| go to entry page | | go to other departments |



Paulanne Simmons

“Monica! The Musical”
Directed by Casey Hushion
Presented by P73 Productions, Inc.
At The New York Musical Theatre Festival
The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre
307 West 26th St. (between 8th and 9th Avenues)
$15 (212) 352-3101 or www.nymf.org
Schedule varies
Reviewed by Paulanne Simmons Sept. 21, 2005

The best thing about “Monica! The Musical” is that it spares no one and does it in a most delicious and entertaining style. The worst thing is that it sometimes descends into nastiness for its own sake.

With a book and lyrics by Daniel J. Blau and Tracie Potochnik, music by Adam Blau and a cast of notables who aren’t often seen together in small theaters like Upright Citizens Brigade, Monica the Musical! might be Broadway-bound material if enough people have the guts to back it. If not, it will remain one of the highlights of the NY Musical Theatre Festival.

Monica! The Musical traces the rise and stumbling (certainly there was no fall) of Bill Clinton (Duke Lafoon) from his Arkansas roots, to his romance with Hillary (Megan Lawrence), his studies in London, his friendship with Vernon Jordan (Rashad Naylor), his two presidential election victories and finally, the scandal.

Casey Hushion directs this gem with energy and chutzpah. She achieves the best results in those scenes that most cleverly call to mind the actual events and characters the play spoofs. Duke Lafoon does such a marvelous Bill Clinton one suspects he studied old footage for hours. Christine DiGiallonardo is the girlishly lovesick Lewinsky to a T. Charlie Pollock as the Mephistophelean Ken Starr (who morphs into Linda Tripp) and Josh Walden as the pretty and petulant George Stephanopoulous are also outstanding.

Clinton’s imagined friendship with the singer Tom Jones (Ray McLeod) and Hillary’s lesbian affair with Janet Reno (Kristie Dale Sanders) are less successful because they have little to do with the actual scandal and seem mostly adolescent whimsy.

But even when Monica! The Musical is least effective, the extraordinary score and spirited dance numbers pull it through. The Blaus and Potochnik have written songs that are clever and catchy. They have titles like “We Spin,” “Hillary’s Lament,” and “Access Denied” (a gospel number led by Frenchie Davis as Betty Currie). And they’re composed in the idioms of jazz, disco, rock, country, gospel and parodies of all the above.

If Monica! The Musical satirizes the Clintons and their entourage, it also satirizes itself. There are numerous times when the characters make it perfectly clear this is a comedy and they are having fun (as when Tom Jones complains that he doesn’t have enough scenes).

Nor is the current president left unscathed. According to Monica The Musical! Clinton has been replace by a “spineless, spoon-fed moron,” a line that got one of the biggest laughs of the evening.

Like the Clinton Administration, Monica the Musical! has its highs and lows. But like Bill Clinton it should be enormously popular.

| home | discounts | welcome | search |
| museums | NYTW mail | recordings | coupons | publications | classified |