Media Musical: Play Based on E&P Editor’s ‘Campaign’ Book to Debut in NYC on Monday

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By: E&P Staff

A musical based on E&P Editor Greg Mitchell’s award-winning 1992 book “The Campaign of the Century” will debut in New York next Monday as part of The New York Musical Theater Festival.

Like the book, it focuses on the uproarious, and influential, 1934 race for governor of California, pitting surprise Democratic primary winner (and famed muckraker) Upton Sinclair against an old-line Republican. Michael Rupert, a Broadway veteran and Tony Award winner, plays Sinclair. Tony Nominee Sally Mayes also appears.

The campaign, dubbed by Mitchell “The Birth of Media Politics,” was the first major race where advertising agencies, political consultants and other “spin doctors” directed operations. It was also the first campaign where Hollywood played a crucial role, including the groundbreaking use of filmed images as political attack ads–produced by Irving Thalberg.

Characters in the book and play include Thalberg, William Randolph Hearst, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, Charles Chaplin, Louis B. Mayer, and many more.

The play, titled “Campaign of the Century,” with music and lyrics by Steven Lutvak and words and lyrics by Robert L. Freedman, will be performed in a concert/reading format at the Makor Theater on W. 67th Street in New York at 3 pm and 7 pm on Monday.

Lutvak is a well-known New York musician and performer who, among other things, wrote the theme for the recent movie “Mad Hot Ballroom.” Freedman has written screenplays for many TV movies, including the recent Judy Garland biopic and the hit “Cinderella” musical starring Whitney Houston.

Others in the case include: Stacie Morgain Lewis, Elsa Carmona, Michael DeVries, Tom Robbins, Evan Pappas, Sean Allan Krill, and Ron Orbach.

Mitchell’s book, “The Campaign of the Century,” won the Goldsmith Book Prize in 1993. It also served as the basis for an episode in the PBS “Great Depression” series.

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