TRULY SHAKESPEREAN: It clearly takes the bard to get Chelsea Clinton to open up about getting through those turbulent White House years.
The former first daughter was unusually revealing in her remarks at the Shakespeare Theatre’s tribute to artistic director Michael Kahn’s 25th year of building and informing one of Washington’s most creative and virtuoso theatrical enterprises. The event raised nearly $1 million to educate kids on the merits of theater, but the real highlight was hearing a very glam Clinton talk about how Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” got her hooked on the author as a cathartic way to deal with high drama at her family’s White House dinner table. Without ever mentioning anything specific, Clinton gave the audience a peek at what everyone always wondered — how did she survive the glare of the Washington spotlight through some rough sledding during her father Bill’s eight years as president?
This story first appeared in the October 20, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Wearing a short-skirted black Chanel dress, Clinton began by crediting her longtime friend Jacqueline Newmyer. “Jackie invited me to see ‘Romeo and Juliet,’” she said, remembering back to 1995. “The next time, I got my parents to come. And I have been coming here ever since.” That historic family night out occurred three years later. She and her parents arrived at the theater two days after Christmas 1998 and a week after the House of Representatives voted to impeach her father. The show they saw? None other than “Twelfth Night,” a tale of magical transformation. Talk about Freudian.
Later, at the after party, Clinton elaborated on the nearly 20-year friendship with Newmyer, putting to lie the old Harry Truman quip “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.” “Jackie and I are still best friends,” said Clinton, who met Newmyer her first year in Washington at the Sidwell Friends School. “She was in my wedding, and I was in hers.” Clinton, 31, continues to work on snagging her Oxford Ph.D. while working at New York University and with the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative. Newmyer, 32, is the president of the Long Term Strategy Group, a military research firm in Cambridge, Mass.