A review of Rush Limbaugh! The Musical, playing at the Second City e.t.c. theatre in Chicago from February 3 to March 24, 2010.
I went to see the preview on January 31, 2010 and enjoyed it greatly. Having seen about four other Second City revues, and expecting to see another revue, I was a little surprised that this show was different. The revues are a collection of skits, improv, musical numbers, and comedy routines, all tied together loosely with a theme. By contrast, this show is much more like a real musical, with songs and a story that you follow from beginning to end. Of course, the comedic element is there throughout, otherwise, it wouldn‘t be Second City! This show is presented by Second City Theatricals, which wrote and produced the show. That should give away that this is more like a comedy theatre production than a typical comedy show.
There are not many people about whom one can create an entire musical, but the outsized, larger-than-life character, Rush Limbaugh, is certainly one of them. The show follows the life of Rush Limbaugh, from his conservative roots, to his ascent as a right-wing talk show superstar, and beyond. The show starts with Rush Limbaugh getting inspiration from the reverend of a mega-church. The song the reverend sings is both hilarious and ir-reverent.
We are also greeted by young versions of Hillary Clinton and Barney Frank, who start out as a hippie tag-team. The caricature of Hillary did not break any new ground, and if you have seen her lampooned before, you will not see anything too different. However, the acting is strong, and you will be laughing anyway. I won’t give away the best parts. Barney Frank is reduced to a gay double-entendre, which gets old after awhile.
The other characters in the show are Ann Coulter, Karl Rove, and Donald Rumsfeld. If you do not follow U.S. politics, you might not understand or enjoy this show as much. If you are a political news junky, you will love this show. Second City shows, like Saturday Night Live, are generally about current and past, American news events, and this show is no exception. The show pokes fun at both the Right (Republicans) and the Left (Democrats), but certainly not in equal measure. Hey, someone has to balance out Rush the entertainer, right?
The actors do an excellent job singing and acting. Even though this was the preview, there were few rough edges to the performance, almost unnoticeable. Second City performances are usually first-rate. Mark Sutton does an amazing job as Rush Limbaugh, conveying his anger and lunacy until you think you are seeing the real Rush Limbaugh sitting there smoking his cigar and talking into his radio mic. Karla Beard also does a sensational job singing as the narrator of the musical.
So head down to the Second City e.t.c. theatre in Old Town, Chicago to see Rush Limbaugh! The Musical and have a good time!
Buy your tickets by phone and save substantially on service charges versus buying online. The online service charge is a whopping $4.50 per ticket. You can order your tickets by phone for a $3.00 service charge per order, and pick them up at the will-call desk when you arrive to the theatre. If you are going in a group, they can split the bill easily when you call.
You can also sign up for Second Citizens, which is the Second City newsletter to get deals. (Look for the Get Second City News link on the bottom of their website.) You will get news about discounts and promotions, as well as a Second City coupon for a free ticket on your birthday!
If you are driving in to the show and are willing to walk 10-15 minutes, there is free street parking on Sedgwick St South of North Ave. This is four blocks West of Wells Street. Parking is tight, but you can usually find a spot. Be wary of the all the parking signs and yellow painted curbs!