Sec­ond City ‘Rush­ing’ to judg­ment

NEW PRO­DUC­TION Tak­ing pains for fair and bal­anced lam­poon

Chicago Sun-Times - - Chicago Showcase - BY MIKE THOMAS

Not long ago T.J. Shanoff, cowriter of Sec­ond City’s 2009 hit “Rod Blago­je­vich Su­per­star!,” cruised the high seas with sales reps from a ma­jor liquor com­pany. The Chicago-born di­rec­tor and com­poser served as their em­cee for a week.

“When can we see your show in Chicago?” some of them asked him at the bar one night.

“Well,” he replied, “I’ve got one open­ing up pretty soon.” “Oh, what is it?” “‘Rush Lim­baugh! The Mu­si­cal.”

Some dug the no­tion. Some didn’t. “Why,” those in the lat­ter camp won­dered, “would you make fun of Rush Lim­baugh?” Well, um . . . “I re­mem­ber I was in 11th grade when [Lim­baugh’s] talk show was on TV and he pop­u­lar­ized the ci­gar back in the early ’90s,” Shanoff says. “And he was an a--hole back then. And it hasn’t abated. It’s only grown. Obama’s elec­tion only re­newed in­ter­est in Rush, and Rush’s pul­pit grew even big­ger. He seemed like the right choice, and that’s been val­i­dated ev­ery step of the way as we’ve writ­ten this.”

Penned with for­mer Sec­ond City main­stage ac­tor Ed Fur­man, Shanoff’s creative co­hort of 13


In a part­ner­ship that’s more Holl­mann and Ko­tis (“Urine­town”) than Rodgers and Ham­mer­stein, Shanoff tends to tunes (in­clud­ing all lyrics) while Fur­man han­dles script (“book”) du­ties.

Whereas “Su­per­star!” was quickly con­jured and con­stantly evolv­ing, “Rush” took a few months to craft and is more time­less, be­cause it’s set in the fu­ture.

Rush Lim­baugh

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