Supriya Ghosh (Editor)

State of the Union (play)

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Date premiered  November 14, 1945
First performance  14 November 1945
Adaptations  State of the Union (1948)
Awards  Pulitzer Prize for Drama
Genre  Comedy
Setting  Detroit
Original language  English language
Written by  Russel Crouse Howard Lindsay
Characters  Grant Matthews Mary Matthews Spike McManus Kay Thorndyke Jim Conover Sam Thorndyke Sam I. Parrish Bill Nolard Hardy Lulubelle Alexander Judge Alexander
Place premiered  Hudson Theatre New York City, New York
Playwrights  Howard Lindsay, Russel Crouse
Similar  Howard Lindsay plays, Comedy plays, Other plays

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State of the Union is a play by American playwrights Russel Crouse and Howard Lindsay about a fictional Republican presidential candidate.


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State of the Union opened at the National Theatre in Washington, DC on November 6, 1945. The New York Times reviewer noted that the play was "clever and well-acted."

The play premiered on Broadway at the Hudson Theatre on November 14, 1945, and closed on September 13, 1947 after 765 performances. Directed by Bretaigne Windust, the cast starred Ralph Bellamy (Grant Matthews), Ruth Hussey (Mary Matthews), Margalo Gillmore (Kay Thorndyke), Myron McCormick (Spike MacManus), and Minor Watson (James Conover).

Both playwrights received the 1946 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. John L. Toohey commented: "In Awarding the Pulitzer Prize to 'State of the Union'...the Pulitzer Committee once more demonstrated its fondness for shows with political backgrounds.

The play was produced at Ford's Theatre in Washington, DC in September 2006.


In 1946, several friends gather in the house of James Conover in Washington, DC. James is about 60; with him are Spike MacManus, a long-time political reporter and Grant Matthews, in his 40's, a businessman and Katherine (Kay) Thorndike, late 30s.

The Republicans have chosen Grant Matthews to run for President. Grant is estranged from his wife Mary, and he has become romantically involved with Kay Thorndike, a newspaper publisher.


According to journalist-playwright Sidney Blumenthal "The play's events... allude to Wendell Willkie, the utility company head who became the surprise Republican candidate for president in 1940. 'This is a play about a businessman who is a dark-horse candidate.' " According to Gerald Bordman, "Many critics and playgoers saw more than a touch of the late Wendell Willkie in Matthews".

Critical response

Lewis Nichols, reviewing for the New York Times, wrote: "While every boy inherits the right to grow up to be President of the United States, it takes additional talent to write a good play about it.... With wonderfully funny lines and situations, the new comedy about politics also has enough sentiment to keep it from being farce." In a later column, Nichols wrote: " 'State of the Union' is a comedy with a serious briskly wonders why there must be horsetrading rather than honesty, why...the country's people are again losing faith in the ideals.... Certain aspects of the play suggest that the authors admired the late Wendell Willkie in his politically iconoclastic ideas, but the comedy is not a biography."


In 1948 the play was adapted for a film directed by Frank Capra. The film starred Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn.


State of the Union (play) Wikipedia