ArtsBeat's Patrick Healy broke last night that President Obama's gonna be hitting Broadway this weekend on a date with First Lady Michelle. The all-important question: which show?
Well, Wicked's running in Chicago, and I'm willing to bet they've already seen that and The Lion King (both of which are amazing, and I hate musicals, especially CATS. Blegh.). Also, no indication that the kids are gonna be with them, so you can rule out the bullshit like The Little Mermaid, Mary Poppins, and Shrek. They already lived through coming-of-age tale Avenue Q, and they could go see Jersey Boys in Vegas. They could go see the decidedly femme Billy Elliot or 9-to-5, or the socialist-happy, somewhat anti-American West Side Story and Hair revivals, but really: do the Obamas strike you as musical people? Nah.
So they're gonna see a play. Well, August: Osage County is about a dysfunctional family of sociopathic pill-poppers and alcoholics, and Obama's heard enough about the Bush administration, he doesn't need to deal with them on a date. Also, it's three hours long. He's not really a Waiting For Godot guy, even though the revival has John Goodman in it. Does that make impatient, though? God Of Carnage, with James Gandolfini, is about class struggles. Do not want! So what play could he see that's both fitting and can't be politicized? Well, it ain't the one he's gonna see: August Wilson's Joe Turner's Come and Gone.
Wilson's the pre-eminent African-American playwright, period. The show's about a boarding house in Pittsburgh post-slavery; it takes place in 1911, and you can probably guess some of the radical ideas and commentary on race-relations it had when it premiered in 1984 that still resonate today. This pick more than any other could probably be parsed and analyzed and surely someone will have something stupid to say about it (my bet: Glenn Beck, first), but it's nice to see that our president doesn't give a shit either way. And at the end of the day, he's probably going just to see a good show: it's up for a Best Revival Tony, and is a favorite to win. Who doesn't like a good night out on the town?
Hopefully, he'll also walk through the new wonderful, traffic-castrated Times Square, stand in the middle of it, and say something about the rise of community, and let the word "socialism" slip in there for fun, and New York Post columnist Andrea Peyser's horns would pop out of her head. That'd be neat.