Teddy Roosevelt lives through actor Weigand

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Selma Times-Journal

Selma got a visit from Teddy Roosevelt this week, or, Teddy Roosevelt reincarnate.

Joe Wiegand and his family – wife Jenny, daughter Sam, 9, and dog, Faith – paid the city a visit for part of Tuesday evening and Wednesday.

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Wiegand is the star of “The Teddy Roosevelt Show,” a one-man production that brings the former United States president to life.

“He is an amazing character to perform for audiences,” Wiegand said. “He was a great citizen and displayed leadership. I hope that we are inspiring the next generation with performances remembering who this man was. I’m having fun making [Roosevelt] come to life.”

The family tours the country as Wiegand performs shows for theatres, festivals and churches across the lower 48 states. Daughter Sam is home-schooled, and wife Jenny plays professional golf when not managing her husband’s tour schedule and bookings.

“This is very fitting for Joe,” friend A.C. Reeves said. “He has always been involved in politics, and he is a real people person.” Reeves attended college with the Wiegands, and said together they make a strong duo.

Wiegand bears a striking resemblance to Roosevelt in facial features and physical composition. He is the same age, height and weight as Roosevelt when he served in the presidential office.

Wiegand himself is a scholar of Roosevelt. For years he has studied books, essays and memoirs from historians, as well as letters and diaries from Roosevelt’s contemporaries that offer clues on Roosevelt’s life and personality.

Before each performance, Wiegand takes some personal time to get into character. Each performance is unscripted and tailored to audiences.

Wiegand said most of the past two weeks have been spent in the South, with stops in Mississippi, Tennessee, and Georgia. From Selma the Wiegands will head to Roswell, Ga., stopping in Tuskegee along the way.

On the 150th anniversary of Roosevelt’s birth, Wiegand will play Roosevelt during a celebration at Roosevelt’s birthplace in New York City.