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Make musical parody great again: Randy Rainbow comes home with a Trump takedown

Randy Rainbow is not merely standing at the crossroads of national politics, satiric comedy and musical theater. He’s causing a ruckus, like one of those old-timey one-man bands, simultaneously beating a drum, playing a trumpet, crashing symbols and honking a horn. And all of it is being absorbed by millions of devotees of his smirky viral videos.

In the spoof videos, Rainbow can twist a song such as “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” from “Mary Poppins” into “Braggadocious!” to mock President Donald Trump’s self-inflating statements during the 2016 debates. Or he’ll morph “What’s the Matter with Kids Today” from “Bye, Bye Birdie” into a salute to the activist students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Rainbow, who grew up in Broward County, is bringing his stage show “Randy Rainbow Live: Let’s Cut the Sh*t” Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 to Parker Playhouse in Fort Lauderdale. The show is based on his videos that aim the sharpest skewers toward President Trump.

Since his previous Fort Lauderdale performance in January, Rainbow has been keeping very busy. Until very recently, he was producing two web series for BroadwayWorld.com in addition to producing his videos single-handedly (the videos have received more than 100 million views). Now, he balances doing guest spots on Sirius XM Radio and making appearances at Manhattan hot spots (Birdland Jazz Club, 54 Below, XL Nightclub) with near constant touring.

“I have to look at Ticketmaster every day to see where I am,” he says during a telephone interview from his New York apartment.

Rainbow graduated from Plantation High School, where he appeared in school productions of “Grease,” “Guys and Dolls” and “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.” He also did children’s, community and regional theater in Miami Shores and Hollywood. At Hollywood Playhouse, the 37-year-old often shared the stage with Josh Gad (movies “Frozen,” “Beauty and the Beast” and Broadway’s “The Book of Mormon).

Here’s more from our interview with Rainbow:

Do people still think that Randy Rainbow is a stage name?

Yes. All the time. My mother, she wanted the gayest child … and she got it.

Do you wonder about the divine intervention that put you where you were for the 2016 election when your star rose?

I think about it all the time. I feel like that’s exactly what happened. I had been doing this in one form or another for the last decade. So my first viral video was 2010, “Randy Rainbow Is Dating Mel Gibson.” I was still doing videos about hot topics, usually more entertainment kind of news and pop-culture stuff. And then, I continue with that format and along the way that led to BroadwayWorld.com and the musical aspect of it. Somewhere along the way, I combined the two, putting hot topics with the music stuff. This was the process that led me to [politics] right at the time I needed to be there. I was exactly in the right place, and I knew what to do. So in 2016, with the presidential election, I was doing business as usual and just added the politics. It resonated with a lot more people. It brought it to the next level.

Some may think that Donald Trump is your cash cow, wouldn’t you say?

Not really. Sometimes, I do look at it that way. It depends. The success I have had recently [with] my videos has changed my life. But I would get where I was going no matter what. I don’t necessarily thank Donald Trump directly. I don’t think of it that way. I put a more positive spin on it. All of this terrible stuff happened, and I am grateful I get to lend myself to be some source of positivity or light in the darkness. I’m doing comedy, and that comedy is important and more necessary … in a scary time like we’re in.

What do you do in your downtime?

I don’t have downtime now. For instance, now I’m home for 10 days. I tell myself I’m going to relax. I’m very much a homebody. But I can’t help to put CNN on and before you know it, I’m thinking of material. So in my downtime, I just like to be as antisocial as possible and be a hermit. I’ll probably make some videos. Again, it’s so much material every minute. But you know, being on tour and doing meet and greets, people are always saying, “We need you. I wake up every day, and [the music-parody videos are] the only thing getting me through.” I feel a responsibility to my fan base. But it’s great. I’m most fulfilled and happy when I’m being creative.

What is your process like?

It’s all done out of my little apartment in Queens. It’s just down the street from where I was living in a little studio apartment. I was living in a green screen. Now, I have a little room I can actually go in and do [the videos]. I try to give myself no more than 48 hours. With social media, you have to be quick. And with this administration, the news cycle is different by noon the next day. I will write for about two or three hours, record for two hours, film for two hours and then edit all night. I taught myself Final Cut Pro and Adobe. I taught myself how to make sound a little bit. I really don’t know what I’m doing, but I have an eye and ear for what I want things to look like, and I’m resourceful enough … to accomplish that.

What did you get from South Florida that you still use today?

I was so bored. I was this little gay theater kid. Honestly, that’s true. That’s not a dig at South Florida. That probably would have been true wherever I lived. Before I got involved in drama club, I was so bored. I didn’t play sports. But it all started being put together in Florida. I would lock myself in my room with the little camcorder they got me, and I would make videos with my dolls. My music-theater roots are in South Florida — Hollywood Playhouse with Josh Gad. His family is coming to my show at the Parker Playhouse. My formal training was in South Florida. Those shows we did in theater in high school were hugely formative. I have really, really fond memories of that time and things I learned are things that I still utilize today when I make these videos.

Since you’re a South Floridian, give us the scoop: What are your next projects?

I finally have a fancy agent now, so they are sending me out for acting work and Broadway calls. Certainly, that’s a huge goal of mine. I would love to be on a sitcom or on Broadway. We’re talking about fleshing out this live show into a more character-driven spectacle — have a run in New York or on Broadway. I’m also working on developing what I’m doing … into a television show, which I’ve already started to pitch around a little bit, maybe on Hulu or Netflix. Oh, and I’m starting to work on a book. It’s an exciting time, so I want to take advantage of every possibility.

“Randy Rainbow Live: Let’s Cut the Sh*t” will take place 8 p.m. Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 at Parker Playhouse, 707 NE Eighth St., in Fort Lauderdale in Holiday Park). Tickets cost $27-$57 ($97 VIP tickets get you premium seating and admittance to a post-show meet and greet). To order, call 954-462-0222 or go to ParkerPlayhouse.com.

rhagwood@southflorida.com

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