Bill Clinton’s ‘flaws’ the subject of off-Broadway musical
Bill and Hillary Clinton are going back to the White House this spring - onstage, that is
Bill and Hillary Clinton are going back to the White House this spring - onstage, that is.
“Clinton the Musical,” the brainchild of two Australian brothers, makes its off-Broadway debut in April with a hysterical premise and a gentle look back at the ‘90s.
The play celebrates the first baby-boomer president - the one who preferred briefs to boxers, played a sax on national TV, presided over an economic boom and got himself impeached.
“The thing that endeared Bill Clinton and continues to endear him to the American public is that he was a very identifiable human being,” said Paul Hodge, who wrote the music and lyrics and co-wrote the story. “He was clearly human and he had flaws like everyone.”
The cast of characters includes Dick Morris, Newt Gingrich, Monica Lewinsky and former Clinton special prosecutor Kenneth Starr, who sings “A Starr Is Born” and “Sexual Relations.” There’s a dancing press corps and music that takes you back to Celine Dion, Hanson and the Spice Girls.
“It really does its job of taking down America and uplifting it at the same time, in a weird sort of way,” said Dan Knechtges, the Tony Award-nominated director and choreographer. “Nothing is sacred.”
Two men will play the 42nd president - one a wholesome, intelligent Clinton, and another a randy, rogue one (Tom Galantich and Duke Lafoon share the task.) Only Hillary can see both.
That bifurcated idea was first proposed by Michael Hodge, Paul’s older brother, a lawyer in Australia, who co-wrote the story and now consults daily with his brother via Skype on last-minute changes.
“It seemed like a good device to sum up a very complicated man but also something that had a lot of opportunity for humor, and also something that allowed us to tell a story that everyone knows in way that they don’t know,” said Paul Hodge, a Ph.D. candidate in musical composition at the University of Queensland.
Kerry Butler, the Tony Award-nominated star of “Xanadu,” will play Hillary Rodham Clinton just as the former secretary of state debates whether to run her own presidential campaign in 2016.
The Hodge brothers kept an eye on Hillary Clinton’s career as they wrote the show, reworking her part and throwing in topical humor, like jokes about her email.
“That’s part of the fun of doing something that’s set in the past where people know what’s going to happen in the future but the characters in the past don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Paul Hodge, 27. “That’s an opportunity for comedy.”
The show was first presented in a shortened form at The Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2012, before playing the New York Musical Theater Festival last year. It opens off-Broadway at New World Stages on April 9.