There is an ill wind blowing across this country these days, emanating from the White House. The passing gas is getting us down, but in humor we trust, and in humor we must! Me the People: the Trump America Musical! is a rousing tonic to despair. Producer Jim Russek, writer Nancy Holson and director Jay Falzone have put together a clever, satirical revue set to tunes from the Supremes to the Eagles to CeeLo Green. The talented quartet of Aisha Alia Dukes, Mitchel Kawash, Richard Spitaletta and Mia Weinberger sing with exuberance and commitment, doing hilarious impressions of everyone from Sigmund Freud to Jared Kushner to Hillary Clinton. This show is guaranteed to make you laugh. Guaranteed.
We meet the cast at the dawn — and concurrent demise — of America’s democracy, as our colonial founders gleefully ‘restructure’ the Constitution. Subsequent impressions of various sycophants in Trump land, including Paul Ryan, Mike Pence and Nancy DeVos lead us through the high (not high) points of the Trump Administration so far. Even Kim Jong-un makes an appearance. The cast performs in the spirit of good fun, maintaining a balance between the darkness of the humor and the catharsis of absurdity. Each actor plays numerous characters. Mitchel Kawash gives us Mike Pence, the singing dancing fool. Aisha Alia Dukes introduces us to the breezy charms of the hotel Mar-a-Lago. Mia Weinberger, a singing dynamo who is also a comedian in her own right, does an hysterical impression of Melania Trump. She demonstrates just how much one can milk an eye-roll. She and Richard Spitaletta are standouts. Spitaletta could step into the role of Evan Hanson in an instant (casting people take note). His voice has an easy quality and authenticity, even as he leaps from character to character. In the guise of a mysterious Russian diplomat he performs a patter song that is out of this world.
Director Jay Falzone fits a lot of movement into the compact Triad theater with its handkerchief sized stage, from simple, evocative gestures, to a bit of audience participation, to tap dancing. With the doff of a wig or an offstage quick change the actors keep the show running at a lively place. Sly participant as well as accompanist, Music Director James Higgins sits tucked barely offstage left in what would be the wings if the theater had wings. The intimacy of the theater is part of the charm, but it would be nice to see how the show would fare in a slightly bigger venue, giving the actors and the audience more breathing room.
This is definitely a satire from the heart and it gets to the heart of the matter. We have work to do. Holson speaks her truth, as she has done in her other political satire, demonstrating the power of humor as refuge and inspiration. Kindred spirits gather, have a drink, laugh and are reinvigorated for the fight. Let’s do it!
Me The People: The Trump America Musical!, a new musical revue, produced by Jim Russek; book and lyrics by Nancy Holson; directed and choreographed by Jay Falzone; arrangement and music direction by James Higgins; with Aiesha Alia Dukes, Mitchel Kawash, Richard Spitaletta, and Mia Weinberger; costume design by Stephen Smith, lighting and sound by Shannon Epstein, prop design by Max Kilsheimer and wig design by Kathy Pecevich. At at the Triad Theater (158 W. 72nd Street b/t Amsterdam and Columbus Avenues – please note: the theater entrance is the same as that of the Turkish Restaurant). Opens June 22nd for an open-ended run: Thursdays through Sundays at 7:00 p.m. and 9:30 p.m; Sunday matinees at 3:00 p.m. CLICK HERE for complete performance schedule. Run time is 85 minutes, with no intermission. www.methepeoplemusical.com, Facebook, Twitter: @TrumpUSAMusical.