In the history of musical theatre, more than a few odd characters have been chosen as the topic for a stage play. Many of them — including the Boy George, Ted Roosevelt, and Bonnie & Clyde musicals — flopped into obscurity, whereas a few subjects went on to roaring critical and commercial success (think Jerry Springer among others).
Add controversial Canadian politician Rob Ford to this list. Whether this is a good idea or not remains to be seen, but we’ll find out soon as he’s set to get the musical treatment.
Aside from being the Mayor of Toronto, most will recognize Ford’s name for the crack cocaine scandal that hit the headlines earlier in the year. Ford initially denied having used the drug until indisputable video proof emerged among press circles. Although the controversy surrounding that incident reached global news levels, it was only one in a long line of substance abuse debacles which have followed a similar pattern of denial followed by a public apology in the face of evidence.
Such extreme behavior — as well as the failure of attempts to remove him from office — have attracted the eye of not just one, but two different writers who have chosen Ford as the subject of their musicals.
Rob Ford The Musical: The Birth of a Ford Nation
Open auditions were held last week for an upcoming musical charting the highs and lows of Mayor Ford’s scandal-laden career, due for a short run at the Factory Theatre in Toronto between Sept. 16 and Sept. 28.
Written by Brett McCaig, the open casting call attracting hundreds of potential actors keen to fill the politician’s rather large shoes for the musical adaptation. Having teamed up with lyricist Joseph Regan and composer Anthony Bastianon, the writing itself has taken an entire year but is now reportedly complete. Not surprisingly, numerous drafts of the play were written as Ford’s public and private life became increasingly erratic.
McCaig himself hasn’t ruled out having to revise the musical’s conclusion pending any further controversies that may arise over the next few months.
The story itself will contain multiple characters and as many as ten original songs, but other than knowing the music will cover a number of different genres (including a few ballads), we’ll have to wait until September to get a better idea of how the Rob Ford musical will sound…
… or will we?
15 Year Old Writes Rob Ford Concept Album
If you want an idea of how the Rob Ford musical might sound, you can thank a high school student in Toronto who had a similar idea (albeit independently from McCaig) as Ford’s meltdown unfolded last year.
Unlike McCaig’s upcoming musical, Mateo Lewis is yet to write a play much yet organize a fully-fledged production, but he has already managed to get all of the songs written and recorded. Even better, he has uploaded all of the 18 tracks to Youtube for all and sundry to freely enjoy:
Including songs such as Victory Speech, Conflict of Interest and the sublimely titled Rob F**kin’ Ford, the 40 minutes of music chronicles a lot of the defining moments of Rob Ford’s life and career to date.
At this stage, Lewis has been keen to point out that it’s strictly in the ‘concept album’ phase and he isn’t sure if the songs will ever make it into a wider production (especially given that McCaig’s version of the Rob Ford musical has since been announced).
Regardless, Lewis is continuing his musical theatre studies at the Etobicoke School of the Arts and is due to begin grade 10 after the Summer – with a full musical concept album already under his belt at such an early stage in his career, we can expect great things to follow.