Review by Adriana Orellana

Where Politics and Love Make Strange Bedfellows

‘Campaign – the Musical’ Is Funny, Sharp

By: Adriana Orellana

“Campaign – The Musical,” written by playwright and Glendale Community College English Professor Samuel Warren Joseph, combines politics and love in a fun and enthusiastic musical play that will have the audience entertained, laughing, and singing along to an incredibly realistic political satire.

“Campaign,” written 15 years ago, is very relevant to today’s politics and political sex scandals. In it we can see what a behind-the-scenes look into a political campaign would be, including the lying, cheating, dirty campaign work, and the scandals. It is both a timeless and timely musical play, because politicians do not always do what they say they will.

“The project was a labor of love born out of my lifelong interest and passion for politics and my songwriting collaboration with my close friend, Jon Detherage,” said Joseph. “I wanted to create an entertaining story that was hopeful yet cynical, because that is how I feel about politics and I am hopeful and believe that political activism can really produce greater social change
and justice.”

In “Campaign,” directed by T.J. Castronovo, the audience gets a look into the political campaign of Glenn Mann’s (Brian Byers) run for governor. Mann represents the easygoing politician, who is charismatic, somewhat smart, but who only reads what is put in front of him by his political strategists, and doesn’t seem to have his own thoughts.

The musical has a very authentic and true plot involving the conflict for power that may occur during political campaigning. In “Campaign” the audience sees an escalating conflict in wanting to decide what is best for Mann between his stressed out political strategist Steve Mayer (Travis Dixon) and Mann’s new press secretary Brenda Malloy (Jean Altadel). This is mainly due to their differing views and in a way wanting to be the leader for what Mann says and does.

Throughout the musical, one of Mann’s main strategies for winning the election is to focus on family values, which as the audience, and his wife Elaine (Barbara Keegan), know, he lacks because he is having an affair, with none other than his press secretary, Brenda. As television commercials are shown portraying the candidate as a family values man and as Glenn’s campaign group start to sing “Family Values,” the audience bursts into laughter.

Elaine Mann is behind her husband all the way, but gives up her honor and self-respect because she knows about what is going on with her husband and Brenda. Elaine is smarter than she seems though, because she is the one who will probably be making the decisions if her husband wins the governorship. One of Elaine’s best lines that may capture how she feels is, “Freedom is a myth to torment your soul.”

“Campaign” is an extremely enjoyable musical with memorable and likeable songs, written by Joseph and Jon Detherage, and outstanding performances by the cast. Jean Altadel and Travis Dixon give outstanding performances and are very much in sync when performing. Although they may not be the best of friends at the beginning of the musical play, they find each other’s best sides by the end.

Altadel and Travis are extremely good at bringing about a tremendous amount of tension into the scenes that they have together, and that is one of the factors that makes the musical even more believable. It is captivating to hear them sing together because their voices blend so well and they transmit their emotions to the audience.

The well written and thought out plot draws the audience into wanting to know more throughout the musical and keeps the audience animated with songs like “You’re A Liar” and Brenda’s song to Glenn, “You’re Not Man Enough to Be My Man.”

The musical is extremely entertaining what with the conflicts between Steve and Brenda and the actions of Glenn, who may seem like a character the audience would hate, but is actually very likable because of his charisma. He may not be the smartest politician out there, but his wife Elaine, who is always supporting her husband, and enduring his actions, does it all for the good of the campaign.

Joseph captures the true essence of politics in his musical play, making it easy for the audience to believe, because it is what many politicians do. Which is to say that they are people who will represent and fight for certain issues, but don’t practice what they preach. Joseph who has been interested in politics from a very young age, was involved with the Young Democrats, and wrote this play in part because he did not like what politics have come to represent.

“People hope the next elected candidate changes things for the better, but there is a mixed feeling of hope and cynicism due to how politicians relate to each other, and not doing what they promised after being elected,” said Joseph, which may just capture what many of us have been thinking about politics, especially with the upcoming Nov. 2 elections.