Originally Published: July 11, 2014 6 a.m.
When Joe Wiegand steps onto the Prescott Center for the Arts main stage this weekend, people might gasp when they think they are seeing President Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt in real time.
Known across the country for his talent in bringing this famous president to life on stage, Wiegand has an "encyclopedic knowledge," brimming with facts about Roosevelt and can tailor his show to connect with the audience he is entertaining, PCA Executive Director Jon Meyer said.
A major local example of this is "Roosevelt's Rough Riders," which Buckey O'Neill joined in 1898 to fight in the Spanish-American War. Prescott treasures its history of "Roosevelt's Rough Riders" who fought in O'Neill was one of the founders of the First United States Volunteer Cavalry, later nicknamed "Roosevelt's Rough Riders." Through the spring of 1898, America's relationship with Spain deteriorated and, and O'Neill and his co-founders of the volunteer group, Alexander Brodie and James McClintock, planned an entire regiment of Arizona cowboys. Eventually, two (later three) troops were authorized, and on May 29, 1898, O'Neill became the first man to volunteer for the regiment. On July 1, 1898, Capt. O'Neill was killed in combat below Kettle Hill while commanding Troop A of the Rough Riders.
A statue on the north side of the Yavapai County Courthouse immortalizes O'Neill for his service to Prescott and his country.
Wiegand, a life-long student of American history, is a political science graduate of the University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn.
Prior to becoming Teddy Roosevelt, Wiegand had a 25-year career in politics and public policy in his native Illinois. In 2008, after serving as campaign manager for gubernatorial and presidential campaigns in the Land of Lincoln, he set out on a 50-state tour celebrating TR's sesquicentennial birthday and the centennial of TR's final year in office. The adventure was highlighted by a performance at the White House for President and Mrs. George W. Bush on TR's 150th birthday.
Today, Wiegand performs in all 50 states and internationally. He has been featured in film and television, most recently in "The Men Who Built America" on the History Channel and in "The Forward Pass: A Football Life" by NFL Films. His TR Tour is sponsored, in part, by the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation of Medora, North Dakota. More information is available at www.teddyrooseveltshow.com
Wiegand will perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for youths and are available at the PCA box office by calling 445-3286 or going online to www.pca-az.net.