Saw the new production at Ford's Theatre last night, Liberty Smith, a lively musical romp through the Revolutionary War.
< Geoff Packard as Liberty Smith and Kelly Karbacz as Emily Andrews in the Ford’s Theatre world premiere musical Liberty Smith, directed by Matt August. Photo by T. Charles Erickson.
When I asked my family members attending the show with me what it was "about," they hesitated a little, saying "It was about the Revolutionary War...."
My answer is, it was about learning how to communicate your message. The Forrest Gump/Zelig character of Liberty Smith, on a mission to free the American colonies from British oppression (in exchange for Martha's devotion... haha), finds himself apprenticed to the brilliant boiler-down-of-ideas-into-pithy-slogans, Ben Franklin.
As Forrest Gump learned, bumper sticker, T-shirt, and Twitter-worthy reductions of revolutionary concepts is how you make them marketable.
So Liberty Gump goes to Boston to unite all the guys behind the idea of rejecting "Taxation Without Representation"; then to help Jefferson compose the Declaration of Independence ("We hold these truths to be sooooo obvious...." or let's try "Self-Evident"); and even to France to explain to the Spamalot-worthy French monarchy why they should lift a manicured finger to help the Americans against the British ("the enemy of our enemy is our friend").
So that's my take on what it was about. Communication is the key to everything, from marketing your invention to selling your revolution.
As for the show, it had just about everything a great musical production needs: a charming hero who just needs an occasional slap in the head to see the virtues of the adorable self-evidently his soulmate-heroine (as opposed to the vainpot sub-heroine)... goofy villains (the pompously pompadoured Benedict Arnold)... It even had a silly kickline.
I enjoyed the songs while they were singing them (though I personally think these actors' voices weren't that great - better voices are getting kicked off of American Idol just now), but there wasn't that one "hummer" to leave the theater with.
Of course, I thought the same thing about Wicked, so what do I know. "Defying Gravity" is now one of my favorite songs from recent Broadway-as-performed-on-Glee.
Anyway, good luck if you want to see the show. With the U.S. government likely to close down, the show will not go on. Since Congress will still pay itself its salary, I suggest they pay for a special performance of Liberty Smith - they could learn what this country is about.