Off-Broadway, starting this spring.
Producers announced this week that “Clinton The Musical” — a hit at last summer’s New York Musical Theatre Festival written by Australian brothers Paul and Michael Hodge — will come to New World Stages with previews beginning March 26 for an April 9 opening. Tickets are on sale through Sept. 6.
The musical satirizes Chappaqua’s most-famous couple, putting them back in the White House during the Monica Lewinski sex scandal. Two actors play the 42nd POTUS — one the presidential “W.J. Clinton,” the other a randy, fun-loving “Billy” — making for a different kind of double Bill.
“We’ve got the Saturday night Bill and the Sunday morning president,” said producer Kari Lynn Hearn. “We’ve got two Bills, but there are really two sides to every story, whether it’s Newt or Kenneth Starr or Hillary or Monica.”
Ah, yes, Monica.
“The girls who auditioned for Monica all must have woken up that morning and said ‘I have the perfect blue dress’ and they must have gotten to the holding room and gone, ‘You must be kidding,’” Hearn said. “They were all in blue dresses. We had one come in with a stain on her dress. They were pulling out berets. They got creative.”
The Off-Broadway cast has not been set, but a reading last fall included Tony-nominee Kerry Butler (“Xanadu”) as Hillary Rodham Clinton. Alan Campbell played “W.J. Clinton” and Duke LaFoon was “Billy.” LaFoon played George Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life” at Westchester Broadway Theatre a few years ago.
“Hillary is the only one who can see both sides, and the conflict between them,” Hearn said. The script has been changed, with songs removed and added. “Even though it’s a parody and satire, we’ve added heart since the NYMF show. And it’s palpable.”
Does that make Hillary an object of pity?
“I wouldn’t say there’s pity,” Hearn said. “I don’t think Hillary is a character, in general, that warrants the pity. She doesn’t allow it. But it allows us to see the human side. She was criticized for taking him back. As a woman, I think we all have to say, ‘You know what? There are two sides to every story. What we see in the press is not necessarily what’s going on at home.’”
No matter your political leaning, Hearn said, Bill Clinton is a brilliant politician and here he wrestles with that other side of himself, the side that gets him in trouble.
Hearn said she has no concerns the musical, which will be directed by Tony nominee Dan Knechtges and is not suitable to those younger than 13, will be seen as a political document as the nation enters its next campaign season, one that might include a Clinton back on the ballot.
“While it’s called ‘Clinton the Musical,’ it’s an equal opportunity show for both sides to come and be able to laugh at the political process,” she said. “It just happened to take place during the Clinton Era.”