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Josiah for President: Leaves You Singing for Joy

By Emily Rumes •Amish Heartland Contributor Published: October 1, 2015 12:00 AM
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For an evening of melodies and traditional values in Ohio's Amish Country, the Dutch Hospitality family of restaurants, shops and inns is bringing entertainment for the whole family to Sugarcreek. Josiah for President, now playing at the Ohio Star Theater, will make you sing for joy.

The musicalJosiah for President isbased on the novel by Martha Bolton (who also wrote the play). Songs were written by Wally Nason. The show leads off with the most heavily choreographed number, "Big White House." There's an energy to this first number which is difficult to carry out through the rest of the show. The mood and tone shift significantly in the second half making the first half seem all the more jovial by comparison.

Josiah for President tells the tale of former Congressman Mark Stedman preparing to bow out of his presidential campaign, when he meets up with Josiah Stoltzfus, an Amish farmer from Pennsylvania. Stedman decides that the country would be better off under the leadership of someone like Stoltzfus and starts a campaign for Josiah as a write-in candidate.

The part of news reporter Sara Rodriguez, played by Tanya De Leon, functions as a sort of Greek chorus throughout the show. De Leon commands the attention of the audience with her presence and her fantastic voice. She comments on the action taking place as the election plays out and on the status of her love life. (Will she meet someone before the end of the show or remain single forever?)

"Leak It" (a parody of the song "Beat It" by Michael Jackson) was a clear audience favorite. The song examines the strategy of leaking scandalous information about one's political opponent to the press and performers take full advantage of the politicalized pop hit, making it fun for the crowd.

One song that may get stuck in your head (regardless of whether you want it there) is "The Office." You will find yourself humming it, singing it aloud as you drive to work and hearing it in your dreams as you sleep. This anthem for the elected will have you tapping your foot long after the stage lights have dimmed.

The most touching moments occurred between the two main couples, Josiah and Elizabeth Stoltzfus and Mark and Cindy Stedman, with "It's Just That Simple. The pairs duet and dance beautifully, bringing their parallel lives into focus and harmonizing the similarities between Amish and English marriages.

Rocky Cooper is perfectly cast as Josiah Stoltzfus. He handles the Dutch accent well (everything is "goot" instead of "good"). along with a stand-out performance by Madeleine Drees as Karen Ledbetter, a Hillary Clinton-esque character, only more over-the-top. Much of the night's humor is brought about through her snappy responses and dialogue and through another character named Bart, played by Bobby Hall, Jr.

Josiah for President wants us to ask ourselves the question, can plain truth triumph over politics (can the two work together)? The Oval Office comes with both challenges and privileges and the musical examines the cost of living in honest freedom. The final number rings true with pride and takes the more somber tone of the second half into a grand conclusion.

To plan your next trip to Amish Country and find more information on Dutch Valley restaurant and the musical, Josiah for President visit www.dhgroup.com. Tickets for the show may be purchased online at www.dhgroup.com/theater.

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