A Day at the White House: The Sparx Brothers Go to Washington

By Vin Morreale Jr
Music by Eric B Sirota

Reaction to a play reading by Kate Barry

Entire contents are copyright © 2022 Kate Barry. All rights reserved.

If there is one thing we can all agree on is that it is fun to make jokes about whoever is in charge. Supervisors, bosses, world leaders…I could go on and on. Making jokes at the decision-makers’ expense brings out a vulnerability and relatability that might not have been recognized before. Highview Arts Center has opened its doors for a two-night sneak peek of Vin Morreale Jr.’s satire A Day at the White House: The Sparks Brothers Go to Washington. And in these divisive political times, the play elects some classic comedians to the Oval Office, showing how foolish Capitol Hill can really be. 

Prior to and after the staged reading, Vin Morreale explained his original concept was a twenty-minute sketch inspired by the five past presidential administrations. Rehearsals for this reading began two weeks ago with some performers having seen the material only days before. The cast brings strong talent to the reading showing strong potential for what this show could be as a production. Chloe Jackson and Dwight Mitchell brought lovely vocals to their duets even if their chemistry was lacking within the love story. Eric B. Sirota’s musical score stays lighthearted and bouncy throughout the evening. The upbeat songs add some clever wordplay and political commentary to Morreale’s already humorous work.

Beau Solley leads the cast as Crenshaw Sparx, the spitting image of what it would be like if Groucho Marx was President. With cigar in hand and wiggly eyebrows, Solley commands Groucho’s signature wordplay and a twist of phrases. He nails the “elephant in my pajamas” joke while bringing a modern sensibility to Groucho’s wit with lines like “if I could control myself what kind of politician would I be.”

Throughout the reading, much of the comedy relies on how well the actors can deliver the well-known classic vaudevillian humor. Characters are heavily borrowed from the likes of Harpo, Chico, Mae West, WC Fields, Abbott and Costello, and the Three Stooges. With so many classic comedic bits, the thin plot gets lost, leaving the play feeling like extended sketch comedy. With every cameo comes a wink and nod to the audience. The appearances rely more on famous jokes tied to their political ranking rather than pushing the story forward. While a geopolitical retelling of “Who’s on First” was funny and well-timed, it felt random in relation to the rest of the story. 

Still, with all the dated jokes and repeating of the classic comedic styles, Vin Morreal’s script stays light-hearted and pokes fun at both sides of the aisle. No one is safe from Crenshaw Sparx’s first day in office as chaos ensues. And if the day comes when this staged reading becomes a full-on stage production, A Day at the White House has the potential to be a crafted chaotic production of well-timed sight gags, shtick, and comedy.

November 4 & 5, 2022

Highview Arts Center
7406 Fegenbush Lane
Louisville, KY 40228

Kate Barry has worked with many different companies around town since graduating in 08 from Bellarmine University. She’s worked with CenterStage, Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, Bunbury Theater, Louisville Repertory Company, Walden Theater, Finnigan Productions. She used to work in the box office at that little performing arts center on Main Street but now she helps save the planet. In 2012, her short play “PlayList” won festival favorite in the Finnigan Festival of Funky Fresh Fun. Her play “Catcher Released” won an honorable mention with the Kentucky Playwrites Workshop. She has written for LEO Weekly and TheatreLouisville.com as well. When she is not writing, she teaches yoga. Thanks for reading!