Additional Material by
& Jeffrey Herbst
Northern Sky spices up election season with a musical look back at presidential campaign history. This show, which has been performed during every election year since 1992, features facts, jokes, and songs from presidential elections from 1776 to the present.
Featuring Jeffrey Herbst, Jake Endres, and Karen Mal.
Compiled by David Peterson, Fred Alley, and Jeffrey Herbst, And If Elected takes a lighthearted, often satirical, and occasionally poignant look at the complete history of the presidential election, telling stories of mudslinging and muck-raking that have surprised and delighted audiences for almost 20 years. The show also unearths the numerous campaign songs that have been used as political tools throughout American history.
The show features Northern Sky performer and Artistic Director Jeffrey Herbst, who has performed in each incarnation of the show since 1992. Herbst’s life-long passion for presidential trivia comes alive in the production.
Produced in 1992, 1996, 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016
by Warren Gerds – October 3, 2016
Election show entertains in Fish Creek
This being a presidential election year means Northern Sky Theater has dusted off its song and fact-packed “And If Elected” for another go-around in Old Gibraltar Town Hall.
It’s a quaint show in a way because tailor-made election songs have gone by the boards. But it’s still lively. Songs spring, facts fly and reminders roll as proof is made that the anvils that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are throwing at each other are nothing new – and mere spitballs in some cases. Neither current candidate has suggested the netherworld as appropriate for the other, for instance.
Most of all, “And If Elected” is delivered with a sense of fun and fascination.
The fascination starts with Jeffrey Herbst. He is one of the creators of “And If Elected.” He also is artistic director of Northern Sky Theater and performs in “And If Elected.” He has been in all seven productions – 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016 – because he has a passion for things presidential. In a sequence in the show, Herbst explains that as a boy of 10 he “decided to become the presidential expert of the universe.” A prop on stage is a wastebasket he’s had since back then with pictures of all the presidents to that point. Included is the standing president, Richard Nixon. That picture has an “X” on it; I won’t give away any more of Herbst’s intriguing story. In short, I don’t think “And If Elected” would come around every four years if Herbst weren’t around to fire it up again with his intense interest and expertise (which he proves in the segment).
Songs are short and sparky – sound bites from back when, basically. What may have started as ditties get dressing in the layering of voices and instrumentation, so the music is sometimes complex. Herbst, Jake Endres and Karen Mal are particularly good at barbershop-style harmonies, and their sound leaps in the hall without voice microphones.
Between songs are historical notes, often in the form of humor:
– Adlai Stevenson, told he’d have the vote of all the thinking voters responded by saying that wasn’t enough because he needed a majority.
– Abraham Lincoln, accused of being two-faced, said, “If I had another face, would I be using this one?”
– Many a candidate who was well-to-do, the show says, passed himself off as “the man of the common people.”
Some of the songs are enacted. In “Ma, Ma, Where is My Pa?” Herbst plays an infant – the problem child – of Grover Cleveland in a juicy scandal. In “I’m Just Wild About Harry,” Mal adopts a style like Lauren Bacall.
Original campaign songs went out with the 1976 election. Adapted modern tunes became the style, though candidates sometimes get flak from the originating artists if their politics don’t mesh.
A show lasting 70 minutes may seem short, but “And If Elected” is so dense with music and information that it seems plenty enough.
At the core is Herbst’s sense of admiration that he expresses in his featured section. He is struck by the “belief in the courage of one person to lead so many.”
VENUE: Old Gibraltar Town Hall, built around 1880, is dominated by white on its exterior and interior. The building near the shore of Fish Creek Harbor in Fish Creek was restored as a project of Gibraltar Historical Association. Among its functions, the rectangular hall is a performance space, with a raised stage that includes an optional stage curtain. The space is historical for Northern Sky Theater as the site of its first fall production, “And If Elected” in 1992, and, in 2014, as the site for its final production under the name of American Folklore Theatre. The organization officially became Northern Sky Theater on Jan. 1, 2015. The fiberboard ceiling and wood walls are plain save for historical photos on the walls and wainscoting rimming the lower walls. The floor is of narrow wood strips. The space works quite well for “folky” performances.
Green Bay Press Gazette
BY WARREN GERDS – October 10, 2008
AFT puts fun, facts into election season
FISH CREEK – If opening night of American Folklore Theatre’s “And If Elected” is any indication, interest is high in the presidential election this year.
Gibraltar Town Hall was sold out and the crowd was enthusiastic as the troupe revisited campaign songs, slogans, gouges and gaffes from the first contested election (Thomas Jefferson) to the last notable campaign song (“High Hopes” in 1960 for John F. Kennedy).
American Folklore Theatre does this three-person show each presidential year, revised a bit each time. This edition includes teases Barack Obama for his easy, breezy way of raising campaign funds and John McCain for his calculated choice of Sara Palin as a running mate “because he didn’t want to get CPR from Mitt Romney.”
The show reveals threads of satire and nastiness running through American culture when it comes to the highest office in the land. It also reveals a great deal of respect for that office, especially when director, performer, co-writer and company artistic director Jeffrey Herbst tells about his passion about all things presidential starting in fourth grade.
The office fuels a “belief in the future and the belief in the courage of just one person to lead someone,” Herbst says. Joining him in the colorful collection of material – mostly authentic – are Jake Endres and Elisa Korenne. The three are harmonically strong, and spicy when acting.
The show was created by David Peterson, with additional material from Herbst and the late Fred Alley.
Many of the songs are ditties. “Ma, Ma, Where is My Pa?” is a roast of Grover Cleveland. Seems he had an affair and now his out-of-wedlock baby (Herbst, sucking a pacifier) is wondering where his father is. Answer: The White House.
Some songs are uplifting, as “Emancipation Train” (in the era of Abraham Lincoln) and “Bread and Roses” (before women’s suffrage).
Some songs are double-edged. The trio sweetly sings “Van Buren,” the lyrics of which go for the jugular. Built on short songs, one liners and quick factoids, this red, white and blue show whips by quickly. It’s one of the most entertaining history lessons you’ll find.