From rockin’ “Sons Of Washington” and the groovy/psychedelic “I’m Not All Bad” to the twangy, horse-riding country-western style of Ronald Reagan, Childsplay’s all-new musical “ROCK THE PRESIDENTS” previews at The Center for the Arts. “ROCK THE PRESIDENTS” brings the history of our top executive office to life in this high-energy, multi-media extravaganza.
In the genre of the musical history lessons of “School House Rock,” the hits just keep coming as Childsplay brings all 223 years of 44 presidents to life in this rocking, musical revue. Songs include “Hail To The Chiefs,” “Who in the World is Millard Filmore?” “More Than Four Years,” “Here Come the Generals,” “The Buck Stops Here,” “Shake America” and “The Sons of Washington.” The legacies, the one-termers, the mistakes and the triumphs. The Generals, the First Ladies, even the presidential pets!
“ROCK THE PRESIDENTS” was created by Dwayne Hartford (book and lyrics), Tempe composer Sarah Roberts (music) and is directed by Anthony Runfola. Original cast includes Yolanda London as Amy, Eric Boudreau as Harry and Colin Ross as Ted. Valley musicians Jonathan “Jiver” Jivie (music director, piano/keyboards) Mark Stolper (drums), Scott Miner (bass) and Jason Brown (guitar) provide the soundtrack for the original songs.
“ROCK THE PRESIDENTS” was a smash hit at its February 2012 premiere in Tempe, Ariz., performing to capacity crowds. Public demand was so great for the show that Childsplay extended the performances for two additional weekends and pledged to audiences it would bring the show back to kick off its next season.
Set amongst a presidential backdrop framed by a bald eagle and stars and stripes, the innovative scenic design from Holly Windingstad features a large screen center stage to showcase the multi-media aspects of the production. Phoenix-based Limitrophe Films created the video aspects to bring a high-voltage, interactive element to the show. Presidential portraits, paintings and historical footage stream throughout the “concert.” During the performance, the cast interacts with the video screen in such engaging segments as a video game battle in “The Sons of Washington,” a game show called “ThePres-i-Tron,” ’60s-psychedelic lava-lamp technique for “I’m Not all Bad” to the neon sign of the “Lonely Presidents Lounge.”
At the conclusion of the show, cast uses the “Future Presi-Cam” camera to span the crowd and find our future aspiring Presidents as they rock out to“Are You A President to Be?”
At the Tempe premiere, kids and families went crazy for the show, from grandmas in the audience performing air guitar and showing off their rock-and-roll fists, to a 6-year-old who spontaneously shouted out to the stage, “I love you Abraham Lincoln!!”The 35-year-old theater company received unprecedented media coverage with critics and audiences alike raving.