Why you should come to Michael Moore's ‘Terms of My Surrender'

Don’t be misled by the title of Michael Moore’s “The Terms of My Surrender,” an engaging solo selective memoir marking his Broadway debut.

The Oscar-winning filmmaker, best-selling author and career button-pusher waves no white flags and doesn’t talk about giving in. Nor does he spend all of his time bemoaning President Donald Trump and the sorry state of the nation.

Sure, there’s Trump-bashing. But at its heart the show is about delivering an urgent, if familiar, message: Everyone must get involved in social and political issues, because one person can work wonders.

Moore, 63, is living proof.

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He has been since he was 17 and gave a speech that had national repercussions. If you haven’t read Moore’s autobiography “Here Comes Trouble,” that’ll be an awakening.

Moore, a kid from Flint, Michigan, didn’t set out to be a teenaged changemaker. He was just buying snacks — he loved Ruffles, the potato chips famous for ridges. He spied a sign for a speech contest posted near the vending machine. He won the competition, made national news and changed the Elks Club’s discriminatory membership rules.

"Terms of My Surrender" isn't about waving a white flag, but you — and everyone — has to take responsibility to make the land of the red, white and blue better.

“Terms of My Surrender” isn’t about waving a white flag, but you — and everyone — has to take responsibility to make the land of the red, white and blue better.

Lesson: Ruffles have riches.

So does “Surrender,” which runs about 100 minutes and has a casual, semi-scripted tone. (I was told there’s no script when I requested one). There is a screen that Moore can see from the stage listing talking points during the show.

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Moore’s stirring story of how he and a pal undid President Ronald Reagan’s ceremonial visit in 1985 to a military cemetery with SS burial plots in Bitburg, Germany, is a highlight and a reminder that where there’s a will there’s a way. Moore and a friend who’d lost family members in the Holocaust got it done.

But Moore doesn’t just celebrate his own doings. A recollection revolving around his book “Stupid White Men” will make you want to hug a librarian.

Moore’s easygoing rapport with the audience goes a long way in these memories, and in stories of death threats. That includes real ones involving weapons and a figurative when “Dancing with the Stars” asked Moore to be on the show, an inviation he likened to a death notice. Tony-winning director Michael Mayer (“Spring Awakening”) keeps things rolling smoothly.

Mostly, anyway. Moore points to a bunting-draped box in the Belasco Theatre and explains that Trump has a standing invitation to come any time through Oct. 22. But he goes on too long about how “she” — Hillary Clinton — should be sitting there. It’s not that it’s fake news, it’s old news — beating a dead horse while preaching to the choir. Elsewhere, a game show inspired by a dumbed-down America isn’t half as smart as it wants to wants to be.

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Those are minor quibbles. Moore pulls the show together with a flashy finale. You’re left to think about facing your fears — and never surrendering.

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michael moore
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