CAMPAIGN: A Theatrical Review
Whatever happened to a country where we had elected officials in positions of authority with strong character, sound morals, and solid ethical standards? What happened to campaigns where we learned who the candidates really were individually? Where are the days where ‘we the people’ would care enough to truly investigate the practices of our leaders to make certain that they were indeed worthy of leading us? Have we forgotten that these individuals have the ability to make laws, pass bills, and allocate funds that will control our destinies? Have we become so complacent, so sophomoric that we will accept the lesser of two evils as our authoritarians? America is quickly going to Hell in a hand basket, and our willingness to support selfish, sarcastic, money mongering, power hording, ethically deficient, morally depleted, spiritually ignorant, consciously depraved representatives is toppling the very vision of what this country was founded for. It has been said that ‘Freedom is not Free’. This is true. Thousands of men and women have given their very lives to support our ability to be stupid! It is past time for us, the people of America, citizens who pay taxes and give a damn about what happens to this country for our children’s sake, to realize that we too must fight. We must fight the arrogance and full-hearty self servitude that is the common every day campaign for any seat of authority in this country. We must learn about whom our candidates really are, not just rely on the image they want us to accept of them, which is paid for in public media circuits. We must go to the voting booths on election days caring about every position available, every measure being brought up, and every change that these elections will bring about. We need to care! If we don’t, we will fall. It has been said that ‘Every great nation falls from within’. Let me add my voice to the thousands of others that agree with this statement, and long to scream it from the roof tops every time I see a candidate buy their way into office because they have enough money to out media blitz their opponent. I long to plaster it in the sky every time I see a candidate with an obvious history of failure and deficiency somehow earn a nomination to regain an office they should never have had in the first place. I want to pound my fist and stomp up and down every time I see a political official prove their arrogant indifference to those they lead by lining their own pockets with funds that had been allocated for the needs of the people they supposedly serve. All this is going on today right here in California, and though my guess is, not directly written for this purpose, Campaign: The Musical, is about exactly this. Hypocrisy in action, false representation in control, indifference at the helm, and lackluster inability as the best we can manage.
The Met Theatre in Hollywood, California is now showing the world premier of Samuel Warren Joseph’s CAMPAIGN: The Musical. A comic filled look at a modern day gubernatorial candidate in an unnamed state who is a pompous, arrogant, philandering, self-absorbed, individual who seems to stand for whatever will help him win, and against whatever might help is opponent win. Thankfully for him, his opponent is characterized as being just as much a reprobate as he is. Add to the mix a combination – whether intended or not – of modern day actual situations Californians find themselves in, and this production is unbelievably appropriate for our time.
While the show focuses on Steve Meyer, Campaign Manager for gubernatorial candidate Glenn Mann, played wonderfully by Travis Dixon, and Press Secretary Brenda Malloy, played very well be Jean Altadel, there are more than enough opportunities to see through the bologna of this modern day run for office. Candidate Glenn Mann, portrayed by Brian Byers will simply say whatever he has to say to whomever he has to say it to gain a position of office. This is not a practice that remains in his political career however, as he has difficulties with staying true to his seemingly only campaign platform, family values. Let’s just say that if the family values of Glenn Mann are the same family values that you hold dear, you deserve what you get! The candidates wife, Elaine Mann, brilliantly portrayed by Barbara Keegan, bring out a few other ‘stand by my man’ memories of Americas governmental debauchery, as well as the all too familiar factoid of the wife actually being the one with the passion for the position, regardless of what price she has to pay to have it.
Backed up by a brilliantly cast set of actors, as a play this production is all too realistic for most audiences to accept as ‘in your face’ reality. Thus, the playwright collaborated with Jon Detherage to make the production a musical. Add all the whimsical, nonsensical, over-the-top tom-foolery that one might be able to handle, and you have an ‘in your face’ reality production that you can laugh at. Let’s hope that those who view the production are intelligent enough to grasp the powerful message behind it.
As a musical, CAMPAIGN has something for everyone. Whether you enjoy Broadway show-tune style music, country, mild rock, calypso, or just plain down right hooky, this production has is all. Add to this some over-the top dance sequences that help you to lighten the power of the message and just have fun, and CAMPAIGN takes the stage by storm. Imagine the television show ‘The Office’ placed on stage, set to music, and focused on a gubernatorial campaign, and you have Joseph’s production. Add lyrics that are easy to listen to but send a megaphone sized message – “Freedom is a myth to torment the soul”, “Lying convincingly is an art form”, “If your gonna win, you need the proper spin” – and the power of Joseph and Detherages’ work is actually quite overwhelming. Sneak in a few lines that help the audience question their own moral compos like, “Why would a woman have an affair with a married man and then expect him to be loyal to her”or “A man can never loose himself as long as he has his dreams”, and the powerful county song that will likely hit the country pop charts tomorrow – “You’re not man enough to be my man” – and the massive intelligence of the message is one that deserves a Pulitzer. The show as a whole may never see that kind of accolade, but I must say hats off to the writers who brought it to life.
CAMPAIGN: The Musical is playing at the Met Theatre at 1089 N. Oxford Ave. in Los Angeles (Hollywood area), California 90029 through Sunday November 7, 2010. Performances are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday’s at 2:00 PM. Tickets are reasonably priced and can be ordered on line at www.Plays411.com/campaign, or by calling the theatre directly at 323-960-7612.
As a theatre, the Met is a pleasant facility with comfortable seating, and intelligent artistry with the space they have available to them. There is no parking however, street parking only, and not in the best of areas at that. Also, please be aware in advance of attendance that this theatre is not overly handicap friendly, as there are two flights of stairs with no elevator that must be climbed to reach the box office window and theatre floor. All in all a production more than worth the time to see, but please do me one favor as you choose to see this program, though Campaign is at its core a comedic love story, please recognize the hard work that into preparing the production, writing it in a witty yet powerful manner, and at least attempt to grasp the message being sent. Enjoy!
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