Review: Great Again: The Musical
Image: Old Sole Theatre
Kelsey - Eleanor Jackson
Josh - Jacob Bradford
John - Andy Umerah
Leonard & others - Alexander McMorran
Mom & others - Rosie Ward
Moma & others- Natasha Zacher
A New Musical About Friendship, Adventure And Voting For Donald Trump.
'We're making history remember?
You and me.
Best friends making history'
It's summer 2016 in Beavercreek, Ohio.
Josh and Kelsey are young conservatives surrounded and silenced by a sea of liberal friends and family.
But politics is changing and a storm of excitement and controversy swirls around a uniquely unlikely candidate: Donald Trump.
When the prospect arises to join the Trump campaign trail, Kelsey and Josh grab the opportunity to make their voices heard and chase the chance for change.
Through rallies, canvassing and catchy chorus numbers, they push for the notion of a nation that belongs to them - a nation for the forgotten America.
Along the road of their fight for something new, Kelsey and Josh become close friends.
However, when doubt, opposition and fanaticism creep in, will their attempt to unite a nation build a wall between them?
This is a journey that will change America as they know it.
From the writer of VAULT Festival and Brits Off-Broadway hits 'Underground' and 'The Litterati' comes an entertaining new musical about friendship, adventure and voting for Donald Trump.
My first show at this year's ever-popular Vault Festival explores the underlying socio-economic and political mood behind the rise of billionaire businessman Donald Trump during the feverishly unpredictable run-up to the 2016 American US presidential election.
Whatever your views about the non-politician who unexpectedly swept in to the political limelight to gain the republican nomination and later the presidency itself, we have to remember that he got into office through votes - and it's the motives of the sizeable chunk of the electorate who voted for him that this musical aims to examine.
That might not be an immediately attractive proposition for some theatregoers - especially those on the left-wing of the political spectrum who may want to simply get rid of Trump at the earliest possible opportunity.
Interestingly, though, a sizeable audience turned out to see this show, perhaps demonstrating that others are also intrigued by the tide of opinion that led to the unexpected outcome of that election.
The story revolves around two young, first time voters, Kelsey and Josh.
Josh is a gay, lonely young man, the kind who never raised his hand in class, retiring, shy and mostly overlooked in the popularity stakes in high school.
He's also overlooked by his hard-working mum who never seems to have time for him.
Kelsey, on the other hand is from a liberal family and there's a strong sense that her right-wing leanings are the result of rebellion against political correctness and, probably, her parents views.
Josh and Kelsey team-up and head-off round the Trump rallies as the campaign progresses, and that brings us into contact with a range of other views and opinions about what is wrong with America and what people are seeking from Trump.
Issues such as freedom, hope, rebelling against 'more of the same' and political correctness, figure in the rather lengthy list.
And we hear (in a rather long, but well-sung song) from a blue-collar worker who says he is only doing what he thinks is best, and is simply hoping for better times and a better life.
Though the musical does a commendable job in covering the wide range of disparate issues which motivated voters to elect Trump, there's actually not very much here which the average person who watches TV news wouldn't know about already.
However, I suppose its major purpose is to collate the issues in one musical vehicle, and it certainly achieves that, even if the book starts to run out of steam somewhat in the second half where it also switches its attention to seemingly extraneous questions such as whether friendship can survive differences in political opinions.
An enthusiastic cast realise a plethora of characters, and there are rousing as well as more nuanced numbers with enjoyable singing, especially from Ellie Jackson as Kelsey, Andy Umerah as John and Alexander McMorran's Leonard.
Joe Cunningham's generally brisk and fluid direction seemed a little adrift in a scene where the right-wingers appeared oddly cowed and unable to articulate their feelings when faced with vociferous vocal opposition from left-wing supporters.
Perhaps the intention was to demonstrate the inexperience of Trump supporters, in comparison with the political nouse of those from the left, but I wasn't convinced, even if the scene was essential to demonstrate the conflict between opposing political camps.
Of course, this is not the first show about Trump, his election success and presidency, nor will it be the last, I suspect.
For some, this subject might be getting stale, but Great Again: The Musical does offer an interesting, fresh perspective as well as lively and enjoyable performances, even though it never really felt dramatically compelling, in spite of some touching moments.
Links and related content
ActDrop listing for Vault Festival
Our show listing for Great Again: The Musical
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