More on "Obama: The Musical"

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It started in Kenya. But now there's a version in London. In Washington, of course, they don't need it – they've got the real thing.

Some will call it incredibly silly. Others will find it alarming. And then there are those who will see it as a delightfully creative way to express strong feelings. But however it is viewed, the presidency of Barack Obama is already inciting artistic response.

Earlier this week the Monitor reported on “Obama: The Musical,” now playing in Kenya. In a "fast-moving stage production" at the Kenya National Theatre, a local cast "stomp, sing, and salsa their way" through a show that suggests that "to Kenya and the rest of Africa the 44th president of the United States is nothing short of a savior."
"It is an 80-minute, $7-per-ticket tale of the American Dream, of African poverty, and of hope overcoming adversity," writes correspondent Rob Crilly. "All told through pulsating rhythms and shuffling feet."

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Sounds like something that could only happen in the land of Obama's father's ancestors? Apparently not.

Today the Telegraph is reporting that "The Obama Musical," written and produced by the Ohio-born Teddy Hayes, will premiere at Barons Court Theatre next month. The show, which includes songs like "Obama and Me" (in which a member of the Obama team sings: "We are a pair/like chocolate and éclair") is said to focus on the personalities behind Obama's presidential campaign.

Of course the London show comes at Obama from an entirely different direction than does its Nairobi counterpart.

Hayes, who says he did some work for the Obama campaign, is offering "a send-up of what happens behind the scenes" of a US presidential campaign.

The Kenyan show, however, is focused on a message of hope.

Director George Orido told the Monitor that, “The main message for my show is that anything is possible if you believe and work hard at it. That’s important, because I come from a part of the world which has been written off by the rest of the planet. We can’t even feed ourselves."

However you see the Obama musicals – and whether you find the idea sweet, entertaining, or dangerously worshipful – they are still part of one the world's oldest and greatest traditions. Storytelling has long been the way we explain, share, smile at, or worry about what's happening around us.

It doesn't always make for great art, but it does at least provide an outlet.

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