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‘Clinton The Musical’: The Ballad of Horny Bill, Dogged Hillary, and Lovesick Lewinsky

The Off-Broadway production of Clinton The Musical is a deliciously ribald take on the Clinton-Lewinsky (oral) sex scandal. Monica, I’d sit this one out.

Talk about timing. On the evening of April 9, mere days before Hillary Clinton reportedly is set to announce her candidacy for president of the United States, the over-the-top production Clinton The Musical made its Off-Broadway debut.

Playing at New World Stages in Midtown Manhattan, the brisk, 92-minute, one-act musical offers a flamboyant take on the tabloid-ready Clinton-Lewinsky ’90s sex scandal, and boasts a wild cast of characters, from cardboard Al Gore to a deviant, S&M enthusiast Ken Starr.

The play, directed by Dan Knechtges and composed by Aussies Paul and Michael Hodge, opens with a spare Oval Office stage. Framed portraits of former presidents posing with images of their mistresses decorate the walls, from Thomas Jefferson with a slavewoman to JFK with a bevy of beauties, including Marilyn Monroe. Then out pops Hillary (played by Tony Award nominee Kerry Butler), sporting her signature blue power suit. “Good afternoon!” she announces. “My name is Hillary Rodham Clinton, and I’d like to tell you about my first presidency.”

Hillary is, it seems, the only one with her head screwed on straight—juggling two very different sides of her commander-in-chief husband: Billy Clinton (Duke Lafoon), a saxophone-playin’, pot-smokin’, shades-rockin’ horn-dog who loves “gettin’ some tail,” and William Jefferson Clinton (Tom Galantich), a responsible, issues-oriented politician. “When I read Bill Clinton’s autobiography, he talked about how he led two parallel lives, and all these other people have talked about the contradictions in him,” co-writer Hodge tells The Daily Beast. “His political adviser Dick Morris had nicknames for the two sides: ‘Saturday Night Bill’ and ‘Sunday Morning President.’ It seemed like an apt device to sum up a complicated man, and something that we could have a lot of fun with.”

There’s also Newt Gingrich (John Treacy Egan), who’s portrayed as a porky, clueless senator who drowns his sorrows in snacks, in the form of ice cream, Big Gulps, and doughnuts. He’s intent on slowing the Clinton Presidency to a crawl, singing, “We’ll say ‘nay’ to every small request, and do what Congress does the best: nothing.” At one point, he even warns his third wife, Callista: “Don’t get sick… or I’ll divorce you!”

But whiny Newt is just a patsy for the real villainous mastermind: Ken Starr (Kevin Zak). “Hello, Newton…” Starr says as he enters the fray. Here, the lawyer who took down Clinton is a single-minded psychopath with electric-shock hair who cackles maniacally, hell-bent on “exposing dirty Bill Clinton to the world.” In one of the show’s most memorable numbers, “A Starr is Born,” he rips his suit off to reveal leather bondage gear—including ass-less chaps.

“Is Kenneth Starr gay?” one Bill asks another. “It sure looks like he’s trying to fuck us.”

And then there’s Monica Lewinsky (Veronica J. Kuehn), the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed White House intern who’s traveled to D.C., she says, “to get away from a man… Andy, my high school drama teacher… it didn’t go so well.” The Andy she’s referring to is Andy Bleiler, her married HS drama teacher with whom she carried on a years-long affair.When Monica first meets Billy, she’s completely starstruck, and coquettishly whispers into his ear, “I have a secret… I have a crush on you.” Before you know it, they’re necking all over the White House, leading to this exchange:

“Wow, you’re such a sensual kisser.”“I’ve had a lot of practice.”“With your wife?”“Sure…”

Billy—the boorish one—claims he loves young Monica, who seems completely smitten by this powerful man.

“She was enamored with him, she was young, and she was very wide-eyed,” says Kuehn. “That was easy for me to tap into. We’re supportive of the idea that maybe she was a victim rather than this temptress, and it’s interesting now with the timing of everything. She really, really thought they could be together.”

The most sexually suggestive moment in the play comes when Billy is being serviced at his Oval Office desk, and Monica’s head pops out from under it. “I’ve been with a married man before, I know the rules,” Monica purrs before doing the deed. The scene was delicately handled. According to Kuehn, there was discussion of having Monica on her knees in front of the desk blowing Billy, but that idea was nixed since they felt it would make the audience too “uncomfortable.”

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Following the blowjob heard ’round the world comes Monica’s big show-stopping number: “I’m Fucking the Fucking President,” which she proudly sings while dancing on the president’s desk, belting out lines like “I feel like we just click when I’m sucking on his… thing” and “You put a mark on my heart… and my dress.” In a later number, she dejectedly sings, “All they’ll know of me when I go is fellatio.”

The real focal point of Clinton The Musical, however, is Hillary, who’s portrayed by Butler as a plucky gal with a heavy Midwestern accent who’s preoccupied trying to wrangle the two Bills and forge her own legacy, via health care and aiding her hubby in balancing the budget—with the help of her spiritual guide, Eleanor Roosevelt (Judy Gold).

“Work is everything to her,” Butler says. It’s this driving force in her. I watched when Clinton was being sworn in as president, and you’d think she’d be smiling, but she had the most intense expression on her face!”

But Butler, who says she “knows the Clintons are aware” of the musical because she poked around and tried to interview members of Hillary’s inner circle before previews, is quick to point out that the show’s version of Hills is a positive one.

“People are saying it’s a nightmare for the Clinton campaign, but I don’t think it is,” she says. “It makes fun of both sides, and Hillary doesn’t come off bad in any way.”

She pauses, and then jokes, “Maybe the Koch brothers will fund us to go to Broadway.”