When Tony Trout, the mad organizational genius behind the Are We Delicious? shows, booked the Barrymore Theater for this Friday's "Musical Heroes" show, he had in mind a musical-based theme that would center on superheroes. It’s also the first time the Madison troupe will perform in that space.
And then the presidential election happened.
“It would be impossible not to address that in some way,” explains Trout of the show’s unexpected, Trump-induced thematic shift. “There are a lot of emotions within our Madison audience. It’s a chaotic, roiling time. The question becomes, what are you doing [and] what are you saying as an artist?"
According to Trout, about half of the nine original mini-musicals in the show directly reference the outcome of the election, including Brad Knight and Dan Kennedy’s “A Scythe of Relief,” a showdown between the Grim Reaper and Obamacare. Another mini-musical addresses whether Hillary Clinton will decide to concede the election or not, while the epic finale, “Have They Reached You Yet?” finds a pair of journalists debating/singing about whether one of them has sold out or not.
Turns out the show’s subject matter wasn’t the only thing that shifted. Normally, the participants in "Are We Delicious?" productions get a full seven days to come up with and write their material. Because of holiday-related scheduling challenges, the creative process was shortened for the 18 cast members to a single weekend. It doesn’t look like the fast-track impacted the manic creativity though.
Just look at the non-election skits. Whitney Deredinger and Dave Adler’s “Rhythm and Who?” concerns a band audition that goes sideways thanks to the autocorrect function on the would-be band members’ smartphones. Dana Pellebon, meanwhile, hit the history books to come up with “The Problem We All Live With,” a mini-musical based on the experience of Ruby Bridges, the African-American girl who became the first student to desegregate an all-white school in Louisiana in the 1960s. In between skits Shannon Barry, Stephanie Rearick and the Capital Times’ John Nichols will address the audience.
Trout admits It seems a little weighty, but promises the show’s definitely a no-preach zone. “We don’t want to give people the impression that we’re the political theater in town,” says Trout. “This is a creative exercise, but it’s also a showcase of Madison talent”
Are We Delicious? "Musical Heroes" is on Friday, Dec. 2 at the Barrymore Theater. For ticket information, click here.