Second City ‘Rushing’ to judgment
NEW PRODUCTION Taking pains for fair and balanced lampoon
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.