Political Idol 2020 Stings and Sings Silly and Strong in a Stream of Parody and Party Politics
“Everything’s coming up Neurosis.” I hear that, and can totally relate to that sentiment. In the same performance realm of Forbidden Broadway, writer Robert Yarnall and Marc Emory, alongside director Michael Goldfried and music directer Anessa Marie, have crafted a zoomed-in timely and farcically fun musical parody Political Idol 2020 that makes its way most giddily onto our laptop just a week before Election Day. It’s totally silly and almost ridiculous in its playful wide political swings as it tries to be topical and relevant while also witty and irreverent. Filled to the drunken rim with clever twists and turns, it serves up a somewhat lighter and fluffier version of what Randy Rainbow does so impeccably well – although I must say that Randy‘s lyrics seem to sting and sing with a higher level of creativity and cleverness (I mean, check this Patti LuPone duet out right now if you haven’t seen it already).
Hosted by a bespeckled faux Oprah Winfrey (Davis), with constant interruptions by an orange Halloween-faced Donald Trump (Foster), the goofy characterizations portrayed by a game cast of vocally talented performers, are flung fast and furious. This is all being played out inside a makeshift singing competition where the winner takes the White House and the loser, well hopefully, wastes away in Mar-a-Lago-Ville (or prison, if it was up to me). Singing crafty lyrically-altered medleys of easily recognizable famous songs, the stars of the 2020 campaign season including Melania Trump (Antolik), Joe Biden (Foster), Amy Klobuchar (Antolik), Elizabeth Warren (Antolik), Nancy Pelosi (Antolik), Kimberly Guilfoyle (Antolik), Kamala Harris (Davis), Michelle Obama (Davis), Bill Barr (DiSalle), Mitch McConnell (DiSalle), Mayor Pete (Yarnall), and Bernie Sanders (Yarnall), find zingers and twists on musical phrases at every turn. It’s definitely left-leaning in its allegiance (although never enough for this Canadian), but finds a balance that is both comfortable and not for us big city liberals to hang out in.
Political Idol 2020 is nothing new, but it does find a fun wacky 45-minute playlist of sixteen lyrically altered songs that point their jabs clearly, anchored inside some classic melodies, such as a deliciously designed “I Really Need Your Vote” (“I Hope I Get It” from A Chorus Line), along with “Strangers on the Right” (“Strangers in the Night”), a sassy and smart “Seasons Of Trump” (Jonathan Larson’s “Seasons of Love” from “Rent”), a zingy “It’s Diversion” (Madonna’s “Like a Virgin”), “Fake” (Elton John’s “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues”), and the wickedly wise Kamala Medley, delightfully squeezed out of Culture Club’s “Karma Chameleon” plus many more, with the only response being, Yes, “We Love You, Kamala.” And please don’t “repress yourself.”
The cast sings out strong, giving a much needed vocal kick to the fun mash-ups created for this comical tidbit. Performing with glee and good spirit are Lara Buck Antolik (Film: Lady Hunters), Enga Davis (Broadway: One Mo’ Time), Joe DiSalle, Scott Foster, and Robert Yarnall, The creative team, including Sara Jean Tosetti (Costume Designer), Quentin Madia (Choreography), James Rushin (Audio Engineer), Bruno-Pierre Houle (Virtual Production Designer), LCM247 (Video Production and Editing), Will Chaloner (Production Supervisor), Leah Michalos (Director Marketing), and LDK Productions/ Lisa Dozier King (General Management), has some playful fun with the straight-forward parody, with Marc Emory and Olson Rohdes (Executive Producers), and LCM247’s Patrick Heaphy (Producer), delivering the goods with crisp clear connotations, gifting us some relief from the tension of the week that lies ahead. I still have a hard time listening to that Orange Monster and his crew, even in playful jest, say those things, but all and all, it made me smile, against all the odds of the news cycle that keeps smashing us over the head day in and day out. This could help you survive the week ahead, although a good dose of Halloween “Hocus Pocus” on Disney+ or In Search of the Sanderson Sisters: A Hocus Pocus Hulaween Takeover this Friday night might do the trick (or treat) just as well, or even a bit wiser.
The Marvelous Marilyn Maye Received Twelve Standing Ovations At The New York Pops
Karen Akers, Jim Caruso, Tony Danza, Jamie deRoy, Max von Essen, Melissa Errico, Bob Mackie, Susie Mosher, Sidney Myer, Josh Prince, Lee Roy Reams, Rex Reed, Randy Roberts, Mo Rocca , Mark Sendroff, Lee Roy Reams, Brenda Vaccaro and David Zippel were there to see and honor Cabaret legend and Grammy nominee Marilyn Maye. Maye who turns 95 April 10th, made her at Carnegie Hall solo debut last night with The New York Pops, led by Music Director and Conductor Steven Reineke.
Maye is a highly praised singer, actress, director, arranger, educator, Grammy nominated recording artist and a musical treasure. Her entire life has been committed to the art of song and performance and it showed with the 12 standing ovations she received.
Maye appeared 76 times on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, she was “discovered” by Steve Allen and had a RCA recording contract, seven albums and 34 singles.
The evening started out with the superlative New York Pops Overture of Mame, which Maye had played the title role.
Next a Cole Porter Medley with “Looking at You,” Concentrate On You,” “I Get A Kick Out Of You,” It’s Alright With Me,””Just One of Those Things,” “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” and “All of You”. This was Marilyn’s second standing ovation. The first was when she stood on that stage for the first time and the audience was rapturous.
A terrific “It’s Today” from Mame with high flying kicks was the third ovation and wow can that woman kick.
A rainbow medley included “Look To The Rainbow” from Finnian’s Rainbow, the iconic “Somewhere Over The Rainbow,” the jazzy “Make Me Rainbows” and of course “The Rainbow Connection.” And with that another standing ovation.
“Put On A Happy Face” from Bye Bye Birdie.
Frank Loesser’s Joey, Joey, Joey brought on a fifth standing ovation. This song was a masterclass in acting and vocal nuance. For that matter every song that comes out of Ms. Maye’s mouth is perfection. Part of the brilliance of this night is her musical director, arranger, and pianist Ted Firth. That man is a genius.
Lerner and Loewe’s “On The Street Where You Live” from My Fair Lady ended the first act with a sixth standing ovation.
The overture from Hello Dolly! and then Cabaret shows Marilyn Maye also starred in opened the second act. The New York Pops sounded phenomenal as always.
“Your Gonna Hear From Me” from “Inside Daisy Clover was an appropriate starter for this next round as the audience got to its feet.
Maye’s most requested song “Guess Who I Saw Today” from New Faces of 1952 was followed by a show stopping “Fifty Percent” from Ballroom and of course another standing ovation.
Her next song was chosen by the Smithsonian Institute to be included in its permanent collection of recordings from the 20th century. Her recording of “Too Late Now” is considered by the Smithsonian to be one of the 110 Best American Compositions of the Twentieth Century and Ms. Maye showed us why and again another standing ovation.
A proclamation from The City of New York read by Steven Reineke to Marilyn Maye made this day Marilyn Maye Day. This treasure cried with joy as she sang Stephen Sondheim’s “I’m Still Here.” Though she forgot some of the lyric, Ms. Maye proved performing is all on the intent and connecting to the audience. Two more standing ovations were added here.
For encores, I was thrilled to hear James Taylor’s “Circle of Life” and “Here’s To Life,” which is my personal favorite, finally going back into “It’s Today” with those high kicks and a twelfth standing ovation. Bravo Ms. Maye!
If you are a singer and do not catch Ms. Maye live, you really do not care about your craft. Last night Ms. Maye made it clear why she’s been celebrated as one of America’s greatest jazz singers for more than 50 years and this was a night I will always remember. Thank-you New York Pops.
Don’t miss the Pop’s 40th Birthday Gala: This One’s For You: The Music Of Barry Manilow on Monday, May 1st. The gala will star Sean Bell, Erich Bergen, Betty Buckley, Charo, Deborah Cox, Danny Kornfeld, Norm Lewis, Melissa Manchester, Zal Owen, Eric Peters, Blake Roman, Billy Stritch, Steven Telsey, Max von Essen, Dionne Warwick, and more to be announced. This will be yet another New York Pop’s Night not to miss.
My View: It’s Today! It’s Tonight! Marilyn Maye Rehearses For Her New York Pops Carnegie Hall Debut
Sometimes you have to pinch yourself at the opportunities you are presented with. TODAY would be one of those. Or as Marilyn Maye might sing to you, “It’s Today.”
This afternoon I had the privilege of witnessing the 95 year old star, rehearsing on the stage of Carnegie Hall, under the baton of Maestro Steven Reineke, in front of the mighty New York Pops Orchestra. It all happens tonight and has been a lifetime in the making. As if The New York Times piece, bylined by Melissa Errico, wasn’t enough to whet your appetite for what is sure to be a historic evening, maybe these photos will help get you even more excited. Thank you to all who made this happen for me, to present to you….Humbly Yours, Stephen
THE GREEN ROOM 42 Presents Tony Award-nominee Sharon McNight Celebrating 40 Years of Stories And Songs
THE GREEN ROOM 42 will present Tony Award-nominee Sharon McNight in “Surviving Cabaret,” a storied look back at the last forty years of notable performances, on Thursday, April 13 and Saturday, April 15, both at 7:00 PM. McNight is known for her “no holds barred” approach to performing, which has earned the entertainer multiple honors and two Lifetime Achievement awards. She is famous for making audiences laugh and cry at the same show with her eclectic bag of musical choices, which include blues, country, Broadway, comedy, parody, impressions and accompanying stories. She will be joined by musical director James “Jim Bob” Followell.
Sharon McNight began her career in San Francisco, and made her Broadway debut in 1989 in Starmites, creating the role of Diva. She received a Tony nomination as “Best Leading Actress in a Musical” for her performance, and is the recipient of the Theatre World Award for “Outstanding Broadway Debut” and a Hirschfeld drawing of her character. She has six solo recordings to her credit, and has played from Moose Hall to Carnegie Hall, from Los Angeles to Berlin. In addition to her two Lifetime Achievement awards, she has won the MAC, Bistro, and New York Nightlife Awards, and six San Francisco Cabaret Gold Awards.
Her eclectic repertory ranges from blues to country to good old-fashioned entertainment. She is noted for her movie reenactment of The Wizard of Oz and for being one of the few real women to impersonate Bette Davis. Her television credits include “Seinfeld,” “Silk Stalkings,” and “Hannah Montana.” McNight received her Masters of Arts degree in direction from San Francisco State College and was a master teacher on the faculty of the Cabaret Conference at Yale University. She says the greatest day of her life was the day she quit smoking.
Sharon McNight will perform “Surviving Cabaret”on Thursday, April 13 and Saturday, April 15, both at 7:00 PM, at The Green Room 42 (570 Tenth Avenue at 42nd Street, on the 4th Floor of Yotel). The cover charge ranges from $30-$50. A livestream option is available for both shows at $20 each. For tickets, please visit www.TheGreenRoom42.com.
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