The creator and producer of “K Street, NW: A Capitol Hill Musical” told the Star News Network what motivated him to capture search for love while balancing principle and compromise in Washington and set it to music.
“It is about a young woman from Iowa, who comes to Washington, D.C, to be a Hill intern and as she learns about Capitol Hill, she rises up the ranks to become a chief of staff for a senator with promising political prospects,” said Karl Amadeus Notturno, who is a Publicus Fellow at the Claremont Institute.
“Success forces her to choose between her values and harsh political realities of D.C.,” he said.
K Street, NW is the Rodeo Drive for lobbyists, consultants and trade associations. The boulevard runs east-west roughly from Georgetown’s Potomac River waterfront district through the heart of the city passing two blocks north of Lafayette Park and the White House. Mercifully for the Republic, K Street, NW ends at the edge of Chinatown and does not actually connect to Capitol Hill. However, the fate of budgets and legislation often rests on the lobbyists heading to Capitol Hill in black SUVs and or Capitol Hill staffers taking $10 Ubers the other way.
In K Street’s first act, the lead character Samantha, played by Olivia Scott, has a conflict with her idealistic boss after she secures amendments to the Pentagon budget that both add protections to Iowa lakes and rivers and opens up oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, he said.
Sam’s legislative director boss is horrified that a so-called environmentalist would create this craven a trade-off, especially at the behest of a wealthy Iowan with oil interests, Notturno said. “He tells her: ‘I thought you cared about the environment?’ and she says: ‘Well, I care about Iowa’s environment.’”
It should be no surprise that heroine point out that the L.D. has never been to Iowa and grew up in Connecticut.
“She comes to the city with lofty ideals and is disenchanted,” Notturno said. “It is much more of a character study with D.C. as a backdrop—and you get to see how D.C. actually works.”
An abridged version of the musical was set to a part of the Capital Fringe Festival this summer, but then came COVID-19, he said.
“I’ve been working on it for a year-and-a-half, so since that happened, we’ve been just refining it, refining it and refining it,” said the 2017 graduate of Yale University.
Part of the refining process is the series of table reads Notturno said he will host online with Zoom.
We will be holding a virtual table read for Act One of K Street next Wednesday, September 9, at 7:30EDT. DM me if you'd like to be involved, either as an audience member or as a reader!
— K Street (@kstreet_musical) September 3, 2020
The show is not relying on opportunities created by “Hamilton” to address politics, he said. “The way I’ve described it as is ‘La La Land’ for Washington. It is basically a candid look, somewhat humorous, but also loving—I don’t go into this: knives drawn.”
Songs in the show include upbeat numbers such as: “I’ve Got a Bill,” “Is This the Hill to Die On?,” “Too Much Sense” and “The Longworth Cafeteria” all sure to strike a chord with veterans of Capitol Hill’s hearing rooms and network of tunnels connecting the Capitol with the House and Senate office buildings and the three buildings of the Library of Congress.
“All the characters are sympathetic in that you can understand what they are doing,” Notturno said.
The playwright and composer said he drew upon his own experiences working as a registered lobbyist for Qatar just out of college and on the consequences Wayfair Decision, in which the Supreme Court allowed states to charge sales tax on online purchases by their residents from retailers not located in their states.
“I spent a lot of time on the Hill and a lot of my friends were Hill staffers, and this is where the musical came from,” he said.
“By the end of the show, I think a lot of people should be able to see how very well-meaning people, who really want the best for the country, who come to D.C. with the best intentions, end up producing the type of government we have,” he said.
“The different characters deal with that transformation in different ways,” he said.
“Some people stay and continue to fight and continue to retain some sense of idealism,” he said.
“Some people come to the city and get completely swallowed up by the Swamp, they’re not always the people that you think will be.
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Neil W. McCabe is a Washington-based national political reporter for The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. In addition to the Star Newspaper, he has covered the White House, Capitol Hill and national politics for One America News, Breitbart, Human Events and Townhall. Before coming to Washington, he was a staff reporter for Boston’s Catholic paper, The Pilot, and the editor of two Boston-area community papers, The Somerville News and The Alewife. McCabe is a public affairs NCO in the Army Reserve and he deployed for 15 months to Iraq as a combat historian.