The Rainbow Connection: Randy Rainbow Live Strikes A Welcome Chord at the Michigan Theater

THEATER & DANCE REVIEW

Randy Rainbow

Robert Mueller opened for Randy Rainbow at the Michigan Theater on Friday night.

Well, that may not be exactly accurate. What really happened was that after sitting transfixed in front of our TVs as news broke that Mueller had finished his report, many of headed out to see the fabulous satirist perform.  Some of us weren’t feeling very good. We had just learned there would be no more indictments, a blow to those who would like to see the Trump family behind bars. But Rainbow knew how to lift our spirits and save the country: He threw paper towels into the house. 

And the very funny entertainer took a moment to be serious. “There aren’t going to be any more indictments,” Rainbow said solemnly. “So let’s enjoy the ones we already have.”

For those who don’t know the man in the pink glasses -- as he might ask, "Where have you been, girl!?" -- this video artist does Colbert-style mock interviews (only better, much better) with the likes of Donald Trump, Kellyanne Conway, and Steve Bannon. In these brilliantly produced musical videos, spliced from televised news clips and multiple images of himself in flamboyant makeup and costume, he serves not only as interviewer but as lead singer and chorus as well. He also writes all the lyrics. 

Rainbow opened his show with an introductory video montage of celebrities praising his work.  Then he invited us to revisit some of the videos many of us had enjoyed online. This time, we saw them on a big screen and with Rainbow, dressed in sometimes outrageous costumes and a variety of hats, singing along, accompanied by a live band. He wrapped himself in the American flag for one number and dressed as a banana (costume designed by William Ivey Long, one of Broadway’s best) for another.

Trump, he acknowledged, has been great for his career, but he wanted the audience to know he had a life (and a series of hilarious videos) before the country fell apart. He shared one about his loving relationship with that defender of all progressive values, Mel Gibson. 

For musical theater addicts like me, there’s nothing like the original lyrics he writes, mostly to Broadway show tunes: lyrics like "Fact Checker, Fact Checker ... I thought that facts that you fictionalize were called something else -- like lies,” to "Matchmaker" from Fiddler on the Roof or "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Korea?" with music lifted from "The Sound of Music."  

Because we were an exceptionally wonderful audience, Rainbow offered to take questions -- just as he does with every other audience on his tour. You get no false flattery from Randy Rainbow, who is not only a major talent but also an honest one whose fake news absolutely always has a ring of truth.

The audience talkback was fun -- Rainbow knows how to improvise answers to any question and get laughs -- but we had come together as an audience earlier. The crowd that filled the Michigan Theatre didn’t wait for the end of the show to offer Rainbow a standing ovation. We jumped to our feet, wildly applauding as he entered. And we rose as one to cheer him again at the end of the show.  

Randy Rainbow live was the antidote to our depression, at least for an evening, taking our mind off our troubles and confronting them at the same time.  And at a time when our country is so divided, Randy Rainbow brought us together in a shared experience that made at least one reporter in the audience feel hopeful. 

I’m so glad I experienced the Rainbow connection. 


Davi Napoleon writes about the arts. She is a frequent contributor to "Live Design" magazine and author of "Chelsea on the Edge: The Adventures of an American Theater."