Editors' pick

President Harding Is a Rock Star

Musical
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Editorial Review

Fringe review: 'President Harding Is a Rock Star'
By Fiona Zublin
Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Why are rock musicals so often the vehicle of choice for telling the stories of political figures? Kyle Jarrow revisits that theme at the Capital Fringe Festival with “President Harding is a Rock Star,” an hour-long, in-your-face satirical take on the disastrous presidency of Warren G. Harding.

“President Harding is a Rock Star” hits the right balance of historical skit and total nonsense. It looks like something a whip-smart and profane high school student would dream up for a history-class project. Andrew Lloyd Baughman plays a version of Harding who wears leather chaps and snorts cocaine with Napoleon, bringing energy and appropriate pathos to the story of the man many consider to be our worst president.

Maybe that’s why rock musicals love political figures -- rock music loves bad boys and spectacular flame-outs, and so does politics.

 A side note: While we would never judge a play’s quality based on the temperature of the theater, especially during Fringe, we must note for the safety of our more fragile readers that the Baldacchino Gypsy Tent Bar is not very well air-conditioned and you should probably bring a fan (or a cooler full of ice or a superhero with ice-related powers). “I’m gonna make you sweat red, white and blue,” sings Baughman, and he’s only sort of creating a metaphor.