BWW Reviews: OBAMA SPY DRAMA Offers Comical Proof That Someone is Always Watching You
Political satire has long been a part of the American experience. In fact, one of the foundations of democracy is our freedom of speech, which allows us to comment on our politicians in any way we wish. And for the creators of comedy, the antics of our government produce a constant stream of material, for which we much be grateful!
With the Winter Olympics upon us, and recent attempts to reign in NSA spying, the time is ripe for a musical comedy with a Russian accent. And that's what OBAMA SPY DRAMA, the new show from City in a Swamp Productions, provides in abundance. Along with musical parodies, the satire playing at Acme Comedy Theatre from February 15 through March 30 is filled with spy agency intrigue, romantic complications and a display of international muscle.
A magazine ad for a pheromone formula promising ultimate success with the opposite sex set the wheels in motion for Karen and Nick Zill, principals of Washington D.C. based City in a Swamp Productions who specialize in political satire and musical comedy, along with Jeremiah Reid, to write OBAMA SPY DRAMA, political comedy with songs about what a powerful weapon such a substance could be in today's political climate and the problems it might create in the wrong hands inside the CIA.Caitlin Hart directs a cast that includes (in alphabetical order): Dan Amerman, Natascha Corrigan, Matthew Harris, Max Lawrence, Guillermo Lozano, Kim Mulligan, Arielle Siler, and Christopher Robert Smith.
The play begins with President Obama (Matthew Harris) trying to figure out how NSA leader Edward Snowden (Dan Amerman) can be brought back to the U.S. from Russia. To help the President accomplish this, the CIA deploys a powerful new weapon, a pheromone spray guaranteed to make the victim "follow you anywhere." In the hands of luscious temptress Dania Suarez (Beth Triffon), an old "friend" from the Secret Service's Colombian adventures, the elixir will do its trick. But when it overpowers the wrong person, things get complicated.To get Snowden back, President Obama will have to go to Russia and face Vladimir Putin (Christopher Robert Smith) in a competition of Olympic proportions. But wait-isn't that President Obama romancing Michelle (Arielle Wildemon Siler) back in the White House? How can that be, if he's in Russia? And has Putin fallen in love with Edward Snowden? Complicated, indeed.
Pre-recorded music is provided by the Rock 'n' Ridicule band: Gene Black (guitar, mandolin), Skip Edwards (keyboard), Jerry Sommers (drums), and Chuck Wright (bass). There are several, hysterical take-offs on well-known songs including "Do You Want To Know Some Secrets, "Dania" to the tune of West Side Story's "Maria," "Back to USSR," and "Nobody Does It Better." You will groan, laugh, and just want to sing along to be part of the fun.
With each of the political characters so well-known, actors had to be found who could resemble and sound like the real people. Director Hart has put together a remarkable cast, starting with Matthew Harris who truly resembles President Obama and mimics his speech patterns to a tea. Arielle Wildemon Siler nails Michelle Obama's attitude and physical attributes, with thanks in part to costume designer Traci La Due's red dress along with hair/wig and make up designed by Judi Lewin. Siles truly transforms herself into our First Lady.
If Vladimir Putin had the same body as Christopher Robert Smith, no doubt anyone would be willing to follow him anywhere - no pheromones needed. Smith is incredibly athletic, at one point jumping up on Putin's desk with such ease that many ladies in the audience gasped. But it is his acting skill at bringing the "devil may care" attitude of Putin to the stage that shines through in his every scene.
As Putin's two KGB Agents, Natascha Corrigan and "Black Russian" Max Lawrence steal every scene with their over the-top antics and attitude. Lawrence also impersonates Obama impeccably, fooling Michelle who falls into his arms after their very sexy "Make Love To You" dance in the Oval Office.
Dan Amerman and Beth Triffon are a riot as Snowden and the Colombian tart Dania whose pheromone drenched body has been sent to lure him back home. Dressed as an oversexed Chiquita banana in a very Latin-flavored bright yellow dress, Triffon is a delight to behold as she uses her feminine wiles to get her man, even when an accidental spray causes misplaced attractions. This is especially true during the comical "Pheromone Tango" in Obama's Oval Office.
Guillermo Lozano is CIA Operative Carlos Peligro, the first to bring the pheromones and Dania to Obama's attention. Lozano then watches on the action throughout the play in various spy get-ups, all of which garnered lots of chuckles from the audience.
Sound design and multi-media projections by Eric Wentz enhance the small stage set design by Gabriela Zarate. Set changes are frequent but speedy, with actors continuing their scenes downstage as the set is changed upstage, making the show flow seamlessly.
Remember the President has been watching you. Now it's your turn to watch him. Sit back and get ready to laugh during the world premiere engagement of OBAMA SPY DRAMA, Written by Nicholas Zill with additional dialogue by Derek Jeremiah Reid and Karen Zill. Directed by Caitlin Hart. Produced by Nicholas and Karen Zill for City in a Swamp Productions.
WHERE: Acme Comedy Hollywood, 135 N. La Brea Ave., Hollywood, CA 90036.
WHEN: Opens Saturday, February 15, 2014 at 8:00 p.m., runs through March 30. Regular show times: Fri. & Sat. at 8:00, Sun. at 3:00.
ADMISSION: Advance tickets online, $20 and $23. $23 ticket includes 20% discount at Amalfi Ristorante (next door). Tickets at the door: $30 (no Amalfi discount).
RESERVATIONS: (626) 864-3173.
ONLINE TICKETING: www.acmecomedy.com
City in a Swamp Productions information: www.cityinaswamp.com.