Teddy Roosevelt comes to town

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By Kirsten Laskey

In addition to being a U.S. president, “Teddy” Theodore Roosevelt was a conservationist, a traveler and an outdoor enthusiast who lived during an incredible time in America’s history.

During the Los Alamos Historical Society’s lecture series, the community will be able to meet this key historical figure one-on-one. Randy Milligan will do a Chautauqua performance of Roosevelt at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Fuller Lodge.

His performance, titled, “Theodore Roosevelt-Rough Rider President,” will address the 1912 campaign when Roosevelt ran for the presidency under the banner of the progressive party, the Bull Moose Party.

Portraying Roosevelt seems to have almost become second nature for Milligan, who has portrayed the former president for 20 years. The character has stayed the same, but the script has gone through several changes.

The original script, “Goodbye to the West,” focused on the time Roosevelt lived on his Elkhom ranch in the Dakotas. It was a sad time in Roosevelt’s life, Milligan said, he had lost his mother and his wife and decided to escape out west.

The second script was slightly more upbeat. It was called, “Reading is Bully.” The performance was in conjunction with the Wyoming Library Association and worked to promote reading. In this performance, Milligan addressed the letter and books that Roosevelt wrote as well as the “pigskin library” he created.

Milligan first stepped into Roosevelt’s shoes in 1984 as a member of the Wyoming Chautauqua Society.

He explained he was attracted to this man because Roosevelt is his favorite president. Milligan is also impressed with Roosevelt’s conservation. “He realized the importance to preserve this wilderness and wildlife for future generations.”

Even 100 years later, with national parks formed and rangers to run to them, “his dreams have come true,” Milligan said.

Milligan added, “He had a philosophy of living a strenuous life that I’ve come to believe in. He always pushed himself to get out, he was active.”

By sharing this president with audiences, Milligan said, “I am hoping I’ll excited them about history.”

He hopes participants will want to read more, see the parallels between the past and the present and appreciate what Roosevelt did.

“It’s time travel,” he said, “you suspend your disbelief (and) go back in time. You’re really there.”

When not performing as his favorite president, Milligan is a speech and theatre instructor at the New Mexico State University in Carlsbad.