Obama Das Musical: Ja, We Can

Edited by walterp on . Posted in Music

Theatergoers packed a concert hall in Frankfurt, Germany, on Sunday for a new musical about President Obama.


Hope: The Obama Musical Story uses gospel-tinged songs and a mix of English and German to tell the story of Obama's rise to power and the impact of his victory in the 2008 presidential campaign.

But show creator Randall Hutchins tells host Guy Raz that the show isn't just about Barack Obama.

"It's kind of everyday people living in a Chicago community, and each one of them represents a stereotypical situation that people were having in 2008, with job loss and losing their homes and stuff," he says. "So we take a look at the election from their vantage point."

The show drew a relatively young crowd which clapped, drummed on specially designed seats and gave performers a standing ovation at the end, preferring the powerful gospel-based numbers most of all. Plans are being laid to take it to other cities around Germany.

Hutchins conceived the project and brought it to the attention of Roberto Emmanuele, a German-Italian producer. The cast is mostly made up of American performers who have experience in theatre in Germany. The production is performed in a mix of English and German.

Obama's rivals also make an appearance in the show. A glowering John McCain growls, "I'll see you in November." Hillary Clinton promises (right) to be "ready on Day 1." And Sarah Palin struts her stuff with a posse of hunky male dancers to a tune called "Soccer Mom Pit Bull."

Hutchins says he made Palin a soccer mom because he was worried that a German audience wouldn't be familiar with hockey.

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Hutchins says he drew his depictions of the personal life of Barack and Michelle Obama from things like Barbara Walters' interviews and articles about the first couple.

He says he's not sure how the president would react to his musical alter ego. "The way this is done, it's not always flattering to him, so I don't know. He might want to punch me on some scenes, and he might want to hug me on other scenes."

Hutchins says he's working on setting up a tour around Germany. Would the show fly in the United States?

He's not sure. Europeans may have a broader, more forgiving opinion of the president, he thinks, but back in America, people are tired of waiting for conditions to improve.

"I understand the fact that, my family included, people are impatient," he says. "People on the ground there are living this catastrophic situation; they're not looking at it with a global view, a worldview — they're looking at it like, 'I live in Detroit, and it sucks.' "

Hutchins says he'd hate to lose the sense of excitement and electricity that surrounded Obama's election. "I'm not a politician; I'm not a social activist or political activist; I'm a musician and songwriter," he says. "He inspired me because he inspired the people, and it's really the people that inspired me. I saw a change in America."

Obama’s US approval ratings have fallen since he took office a year ago, but he is popular in Germany where 44 percent saw him as their political role model in a November poll, almost twice the number of the closest German politician.

The rising US political candidate drew 200,000 people to a Berlin event in July 2008, and Wilson, who has performed all over Germany in other shows, says “they’re big fans of President Obama.”

In a US Quinnipiac University poll released last week, voters were split 45-45 on whether Obama’s first year was a success or failure, compared with 70 percent approval just after his inauguration.


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