The presidency of Doug Bennet will be commemorated with song and dance this fall at the CFA Theatre. The Theatre Department recently announced the upcoming production of their original musical, “I’m With Midge!,” which promises to be a frothy, fun-filled romp through a bitterly divisive presidential tenure.
“The life and legacy of Doug Bennet has always had a musical quality to it,” said Assistant Professor of Theatre and show director Jacques Footman. “You can especially find it in his public speeches. Where some hear barely audible garble, I hear passion and…pizzazz!”
Footman, who will direct a cast of University students, envisions a highly stylized fantasia of light, color, and glorious show tunes. He says he has been working closely with show composer Schmueli Rosenberg to develop songs that will reflect the many sides of the soon-to-be-former president.
“There’s Bennet the administrator, Bennet the fund-raiser, Bennet the corporate bureaucrat,” Footman said with a sigh. “What more could a musical theater director ask for?”
Recognizing Bennet’s executive role at National Public Radio prior to his presidency, much of Rosenberg’ score will be comprised of sleepy acoustic guitar riffs and vaguely exotic saxophone solos. Complimentary tote bags and coffee mugs will be available at the door with an optional donation of $100.
Footman says he is inspired by the great musicals of the past, and will incorporate them into his production. A pre-Bennet town-gown interaction on Main St. will recall the Sharks-Jets rumble in “West Side Story.” The construction of the Zelnick Pavilion, in an Act I showstopper entitled “It’s Only Ugly If You Look At It,” conjures up the building of the barricades in “Les Miserables.”
Aspiring actors seemed thrilled to be portraying such iconic figures. Lucinda Beltway ’10 originally said she’d be vying for the coveted role of Maria Cruz-Saco. She seemed more uncertain when Footman then informed her that, to better reflect her role on campus, Cruz-Saco would never be seen on-stage, but would be represented through a series of poetically read e-mails.
“It’s still an amazing part, though” Beltway said. “I mean, her e-mails were so…constant.”
Dave Zingler ’09, meanwhile, insists he has what it takes to play “the big man” himself.
“I totally got the voice,” Zingler said.
Upon being complimented on demonstrating this voice, Zingler left in a huff.
“You could understand what I was saying? Damn it! I thought I had it!” Zingler yelled as he walked away.
Footman says the path to production has been a long one, fraught with obstacles. He particularly regrets writing the entire libretto and score in chalk in front of Davenport Campus Center. Bennet’s famous chalking ban went into effect the day after its completion.
“Looking back, a Word document might have been a better choice,” Footman said.