Writers-directors-stars Artie Brennan and Anthony Giordano’s Lincoln The Musical is a raucous comedy send-up of the entertainment industry. It specifically focuses on the creation of a Broadway musical. Since Hamilton is a mega-hit, Broadway producers decide to cash in on the trend and produce a rap musical about Abraham Lincoln starring an unknown female lead in the titular role.
The director, Michael Ocean (Artie Brennan), is an egocentric film director whose claim to fame is a comic superhero film called Cockroach Man. The musical direction comes from a SoundCloud rapper modeled on Post Malone, known as Lil Post Maloney (also Artie Brennan). Breaking into her first Broadway role, Katie Sarasola (Katie Hutch) stars as Lincoln, with a Black male actor named Tyler McCormick (Forest Vandyke) playing Lincoln’s wife, Mary Todd. The choreographer, Robert Fah-Say (Anthony Giordano), is a flamboyant has-been version of what may have become of Bob Fosse if he’d lived long enough.
The structure of Lincoln The Musical is a “making-of” mockumentary with interviews of the cast and crew, as well as the business team that brings the musical to the stage. Katie and the rest of the cast gamely soldier through what is arguably the most ridiculous and cringeworthy production on Broadway. They do so hoping their moment under the lights will be a huge hit, launching careers for them.
On the other side of the show, we see the grubby machinations of casting director Emmy Harrington (Ellen Sailor), who is callous and awful. We also glimpse into a talent agency run by two old men, Morty (Artie Brennan) and Ezra Bernstein (Anthony Giordano), who are incredibly out of touch with modern entertainment. And, of course, there’s Lil Post Maloney, who is responsible for the most horrific excuse for a theater musical score imaginable.
“…produce a rap musical about Abraham Lincoln starring an unknown female lead…”
Critics are not spared here either. Anthony Devito delivers a version of Michael Musto, Micha Gusto, with a breathless lisp. It is clear as the production moves closer to opening day that it will either mirror the success of Hamilton or crash and burn as the worst turkey in town, and there’s no way to predict which will happen.
Brennan and Giordano describe Lincoln The Musical as “a parody of the entertainment business that we all work in and love…and sometimes hate.” Everything is insanely over-the-top. To their credit, the filmmakers manage to lampoon an impressive array of entertaining sacred cows in the relatively brief 64-minute runtime. Going into this film, the viewer would be well-advised not to take any of the portrayals too seriously, as they are so extreme as to be (intentionally) uncomfortable.
The characterizations exaggerate stereotypes of Jews in the entertainment business, rappers, starry-eyed actors, narcissistic film directors, avaricious producers, and everyone else involved. This film is the Tropic Thunder of Broadway parody. Do they go too far? It depends on your perspective in much the same way you can mock your sister, but it enrages you if someone else does. If we’re all one big happy family, then it’s just outrageously funny and done with great affection.
If Mel Brooks and Christopher Guest decided to do a mash-up of The Producers and This is Spinal Tap, then Lincoln The Musical might be the result. Brennan and Giordano include some beautiful footage of Manhattan, and the overall production is surprisingly polished for a low-budget indie film. The performances are also skillful as the actors take up the challenge of roasting the various archetypes of the theater business in New York.
For screening information, visit the Lincoln The Musical official website.
"…a mash-up of The Producers and This is Spinal Tap..."