Thirteen Days on the verge of World War III


 Left to right: Shawna Tucker, Delia Ford, Andrea Conway-Diaz, Julia Kessler, Cameron Feagin, Sheila Willis, Maggie Cain, Noelle Klyce, Kat Evans in City Lit Theater's Thirteen Days. (Photos by Steve Graue)
Left to right: Shawna Tucker, Delia Ford, Andrea Conway-Diaz, Julia Kessler, Cameron Feagin, Sheila Willis, Maggie Cain, Noelle Klyce, Kat Evans in City Lit Theater’s Thirteen Days. (Photos by Steve Graue)

4 Stars

In 2020, the world premiere adaptation of Robert F. Kennedy’s “Thirteen Days” was in rehearsals and set to open in March. Due to the pandemic, it was forced to shutter. Fast forward to September of 2021 and the show has finally opened.

“Thirteen Days, presented by City Lit Theatre,” tells the suspenseful story of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. Based on a memoir by Robert F. Kennedy, who served as the Attorney General under his brother, President John F. Kennedy, the story is authentic and presented as a cat and mouse game played on the world stage.

On October 16, 1962, long-range Soviet missiles carrying nuclear warheads aimed at the United States were discovered in Cuba. For the next 13 days all eyes were on the White House as President John Kennedy and his team maneuvered around this international crisis.

Communications were conflicting, confusing and constantly changing during the stand down with Nikita Khrushchev and Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin.

President Kennedy did not want to make another mistake like he did in the “Bay of Pigs.” His cabinet could not agree on the best strategy and military response. One wrong move could cause World War III.

 Kat Evans as Robert Kennedy in City Lit Theater's 'Thirteen Days.'
Kat Evans as Robert Kennedy in City Lit Theater’s ‘Thirteen Days.’

Adapted for the theatre and directed by Brian Pastor, City Lit’s Resident Director, this production features a cast totally comprised of women. While all of the characters in the book are white males, this ambitious twist creates a unique reflection of gender issues in the body politic.

The show’s cast includes Cameron Feagin (President John F. Kennedy), Kat Evans (Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy), Sheila Willis (Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara), Julia Kessler (Secretary of State Dean Rusk), Maggie Cain (Director of Central Intelligence John A. McCone and Soviet U.N. Ambassador Valerian Zorin), Andrea Conway-Diaz (McGeorge Bundy), Delia Ford (Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff Maxwell D. Taylor), Noelle Klyce (Ted Sorenson), Kim Fukawa (Arthur C. Lundahl, the aerial photography expert who detected missile installations in Cuba and Soviet Ambassador to the U.S. Anatoly Dobrynin), Shawna Tucker (National Security Council member Llewellyn “Tommy” Thompson and Anne Wrider (Adlai Stevenson, United State Ambassador to the United Nations).

On the production team are Liz Cooper (lighting design), Jeremy Hollis (set designer) and Satoe Schechner (costume designer.)  Kudos to Schechner for dressing the women in business suits, ties, and shoes that make them look powerful and professional.

Cameron Feagin as JFK knows when to be tough and how to react to the building pressure. Kat Evans as Bobby Kennedy narrates this nerve-wracking drama, creating real tension until the final showdown.  Both of these lead actors bear an uncanny physical resemblance to the Kennedy family, adding to the performance.

Covid protocols include masks and proof of vaccination for entrance. The theatre will also be following CDC ventilation guidelines to ensure a complete exchange of air in the theatre between performances.

“Thirteen Days” runs through Oct. 24, 2021 at the Edgewater Presbyterian Church, 1020 W. Bryn Mawr, Chicago. Run time:  90 minutes with no intermission.

For tickets and other information visit or call (773) 293-3682.

Mira Temkin

For more shows visit Theatre in Chicago