|The Christian Republican Fundraiser in Dayton Tennessee Can a song change the world? John Lennon thought so, and a group of left-wing activists have decided to follow in his footsteps. Posing as a band called “God’s Country”, they crash the Christian Republican Fundraiser in Dayton Tennessee. Can they change the course of the US presidential election armed only with “3 chords and the truth”? This country/rock musical comedy premiered at the Toronto Fringe Festival (where it won “Best of Fringe”) and went on to a held over run at the Diesel Playhouse as well as a production with Talk is Free theatre under the title “Red Fightin’ Blue”. A musical about country music, politics, and the values that can bring together even the most disparate groups. The show features a cast of 6 actor/singer/musicians (who play all the music for the show) and a rockin’ country score. She loves she demo sung by Jonathan Ellul with Jason Chesworth on Guitar and background vocal.Contact Tilly about this show.
The trouble with most Fringe musicals is that they have a witty book and an appalling score. The Christian Republican Fundraiser in Dayton Tennessee turns that cliché on its ear. The book is far from appalling, although it’s basically connective tissue between the songs, but ah, what songs!
Grant Tilly knows how to write country-rock, not cheap parody. This show’s score is more tuneful than most large-scale Canadian musicals we’ve snored through in recent years… What you can’t teach is Tilly’s gift of writing a song that sticks with you the minute you hear it and happily stays in your ear long after you leave the theatre.
RICHARD OUZOUNIAN – TORONTO STAR (JUL 3, 2008)
Well, another Fringe Festival has come and gone. But like every year, there are a few shows that will go on to bigger things. In 1999, there was the Drowsy Chaperone. In 2002, Job: The Hip Hop Musical got all the buzz. Last year gave us the Gladstone Variations and An Inconvenient Musical.
And in 2008, we have The Christian Republican Fundraiser in Dayton Tennessee. I reviewed this show during the Fringe and loved it. But since Christian Republican Fundraiser is playing next week as part of Diesel Playhouse’s “Best of the Fringe”, I thought I’d tell you a bit more about what makes this show so good.
The Christian Republican Fundraiser in Dayton Tennessee tells the story of an insurgent group of liberal musicians who go undercover as a Toby Keith-esque country band in order to agit-prop a Republican gala. It’s a clever story, and it gets a nice treatment in Grant Tilly’s script. But here’s the first reason why the show is great: at its core, it carries an impressively nuanced political message. Political change is all about speaking to actual people and the circumstances of their lives, not endless browbeating with hackneyed slogans and high-minded ideals. The characters learn this lesson the hard way, and by the end of the show, we’ve picked up on it too.
Reason the second why Christian Republican Fundraiser rocks: the music is amazing. All of the songs are performed by the actors onstage, and there is some serious talent on display. It never feels like these are actors attempting to be country musicians. These are country musicians who also happen to be actors. I’ve heard rumours that the cast is planning to record the soundtrack. I really hope they do- when it comes out, I’ll be first in line to buy it.
If there is a weakness to the show, it happens in the moments between songs. The script occasionally falls into cliche, and the delivery can sometimes feels a little forced. The actors play their character broadly, almost like cartoons. This fits with the over-the-top nature of the show, but I could have definitely used a bit more detail and subtlety in the non-musical performances.
In the end, you hardly notice the weaknesses for all the energy and fun. Here’s the final reason why this show deserves a long life after the Fringe: it’s just a good time. A smart story and fantastic music makes for a brilliant performance, and you’ll be smiling all the way through.
The Christian Republican Fundraiser in Dayton Tennessee plays July 23, 24 and 27 at the Diesel Playhouse. For tickets and information, check out the Diesel website.
GRAEME STEWART – BLOG TO (JUL 14, 2008)
The Diesel Playhouse picks the Best of the Fringe for a second coming. A giant hit this year is The Christian Republican Fundraiser in Dayton Tennessee, a hilarious country rock musical by Grant Tilly.
The premise is outrageous. The Republican right wing is holding a secret fundraiser with the heads of mega-corporations in Dayton, Tennessee. The hired band called God’s Country is really a group of liberals. Complications arise when lead singer Jackson comes on to the host’s virginal 26-year-old daughter. The talented four-member band can not only sing but act, while the right-wingers hold their own.
With toe-tapping songs like “Mormons Won’t You Love Your Gay Children?” and “Outbreed the Red Whites to Blue”, how can this show miss? Tilly and Ed Sahely have co-directed the musical with just the right touch of sly satire. This riotous show deserves a commercial run.
The Christian Republican Fundraiser in Dayton Tennessee continues at the Diesel Playhouse until Sunday.
PAULA CITRON – CLASSICAL 96.3 FM(JUL 25, 2008)
CRITICS PICK: NNNN (The Christian Republican Fundraiser in Dayton Tennessee) “Inspired songwriting and a tight live band make this show a real humdinger.”
JORDAN BIMMS – NOW MAGAZINE, TORONTO(JUL 6, 2008)