Rating: 3/5 stars
***FREE TICKET GIVEAWAY: look for instructions at the end of the review on how to win 2 tickets to Clinton***
Yes, it is about those Clintons. If the artwork is any indication, this show was a parody about Bill, Hillary, Monica, and those interesting eight years in the White House. I'm a bit young to fully remember those times but it definitely became a "do you remember where you were when you found out he did actually have sexual relations with that woman?" I remember my mother, the loyal Democrat, convinced that it was just the Republicans trying to start some drama, but when we found out the truth the little 8-year old me asked "so he did do it?" and my mom didn't have much to say. Part of me gets wanting to do a complete farcical musical about these crazy events but part of me sees this as an embarrassment to our political history...do we really want to sing about that?
I attended Clinton this past Monday night. This show actually came out of the New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF) last year which is quite a feat. There are many great musicals that go through NYMF (including the wonderful Madame Infamy that I worked on) but it's incredibly hard to then go to off or on Broadway. You have to make the right friends along the way and have the right people believe in you.
So ok. I didn't love it. But that may be more because it's not my type of show. To me it felt like an SNL skit that went on way too long. The premise is Bill has just been elected president and Hillary's ecstatic. But it's not just the two of them, Bill has two separate versions of himself (and two separate actors): William, the respectable and responsible version, and Bill, the playboy sleazy version. I think you can guess which version ends up with Monica. Hillary can see and talk to both versions, but the public can only see one version at a time. The plot includes the Whitewater scandal, Kenneth Starr, Newt Gingrich, and of course Monica Lewinsky.
Although I understand it for story purposes, I didn't like the two versions of Bill. In a way it gave us permission to laugh off what he did with Monica and how he lied about it. I did appreciate in the end when Bill said to William "you know we're the same person, right?" I didn't like how they portrayed Monica. She was sexy, flirty, stupid and acted like a baby deer. She had no redeeming qualities and didn't have an ending except being thrown to the side. In my mind she has been humiliated for far too long. It would have been nice to see a different spin on her. The real Lewinsky has said, "to be called stupid, and a slut, and a bimbo, and ditzy, and to be taken out of context, it was excruciating" and "I became a social representation, a social canvas on which anybody could project their confusion about women, sex, infidelity, politics, and body issues." If you haven't read or watched an interview with Monica, I recommend it.
Ok, so here's what I did like. That cast went "balls to the wall." I mean, every actor completely committed to every line and movement. Their faces looked like cartoons and they did not care how completely ridiculous they looked. It was a joy just to watch them having so much fun on stage. There were a few times the actors broke character because they were cracking each other up. I LOVE when that happens. Kerry Butler, as Hillary, was great. Her voice is insane and she reminded me a lot of Amy Poehler. Kevin Zak, as Kenneth Starr, was a comedic God. Everything he did was hilarious and there were times I was dying laughing even after his funny line had passed. His evil laugh should be recorded. Judy Gold, as Linda Tripp/painting of Eleanor Roosevelt, was hilarious and should be on SNL right now.
I did like what the story was trying to say about the media and about Dems vs. Reps. The media was on stage every few minutes with "BREAKING NEWS!!!" and dancing across the stage to say stuff like "Whitewater! We still don't know what it is!" It pointed out how the media feeds off of no real news and scandals that may or may not be true. So many of the decisions the fictional Clintons made were based on what the media would say...which I'm guessing is not far from reality. I liked how they portrayed Starr and Gingrich as evil masterminds trying to get Republicans back in control and didn't care if what they were saying about Clinton was true or not. Again, probably not far from reality and why I generally hate politics. And a shoutout to Paul Hodge who wrote the book/music/lyrics. The songs were really poppy and catchy and worked well for the show. I'm still singing one of the songs in my head right now!
TICKET GIVEAWAY: if you would like 2 free tickets to Clinton the Musical (that must be redeemed by May 31st), follow these instructions: post either on my Facebook post or on twitter (@HopeBish) which celebrity would make the worst president with #clintonthemusical. Do this by 11:59pm this Sunday 5/24 and I'll randomly select the winner on Monday 5/25!
Who should see this show:
- If you remember the Clinton years well
- If you're a big fan of parodies and people being over the top
- If you're interested in exploring off-Bway shows (that are cheaper than Bway!)
How to get tickets:
- $39 tickets: http://www.broadwaybox.com/shows/clinton/
- $31 on tdf.org