By: Sep. 01, 2004
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Ah, for the days of brilliant (or at least intelligent) musical political satire. For the days of Of Thee I Sing, Let 'Em Eat Cake, or Mr. President. Someday, Broadway will play host to shows like these again. Until then, we'll have to content ourselves with smaller, less-ambitious fare like The Passion of George W. Bush.

Of course, Bush's rise to the highest political office is filled with mockable opportunities, even musical opportunities, and Alden Terry, Adam B. Mathias, and John Herin have some fun with their material. In this version, W is an innocent naif who only wants to do good and go to Heaven. Evil Dick Cheney, wanting to gain power but not put himself out before the public too much, takes advantage of W's religious nature and convinces the dupe that their running for office is God's will. It's an amusing angle, but it cuts down on the effectiveness of the satire. It's hard to laugh at someone so childlike and earnest in his innocence. Dumb is funny, childish is less so.

The cast, for the most part, is fine, with Charles Browning stealing every scene he's in as either Jeb Bush or Colin Powell (here depicted as a glorified office boy). Colin Stokes is nicely naive as W, and plays the innocent well, if not remarkably. Michael Gladis, who works magic in Dog Sees God, fails to ignite the same sparks here as a demonic Dick Cheney. Thursday Farrar seems a little lost on her choreography, but sings very well and delivers her lines with flawless timing as Condoleezza "Candy" Rice.

The music (courtesy of Terry) and lyrics (by Herin and Mathias) are serviceable, but rarely become more than just adequate. Herin and Mathias also co-wrote the book, which does have some true belly-laughs, but mostly just chuckles. Ultimately, the show feels like a very long Saturday Night Live sketch– amusing, even clever, but mostly harmless.