Thursday, September 21, 2017

Review: She's Got the Power

By Michael Block

In 1995, the world was introduced to a woman who would forever change history. Known for her intimate affair with the President, Monica Lewinsky was, and still is, a household name. Using her as the centerpiece, Power Over POTUS by Erica Vlahinos is a farcical fantasy rooted in truth where Monica recounts why what happened happened.
Playing the Laurie Beechman Theatre, Power Over POTUS is a parody musical that explores the various mistresses of our Presidents through the lens of the 90s favorite Monica. Written and performed by Erica Vlahinos, Power Over POTUS is a laugh riot. While it's certainly, by design, no Assassins, Vlahinos has infused humor in history to lampoon one of the most infamous news cycles in our history. The plot is simple. The time is now. Monica Lewinsky is doing a live stream tell all. We learn that her actions were all due to a Crystal Pepsi opiate dream. Using parodies of pop hits through the ages, the musical not only showcases Vlahinos' effortless performance but her stellar writing. Some of the songs strike stronger than others, but on the whole, Vlahinos has found a way to an include a spectrum of styles that remain cohesive to her storytelling. The device she uses to launch the other characters into the world is clearly a comic effect that is easily forgivable. While Monica may have been the focus, the piece truly comes to life when MK herself enters the world. It was the biggest character Vlahinos created in the piece. Beyond the ripped-from-the-headlines demeanor,she tapped into the inner Melania. The result was out of this world exciting. The Melania material was Vlahinos’ best, both on page and on stage.
Being a solo artist forces a performer to expose an immense amount of vulnerability. Whether it's a personal story or portraying a character, being the sole entertainer on a stage can be terrifying. If Erica Vlahinos was frightened, you'd have no idea. She eased into the world of parody, bringing her expert skill to the stage. It's safe to say that Erica Vlahinos is an effortless entertainer. Performance comes naturally. Through the aid of director Ben Cameron, Vlahinos is able to hammer home the comedy yet find the beats of humility for the characters, primarily Monica. There is a point late in the show where the room grows silent as Monica gets her sentimental moment and it’s, in contrast to the high-octane humor, quite beautiful. Not every comedian has the prowess to accomplish that. The comedy was expanded with Shane Snider’s video design. Whether it be moving images or the singular picture of the “Friends” apartment, the projections heightened the show ever so slightly. Costume designer Emily White did a mighty fine job not only paying homage to the infamous Monica outfit but gave a new personality to Melania’s “Slovenian Girl” look. The only clashing costume was the teal trimmed cowgirl outfit. Black hat and brown vest, not the most eye-pleasing combo.
Political parody is a tough world. There’s high expectancy as well as a much scrutiny. Sometimes you might even receive a cease and desist from the current President. No matter what, Erica Vlahinos is a well on her way to fame and Power Over POTUS proves why. Just hope her Melania show makes it to the stage. It will be a must see for sure.