The faces of United States presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt are preserved forever in stone on Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. In this unique and creative play the presidents tell their fascinating stories in an educational and entertaining way. History literally “comes to life” in this production when the audience meets each of the Mount Rushmore presidents and learns how their lives helped shape history and the world.
The story begins when four students, who have been learning about Mount Rushmore in school, decide to taking a hiking trip to visit the national memorial in South Dakota. The show opens with the students stumbling upon the “back” side of the mountain. As they circle around the presidents come into full view. When the students get in close for a good look Teddy Roosevelt suddenly begins to speak and asks his “rock-mates” if they too see those people staring at the them. The students are frightened, scream, and run. But, soon a conversation begins with the four presidents who have, by this time, come down off the mountain in order to stretch and chat with the students.
One by one the presidents share their stories as the young people ask questions and realize how truly amazing each man really was. Thomas Jefferson and Teddy Roosevelt also introduce their wives to the young people. Martha and Edith add immeasurably to the story and the storytelling. As the play unfolds we learn about the character of each man, find that some stories surrounding them were merely myths, and realize that the contributions each man made to the country and history was profound and vital to its survival.
The play is spiced with humor, historical accuracy, patriotism, and inspiration. The show concludes with the students realizing that there was a very good reason these particular presidents were chosen to be featured on Mount Rushmore. One of them states these profound revelations: “Mr. Washington taught me about leadership and bravery. Mr. Jefferson taught me about patriotism and freedom. Abraham Lincoln taught me about honesty and hard work. And, Mr. Roosevelt taught me about preservation and having ambitions…goals in life.”
In turn several of the presidents assure the young people that they have learned something too. Mr. Jefferson says, “And you’ve taught us something too, young Bryan. That what the four of us fought for, believed in, and worked hard for…has paid off. You have shown us that there is hope for the future, a better America, a better nation.” Mr. Washington tells them, “We can continue to have faith each day in the young people who come to study our faces on this great mountain; that they will take what they learn here and apply it to their lives; the good and the bad.” And finally, Mr. Lincoln states, “So they can make the future a better, brighter place for their children…just as we strove to do for ours.”
The show can be cast with young or older actors and is enjoyed by audiences of all ages.
The show is written so that children and adults alike respond to the content of the play. The presidents are dressed in traditional garb that all audiences relate to. Most children are well aware of who these four presidents were and, via the gift of theatre and imagination, have no trouble being transported to South Dakota and into the lives of the ten characters in the show. Adults appreciate the historic accuracy of the script, humor, and the strong sense of patriotism inherent to the theme and script.
When performed in its entirety, The Presidents of Mount Rushmore is about 50 minutes in length. It also lends itself perfectly to a question and answer period following the performance.
Cast of Characters
Bryon (student or young adult)
Cody (student or young adult)
Jessie (student or young adult)
Taylor (student or young adult)
Martha Jefferson (Thomas' Wife)
Edith Roosevelt (Teddy's Wife)
The cast can be quite flexible. The roles of the “students” can be played by people of any age. The original production used students who were supposed to be juniors and seniors in high school. Virtually any younger person who can memorize lines through young adults can play the roles of the students. You could also modify a few words in the script and have the “students” be played by adults on a backpack trip, etc.
SET AND PROP REQUIREMENTS
As with all of our productions, the sets can be very simple using only minimal scenery—leaving it up to the audience to “fill in the blanks.” Or, you can go all out and create a mountain that spins on a simple 4X8 foot wagon. The mountain is actually quite easy to build and instructions are included in your production package. Sample pictures of sets used in the original production of this, and many other Gloria Emmerich musicals, can be found by going to the photo gallery on this website.