TheatreZone Stages Gershwin's Political Satire OF THEE I SING AT YOU
Love gets in the political way of a campaign for presidency; will it be true love or the oval office?
Find out the answer when non-profit Equity group TheatreZone and Florida Gulf Coast University Bower School of Music and The Arts debut George Gershwin's legendary political satire Of Thee I Sing in the intimate 190-seat U.Tobe Recital Hall on the campus of FGCU in Fort Myers in October.
The concert staging is the third teaming of professional TheatreZone actors (members of the Actors Equity Association) with FGCU's Bower School of Music and The Arts theatre and music students and professors. TheatreZone founder and artistic director Mark Danni will direct the award-wining production as well as conduct the live on-stage orchestra. TheatreZone resident choreographer Karen Molnar will choreograph and FGCU faculty member Robin Frank will music direct and play the piano.
With book by George S. Kaufman and Morrie Ryskind, music by George Gershwin and Lyrics by Ira Gershwin, Of Thee I Singwon the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1932, making it the first musical ever to do so.
"Of Thee I Sing is inspired by the American political system," says Danni. "The musical is a merciless lampooning of great American institutions - the Presidency, the Vice Presidency, the two party system, the U.S. Supreme Court and US Foreign Policy," he adds.
"Though motivated by the politics of the Depression-era when it was written, many find resonance in modern politics, with some of the jokes that take precise aim, from decades back, at current issues," he says. "It's hard to imagine a more timely theatrical essay in satire. In many ways, its spoof of Presidential politics and media manipulation more than 80 years ago seems as pertinent today as ever."
This all-American musical comedy focuses on the election campaign and Presidency of John P. Wintergreen, whose party, lacking available platform, runs on love, promising that if elected he will marry the partner chosen for him at an Atlantic City beauty pageant. When he falls for Mary Turner (a campaign secretary who bakes a tasty corn muffin) instead of Diana Deveraux (the fairest flower of the South and winner of the pageant), trouble begins!
With politicians skewered right and left, Of Thee I Sing is an hilarious and timeless send-up of national institutions that is as relevant as ever. (It even features its own impeachment proceedings).
But, what sets Of Thee I Sing apart from contemporary political satire is the absence of anger.
"Living in an era when political humor is as mean spirited as most election campaigns, people tend to forget that there was a time when satire was a finely tuned art form," believes Danni. "In spoofing presidential politics the authors of Of Thee I Sing saw no reason to zero in on any particular person or party. They wrote equal opportunity jokes in a way that everyone could enjoy."
"The show doesn't point fingers; its vision of the political world is comic-absurdist," continues Danni. One of the show's cleverest strokes is the creation of the invisible Vice President - a character so unassuming that even his handlers don't recognize him!
"What better year to bring Of Thee I Sing to our community? Politics, great music, this was one of Gershwin's masterpieces, and reminds us why the Gershwins remain as relevant today as they ever did," believes Danni. "The music is wonderful and wonderfully sophisticated."
Of Thee I Sing will be performed in U. Tobe Recital Hall on the FGCU campus at 10501 FGCU Boulevard South for five performances October 6 through October 9, 2016. A traditional TALKABCK (post-performance discussion with cast and artistic team) will take place immediately following the Friday, October 7 show at 10 pm.
Individual seat tickets cost $45 orchestra, $55 premium orchestra, and $65 box seats. Additionally, a limited number of $10 FGCU student tickets will be available at will call only. Call TheatreZone at 1-888-ZONE-FLA, 1-888-966-3352 or purchase online at www.theatrezone-florida.com.