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Review: ‘Me the People,’ a Spangled Satire of a President Beyond Parody


Mia Weinberger and Richard Spitaletta in “Me the People,” which even has a “Hamilton”-like intro.

Stephen Schwartz

Has Donald Trump been good for democracy? Maybe not. But his campaign and his few months in office have been a real gift to comedy — especially once writers stopped crying long enough to crank out the jokes. Now, with “Me the People: The Trump America Musical” at the Triad, cabaret has gotten in on the lampoon action. Every cloud has a spangled lining.

Those spangles could glitter more brightly in this evening of song parody, though they really don’t need to. The writer Nancy Holson (“The News in Revue”) and the director Jay Falzone have rejiggered a set of oldies-but-goodies (and more than a few oldies-but-okayies) into political quick takes in the style of “Forbidden Broadway.” Call it “Forbidden Beltway.” On a recent evening, a two-drinks-minimum crowd gave a giggly listen to “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Korea” and “Welcome to the Hotel Mar-a-Lago,” even if their lyrics don’t offer much nuance or the rhymes any surprise.

After a “Hamilton”-ish intro in which four actors dressed like founding fathers make paper dolls out of the Constitution, the cast cycles through collusion with Russia, threats to First Amendment rights, and “repeal and replace.” In a recurring gag, an actor styled as a parrot sings a version of “Rockin’ Robin” while scrolling through his phone. He didn’t even have to change the chorus: “Tweet, tweet, tweet.”

Those tweets are part of the problem, though. How can a satire possibly be more farcical or bizarre or outrageous than the president’s own words and actions? Spoiler alert: It can’t. Here, a lot of the jokes are bad (a putative Russian spy is named “Boris Buzzoff,” a Trump court appointee comes on wearing a Hitler mustache) and the marks are easy. Much of the budget — and a hefty slice of the creative energy — seems to have gone into the dozens of wigs and hairpieces. In fairness, the Paul Ryan topper is a work of horror and genius.

Besides, there are a lot worse ways to spend a Saturday night than laughing and grieving together. The performers — Aiesha Dukes, Mitchel Kawash, Richard Spitaletta and Mia Weinberger — are fine singers and fizzy delights, with Mr. Spitaletta and Ms. Weinberger emerging as particularly skillful impersonators. Let’s also give a shout-out to the music director and accompanist James Higgins.

When the evening concluded, with Ms. Weinberger’s Hillary Clinton crooning a riff on the radio-unfriendly version of CeeLo Green’s “Forget You,” the audience got to its feet, lustily singing along to the salty lyrics as they lofted sugary martinis. It wasn’t impeachment, but it wasn’t so bad.

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