"Dictators 4 Dummies" is a musical by Christopher Shorr.
Carlo Supremo is a character in that musical
The Tyrants of Tomorrow Telethon wants YOU for its live studio audience!
Join hosts Carlo Supremo and Jefe Pablo, with their eclectic collection of dictatorial celebrity guests, for a satirical send up of the art of tyranny in this biting musical comedy. Take a seat, put on your nose glasses, display your patriotic colors, and support the dictators of the future – they can’t do it without your help.
(No experience with repressive regimes necessary.)
"This show is sharp and important. I can't stop talking about it. It needs to be seen by as many people as possible."
"I enjoyed 'Dictators' so much that I saw it three times. The songs, which I still can't get out of my head, were both informative and entertaining and every cast member had impressive comedic timing. Even though the show dealt with some heavy issues, it found a way to make these things okay to laugh at while still being respectful. I'd love to see it a fourth time!"
"A phenomenal show — the musical numbers were lyrically clever and musically catchy, well-integrated into a satisfyingly sophisticated storyline, the acting was spot-on, and the "moral" was both timely and handled well, not something the audience was hammered over the head with. I wish I could see D4D again!"
BEST ORIGINAL MUSICAL 2018
ABE awards by THE BETHLEHEM PRESS
New york musical festival 2020
now an ORPHAN OF NYMF
Several years ago, Christopher Shorr started brainstorming a new project, alarmed and inspired by a conversation with a Hungarian colleague about the rise of fascism in her country. All of the warning signs seemed so obvious—didn’t people recognize what was happening? Christopher started making a list: a catalogue of moves in “The Fascist Playbook.” In winter 2016, the political winds in America began to shift, and this several-year-old project began to feel more present and relevant than it had before. “DICTATORS 4 DUMMIES” was born. This satirical musical explores the common tactics of authoritarian regimes, and the importance of resisting the rise of would-be dictators.
PREMISE: Attendees enters the theatre and become the live studio audience for a television broadcast: the annual "Tyrants of Tomorrow Telethon"--a fundraiser to support aspiring autocrats. The telethon is hosted by Generalissimo Carlo Supremo (sort of a lesser Mussolini) and General Jefe Pablo (sort of a lesser Castro). The two ex-dictators used to be rivals for world domination, but became friends while in prison for war crimes. After they were released, they formed a Vegas lounge act called "The Generals."
The Generals are joined on stage by a female Production Assistant--a wannabe dictator who the generals won't take seriously ("girls can't be dictators!"), and who has been relegated to the role of flunky. On-air, the hosts kick off the telethon and proceed to bring on a series of guest dictators and experts: Joe Stalin teaches the audience some essential moves in a dance routine; Muammar Gaddafi does a ventriloquism act; and Little Timmy Hitler leads a cooking segment in which he shares a recipe he learned from his father. Little Timmy reminds the generals of their own youthful ambitions and they consider a come-back. The telethon seems to going well. Off-air, however, we see some tensions developing between the hosts and the Production Assistant. Things spin out of control when Slobodan Milosevic is crushed by a craft-services cart just after his soft-shoe routine. When several more “accidents” occur, the Generals suspect that someone is staging a coup. …But who? And does this person want to replace the dictators with a better system, or simply become the next tyrant?
Interwoven through it all is a warning to the audience about the danger of complacency: They win only when you play along.
Songs from the show...
Primarily a stage director and playwright, Shorr also works as a set designer and composer for theatre. Through all of his work, he strives to prevent audiences, collaborators, and himself from succumbing to complacency. He is particularly interested in the creation of new theatre pieces and in the aggressive re-working of classic texts.
His documentary play “Tribute: September 11” was commissioned in 2002 by the AmeriCulture Arts Festival in Fitchburg, MA to mark the first anniversary of 9/11, and was revived for the tenth anniversary and performed at Moravian College and at the University of Baltimore. “Rina,” his two-person, one-act re-working of Chekhov’s “The Three Sisters” was produced at New York’s “Chekhov Now Festival” in 2002. His play “Clytemnestra’s Daughters,” a reimagining of the Greek tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, was workshopped at the Southampton Writers Conference, prior to a reading at Touchstone Theatre. “Faust in France,” his World War One adaptation of Marlowe’s “Doctor Faustus,” was produced in 2012 at Moravian College, and then workshopped in residence at Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theatre on Cape Cod. His play “Everyman on Trial”—a contemporary adaptation of the classic morality play “Everyman” was produced at Moravian in 2016 in conjunction with the College’s Medieval and Early Modern Studies Conference.
In addition to his work as a solo writer, he has co-authored several plays and musicals. With James Jordan (Artistic Director of Touchstone Theatre), with whom he collaborated on this piece, he co-wrote the musicals “The Pan Show: A Cautionary Tale,” and “The Pan Show: In Pan We Trust” (both produced at Touchstone Theatre and named “best original play of the year” by the Bethlehem Press) and a musical adaptation of Homer’s Odyssey called “Ulysses Dreams.” Together, they conceived, wrote and designed “Dear Tamaqua—In a New Light,” which used language, music and light to turn a mile of city streets in the Pennsylvania coal-region borough of Tamaqua into a transformative community experience. Shorr and Jordan (with contributions from the Touchstone Theatre ensemble) co-wrote “Bhudoo”—an interactive musical fable—which premiered at Touchstone in Spring, 2016, followed by performances in Italy (Teatro Potlach) and Hungary (Maladype). Working with Touchstone Theatre founder Bill George, Shorr co-wrote “Journey from the East”— combining the mythic Chinese Journey to the West with the mythic American Western—premiering in Spring 2015 with a large-scale outdoor production in Bethlehem, PA.
Shorr is an Associate Professor of Theatre at Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where he directs the Theatre Program and serves as Artistic Director of the Moravian College Theatre Company, and is a member of the Touchstone Theatre company. He moved to Bethlehem from Petersburg, Virginia, where he was the founding Artistic Director of Sycamore Rouge—a professional, non-equity theatre and arts center. While in Virginia, he served as a panelist for the Virginia Commission for the Arts, and on the boards of the Southside Virginia Council for the Arts and the Petersburg Arts Council. He holds a BA in Theatre Arts from Drew University, and an MFA in Stage Directing from Virginia Commonwealth University.
In a collaborative creative process, it can be difficult to parse out individual contributions. Writing this musical, I began with a lyric for each song and, in most cases, an initial draft of a tune. Then, most of the songs were workshopped with collaborators gathered around a table, a living room, a piano. In addition to the many contributions of my primary project collaborators James Jordan and Anthony Crisafulli, special thanks goes out Frank Di Busolo and Jacob Crisafulli for their involvement in workshopping songs, to actors Emma Ackerman and Mary Wright who originated the roles of Production Assistant and Guest Dictators, respectively, and to Jason Hedrington, musical director of the premiere production at Touchstone Theatre. “DICTATORS 4 DUMMIES” was developed with the support of Moravian College and Touchstone Theatre.