By Olivia Popp
The Second City’s original comedy musical, “Trump in Space,” is a quirky satire of current political times, carefully and humorously crafted for today’s audiences. “Trump in Space” won the 2017 LA Fringe Festival Encore Award and banks on its type of eccentric comedy to create a perfect blend of relevance and parody. With book and lyrics by Gillian Bellinger and Landon Kirksey along with a masterful rock score by Tony Gonzalez and Sam Johnides, “Trump in Space” is the kooky satirical masterpiece that will make your Friday night.
“Trump in Space” takes place 400 years from now and follows Captain Natasha Trump, a descendant of President Trump, as her crew (featuring descendants of current cabinet and staff members of the Trump administration) travels through space to find a new planet due to the Earth being destroyed by current Trump’s antics. Along the way they meet Lieutenant Sanders and his crew (featuring a Clinton descendant and more) — but there’s more to Captain Trump’s story than meets the eye.
Performed in the quaint Second City theater in Hollywood, it’s hard to imagine the one-act musical taking place in the small space. Yet, with set of sliding doors, rolling chairs and colorful costumes, the space is easily transformed into a rollicking space. The cast also immediately sets the tone by jumping directly into the wild musical numbers, and the space only helps to heighten the intimacy (or satirical humor?) because there’s no turning away from the ridiculousness of the musical’s content.
Due to space limitations, there’s barely any set, but like a great musical, the musical numbers, miming and “sound design” (or sounds made by the actors) compensate and even cater to the genre (there’s no reason to be realistic when you can be ridiculous). While the vocal talent of the cast is also relatively high, it’s not about how high they can sing but rather how much humor can be milked from a few single moments or vocal gags — of which there are plenty.
“Trump in Space” also avoids the traps of many original musicals — especially satirical ones. The musical relies on a number of gags, particularly the androgynous descendant of Clinton, but the gags are used for tasteful humor rather than a striking sociopolitical commentary, which would be hard given time constraints and comedic material. Nevertheless, the piece is still self-critical (including only one cast member who is a person of color, which is carefully and hysterically noted). However, including a surprise cameo character, the musical also doesn’t purely rely on gags; rather, it has an actual plot (surprise!) that forces you to be invested in the characters in a light-hearted way.
Due to popularity, “Trump in Space” has been extended multiple times, so if you’re in the LA area, put this musical high up on your to-do list.
“Trump in Space” plays every Friday night at 8 p.m. through Dec. 14 with a rotating cast at The Second City Hollywood on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles. Admission is $12.
Contact Olivia Popp at oliviapopp ‘at’ stanford.edu.