Produced by HuffPost's Eyes & Ears Citizen Journalism Unit
The year is 2014. With the help of Donald Rumsfeld, Ann Coulter and Karl Rove, Rush Limbaugh has risen to the top of his political influence despite attempts to block him by a politically castrated Hillary Clinton and sexually obsessed Barney Frank.
How did it happen? The Second City production, "Rush Limbaugh! The Musical," examines the personal and political forces in play that led to the popularity of the outspoken right-wing radio personality Limbaugh, who is played by a less than rotund Mark Sutton.
The musical plots the genesis of Limbaugh's rise to power in 1968, when teenage DJ Rush clings to the '50s music of Pat Boone instead of the "Commie-faggy Beatles." His favorite restaurant is Country Buffet. The smarmy Reverend Rightwing of the Church of the Immaculate Exemption mentors him into becoming a conservative talk-show host.
At the same time, hippies Hillary Clinton (played by Colleen Murray...who oddly enough also plays Coulter) and Barney Frank (played by Kevin Sciretta) are living on a commune and pledging to a life of politics where they can further their leftist populism. Frank is obsessed with his gayness and Hilary is destined for a political career. Her failure to overcome her husband's popularity and beat Obama in the primaries, however, leads to a musical number where she opines that Secretary of State is still a secretarial position.
As the popularity of Limbaugh grows over the airwaves, Rumsfeld (played by Cayne Collier), Coulter and Rove (played by Bumper Carroll) join the Reverend (also played by Collier) in steering Rush's agenda. At one point, in an Oxycontin-induced haze, Rush sees multiple Reagan-headed figures dancing about the room. Soon, Limbaugh begins to believe his own legend and escalates his conservative rhetoric to marshal the forces of an angry populace against anyone who is Mexican, gay or black.
While the Second City production does not provide new insight into the complexity of the Limbaugh phenomena, it does humorously highlight the inanity of his statements by using his own words.
Both Republican and Democrats are lambasted by song with medleys adapted from Broadway musicals, including Spring Awakening, Wicked and Rent. The successful evil machinations of the right wing are met with the self-recriminating lamentations of the ever-ineffectual Democrats, who admit their party is full of losers. Even the reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine is lost by Fox News versus "A Bunch of Whiny B***hes.
The character of Shasta, Limbaugh's African-American assistant played by Karla L. Beard, holds the show together. She vows never to leave him despite his radical statements, one of which is that shooting liberals is a patriotic act. She is the sanest member of the bunch and a powerful singer.
The show's lyrics are clever and the cast gives it their all. It's a high energy performance. If you don't examine the themes too closely, it's a great antidote to the news and certainly a lot funnier.
For information on future shows, go to Second City's Web site.