The People’s Choice

The People's Choice
October 3 through October 25, 2011

By Philip Pinkus

Genesis Theatrical Productions presented the World Premiere of The People’s Choice, a new comedy written by Philip Pinkus. The production opened on October 3, through October 25, 2011 at National Pastime Theater.

Want to know how to solve the nation’s debt crises? Pam and Sam know how! This wickedly funny satire of politics and media hype comes right out of today’s newspapers. This is a shovel ready project, so watch where you step!

The cast included Brandon Galatz, Stefanie Johnsen, Holly Robison, Michael Wagman, Joe Dusek, and Becky Lang.

Production Staff

Elayne LeTraunik – Producer, Christopher Goldman – Director, and Production Photography – Paige.

Review Quotes

Chicago – Tom Williams

The world premiere of Phillip Pinkus’ The People’s Choice is an intended over-the-top political satire dedicated to “outing” inept American politicians who’ll use any means to get re-elected. Our fictional present President of the United States (Brandon Galatz) is worried about his re-election chances since his administration is in financial flux. His goofy Secretary of the Treasury (Michael Wagman) outlines the mess cutting the chances of re-election. What to do?

Well, of course, bring in the campaign experts to shape the message and run the campaign. Pam (Stefanie Johnsen) and Sam (Holly Robison) decide to completely do both damage control and an image make-over of The President. Their rules rely on not having the President take concrete political stands on any issues. It’s image rather than substance that the people crave. That and getting corporate sponsors for the Congress gives the US Government an ‘entertainment’ feel that the voters actually crave.

The result of all this super-sized satire is a way-too wacky but somewhat funny attack on just how politicians shape their ‘message’ to the public. Playwright Philip Pinkus may not possess the biting wit of Gore Vidal nor the realistic perceptions of Aaron Sorkin but his intentionally zany comic satire does highlight the manipulation and desperation of a President bent on winning re-election at any cost. The situations are absurd and the acting is spirited even if some of the funny moments seem strained. But as a light off-night show (Mondays & Tuesdays), The People’s Choice fills the bill. Brandon Galatz shows promise as the hapless President.

Chicago Theater Beat – J. H. Palmer

Genesis Theatrical Productions presents The People’s Choice, an original work by Philip Pinkus, that puts a satirical spotlight on the issues of the day; namely, the debt crisis and the politicking in our nation’s capital that seems to be going nowhere fast. Act One introduces the players: The President (Brandon Galatz) and his sidekick the Secretary of the Treasury (Michael Wagman, who appears in the second act as a Presidential dummy), strategize how to get the President re-elected when they cross paths with by Pam (Stefanie Johnsen) and Sam (Holly Robison) who together form a spin team that busily hatches outlandish plots on how to secure the President’s second term. Senator Cantwell (Joe Dusek) provides a straight man to the President’s outrageous plans that include selling airtime to corporate sponsors in order to make more of the American public tune in to the televised cable coverage of congressional and senatorial proceedings, and changing the format to resemble daytime drama. Becky Lang does double duty as the sultry spokesmodel for various corporate sponsors and as the reporter who dogs the President as he wrestles his way through his re-election campaign.

The first act is stronger than the second, but the ideas behind the piece are clever and show promise. The play shows only on Monday and Tuesday nights, which is a shame; with its taste for satire and political send-up, I think this play would do well as a late-night Friday or Saturday show. Galatz’ portrayal of the President is appropriately naive to the inner workings of Johnsen and Robison’s spin team, and Wagman’s Secretary of the Treasury provides a necessary, nerdy foil in the school of Rick Moranis. Dusek’s Senator Cantwell is perhaps the most convincing role in the cast; his cadence and delivery come across as believable and authoritative, and Lang’s Sultry Spokesmodel/Reporter punches up the action onstage.

On the night that I saw the show, the audience was limited in number, and while there were numerous laughs, this is definitely a show that would gain vitality from a larger audience; I hope that they get to experience the energy that comes from performing in front of a full house. The mission of Genesis Theatrical Productions is to presenting new works, and in presenting The People’s Choice they have aptly met their mission.