If you are going to mount a musical that takes the election of Barack Obama as its subject matter, you had better have something to say. Or at least something to sing. Otherwise you are wasting everyone's time, because quite a lot has already been said—and sung—about the event: It's, like, perhaps the most said-and-sung-about presidential election ever.

No shatteringly fresh perspective? Please do not put up signs and sell tickets and otherwise distract us all from enjoying the amazing experience that is living through the actual, real-life, and quite thrilling Obama era. I was really, truly ready for Obama on My Mind to take me on an exciting journey back to the nail-biting days of 2008 and offer me a chance to see it all anew. I would have loved to visit there for a couple of hours. But this perplexing attempt at entertainment at Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center doesn't take the audience anywhere recognizable—much less interesting.

The musical is set in a campaign headquarters that sometimes seems like Obama's national headquarters in Chicago and sometimes seems like an unimportant regional headquarters in Nowheresville, USA. The people who work there are doing an important job. The people who work there are buffoons. They are in a big city. They can't possibly be in a big city. They are constantly fucking up the campaign of a man who is most famous in political circles for having an amazing, almost religiously devoted staff that never fucked up. They are serious. They can't be serious.

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This is emblematic of a larger problem: The musical can't decide whether it's a farce or a celebration. If it's a farce, it is confusingly making fun of a counterfactual to no apparent purpose. (Obama won, guys.) If it's a celebration, it is confusingly making fun of the Obama campaign to no apparent purpose. (Depicting an Obama headquarters run by a mincing gay and an outrageously dumb African American and a Hispanic obsessed with astrology celebrates Obama how?) The writer, Teddy Hayes, should have had this lame effort vetoed, instead of embraced, by director Jacqueline Moscou.

At least a quarter of the audience left at intermission. I went with them. recommended

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