New Musical Spoofs 2016 Race to the White House

New Musical Spoofs 2016 Race to the White House

Politics is one of those subjects that you’re not supposed to bring up in polite company, so theater is the perfect outlet to dig into the ins and outs of a political campaign. Though Heather Smiley for President spoofs the 2016 race to the White House, it realistically shows how much of a marathon running for president really is. Once committed to run, there are promises to make (though not necessarily keep…), candidates to overtake, hands to shake and regional food to pretend to enjoy. In the show, Heather visits the equivalent of American peasants and they offer her a hotdog. That scene stuck out because watching an uncomfortable rich person try to identify with a mass of lower/middle class folks is as funny as it is sad.

A majority of the characters are direct nods to real people. Heather Smiley (Rebecca Holt) is Hillary Clinton and Heather’s husband, Bob (Joris Stuyck), like Bill, was a former two-term president of these United States. Bob was at his best when he was at his worst; his handsy-ness and whiteboard artwork made me chuckle. There were also a handful of republican candidates whose proclamations and antics were as ridiculous as the real people they were mocking. However, the main republican candidate, George Worthington (Todd Lewis) was an amalgam of stereotypical republican traits. A former priest and present senator, Worthington repeatedly claimed that he spoke to Jesus and that He was the one who told him to run for president. His sexist views on some of Heather’s tactics and inability to recognize the separation of Church and State got my blood boiling.

Though my personal political affiliations side with Heather Smiley, even I had to shake my head at her several times because of her lack of ability to truly understand what life is like outside of her niche demographic. Every candidate, regardless of political party, was out of touch with reality. Sure, they make pretty speeches about jobs and a more fair tax system that better benefits hardworking Americans, but it’s all hot air. But maybe *that’s* the real point of Heather Smiley for President; that there is a massive disconnect between politicians and the majority of people who vote in both social status and platforms of importance. There is much made in the show about politicians saying what the people want to hear as opposed to speaking from one’s heart, but in an ideal situation these two things should not be mutually exclusive.

Heather Smiley for President was very similar to a real political campaign because when scenes were good, they were inspiring and made me feel like going out and voting. But then at times there were scenes that made me wish the election was over already. In the end, though, does the best candidate win? I guess that depends on which party you side with.
   
his new musical runs through October 25 at the Theater for the New City in the East Village. Performances are Thursday-Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.

Photo (c) Glenna Freedman PR

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