Dave (musical)

Dave is a musical with music by Tom Kitt, lyrics by Nell Benjamin, and a book by Benjamin and Thomas Meehan. Based on the 1993 American political comedy film of the same name written by Gary Ross, the musical made its world premiere try-out at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. in July 2018. The musical centers on Dave Kovic, a high school teacher (and presidential look-alike) who is hired by the Secret Service when the President falls ill.

MusicTom Kitt
LyricsNell Benjamin
BookThomas Meehan
Nell Benjamin
by Ivan Reitman
PremiereJuly 18, 2018: Arena Stage, Washington, D.C.


The musical is based on the 1993 film Dave.[1] The film itself starred Kevin Kline as Dave Kovic and President Bill Mitchell and Sigourney Weaver as First Lady Ellen Mitchell and featured a number of prominent actors in supporting roles including Frank Langella, Kevin Dunn, Ving Rhames, Charles Grodin, and Ben Kingsley. The film was produced on a budget of $28 million,[2] earning $63.3 million[3]

The musical was first reported in November 2014 by Variety following a private industry reading held on October 31. In summer 2016, it was announced that the musical held a second private reading starring Brian d’Arcy James and Carmen Cusack.[4] An additional lab was held in 2017, again with James starring in the title role.

It was announced in January 2018 that the musical would premiere at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. in summer 2018.[5] On March 27, 2018, it was announced that Drew Gehling would star in the title role.[6] In May 2018, it was announced that Gehling would be joined by Mamie Parris as Ellen Mitchell.


Arena Stage (2018)Edit

The musical began previews at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., on July 18, 2018, for a limited engagement until August 19, 2018.[7] The production is directed by Tina Landau. The production's design team includes scenery by Dane Laffrey, costumes by Toni-Leslie James, lighting by Japhy Weideman, projections by Peter Nigrini, and sound by Walter Trarbach.[8]

The musical has been updated to reflect current technology and practices, such as social media, cell phones, Twitter, a 24/7 news cycle and YouTube.[9]

Characters and original castEdit

Character Reading (2016) Lab (2017) Arena Stage (2018)
Dave Kovic / President Bill Mitchell Brian d’Arcy James Drew Gehling
First Lady Ellen Mitchell Carmen Cusack Stephanie J. Block Mamie Parris
Agent Duane Bolden Colby Lewis James Monroe Iglehart Josh Breckenridge
Chief of Staff Bob Alexander Michael Rupert Douglas Sills
Communications Director Susan Lee Ann Sanders Ann Harada Bryonha Marie Parham
Vice President Gary Nance / President Andrew Johnson Jonathan Rayson
Randi Hagopian Rachel Flynn
Murray Stein / President John Quincy Adams Kevin R. Free
Mrs. Smit / President William Howard Taft Sherri L. Edelen
Montana Jefferson Dana Costello
Mr. Wheeler Adam J. Levy
Paul Vishal Vaidya
President James Buchanan Jamison Scott
President Rutherford B. Hayes Erin Quill
President Benjamin Harrison Trista Dollison
President Warren Harding Jared Bradshaw

Musical numbersEdit

Washington D.C.

Awards and honorsEdit

Original Washington, D.C. productionEdit

Year Award Ceremony Category Nominee Result
Helen Hayes Awards[10]


Outstanding Direction in a Musical - Hayes Tina Landau Won
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Musical - Hayes Drew Gehling Nominated
Douglas Sills Nominated
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Musical - Hayes Bryonha Marie Parham Nominated
Outstanding Original Play or Musical Adaptation Tom Kitt, Thomas Meehan, and Nell Benjamin Nominated
Outstanding Ensemble in a Musical - Hayes Nominated
Outstanding Production in a Musical - Hayes Nominated


  1. ^ "Tom Kitt, Nell Benjamin, Thomas Meehan Developing Musical Adaptation of Comedic "Dave" Film". playbill.com. Playbill. November 11, 2014. Retrieved June 9, 2018.
  2. ^ "AFI-Catalog". catalog.afi.com.
  3. ^ "Dave at Box Office Mojo". Retrieved September 29, 2010.
  4. ^ "Brian d'Arcy James, Carmen Cusack & More Take Part in DAVE Reading". broadwayworld.com. BroadwayWorld. July 22, 2016. Retrieved June 9, 2018.
  5. ^ "Starry Creative Team to Debut Musical Adaptation of Dave at Arena Stage". broadway.com. Broadway.com. January 26, 2018. Retrieved June 9, 2018.
  6. ^ Gans, Andrew (March 27, 2018). "Waitress' Drew Gehling Will Star in World Premiere of New Musical Dave". playbill.com. Playbill. Retrieved June 9, 2018.
  7. ^ "Tina Landau Will Direct World Premiere of Tom Kitt's Dave Musical". playbill.com. Playbill. January 26, 2018. Retrieved June 9, 2018.
  8. ^ Gans, Andrew (May 4, 2018). "Mamie Parris, Bryonha Marie Parham, More Will Join Drew Gehling in World Premiere of Dave Musical". playbill.com. Playbill. Retrieved June 9, 2018.
  9. ^ Menefee, Lynne. "Theatre Review: 'Dave' at Arena Stage" mdtheatreguide.com, August 1, 2018
  10. ^ "2019 Helen Hayes Awards" (PDF). theatrewashington.org. 2019. Retrieved April 3, 2019.
  11. ^ https://dcmetrotheaterarts.com/2019/05/14/2019-helen-hayes-award-winners/

External linksEdit