adams said. “A lot of us in school felt that history was a painful subject. This is a way of learning history, and it’s not at all painful. It’s playful and fun.”

Adams and King prepare themselves to speak from the Adamses’ viewpoints by reading numerous biographies and primary sources — particularly the couple’s correspondence.

“You start by trying to read a few biographies,” Chrystal said. “After you read several good secondary sources, then you begin reading the primary sources, then you read about all the people who were in the world of John and Abigail Adams. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle. You put more and more pieces together.”

Chrystal and King have received many varied questions throughout the years, Chrystal said. The Adamses get asked about their children a lot, as well as how John Adams got along with other Founding Fathers.

“I think people have heard he didn’t care for Ben Franklin,” Chrystal said.

More and more, audience members venture into contemporary issues, like the banking crisis. John Adams would not have responded well to that, because he didn’t like banks, Chrystal said.

Interestingly, nobody has asked the Adams couple how they feel about the health care bill.

“No one has asked him about health care,” Chrystal said. “And they should, because the first health care program in the country was devised in his presidency.”

Chrystal hopes everyone will come out to the performance to have the “great opportunity to have one of America’s premier political couples, particularly in the heart of Jefferson territory.”

The performance begins tonight at 8 p.m. at the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts, 110 W. Finney Ave. Tickets still are available. Adult tickets are $20; student tickets are $15. To purchase tickets, call 923-0003 or arrive about 30 minutes early for the show.