A Song for Monica

The Clinton administration’s grave comedy of manners has been rehashed so many times now, and tossed off so many strange offspring, that any remaining, would-be Clintonian chroniclers are left staring at (ahem! Ed Klein) the bottom of the literary barrel.

There’s no way left to swing it, so a troupe of eager musical theater folk have determined…to sing it. Monica! The Musical first appeared last spring. Now, a refined (errr, make that “updated”) version, which premiered last night, has already sold out four of six shows at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. As your devoted Politicker slave, I went to see for myself.

The cast tromps all over the beaten path, from the tasteless to the clever, with an emphasis on the former. There’s lots of physical comedy: Hillary is an amusingly spastic dancer, frugging her heart out, while Bill has a languid, frat-boy lope that makes him look more Animal House than White House. During a press conference, a frenzied George Stephanopoulos tries to mow down Ken Starr with a presidential podium on wheels.

Set against the slapstick backdrop, Monica dreams of someday being “Monica Rodham Clinton.” “Now don’t cry,” Bill tells her, off in a corner at the inaugural ball.”You’re breaking my heart. And you’re being very loud.”

What else? Hillary dreams of taking over and…Well, there’s that cameo by Tom Jones. He sings away sexual scruples (“Forget it! Forget it! Forgetitforgetit!”) while introducing Bill, the young Rhodes scholar, to British prostitutes with lousy teeth.

Leaving the theater, this is what I was thinking: A) There’s a reason I’m not a theater critic; and B) In light of the present administration, it doesn’t take a musical to create nostalgia for the mildness of Clinton’s missteps.