Clinton The Musical OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Russ Rowland
  • Clinton The Musical
  • NY TIMES

  • TM

  • NATIONAL REVIEW

  • STAGE BUDDY

Opening Night:
July 18, 2014
Closing:
July 25, 2014

Theater: Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre / 480 West 42nd Street, New York, NY 10036

Synopsis: 

It’s hard enough being president by yourself. Bill Clinton’s problem is that there are two of him. Literally. Clinton follows two Bill Clintons and Hillary on their quest to save their presidency, change America and prove that “politics is show business for ugly people.” Nominated for Best New Musical at the 2012 Edinburgh Festival Fringe and transferred to London’s King’s Head Theatre in 2013.

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF Clinton The Musical

    White House Scandals, With Ridicule for All ‘Clinton: The Musical’ Makes Everybody Look Bad

    Daniel M. Gold

    July 21, 2014: The folks behind Clinton: The Musical are said to have invited the former first couple to attend a performance of what is coyly called a spoof of their eight years in the White House. Note to the box office: They’re not likely to show up at the will call window. Nor, for that matter, are Newt Gingrich or Dick Morris, Monica Lewinsky or Kenneth Starr. Especially Kenneth Starr. Written by Paul and Michael Hodge, brothers from Australia, Clinton was first presented at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe two years ago and then had a run in London. Now part of the New York Musical Theater Festival, the show reduces the Clinton years to a stew of sex farce and hypocrisy, in keeping with the timeworn theme that politics is just show business for ugly people. Clinton: The Musical is an equal-opportunity defamer: The president is both policy-driven technocrat and sax-playing hound dog, so conflicted that he’s portrayed by two actors; the first lady is a pants-suited force of her own, a senator in waiting. (Al Gore is a cardboard cutout, literally.) Even before they fight to save their legacy after the president’s affair with an amorous Monica, they must battle a power-mad Newt, a kinky Ken and a complicit, salacious press.

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  • THEATERMANIA REVIEW OF Clinton The Musical

    TheaterMania's third roundup of reviews for the 2014 New York Musical Theatre Festival

    Zachary Stewart

    July 21, 2014: Audiences may be dismayed, after waiting outside the Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre in what resembles a TSA screening line, to see even more ropes and poles on the stage. Fear not: This is just David Gallo's brilliantly minimalist set to the hilarious Clinton, which has viewers in hysterics for a two-hour condensation of the eight-year Clinton presidency. Is that rope protecting the VIPs at the center of this story, or merely holding them back? Australian brothers Michael and Paul Hodge examine that and much more in this madcap political farce. Clinton tracks WJ (Karl Kenzler) and his alter ego Billy (Duke LaFoon) from his 1993 inauguration right across the bridge to the year 2000. That's right: There are two Bills for Hillary (Alet Taylor) to wrangle, each embodying a concentrated aspect of Clinton's personality. WJ sings a dignified speech to the tune of "Hail to the Chief." Billy croons, "It depends what the meaning of 'is' is" while swinging jazz horns underscore. The former is the serious-minded policy wonk, while the latter just wants to have fun and play the sax. Their conversations together imagine the answer to the oft-asked question, What was he thinking?

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  • NATIONAL REVIEW REVIEW OF Clinton The Musical

    Clinton, the Musical Of course it’s ribald, and it’s entertaining, too

    Ian Tuttle

    July 21, 2014: History, Marx famously remarked, repeats itself first as tragedy, then as farce. But for the eight years beginning January 20, 1993, history, in the form of the Clinton White House, seemed to skip the repetition and go straight for farce. The cast, the clashes, and the crack-ups of those years are brought together in the ribald new musical, Clinton, which is appearing in New York City as part of the New York Musical Theatre Festival. It is every bit as outrageous as you might think, but, then, an Eisenhower musical would not be nearly as much fun. Clinton opens on January 20, 1993, with the president-elect taking the oath of office. “I, William Jefferson Clinton,” he begins — then, at his shoulder, “And I, Hillary Rodham Clinton . . . ” That gag sets the tone for the rest of the show, which is constantly inquiring, Who was in charge of this circus? To dramatize the question, there are actually two Bill Clintons: William Jefferson (Karl Kenzler), whose suit and slicked-back gray hair declare “Mr. President,” the scrupulous servant of the people; and Billy (Duke LaFoon), WJ’s caddish alter ego, an incorrigible skirt chaser with a touch for political showbiz. Whenever WJ’s starchy podium performances begin to bore, Billy Clinton is there, saxophone in hand, to give the crowds the old razzle-dazzle. Back and forth the show oscillates between their two approaches, parodying the schizophrenic feeling of many observers in the ’90s: that there was a Sunday-morning Bill and a very different Saturday-night Bill.

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  • STAGE BUDDY REVIEW OF Clinton The Musical

    NYMF Review: CLINTON

    Jose Solis

    July 22, 2014: The eight years of Bill Clinton’s presidency are turned into a musical extravaganza in the completely crass, delightful Clinton, a musical with a book by Michael Hodge & Paul Hodge (who also wrote the music & lyrics). Perhaps what this tired story needed was an international perspective, as we see the Australian siblings turn this well-known plot into a darkly comical fable that teaches us that for all the good we do in the world, we will always be chastised for lying about sex. The show begins as Clinton is first elected President. We see him, ahem, them, take the stand to administer the inauguration oath under a sea of flashes and cheers. Who is them you might ask? The Hodges have gone and divided their Bill Clinton into two characters who share every scene together, one of them WJ (Karl Kenzler) is tidy and talks about health reform, the other, Billy (Duke LaFoon) refuses to wear a jacket and sings “forget about that tax, here’s some more sax”, as he charms the pants off the audience. These two characters cleverly represent the dilemma at the center of this man (or at least who we think he is), as we see him try to reach a compromise between his carnal desires and his need to be a good politician.

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