Monday, May 16, 2016

Fringe Review: 'Simpleton: The Legend of President Trump'

Posted By on Mon, May 16, 2016 at 4:45 PM

click to enlarge simpleton.jpg

Embracing a new musical genre, the “Trumparody,” Simpleton: The Legend of President Trump will undoubtedly be YUGE at this year’s Fringe.
Simpleton: The Legend of President Trump
Acting Passionate Presents – Lakeland, FL
7 DATES THROUGH MAY 29, 2016
Venue: Gold
Length: 50 Min
Price: $11 (Disc: FA | FV)
Rating: 13 & Up – Strong Language
Buy Tickets
Using tunes and some plot elements from Hamilton (the Broadway phenomenon about the life of Alexander Hamilton), Simpleton is a hilarious, poignant and just plain scary look at a near-future America led by the Donald.

The dictator-in-waiting is surrounded (and mindlessly worshipped) by former adversaries Ben Carson, Marco Rubio and Mike Huckabee, and also his “wives” (Melania and Ivana Trump, and Marla Maples). In fact, Trump is in total control of every part of American life except, of course, his hair and Rosie O’Donnell, who has somehow become the last best hope of mankind.

Based on an original idea by Orlando theater veteran Thom Mesrobian, who also produces and co-directs with Mark Hartfield, the musical embraces not just the themes of Hamilton but the energy of its rap and hip-hop, too. And though the musical accompaniment is pre-recorded, the cast’s enthusiasm and vocal talents make up for that. But if you haven’t seen the Broadway musical or aren’t a fan of those aforementioned musical genres, that matters little, as the production’s creativity is infectious.

While the most impressive aspects are the lyrics by Samuel Hammersley, Seth Brown and Mesrobian, and the performances by Fredy Ruiz (Trump), Eduardo A. Rivera (Carson) and Cherry Hamlin (O’Donnell), almost every aspect of the show is top-notch. And though, at just 50 minutes, it feels far too brief and underdeveloped, it at least never overstays its welcome, which is more than can be said for Trump himself.

“Think less, talk more,” Trump preaches, while claiming, “I’m just like my country: I’m rich, racist and grumpy.”

And if you think Mesrobian stops at criticism of Trump, think again, as the musical even parodies his son, Barron. “My daughter is someone I’d date, but you are my vessel of hate,” Trump tells his 10-year-old child, who is given a golden gun with which to assassinate O’Donnell.

“Too much for a Fringe show?” the cast asks the audience, in a nice metatheatrical moment. “We’re in a museum – that’s instant credibility!” they answer, referring to the Orlando Museum of Art’s Gold Venue, which will certainly be packed for every performance.

My fellow Orlando Weekly reviewer Seth Kubersky just labeled Thomas Jefferson a possible favorite for best Fringe drama. Let me add my way-too-early prediction of Simpleton as best, or at least most topical, musical.

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