The Federal Theatre Project was part of the Works Projects Administration under that began under President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal plan. It was an program that, during the Depression of the 1930s, provided government funding to encourage plays. The Federal Theatre Project provided work for performers and allowed a low cost option for entertainment for those affected by the depression while encouraging participation and enjoyment of the arts. Of those plays was ” ‘Oh, Say Can You Sing’, by Sid Kuller & Ray Golden, an irreverent satire of bureaucracy of the FTP. The Show made FTP history by being the first Chicago production to have a 17 month run” (Free).
The play made fun of the politics behind the FTP. It portrays a fictional group of the FTP who “is dispatched to a local nudist colony” (Osborne). With characters such as Miss Till Take-Off and Miss Clarabelle Clotheshorse, the troupe performs a striptease and saves the group from disaster. With the large red light district and organized crime atmosphere in Chicago, “Oh Say Can You Sing”, by Sid Kuller and Ray Golden delivered a witty approach towards the politics of the time.
The play open on December 11,1936, at the Great Northern Theater in Chicago, Illinois. It was directed by Hedley Gordon Graham. The top cast members of the performance were “Virginia Crane … Grace Graff … Kurt Graff … Charlie Herbert … Grace Herbert … Buddy Rich … Dan Seymour (i) … Joe Whitehead” (Ovrtur). The music was written by Phil Charig.
Though the program only lasted for four years, it jumpstarted acting careers for many including Buddy Rich of “Oh, Say Can You Sing.”