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The Stage Is Alive With ‘The Sound of Palin’

Comedy Troupe Gross National Product Performs Satire Capturing Republican’s ‘Witt-Less-Cisms’

Courtesy Gross National Product
In the play "The Sound of Palin," Christine Thompson portrays the former Alaska governor.

Like the politics they use for their comedic inspiration, satirists never sleep. And D.C.-based comedy troupe Gross National Product is no exception. With a steady stream of news worth mocking, the group was still tweaking its latest show hours before the first performance earlier this month.

When former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin (R) recently released a video statement using the term “blood libel,” GNP’s UnArtistic Director John Simmons rewrote part of the new show, “The Sound of Palin,” to include a reference to her latest controversial statement. Palin was widely criticized for using the term, historically used against Jews, to describe accusations that linked her political rhetoric to the assassination attempt against Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.).

For Simmons, who wrote the show with Christine Thompson and John Moody, the statement was yet another wonderful Palin “witt-less-cism” to finish his satire. “We’re writing it up to the last minute,” Simmons said. “When things change in the news, we change the revue as well. It’s funny because it’s topical.”

Born out of GNP’s 2010 show, “Don’t Tea on Me,” the new “Sound of Palin” grafts many of Palin’s famous gaffes onto Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The Sound of Music.”

“It has been changing, which is the great nature of this type of art,” Atlas Performing Arts Center Communications Director Jen DeMayo said.

The production follows Palin from her start as mayor of Wasilla to becoming a reality star and then into a projected future where she wins the presidency in 2012.

“She’s a buffoon. She has become a cartoon,” Simmons said. “There’s a darkness to it, but that’s what satire is supposed to be. It exposes the hypocrisy.”

Split into two parts and bookending the 90-minute show, the title sketch chronicles Palin’s life. Throughout, the show’s cast sings and dances through politicized parodies of the classic musical’s many popular songs, with new titles such as “The Hill Is Alive” and “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Sarah.” While the original Maria sings of raindrops on roses, Palin’s “Favorite Things” include “shiny new rifles and shooting a bear” and “clubbing a seal on a warm day in spring.”

“It’s challenging, but it’s very fun to do this music,” Simmons said. “I don’t think I’ll ever be able to see ‘The Sound of Music’ again.”

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