President Barack Obama walks on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington to board Marine One helicopter, as he travels to deliver the commencement address at the United States Military Academy at West Point.
President Barack Obama steps off Marine One, upon arrival at Andrews Air Force Base, Md
President Barack Obama, accompanied by Colonel David L. Almand , Commander of 89th Airlift Wing, walks toward Air Force One
President Barack Obama and Senate Armed Service Committee member Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., laugh as they walk down the steps from Air Force One, upon their arrival at the Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, New York
President Barack Obama talks with Col. Timothy J. LaBarge, Commander of the 105th Airlift Wing, after arriving on Air Force One at the Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, New York
President Barack Obama arrives for the commencement ceremony at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York
On Thursday, the cast of the Broadway revival of “A Raisin in the Sun” was told that a “high-level official” would be coming to the show the next night. Who could it be? Kathleen Sebelius had just resigned—maybe she had more time for theatregoing? Word got out on Friday afternoon: the Obamas were coming to Broadway. By seven o’clock that night, Forty-Seventh Street had been partitioned off, and the Barrymore Theatre was swarming with security guys—not an unwelcome sight, after the Times reported that Broadway has had a tough time attracting men. This was not Obama’s first act of Presidential playgoing. In 2009, he and Michelle went on a date night to August Wilson’s “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone,” and the First Lady has brought her daughters to “Memphis” and “The Addams Family.” “A Raisin in the Sun” was more than a safe choice: it was an undeniably poignant one. It premièred in 1959, and made Lorraine Hansberry the first African-American woman to have a play produced on Broadway. The story follows a black family in Chicago preparing to move into a big, fancy house, despite resistance from their conservative white neighbors. (Sound familiar?) And its themes are as lofty and as loaded as Obama’s: upward mobility, the pain of progress, and, as Sarah Palin might put it (though Hansberry certainly did not), “that hopey, changey stuff.”
The lights went down, and the door to the street swung open. A stream of people, including the President, the First Lady (in black), and Valerie Jarrett, snaked through to the back of the house and then down the aisle. Ignoring the announcer’s pleas, the audience leaped to its feet—this usually happens at the end of the show—and camera flashes twinkled in the darkened theatre. The Obamas shook some hands and took their seats. It’s not often that a single member of the audience commands more attention than the action onstage, and in the initial minutes there was a jittery energy that distracted from the story. Denzel Washington got his usual entrance applause (and a few catcalls from the balcony). If it took a while to buy him as Walter Lee Younger, it wasn’t because Washington is twenty-four years older than his character: Obama’s Obama-ness somehow increased Denzel’s Denzel-ness. At intermission, the Obamas went backstage to meet the cast, as patrons flooded the bar.
Act Two was sprinkled with unspoken moments of meta-theatre. When Walter asks his son, Travis, what he wants to be when he grows up, the boy says, “Bus driver.” His father urges him to dream bigger, and the words “President of the United States” seemed to waft in the air momentarily. In the end, the Youngers take the house, defying the enmity of the “welcoming committee.” They are the change they’ve been waiting for. At the curtain call, the Obamas joined the audience in a standing ovation, and Denzel Washington tipped his fedora to the President, flashing his matinee-idol grin. Scott Rudin, the powerhouse producer, said, “I pretty much cried the whole time.” Bryce Clyde Jenkins, the thirteen-year-old who plays Travis Younger, was still beaming. “I was in school at 11:08 when my teacher, Miss Bernadette, pulled it up on the computer that the First Lady and the President were coming to the performance tonight,” he said. “I kind of jumped for joy inside myself.” Did he find it hard to concentrate onstage? “No,” Jenkins said. “We have a responsibility to the people who are in the show and the Obamas to put on a good show and treat them like they’re our last audience.”
First Lady Michelle Obama, with Dr Jill Biden, applauds the crowd as they return the sentiment during an event for caregivers of veterans in the East Room of the White House. The First Lady and Dr Biden announced new steps by private and public sector organizations to help ease the heavy burden on a vital but largely invisible workforce.
Leaving the White House
Arriving at JFK
President Obama shakes hands with Rev. Al Sharpton as he arrives to speak at the National Action Network conference
President Obama is greeted by Spike Lee and Rev Al Sharpton after speaking at the National Action Network
President Barack Obama looks for gifts for his family with saleswoman Susan Panariello after stopping off at the GAP in New York
President Barack Obama shops at a GAP clothing store in Manhattan during his unannounced visit. Obama used the visit to talk about raising the minimum hourly wage standards and applauded the GAP, who earlier in the year announced it was raising minimum wage for its employees
Mary Bruce: President Obama Visits NYC, Takes Surprising Shopping Trip To The Gap
Apparently even President Obama knows that New York City is a great place to shop. During a trip to the Big Apple today, the president made a surprise stop at the Gap. Obama checked out some khakis and sweatshirts. A cheery saleswoman talked him through a few options, including a V-neck pink sweater. Obama said he was worried the V-neck would “slip” off his daughter’s shoulders. He ultimately settled on a light pink crewneck for Sasha and a bright pink one for Malia.
A White House official explained the president’s impromptu stop: “In his State of the Union address, the President called for businesses to raise workers’ wages, and today the President will visit a Gap store to show his support for Gap Inc.’s decision to increase wages for their US based employees.” During his visit to the store, Obama also picked out navy blue zip-up workout shirtfor the first lady. The president then greeted the woman behind the counter, who told him he was better looking in person. “You hear that?” The president said to reporters. “I think the ladies will be impressed with my style sense,” the president said as his items were rung up.
Officials announced Thursday that the First Lady Michelle Obama will host the special event on Monday, Feb. 24, at 4 p.m. ET, in the Eisenhower Office Building’s South Court Auditorium. The Eisenhower Office Building houses adjoins the White House’s West Wing and provides office space for most of the executive mansion’s staff. Obama will deliver personal remarks at the screening for the TV adaptation of the Broadway revival of Horton Foote‘s play. The Trip to Bountiful, which premieres Saturday, March 8, on the cabler, is set during the final years of the Jim Crow South. The Broadway production was nominated for four Tony Awards, winning best actress in a play for Cicely Tyson.
First Lady Michelle Obama is escorted by Rose Cameron, CEO and founder of WAT-AAH!, a line of bottled water targeted to kids and teens, as they view the “Taking Back the Streets” art exhibit at the New Museum, in New York
First Lady Michelle Obama talks with Sophia Rose Stewart-Chapman, of New York’s Little Red School House, in front of a color-by-numbers mural featuring the slogan for WAT-AAH!
Artist Trey Speegle, photographs First Lady Michelle Obama as she prepares to autograph his color-by-numbers mural featuring the slogan for WAT-AAH!, a line of bottled water targeted to kids and teens, at the New Museum, in New York
First Lady Michelle Obama meets Lola Picayo, of New York’s Little Red School House, before she autographed a color-by-numbers mural featuring the slogan for WAT-AAH!
First Lady Michelle Obama hugs teacher Sara Barlow of Little Red Schoolhouse and Elisabeth Irwin High School
First Lady Michelle Obama stands with artist Trey Speegle the 8th grade children of Little Red Schoolhouse and Elisabeth Irwin High School when she visits the New Museum’s “Taking Back the Streets” exhibit, sponsored by Let Water Be Water LLC’s youth bottled water brand WAT-AAH! to support the Partnership for a Healthier America’s “Drink Up” initiative in New York City