Me the People: The Trump America Musical manages to be entertaining and cringe worthy at its best moments and only slightly schlocky at its worst. Me the People is not simply a jab at America’s current president; this cabaret is an important call to arms.
In an era of watered down jokes and impressions a la “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” and “Saturday Night Live,” it’s a gift to find a show that is as funny as it is unapologetic for its painful impressions and humor.
The biggest joke of all? The person in our country’s highest office–Donald Trump.
A cast of four performs clever takes on pop hits, oldies and show tunes that have been re-worked to represent the political frenzy currently sweeping the United States.
Writer Nancy Holson brilliantly rhymes lyrics in songs such as “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Korea” and “Freedom of the Press” (a superb lament from journalists, crafted to Simon & Garfunkel’s “Sound of Silence”)
Director Jay Falzone has his cast of delightfully funny clowns maneuver through a slew of costume changes depicting the actual clowns dominating the news–and Twitter feeds–these days.
Richard Spitaletta is Off-Off Broadway’s answer to the quick-hitting freestyle of Hamilton; his Russian spy exceptionally spits lyrics faster than Trump sends out tweets.
Rhyming “repercussions” with “Russians?” No problem.
His Jared Kushner is also doggedly funny, especially alongside Mia Weinberger’s Ivanka Trump, who is in front of her audience in solidarity with working mothers.
Weinberger’s impressions of Nancy DeVos, Melania Trump, Kim Jong-un and Hillary Clinton make Kate McKinnon’s SNL jabs look elementary and dry.
In the finale, Weinberger’s Hillary Clinton leads a rousing version of Cee-lo Green’s “F**k You,” inviting the audience to join her in a big middle finger to the atrociously laughable “star” of Me the People.
The star, it should be stated, never actually makes an appearance–a smart choice. He doesn’t need another second in the spotlight and his implied presence is far more intriguing.
Spitaletta and Weinberger are not only incredibly versatile performers, and not just in a “we can do costume changes faster than the Dysquiths” fashion.
They’re also remarkable in their ability to break the fourth wall and interact with their audiences.
Ivanka auctions off her dog, as well as the dress on her back.
Paul Ryan schools the audience on quick fixes for hemorrhoids and the bubonic plague. After all, health care benefits are about to be slashed.
Mitchel Kawash portrays Mike Pence to the tune of Nat King Cole’s “Orange Colored Sky,” splaying jazz hands while crooning “Flash! Bam! A la kazaam! I can fix you if you’re gay.”
Aiesha Alia Dukes, whose talent is a bit wasted with the less significant “characters,” rounds out the cast. Nonetheless, she is entertaining as she invites guests to enjoy the “Hotel Mar-a-Lago,” performed wittily to the Eagles’ “Hotel California.”
Falzone’s choreography is also incredibly fun. Its intricacies would be more appreciated if given a wider berth on a bigger stage.
James Higgins’ musical direction and arrangements are astute, as is Higgins himself. He not only plays the piano in direct view of his audience, but adds to the amusement with his interjections as a singer.
He points out, for example, that the “Trump International Lounge and Piano Bar” is adjacent to the White House, while being completely independent..wink wink.
Stephen Smith’s costumes are quickly identifiable per their wearer’s personas. Kathy Pecevich’s wigs steal many numbers. Take one look at Paul Ryan’s follicular folly and be prepared to choke on your drink.
Though The Triad Theater is intimate, Me the People could benefit from a larger space.
Exits and entrances look uncomfortable at times. Because the actors must accomplish a multitude of quick changes, they’re extremely rushed. Occasionally, it seems like they just finished a romp in the sack before hitting the stage.
Holson and Falzone are no strangers to political theater.
They teamed with producer Jim Russek on 2006’s Bush Wars. They spare no one in Me the People, and it’s perfectly acceptable in its truth (not the fake type).
The intelligent writing is comparable to the religion-and-race jabbing lyrics of The Book of Mormon.
Me the People is a comforting war cry for those fed up with the political antics in Washington.
Me The People: The Trump America Musical is playing at The Triad Theater, 158 W. 72nd Street between Amsterdam and Columbus Aves.
Doors open at 9 PM. Tickets are $39 to $49 (plus a 2 drink minimum).
Tickets and complete performance schedule (which varies weekly) are available at MeThePeopleMusical.com, or by calling 212-279-4200.