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4/1/2024     MELANIA: THE PUPPET MUSICAL              Center for Puppetry Arts Playhouse



Is it at all possible to create a blatantly non-political musical centered on a divisively political story?  The new “puppet musical” in a special Monday-only performance at the Center for Puppetry Arts, makes a valiant attempt, and more often than not, succeeds.  Ish.


Diametrically opposed television pundits Rachel Maddow and Tucker Carlson decided the only way to be “fair” would be to collaborate on the life story of former first lady Melania Trump, and, in true Bring it On fashion, were joined by songwriters Lin-Manuel Miranda and Lee Greenwood who collaborate on the score.  The result is an amalgam of musical styles that can charitably be described as “goofy,” but, which somehow lingers in the brain like an ailment that can only be controlled with penicillin or abstinence.


We first meet Melanija Knavs in her childhood home of Yugoslavia, as, amid the bloody horrors of the civil war tearing apart her country, she aspires to be a teenage model.  A Disneyesque “I want” song sung completely in Slovenian called “Poser” – the Slovenian word for “One Who Poses”-- introduces our heroine, here embodied as a cute and cuddly Muppet.


In any case, it isn’t long before the strings come out, Melania is putting words in the Doanld’s voice-actor’s mouth, and the road to the white house is gleaming like a golden shower of Slovenian coins.  It soon becomes apparent that Melania’s husband knows nothing about his spouse and would rather not learn – her plaintive “I’m from Slovenia Not Slovakia” is sadly funny and rhythmically alluring.  Yes, it’s an angry song, but it ends with laughter and some (off-stage) marital activity.


I’m of two minds on this one.  I would have like to have seen some point of view – we all have strong feelings yea or nay about Trump, but the final script (by someone named “George Spelvin” who does their best to blend the conflicting ideas of Maddow and Carlson) is so bland and innocuous that it left me cold.  Yes, I like the idea of Melania being not a victim but a master manipulator, the puppeteer behind Trump’s appeal and failures, and she is a much more interesting character here than on newsfeeds from either the left or the right.


For the record, the Center for Puppetry Arts has made a wise decision in NOT including any program (analog or digital)  with this one-day performance, merely a leaflet crediting the creators.  I’m not sure I want to know what actors are responsible (though they are uniformly excellent) or which artisans created the Henson-rip-off Muppets.


In the final analysis, Melania will be a litmus test – haters will still hate the ex-POTUS, fans will still love him.  I doubt if anyone is neutral.  But one thing we can agree on – Melania Knause (the script NEVER calls her Melania Trump) deserves credit for platforming a successful modelling and marriage career on the bloody tearing apart of Yugoslavia.  And that’s nothing to sneer at!


    --  Brad Rudy  (


    #MelaniaThePuppetMusical    #AprilFool   #ApologiesToCenterForPuppetryArts

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