Just after the New Year, TheaterMania reached out to several of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates for comment on an issue relevant to their qualifications as our nation's future executive. We submitted the following queries to their press representatives:
1. What is the candidate's favorite play, and why?
2. What is the candidate's favorite musical, and why?
Senator Elizabeth Warren's campaign replied that they were unable to accommodate our request; Mayor Mike Bloomberg's campaign passed on the request to their communications team, but ultimately never replied; and the campaigns for Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Andrew Yang, and Amy Klobuchar failed to respond.
Only one campaign issued a complete response, and that was the campaign of Mayor Pete Buttigieg (husband of former junior high drama teacher Chasten Buttigieg). His answers are as follows:
Favorite play: "Twelfth Night. Shakespeare is unmatched."
Favorite musical: "In the Heights. They did In the Heights in South Bend and it was incredible."
As we learned last night, Mayor Buttigieg has suspended his campaign, so TheaterMania will have to live with the guilt of sitting on this potentially game-changing information while we waited for comment from his fellow Democrats. But we have decided to share it, nonetheless — both in celebration of Buttigieg's historic candidacy and as a call for transparency from the remaining candidates.
Theatrical tastes, like tax returns, speak volumes about integrity and leadership style. Our current president, for example, has publicly expressed his affection for Andrew Lloyd Webber's Evita and has called Lin-Manuel Miranda's Hamilton "overrated." Extrapolate what you will from those preferences.
As a lover of Miranda's earlier Tony-winning musical In the Heights, we could at the very least infer a slight change of wind from a theoretical President Buttigieg — with his Twelfth Night selection suggesting a classic sensibility, but one that leans toward humor and levity.
However, to quote the Tootsie Pop owl, "the world may never know."
But what do our remaining candidates say? We know Bernie Sanders loves both Phish and the middle class, so would he choose Trey Anastasio's blue collar musical Hands on a Hardbody? Would Amy Klobuchar follow her Midwestern sensibilities and go with The Music Man? Does Elizabeth Warren have as much of an affinity for 9 to 5: The Musical as she does for the title song?
We have archival evidence of Mike Bloomberg's affinity for How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (all video documentation seems to have been scrubbed from the Internet), and we strongly suspect Joe Biden is a Kiss Me, Kate stan — but we'll allow both candidates to confirm or deny.
We will continue to push for answers through the remainder of this emotionally trying primary period. But as we bid farewell to the campaign of Mayor Pete, join us in thanking him for his commitment to transparent politics and his excellent taste in theater.