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Center Stage

Show me the money!

3/31/2015

Hillary Clinton can wear a director out. The former Secretary of State, even in late rehearsal for the PAC-funded show at Stagewest, keeps quibbling over stage directions.

“Stage left?” asked Clinton. “That depends on your definition of ‘left.’ ”

With the presidential campaigns beginning to show signs of catching fire, there isn’t time to go back to basic blocking. Still, soon enough Hillary raised another objection.april fools Center Stage

“Why does everyone keep trying to move me to the left, anyway?” she asked. “Why can’t I do the whole play from a strong centrist position?”

The director, Christopher McLinton, sighed and tried again.

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“This is drama, Madame Secretary,” he said. “In drama, see, the people have to move around…”

“The people?” snapped the former First Lady. “I’m the only one who can speak for the people! I’ve promised to represent all Americans, everywhere, whatever their background!”

Later, when asked her input on what the show’s title should be, Clinton waffled between “At Least We’re Not the GOP!” and “Bitches Wear Blue (Dresses)!”

McLinton slumped and stepped away after a few hours, hoping to get some help from Todd Buchacker, the man in charge at Stagewest. But Buchacker couldn’t be reached. Backstage, in a dim, one-light office in the deep confines of the venue, Buchacker was busy swimming — in money.

And it was a lot of money. More money, by far, than local stages have ever seen.

The checks had arrived. Huge checks. Once those funds began to flow into Iowa in 2015, theater companies around Des Moines saw an opportunity.

“The presidential campaigns have been nothing but theater for years,” Buchacker said. “We’re just trying to provide professional standards.”

When one playgoer at the conference complained that mounting the months long productions might mean the city wouldn’t have a Christmas show, Playhouse Executive John Viars stepped to the podium for a quick, point-blank response.

“It’s all about the Benjamins,” he said. “With this kind of cash, we can buy Christmas shows till Jesus comes back.”

At the Playhouse, rehearsals for the GOP show hit a number of rough patches, too. Everyone agreed on the title, “Obama Be Gone!” but continued to squabble over who belonged in the cast.

“Donald Trump?” Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas shouted in disbelief during one rehearsal. “Are you kidding? I’ve got hair on my ass that’s softer than his rug!”

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie huddled offstage awaiting their cues. The banter between the trio was relaxed and surprisingly team-like. So much so that, to an outsider, their pseudo-playful chatter could have easily been perceived as somewhat of a strategy session.

“You know what? I’m gonna mosey out there and say, ‘Read my lips.’ It’s all I got, boys,” Bush leaned in and whispered with the pride of former Texan.

Walker paused, took a long drag on his gold-pated iCig and looked to the rafters in deep thought. As if on cue, nine seconds later, his moment of clarity arrived. He grinned and removed the smoking mini-rod from his lips.

“I’m going to punt,” he said.

Christie managed a small laugh before adding that he wasn’t going to worry about it right now either.

“I’ll close that bridge when I get to it,” he said. APRIL FOOLS

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