On Oct. 2, Southern Mainers will be treated to a remarkable one-woman show about a true American pioneer: Margaret Chase Smith. With sponsorship by AARP Maine, the Opera House Arts presents “Mrs. Smith Goes to Washington” at the Stonington Opera House at 4pm.
The play was written by Farmington playwright Linda Britt and it tells the story of Smith’s extraordinary political career. Born in Skowhegan in 1898, Smith became the first woman elected to the US House of Representatives and to the Senate. She was the first woman from Maine to represent the state in both chambers. She is still considered to be one of the most successful politicians in Maine’s history.
Further, she was the first woman to have her name placed in nomination for the US Presidency at a major party’s convention. This was at the 1964 Republican Convention which was won that year by Barry Goldwater. A moderate Republican, when Smith left office, she had the record as the longest-serving female Senator in US history. At that time, she ranked 11th in seniority among the members of the Senate. This feat was not surpassed until 2011. In January of 2011, Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland was sworn in for a fifth term.
The play has had a successful run in Maine having already thrilled audiences in Lewiston, South Paris, Rumford, Augusta and Gardiner. The actress playing Margaret Chase Smith is Sally Jones of Norway. Jones is a former high school English teacher and drama teacher who recently retired from Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School. Her dedication to the play is obvious. She is the actress as well as the director.
On Aug. 25, she was quoted in The Portland Press Herald saying: “What bothers me is how many people don’t know who Margaret Chase Smith is anymore. You have to be a certain age. I would like to present her to every woman in the state. I would like to reclaim her history. I really do that when I perform.”
The performance will be held at Abromson Center, University of Southern Maine, Bedford Street, Portland and tickets are $25. Find more information online, or call 879-5700.