Take a driven director, a seasoned satirist, a room full of talented comedic writers, and an unprecedented spectacle of a Presidential election, mix them all up in a well-known comedic enterprise, let simmer for about 3 months and you will get the comedic creation of ‘Candidate Confessions, a 2016 Cabaret’.
This completely unexpected production is everything satisfying about live theater in Hollywood. With so many wonderful surprises, one has to truly experience the show to be able to adequately comprehend its comedic potency.
With only one more show in this run, it is suggested that readers finish this article while securing tickets. It’s that good.
This writer recently caught up with both the producer and Associate Artistic Director of Second City Hollywood (Marc Warcezha) and the director (Rani O’Brien) to find out how this playful political piece was created.
Mirage: What’s up with your last name?
Mirage: How did you both come up with the concept for the show?
Marc: As political satirist, the previous subjects of my live political
satiric shows have been single candidates (Hillary Clinton, Rahm
Emanuel, Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick) but this primary season –
with no incumbent and so many candidates running – seemed rife with a
variety of comedic possibilities and I hoped we could have a blast
riding the merry-go-round on these political animals.
Rani: Since fall of 2015, it has been clear that this election was looking like a circus. Marc, knew the short lived primary cycle was wrought with comedy gold. Marc and I put together a team of writers who had a variety of backgrounds ranging from political science professor to late night show writer to NASA climate scientist to to comedy song writers. We generated lots of comedic concepts for each candidate, and then narrowed down what point of view (story) we wanted to tell about each candidate. Then the writers went away and wrote lyrics. Dan Wessels, the composer, took the lyrics and wrote over twenty numbers for the show. I staged, choreographed and directed each number. As previews came and went we rewrote lines, entire numbers, and song stylings to curtail to the live feedback we were getting. We have even updated lyrics to keep up to date with the news cycle throughout the run of the show. The entire process has been very collaborative from start to finish. The actors helped shaped the songs just as much as the writers did.
Mirage: It’s a great ride! What are some of your favorite moments of the show?
Rani: Over all I’m very happy with the show as a whole. I think it starts out with a soft intro into the “song as a joke” concept that we rely on heavily. Then it builds into an all cast high energy number with Ben Carson’s “Get Crazy.” Throughout the show each candidate is featured in a way that delights me. And the performances that each actor gives is a major component of what makes the show so fun and enjoyable to watch.
Marc: Oh there are so many it’s hard to choose! The Ben Carson piece is so
smart and funny, the writers and cast did a brilliant job with that
one. I love the Bobbywood piece starring Bobby Jindal and hope the
audience finds it to be a great meeting of candidate, point-of-view,
and musical style. The Carly Fiorina piece is a hilarious 11 o’clock
number – who couldn’t love a piece where Carly is backed up by dancing
HP boxes? The Obama number is surprisingly sweet and touching. And
there’s a great unexpected candidate at the end that is a riot, but I
don’t want to give it away!
Mirage: Were there any issues or characters that seemed difficult to satirize?
Rani: Hillary was one of the hardest candidates to write on because she has been made fun of for years. We wanted to create songs that were evergreen enough to last for a four month run, and yet, had a fresh perspective on the candidates. SNL has the blessing of being able to create new material each week. We had to create pieces that would last week after week.
Another candidate who proved difficult to write on was Bobby Jindal. He needed a larger set up than most of the other candidates because his personality is not well known by most of our audiences. Additionally, our goal was to satirize the idea that Bobby seemingly denied his Indian heritage to become Governor of a confederate state. Only with the help of Rama Vallury, the actor playing Bobby, did we come up with our final piece that both delights audiences and satirizes Bobby.
Mirage: There seems to be some severe talent associated with this project.
Marc: Yes, I’m really proud of what a great job the full team did. Our goalwas to get all twenty-three candidates in the show, and we come darn close. Its a blast, but also a tall order. The cast, director, music director, and writing team did a tremendous job bringing it all together. This campaign season has been a circus, and I hope it’s cathartic for the audience to come and laugh about it with us!
Mirage: Any new projects coming up?
Rani: We’re gearing up to film a song from the show titled “Obama’s Farewell!”
Also, personally, I’m directing a musical satire titled “Scifiology The Musical.” Premiering at The Second Hollywood May 3rd and 10th at 9pm.
Mirage: Rani, what’s up with Marc’s last name?
‘Candidate Confessions, a 2016 Cabaret’ gets our vote!
Tell ’em Mirage sent ya!
You may get your tickets here before they sell out!
Or Call: (323) 464-8542
‘Candidate Confessions, a 2016 Cabaret’ plays for ONE MORE NIGHT ONLY
April 21, 2016 8pm at the Second City Hollywood
6560 Hollywood Blvd Hollywood Ca 90028