Bush Is Bad
NoHo Arts Center
It was ol’ dumb Dubya himself who told our wincing nation and a horrified world: “If we don’t succeed, we run the risk of failure,” but with gratitude to the recently über-prolific NoHo Arts Center and their smash hit Bush Is Bad, we can all thank our lucky stars this show is so good we won’t have to try to figure out—at least for 90 minutes or so—what goes on within the vacant lobes of our fearless leader that might make even the smallest sense of his many frequent verbal faux pas.
Wildly inventive creator/composer/lyricist Joshua Rosenberg, who has been described as the new Tom Lehrer “except he can’t sing,” even created a wonderful semi-rap song made up entirely of all those rampant presidential misspeaks in Bush Is Bad, including “Put food on your family,” “Family is where our wings take dream,” and featuring the catchy repeated refrain “Make the pie higher.” With the precision (and hilarious) Roger Ainslie playing GWB, some of the lyrics here are so delicious they even make the previous President Bush seem a literate speaker in comparison.
Including Ainslie, who has Bush’s bone-chilling snicker and Down Syndrome-inspired expression down to perfection (“Time for some serious thought,” he intones at one point, of course then followed by a long blank look resembling a chimpanzee on Quaaludes), directors Jay Willick and James J. Mellon have assembled a spectacular cast, even including a talented but shamelessly self-professed Republican actor named Sabrina Miller, who is obviously going straight to Blue State Hell for participating in this.
As far as lampooning presidential family members, Stefanie Black makes a scary Laura (singing the Weill-esque “Sure, You Betcha, George”) and Gerry Mullins is even scarier as Barbara (warbling “You Can Never Get Enough Bush”). Jonathan Zenz is a major standout throughout, especially with his Schumann-inspired solo “Das Bush Ist Schlect,” and gifted musical director Michael Lavine (who doubles as Karl Rove in a duet with Mullins as Chaney at one point while Bush-Ainslie takes over at the keyboards) should be praised for his crisply paced contribution here.
Bush Is Bad seems to be updated on a regular basis as world events continue to unfold (and horrify) with perfect Jon Stewart-style quick wit (speaking of Daily), as the night I attended, Melanie Ewbank as God added to her celestially-oriented “Get Real” number the topical reference regarding the Ding-Dong-Dawitchez death of that mortal enemy of Tinky Winkys everywhere: “Jerry Fallwell / Now isn’t that rich? / He’s up here now / And he’s my bitch.” One can only assume Rosenberg is in email or cellphone contact with Willick and Mellon, ready at a moment’s notice to create properly scathing new comic material.
Bush Is Bad is a great way for 99 people at one time to be able to laugh off the depression caused by this man and his misguided administration throughout the rest of our day, at least the 74% of us with any brains left in our craniums. The show was a hit in New York and now thankfully it’s already been extended once at NoHo Arts. Hopefully, it’ll play here forever—or at least long enough to add a huge production number at the end heralding the end of George W. Bush’s reign of global terror, along with his ridiculously sad and equally laughable regime.
Bush Is Bad plays through June 24 at the NoHo Arts Center, 11136 Magnolia Bl., North Hollywood; for tickets, call 818.508.7101.