Theatre Reviews

Rod Balgojevich Superstar

at Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Music & Lyrics by T.J. Shanoff

Directed by Matt Hovde

Produced by The Second City Theatricals

At Chicago Shakespeare Upstairs Theatre

In the category of pure silliness, Second City’s Rod Blagojevich Superstar is about as silly as it gets. Set to the tunes of familiar music from Jesus Christ Superstar as well as other shows, Rod Blagojevich is a fast-paced, just-the-facts romp through the disgraced ex-governor’s meteoric rise and fall. The show features a veteran Second City cast that includes: Joey Bland (Rod Blagojevich), Mike Bradecich (Richard Mell & Pat Fitzgerald), Lauren Dowden (Lisa Madigan), Lori McClain (Patti Blagojevich), and Sam Richardson (Roland Burris). Rod Blagojevich Superstar lasts about one hour and the cast returns after intermission to do an improv called “Rod Island” that is dedicated to updating the Blagojevich saga as the ex-guv contributes new material.
The production is performed on a bare stage that resembles – what else? – a comedy club. None of the cast will be auditioning for the opera anytime soon, but they do journeymen’s work through the adapted popular songs. Blago’s “Scrappy Kind of Guy” is a big hit, along with wife Patti’s “I Don’t Know How to (Fucking) Love Him.” And as a chorus, the cast gives good J.C. through “What’s the Buzz, Tell Me What’s a Happening” and the rousing “Hair” borrowed from that other musical. The choreography is deliberately awkward on the tiny stage, giving free reign to the considerable physical comedic talents of the ensemble.
If you are looking for enlightenment or revelation about the governor’s pathetic story, forget it. Nothing about this show is serious. It is non-stop raucous cheap shots that stick strictly to the most publicized facts. Undeniably low-brow as it is, you will have to laugh. When you think about it, the real-life players in this story are a downright amazing collection of egos and vanity. Writer Ed Furman and the cast of Rod Blagojevich do a fantastic job exploiting this fact to comedic effect, so if your goal is laughter and a few drinks – you can take your beverages into the upstairs theater for this show – Rod Blagojevich Superstar is right for you. The show has been extended through June 14th.

Randy Hardwick

At Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Navy Pier, Chicago, IL, or 312.595.5600, tickets $25, Thur & Fri at 7:30 p.m., Sat at 3:00, 7:00 & 9:30, Sun at 3:00 pm, running time is approximately 90 minutes with one intermission.

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