Just like college students are always asked about their future plans and careers, the big question for children is quite similar: what do you want to be when you grow up? With that, countless ideas pop into the young minds dreaming big but unsure of what the future holds. 12-year-old, Judson Moon, however, is turning his big dreams into a career in DePaul’s Merle Reskin Theatre production of “The Kid Who Ran for President,” opening this fall season on Oct. 6.
The production is inspired by Dan Gutman’s 1996 book from the same title. Taking place in 1999, Judson Moon plans to run in the next year’s election with his best friend by his side as his campaign manager
, and a beautiful blue-eyed, blonde classmate as his “First Babe.”
“’Kid Prez’ is about Judson Moon, who is convinced to run for president by his best friend, Lane Brainard. What starts out as a goof, quickly becomes very real for our young hero as he begins to navigate the complications of a campaign and then the White House,” said Ernest Nolan, the play’s director. “The show is filled with catchy rock songs and is filled with the heart and passion of an Aaron Sorkin script as well as the bite of The Daily Show,” said Ernie Nolan, the play’s director and DePaul Theatre graduate.
The 16-member cast has been rehearsing non-stop since August, meeting for 8 hours a day during the summer. As fall came around the schedule then changed to only evenings Monday through Thursday once classes began, with a 6-hour rehearsal each Sunday.
With the controversy this year’s presidential election has caused around the country and even the world, our 12-year-old hero is coming to our rescue at just the right time.
“The high stakes of this current election have influenced the rehearsal room. The book was written in 1996, and the musical was created 8 years ago,” Nolan said. “A lot has changed. The country’s idea of the president has changed.”
While the events of this election could’ve very well seemed fictional over a year ago, the more than fictional play “The Kid Who Ran for President,” has drawn many connections with surprising real-life candidates of today.
“I think it’s been interesting to see the way people discuss each current presidential candidate as ‘unfit’ and have those same kinds of scenes in the play,” Nolan said.
“No one wants to do a piece that says ‘look, anyone can be president’ or ‘isn’t politics all a joke?’ Especially since we are introducing politics to young people.”
On the challenges that have been faced throughout the production, Nolan said, “It’s been an interesting equation to solve about the play.”
Out of the 20 years Ernie Nolan has been a theater director, he said he has never worked on a project quite like this one.
“I think doing a play about an election during the election is really the thing that has stood out during this process,” Nolan said. “Days before we started rehearsal, John Oliver did a segment about the book.”
And as the cast and crew prepare for their opening night this week at DePaul’s Theatre,
We were teaching the other night during the first debate. The cast will perform the show to young people on election day. I don’t know if I’ve ever worked on anything that has been so of the moment.”
“It was so exciting to work in the scene shop because I didn’t have much experience with power tools, steel, or wood. It was a really fun atmosphere to work in,” said Riley Coduto, a freshman member of the backstage crew, working with sets and props. “Everyone working on this production is amazing, from the director Ernie Nolan, to the technical directors to stage managers to actors, crew, and beyond.”