An Oscar-winning actress known for her ability to take on any role, Meryl Streep’s latest acting triumph came in the form of an unexpected, farcical impersonation of infamous GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump during the Shakespeare in the Park Public Theater Gala at Delacorte Theater in Central Park, New York City.
The celebrated actress, often thought to be one of the greatest of our time, has attracted praise for her depictions of powerful female political figures like British prime minister Margaret Thatcher and suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst. The juxtaposition of these somber past roles with the absurd getup Streep donned last night to embody the distinctive businessman-turned-politician—an inflated fake belly, splotchy orange-red tan, trademark blondish quiff and sloppy red tie—only augmented the hilarity of the portrayal and enthusiasm with which her performance was received.
Alongside Mamma Mia! co-star Christine Baranski, who was dressed as Hillary Clinton, Streep strode onstage with Trump’s signature swagger to perform a rendition of “Brush Up Your Shakespeare” from Cole Porter’s musical, Kiss Me, Kate. The song, originally sung by two mobsters discussing the best ways to pick up women, begins with Streep belting, “We could do a deal — you’ll let me know — why it is all the women say no?” A poignant jab at Trump’s often abrasive, belligerent personality, as well as his frequent less-than-flattering remarks about women, it’s certainly not hard to imagine Trump as a strutting gangster who’s puzzled when his showy, obnoxious attempts to attract a woman fall flat.
“Brush up your Shakespeare and the women you will wow. Just declaim a few lines from Othello, and they’ll think you’re a hell of a fella,” Baranski-as-Clinton sang back. With these two candidates vying for the position of next President of the United States, the song choice seems particularly pertinent. Humorous lyrics portraying two clueless mobsters trading artless advice on how to attract female attention cuttingly mirror the tactics the two politicians are sure to employ to win over the hearts of the American people before the coming election.
The parody surprised even event organizers, according to the gala’s artistic director Oskar Eustis. “Utterly [Streep’s] idea, beginning to end,” he confirmed. “There were skeptics, there were doubters, but one of those skeptics was not Meryl Streep. She was absolutely sure she could do it. None of us had seen her in costume or makeup, till she walked out tonight.”
Meryl Streep has historically supported Hillary Clinton, paying tribute to her in a speech at the Women of the World summit in 2012. As the election looms closer and official party nominees are determined, Streep joins many fellow artists, actors and musicians who have thrown their hat into the ring to make a statement about this year’s tumultuous presidential race. Watch Streep’s hilarious rendition, with footage courtesy of The New York Times reporter Jacob Bernstein, below.