You know immediately from the telling title Clinton: The Musical that this show is going to be a hoot. But you have no idea that you will laugh so hard, you’ll bust a gut. I am still recovering from bruising bouts of laughter…so fun! At one point I was missing dialogue, I was so convulsed in laughter.
You initially ask yourself while you are waiting for the show to begin, “How far will they go?” Then the show opens with a tremendously energetic cast singing “Awful Awesome” and you find yourself in waves of spontaneous laughter silently stating to yourself “Oh no, don’t go there!” Well, needless to say, THEY GO THERE! There is so much material here ripe for satire, how could the writers and lyricist (Paul and Michael Hodge) resist?
Perfect timing for this show’s opening as Hillary has just announced her run for the Presidency; it’s her well deserved, achingly earned turn for center stage. And indeed we have a hilarious Hillary played by the fabulous, paint-suited, Kerry Butler. However, at this point in time, this is still Bill’s show–it opens in 1993 with his election to his first term in office. But herein lies the rub (still don’t get how SNL missed THIS turn), as Clinton: The Musical has two diverse performers playing our infamous ex-President, i.e. Billy, (played by the charming, colorful Duke Lafoon) and WJ Clinton (sincerely played by Tom Galantich). There are two sides to every coin, yet it’s always a triangle as Hillary will NOT be outshone by the two Bills–she certainly gets her two cents in. And to drive the matter home, we have the ghost of Eleanor Roosevelt (the glorious Judy Gold) from behind the White House portraitures, literally and figuratively, egging her on. You get the picture! So many clever tricks of stage and set add to the complete hilarity of this musical.
This musical comedic romp thru Bill’s two terms is brimming with supporting players, there is so much farcical material that this 90 minute, straight thru, no intermission show could easily play another 90 minutes–but your facial muscles would joyfully collapse. Kudos to the real wish upon a “star” of the show, i.e. Ken Starr, outrageously portrayed by the villainous and versatile Kevin Zak. Kenneth Starr’s dreams come true and he steals the thunder–until Newt Gingrich (evil comes in all shapes and sizes, right?) joins in the fun and fray. These two are a comedy act on their own–they’re ready to hit the road–and quite simply, they have the audience roaring and practically stop the show. You can’t wait until they return to the stage for another round of jokes; their scenes alone are worth the price of admission.
This is an over-the-top show where the sky is the limit as truth is always stranger than fiction. You can’t make this stuff up! Hard to believe how one man–excuse me–TWO men–could be so flawed. Sorry to state the obvious, Bill, but the fault lies not in our “Starrs” but in ourselves! So by the point in which mini skirted Paula Jones and Monica literally vamp and tramp their way across the stage–the jokes, the lyrics, the dancing is so interesting and clever; you’ll surrender yourself and pay the ransom! There are even literal dancing cardboard cut outs of Al Gore and appropriate members of Congress–nothing subtle about this show–joining the spirited cast. But funny as it all is, you gotta ask yourself after you stop laughing (which will take some time–the show ran 15 minutes over the night I was there as the cast simply had to stop and wait for all the giggling to subside!) “Geez, how did we elect such a character?!” (There is another noun and many adjectives I would rather use, but Jessica would rightfully censor me;-)
Kudos to producer, Ken Davenport, he certainly has an instinct for timely entertainment. This show may not get Hillary any votes, but it certainly hits the right notes!
Gotta tell ya, I have seen many diverse, varied productions at New World Stages between 8th and 9th Avenues on 50th Street over the past several years. It is such a fabulous venue, both inside and out (love their well designed outdoor space, surrounded by appropriate eateries) and I am continuously blown away by the talent, imagination, and creativity on their stages. Those of you in the know, already know! And those of you who don’t, seek out midtown’s New World Stages. A wonderful NYC Spring is here, at long last, and there is nothing better then a meal outdoors followed by an affordable, entertaining show indoors.
p.s. we’re doing a flash giveaway of tickets to Clinton! To win, comment below with your favorite NYC spring activity–bonus entry if you Tweet it out and tag us @UsedYorkCity–winners will be notified via email on Thursday, April 16th! Thanks for participating!
By: Joanne Theodorou // Photo Credit: Russ Rowland