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The New York Musical Theatre Festival & Paul Hodge Present: "Clinton", The Musical, at The Pershing Square Signature Center
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The New York Musical Theatre Festival & Paul Hodge Present: "Clinton", The Musical, at The Pershing Square Signature Center

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The New York Musical Theatre Festival & Paul Hodge


Book by Michael Hodge & Paul Hodge
Music & Lyrics by Paul Hodge

Directed by Adam Arian
Choreographer: Emily McNamara

The Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre
At The Pershing Square Signature Center

480 West 42nd Street
New York, NY 10036
(NYMF) 212.352.3101

Duke LaFoon, Karl Kenzler, Alet Taylor
Tom Souhrada, Kevin Zak, Natalie Gallo, Kara Guy, John Gregorio

Orchestra: James Dobinson, Musical Director/Keys 1
Ari Rossen, Asst. Musical Director/Keys 2
Yuichi Hirakawa, Drums
Jason Curry, Reeds

Set Design: David Gallo
Costume Design: David Woolard
Lighting Design: Greg Mitchell
Sound Design: Shannon Slaton
Orchestrations: Joe Twist
Publicity: JT PR/Joe Trentacosta
Casting: Kaitlin Shaw, CSA, Tara Rubin Casting
General Management:
Ryan Conway for Davenport Theatrical Enterprises
Advertising/Marketing: DTE Agency

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
July 25, 2014

Full disclosure, I love political humor, but only when really done well. This NYMF and Paul Hodge production had too short a run. I would have seen it again, just for the humor. With two actors in the role of Bill Clinton, Karl Kenzler as WJ, the public President Clinton, and Duke LaFoon as Billy, the private Bill Clinton, and one very feisty, Alet Taylor as First Lady and soon-to be- Senator Hillary Clinton, you just want them to hurry and retake the White House. What fascination would follow such a coup de grace! The two hour musical is set from the 1993 inauguration to the 2001 farewell of this ambitious and entertaining duo (trio). Joining the mayhem are Tom Souhrada as the scheming, growling Newt Gingrich, Kevin Zak as Kenneth Starr in black lace and leather, Kara Guy as the fur-bedecked vision of Eleanor Roosevelt, Natalie Gallo as Monica Lewinsky in the blue silk dress, and John Gregorio as Dick Morris, in a lurid magician’s cape and giant, brimmed cap. Some in the ensemble doubled up as characters, to add Paula Jones, a conservative newsman, and backup singers-dancers.

The tunes, written by Paul Hodge, are often raunchy and robust, while always hilarious. The program doesn’t list tune titles, but one, sung by the ensemble, was about “the definition of sexual relations”, referring to Clinton’s denial of dalliances, and one, sung by Monica, was about her realization that she was the hot item in one of those dalliances. Songs had themes of power, revenge, lust, deception, and, did I say power? Each character was the cartoonish equivalent of the politician’s (or aspiring politician’s), or intern’s, or consultant’s, or newsman’s inner psyche. That’s why Duke LaFoon, singing and cavorting with Karl Kenzler, as the inner and public Bill Clinton, were so a propos. Each exaggerated the restraint v. the impulse, the repression v. the lust, the professionalism v. the amateurishness, the intellect v. the boorishness. The lyrics, over the top, were also on the mark. Vocals were surprisingly good, for what was billed as political comedy, with Alet Taylor belting it out, in a wowing solo, as Hillary decides to run for Senator. She overcomes her own impulse to retaliate for Bill’s hopeless harem. Ms. Taylor, as Hillary, came across as icy cold, distant, calculating, and self-serving, but there were also moments of vulnerability and pain. Ms. Taylor, as well as Mr. LaFoon and Mr. Kenzler, were all well cast.

Also perfectly cast were Tom Souhrada as Gingrich, with a white dingy wig, in spitting wildness, praying for impeachment, John Gregorio as the mystic, Dick Morris, in a sniveling, snake-like impersonation, and Kevin Zak, as the gay, predatory, kinky ghoul, Kenneth Starr, who says he was cast as gay, because he’s “going to (screw) Clinton”, not in those words. Natalie Gallo could not have looked more like Lewinsky, with preening mannerisms that brought the house down. Her silky blue dress became another hot item in the on-stage Congressional trial. Kara Guy had the upper class accent and posture of Roosevelt, as well as the working class hair and presence of Paula Jones. Al Gore was represented by a standing, cardboard likeness, that WJ carried like a wooden log, and Bob Dole was represented by a short beanbag with a face. Even Callista Bisek made an appearance with secret lover, Newt. Timing was quintessentially perfect for the vaudevillian momentum, thanks to Director, Adam Arian. Emily McNamara’s choreography was uncluttered and synchronized, as was David Gallo’s set. An oval office desk with a peephole underneath, evocative of President Kennedy’s desk, was useful for Monica. Newt and Callista made use of the prop as well. David Woolard’s costumes were delightful and fine-tuned, like the two dead animals, more like weasels than minks, sewn together for Roosevelt’s stole. Lighting and sound were nuanced, although the first act piano accompaniment drowned out some songs. This show deserves a long run in a small, midtown theater, with an intimate audience and room for the band.

Karl Kenzler (WJ Clinton),
Duke Lafoon (Billy Clinton)
Alet Taylor (Hillary Rodham Clinton)
Courtesy of Russ Rowland

The Cast of Clinton the Musical
Courtesy of Russ Rowland

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at