Theater Review: ‘Political Idol 2020’

The Island Now

Review by Elyse Trevers

It’s E-day. Election day. And like many others, I am filled with anxiety as to the outcome. Stores are boarding their windows anticipating violence while armies of lawyers are preparing to contest votes that have yet to be cast. The stress is overwhelming. I need humor; I need theater.

So I turned to “Political Idol 2020,” a musical political parody hosted by ‘Oprah Winfrey’ who was constantly interrupted by Donald Trump.

All the familiar political figures appeared and sang. From Kamala Harris, Nancy Pelosi and Michelle Obama to Melania Trump, Bill Barr, a repressed Mike Pence and an angry Bernie Sanders. The gang was all there on Zoom.

Broadway fans will instantly recognize several of the melodies that have been rewritten to express political themes. The show began with the Democratic debates and the lyrically rewritten song from “Chorus Line” now entitled “I Really Need Your Vote.” (“point, wave, talk, talk, raise cash.”)

The lyrics were extremely clever. Often the songs were short, only one stanza, but there were 16 tunes. One of the cleverest was the “Kamala Medley” which uses the melody of “Karma Chameleon.”

Other songs included “Strangers on the Right” (“Strangers in the Night”), “Seasons of Trump” (Based on Jonathan Larson’s “Seasons of Love” and “It’s a Diversion” (Madonna’s “Like a Virgin”) and others.

The talented performers included Lara Buck Antolik , Enga Davis, Joe DiSalle, Scott Foster, and Robert Yarnall. The cast played multiple roles, sometimes merely donning wigs.

The resemblance to the real political figures was often slight, but it didn’t matter. The strength and humor of “Political Idol 2020” was in the lyrics.

Think American Idol meets SNL. Even in the darkest times, theater has always been able to find humor. Although the parody worked for me, many Republicans would not appreciate “Political Idol 2020” because it appeared to take sides.

The Republican songs sung by Barr, McConnell and Trump made the politicians seem foolish. The mocking of Biden was very gentle whereas the barbs poked at Trump were much sharper.

The show only runs from Oct. 27 to Nov. 3. The show is almost over and by the end of this week, hopefully, the chaos known as Election 2020 will be too, but with a happy peaceful conclusion.

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