Kari Lynn Hearn, Grey Gum Productions, Shane Ewen
And Ken Davenport, Exec. Producer
Clinton the Musical
Book by Michael Hodge & Paul Hodge
Music & Lyrics by Paul Hodge
Directed and Choreographed by Dan Knechtges
New World Stages
340 West 50th Street
NY, NY 10019
Kerry Butler, Duke LaFoon, Tom Galantich
With: Judy Gold
Kevin Zak, Kara Guy, John Treacy Egan, Dale Hensley
Veronica J. Kuehn, Rob Richardson, Gretchen Wylder
Set Design: Beowulf Boritt
Costume Design: David Woolard
Lighting Design: Paul Miller
Sound Design: Peter Fitzgerald
Hair & Wig Design: Tom Watson
Orchestrations: Neill Douglas Reilly
Conductor/Music Director: James Dobinson
Publicity: JTPR/Joe Trentacosta
Marketing: Red Rising Marketing
Casting: Tara Rubin Casting, Kaitlin Shaw, CSA
Production Company: Tinc Productions
Production Stage Manager: Michael Rico Cohen
Company Manager: Liz Ulmer
General Manager: Ryan Conway/DTE Management
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 5, 2015
I was thrilled to see the newly revised Clinton the Musical, after having been thoroughly entertained in its first incarnation, at the New York Musical Festival (NYMF) in July 2014. My original review is still posted, but not linked here, as cast, creative, and songs are mostly new. New World Stages is the perfect venue for this rambunctious, intermission-less show. I plan to see it again, and soon. The sets are now highly designed and pop with lights and peephole windows, for characters, from the 1992-2000 White House trials and tribulations.
Full disclosure, I have volunteered in the campaigns of both Clintons and find these musical antics endearing and enhancing of their outsized charisma. As far as the Lewinsky matter, if it’s a scandal, then so were the affairs of too many Presidents to name here. In fact, the creators of this show (book, music, lyrics), Australian brothers, Paul Hodge and Michael Hodge, and Director-Choreographer, Dan Knechtges, have mounted framed portraits of past and not-so-past presidents, with smaller portraits of their mistresses, within the sketch. Suffice it to say, Roosevelt had much company on the wall of roaming presidential hearts.
Like the original, NYMF production, two actor/singer/dancers are President Clinton, the serious, studious, speechmaking William Jefferson, AKA WJ, and the wandering, sax-playing, binge-eating, and beer-guzzling Billy. Tom Galantich is WJ, and Duke LaFoon is Billy. One makes policy, and the other makes trouble, although Billy is the guy you’d want to have dinner with, with his loquacious, inviting sense of humor. Kerry Butler is Hillary Rodham Clinton, dressed in perky blue pantsuits, anxiously waiting her turn in the Oval Office. Newt Gingrich is played by John Treacy Egan as a wily mischief-loving, womanizer of his own, chasing a then-Callista Bisek around the same hiding places where Billy and Monica had just cavorted.
Veronica J. Kuehn is Monica Lewinsky, also in blue, that infamous silk dress, and she has an unprintable little song that exemplifies her immaturity, as she’s portrayed as a pumper-up teen. Her nemesis is her friend Linda Tripp (Judy Gold), who walks and talks in a manly, cartoonish manner, while the nemesis of WJ and Billy is Ken Starr (Kevin Zak), who occasionally appears as a seething gay vampire in a thong. His solo is “A Starr is Born”. Kara Guy, Dale Hensley, Rob Richardson, and Gretchen Wylder winningly fill out the ensemble.
In fact, speaking of winning, after seeing this show, you’ll be rooting for the Clintons, as both (or all three, depending on Bill’s current transformation) are seen as not only bursting with ambition, but also bursting with passion, for policy and politics. With this level of Off-Broadway pizzazz, Ms. Clinton and entourage could win over heads of state, as well as recalcitrant Republicans. There’s even a scene with Billy and Newt bingeing, finding common ground through food and fun. Other songs include “Say Nay”, “A Place Called Hope”, and “Brew It for Your Country”. There’s nothing esoteric or wonky here, except a mile-high, stack of papers, meant to be Hilary Rodham Clinton’s health care plan. Judy Gold doubles as Eleanor Roosevelt, as her own portrait comes to illuminated life, for Hilary’s chats. Book, lyrics, and tunes are clear, concise, and campy.
Beowulf Boritt’s set is replete with uncluttered whimsy, and its hidden stairs for Ken Starr’s antics appear like magic. David Woolard’s costumes are on the mark, especially Mrs. Roosevelt’s fox stole and Mr. Starr’s ghoulish undergarments. Paul Miller’s lighting keeps the action scintillating, and Peter Fitzgerald’s sound is warm and tonal. Tom Watson’s wigs and hair are intrinsic to the whimsy. Conductor, Music Director James Dobinson, arranged Paul Hodge’s music for catchy tunes and tempo. This is a show you won’t want to miss. .
Hillary (Kerry Butler) and her two loves:
WJ (Tom Galantich) and Billy (Duke LaFoon)
Courtesy of Russ Rowland
Billy (Duke LaFoon), WJ (Tom Galantich) and Hillary (Kerry Butler)
surrounded by (R to L) Kara Guy, Dale Hensley and Veronica J Kuehn.
Courtesy of Russ Rowland