Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Signature Theatre to Resurrect Political Musical 'The Fix'

Welcome news arrived in the form of an emailed news release from Arlington's Signature Theatre this week.  To mark the end of its 25th anniversary season, Signature will be reviving The Fix, a musical play about political corruption that was produced there in 1998 in its first American outing.

For someone like me, whose interests in musical theatre and politics rarely overlap, this is a development worth celebrating.

As explained in the press release:

The revival, directed by Signature’s Artistic Director Eric Schaeffer, will round out an anniversary season chock-full of work by some of the Theatre’s brightest collaborators from the past 25 years.

“The Fix paints a picture of American politics that’s part fun-house, part haunted house,” said Schaeffer. “It’s twisted, and it pushes boundaries. It instantly became one of Signature’s favorite projects. And on top of that, it’s one of the shows most requested by our audiences. It’s only fitting that we close the season celebrating our first 25 years by bringing it back in an all-new production.”

With a rock-laced, eclectic score and scandalous lyrics, The Fix skewers the American bureaucratic machine. Reminiscent of Sondheim, with tinges of Kander and Ebb and a voice uniquely its own, it is a darkly brilliant, over-the-top, audaciously fun ride through the shenanigans of political elections.

When a popular presidential candidate dies in his mistress’s bed, his ambitious wife Violet thrusts their lackluster son Cal into the spotlight. With the help of her strategic brother-in-law, Violet transforms Cal into the perfect citizen. Together they create one of the most dysfunctional – and brutally entertaining – almost-first families ever.
(My original review of The Fix from April 1998 can be found here.)

Writing in the Washington Post Style section, Jessica Goldstein reports:
For its 25th anniversary season, Signature is bringing back “The Fix,” a production which, unless the political process somehow gets squeaky clean between press time and when you read this, is as relevant a show today as it ever was. “The Fix” will run in 2015, from May 12 to June 28.

“I say it’s ‘The Manchurian Candidate’ meets ‘Caligula,’ ” said Signature Artistic Director Eric Schaeffer, who directed the 1998 production and will helm 2015’s as well. For the young’uns, that basically means it’s like “Scandal” meets, well, “Scandal.”

The script will be getting some tweaks to allow for changes in “the communication things, sending this picture and that,” Schaeffer said. Even our fictional politicians don’t know that no one wants to catch them with their pants down on Twitter. “John [Dempsey, who wrote the book and lyrics] is looking to make it even more dangerous.”
Signature's current musical production is the classic Gypsy, with a book by Arthur Laurents, music by Jule Styne, and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.  The show, directed by Joe Calarco, has been extended through January 26 and first reviews should appear early next week.

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