Monday, July 30, 2018

"Dave" at Arena Stage

I have a confession. Despite being a Kevin Kline and Sigourney Weaver fan, I have never seen the movie "Dave". It seems vaguely possible that I dismissed it on premise, like ugh, a fake president? How ridiculous. 
Anyway, I was intrigued when I saw it on Arena's new season. As we know, I love a good musical. Several people suggested I should see the movie first, and I decided at this point there was value in going on cold, in not comparing casts. So that's what I did. 
For those with similar pop culture blindspots, Dave is an American history teacher who gets fired due to budget cuts and struggles to pay his ailing dad's health bills, starts taking impersonation gigs, since he looks a bit like the newly elected president. 
He is called on by the actual president to do some crowd waving while the real president, ahem, has sex with his secretary. When the president has a stroke, the staff decide maybe they can have the stand in act as figurehead so they can finish out their plans, which is all fine and good until the American History teacher starts having his own ideas. 
The cast is wonderful. I always scan the bios to see if I should recognize the actor under the wig and there are quite a few familiar faces and voices here. 
The set made much use of circular walls, no surprise really, given circular offices, but it got a little busy at times. 
The show as a whole provided the heart and idealism in the possibilities of government you may be looking for. The songs ranged from heartfelt to hilarious. I don't think there was a crazy memorable one, but that isn't said as a knock. I still left humming. 
Seeing this in a DC crowd, meant there was some chuckling over how easy they make budget changes look. It's also a show that asks an incredible amount of it's leading man. He's hardly off the stage, performs several switcheroos, one involving a trick bed, for the two scenes where Dave and the president swap out. 
I was glad to have the chance to see it.