Scroll To Top

Trying to See a World Beyond an Evil President and a Deadly Pandemic

Jelani Alladin
Jelani Alladin photographed by Andrew Eccles

John Casey tried to write about Trump again but couldn't. His attention turned to artists like Jelani Alladin, who bring us joy instead of terror.

When Donald Trump brought out the women who had accused Bill Clinton of sexual harassment immediately before his final debate with Hillary Clinton, I felt sick to my stomach. That show was beyond reprehensible. Then his presidency started, and reprehensible was the word of the day. Then this Monday came a horrific meltdown, an offensive propaganda film, and hysterical lies from the autocrat in chief who has "total authority."

On Tuesday, he had the gall to cut funding to the World Health Organization in the midst of a pandemic. He's throwing the number of dead around like he's saved millions of people. By Friday, according to New York governor Andrew Cuomo, Trump was washing his hands of the whole thing; basically, Don't bother me with your testing.

And then the president of the United States of America started encouraging right-wing protesting of social distancing restrictions in states with Democratic governors, tweeting "LIBERATE MICHIGAN," "LIBERATE MINNESOTA," and "LIBERATE VIRGINIA."

He gets more disgustingly grotesque each day, and sadly that means it's just going to be a torturous nightmare for the country until -- or if -- this pandemic ever ends. He's the only live show in town with a captive audience, with two dreadful plot lines; a despised disease and a detested despot.

King Donald aka Burger King, whose penchant for hamburgers is only outweighed by his proclivity for extreme selfishness and fantastical falsehoods. His petulant performance... Sigh.

That's where I stopped. I couldn't do it anymore. He is a waste of time. My time and yours. It seemed futile to go on writing about him. People are dying, and suffering, and facing financial hardships, and untold burdens. And we're talking about Trump lying about himself? I'm writing about him? I love writing, playing with words, and I'm wrapping lyrics around a lecherous lunatic? This is so, so wrong. And so not fun.

Yes, even on more fundamental levels that are less serious, but still problematic, he's creeping in -- at least to me.

I love to write. It's my show, and for me it's fun, particularly during this quarantine when finding something fun to do can be a challenge. Further, as an avowed political junkie, where politics is an enjoyed entertainment sport, Trump has taken all the joy out of it, much like how the insipidly cruel virus has crashed and closed everything from sports leagues to Broadway shows, leaving Trump's press conferences as the only live show.

So, in the midst of writing this column about Trump's sickening week, I stopped. My fingers froze. It's time to change the conversation. I wondered about fun. We're all desperate for it.

What about the members of those teams or casts of the shows we love and miss? What it must be like for someone whose job it is to provide fun -- rather than take it away -- have it suddenly stopped? Unsure of if or when they'll ever be able to go back and entertain. How do you keep the fun going when fun was your show?

Since I was frozen, it only made sense that I reach out to out actor Jelani Alladin who originated the role of Kristoff in Frozen in his Broadway debut. He left the role last year to star as the title character in the highly-anticipated Broadway musical Hercules, which was scheduled to open this year.

"With Frozen, you did eight shows a week, and in between, I was auditioning, doing photo shots, interviews, networking. That's all gone away," Alladin told me during a call this week from his Manhattan apartment. "To be honest, the first couple weeks of the quarantine it was nice to just relax, get off my feet, and just lay on my couch. However, the need to entertain and create has started to come back."

For Alladin, that means singing performances in his shower, and dancing solo around his apartment to some iconic (and ironic) tunes, like Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance With Somebody." But while that might work temporarily, there's no show, live audience and collaborative cast.

"Nothing can match the energy coming back at you while performing in front of nearly 2,000 people each night," Alladin reflected. "There's nothing like live theater and the special bond that's created between the audience and the actor. You know when they are going to laugh, cry or applaud with you. And creating a family with the people in the show. My hope is that the pandemic doesn't change the nature of the theater."

In the meantime, Alladin is filling his time marveling at the creativity on Tik Tok, relishing Leslie Jordan's daily quarantine reports on Instagram, and watching episodes of the old Rosie O'Donnell talk show on YouTube. He will appear virtually this Friday on a taped, streamed concert, "Celebrating 25 Magical Years of Disney on Broadway."

"I'm so eager to get back to work," Alladin said. "During this down period, it has really made me appreciate and value the opportunities I have had to create art, and to savor every moment. I think the people in the arts should be considered essential workers since any form of art is essential to the development and happiness in life."

He's right. Maybe it's time for me to devote more time to art than politics for enjoyment? Or at least to write more about art? I can say that now, but I'll probably be back to trash Trump at some point because his daily shit show is only going to get shittier.

In the meantime, we can rest assured that the curtain will close on the Trump show in a few months because of scathing reviews and dwindling audiences.

And after Trump is blacklisted, we'll return to seeing some of our favorite performers, like Alladin, dance, dazzle, sing and create enjoyable art. That's when we'll know that happiness -- and sanity -- has surely been restored.

JohnCasey is a PR professional and an adjunct professor at Wagner College in New York City, and a frequent columnist for The Advocate. Follow John on Twitter @johntcaseyjr.

Advocate Magazine - KehlaniAdvocate Channel Promotion

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Be sure to follow Advocate on your favorite social platforms!


Want more news, top stories, and videos? Check out the all NEW Advocate Channel!
Your 24/7 streaming source for equality news and lifestyle trends.
Click this link right now:

Latest Stories