years, “Rush” stars veteran improvisor Mark Sutton in the lead role. It previews Sunday and Tuesday, and opens Wednesday for an initial seven-week run.
That’s how the Blago show began: small and unassuming, its only real costume a damn nice wig. The production — which comedically eviscerated Illinois’ disgraced exgovernor — wound up playing to packed houses, earning national media attention, relocating to the roomier Chicago Shakespeare Theater at Navy Pier and spawning several road shows. Second City estimates that more than 30,000 people saw it over the course of seven months. The final gross exceeded a half-million dollars. With “Rush,” Second City is hoping for another breakout success and even more national exposure. Wednesday through March 24 (previews at 2 p.m. Sunday and 8:30 p.m. Tuesday) Second City e.t.c., 1608 N. Wells $25 312) 337-3992
“He’s an intriguing character,” Furman says of Limbaugh. “I agree with some of the stuff he says. He’s a smart man. He makes a good point sometimes. But just the way he says it, I can’t listen to him. I get upset. I get a pain in my stomach.” Shanoff is less politically coy. “I’m a liberal guy,” he says. “I believe it would be nice if everyone was together, and I wish there was more bipartisanship and all that stuff.”
In reality, such “Kumbaya” kinship is rare. And so Shanoff must fight the good fight.
“I’m tired of conservatives feeling that they can get away with anything they want, whenever they want,” he proclaims. “And this is my way, as a liberal, to use my art — I’m sounding pompous here and I apologize — to express my point of view.”
Not surprisingly, much of “Rush’s” satiric bashing is centered on Limbaugh and conservatives. One example: “Our Man Rush,” a melodic rendering of El Rushbo’s most outrageous on-air statements, contains such racially offensive gems as “Take that bone out of your nose” (to a black woman who phoned in) and a version of his much-lambasted Haiti remarks from earlier this month, when Limbaugh told a caller (and thus millions of loyal listeners) that “we’ve already donated to Haiti. It’s called the U.S. income tax.”
And yes, in case you’re wondering, there’s a song about OxyContin, the prescription pain medication to which Limbaugh has said he became addicted following ineffectual spinal surgery. (He entered a drug rehab facility in 2003.) Here’s the chorus, delivered in a Calypso style: OxyContin, it makes me feel high Who would predict, I’m an addict? No one, I’ll tell you why. ’Cause I’ll keep telling ‘Dittoheads’ to just say no to drugs
While making myself stoned as hell, which OxyContin does!
Ed Furman (left) and T.J. Shanoff, writers of “Rush Limbaugh! The Musical,” which begins Wednesday at Second City, say Limbaugh fans, as well as detractors, will find a lot to like about their show.