Mayor Rob Ford, of Toronto, is about to have his life and drug-fueled exploits made into a musical comedy, called Rob Ford the Musical: Birth of a Ford Nation. Love him or hate him, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has certainly provided, albeit unintentionally, much fodder for comedians to crack jokes about him and instill laughter in their audiences. Second City held tryouts on Monday for the person who will fill the role of Rob Ford at the Second City Training Centre in Toronto.
Quite a few Rob Ford lookalikes showed up at the Second City Training Centre, at least 40 of them, according to a report in the Toronto Star, all vying for the opportunity to portray the political leader and rascally scamp, Mayor Rob Ford. They came, they saw, they sang, some hopefuls blonder or more portly than others, and each of the potential Rob Fords got their chance at their fifteen minutes of fame by trying out at the basement audition suites of the Second City facility.
In September, the Second City musical production will begin its two-week run at Toronto’s Factory Theatre from Sept. 16 to Sept. 28. If the musical proves to be successful, the run might be extended. Already, much like Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, himself, Rob Ford the Musical: Birth of a Ford Nation is generating controversy.
The controversy involves another major character in Rob Ford the Musical, one that serves as a spiritual guide to Rob Ford, to show him where he’s screwed up in his life and career, and how to reform and remake himself, and admit to smoking crack and abusing other substances, like alcohol.
The spiritual guide’s name is Transgression, and the fictional Rob Ford in the musical refers to him as “Tranny.” Though Rob Ford often has made comments in his storied career that are not politically correct, there is no evidence that he has ever called anyone a “tranny” before. The word is supposed to reflect actual examples of when Rob Ford as made offensive and derogatory statements. The use of the word has caused some critics who took to social media sources to call the production transphobic.
According to McCaig, that was not his intention, at all. Instead, he thought “What better way to take Rob Ford through his life than a transvestite?” McCaig added that the character is seeking to “teach him how he should have carried himself throughout this.”
Brett McCaig, the writer of Rob Ford the Musical: Birth of a Ford Nation, thinks of Ford as being a Shakespearian or Dickensian type of character.
The Shakespearian character that immediately came to McCaig’s mind was Falstaff, who began as a somewhat heroic figure, but who had his own problems with alcohol. McCaig has stated that the musical is based on facts, though doubtless, he and the Second City troupe have embellished them to add comedy touches.
One of the Rob Ford hopefuls, Dave Miller, sang Brian Wilson by the Barenaked Ladies, while another one, Travis Hays, sang Rehab by Amy Winehouse. Neither of these songs will be in Rob Ford: The Musical, but both would be fun choices.
Rob Ford the Musical: Birth of a Ford Nation reportedly begins with a scene of Rob Ford as he walks straight into a television camera. He gets knocked out when a falling camera lens hits his face. Brett McCaig stated that the last five pages of the musical have yet to be written. He is waiting to see what happens once Mayor Rob Ford ends his stint in rehab before he completes the script.
McCaig wants Rob Ford: The Musical to be enjoyable, and he has stated that it’s “not 90 minutes of Ford bashing.” According to McCaig, the musical is neither “anti-Ford” nor is it “pro-Ford.” He added that “We’d welcome Mr. Ford to come and do the opening night speech.”
Other than Rob Ford and Transgression, other main characters in Rob Ford: The Musical include Rob’s brother, Doug Ford, the city Councillor, as well as famous author Margaret Atwood. Atwood, in real life, has argued against proposed cuts that Doug Ford has proposed to make to library funding.
Brett McCaig has been working on Rob Ford the Musical: Birth of a Ford Nation for around a year. He co-wrote the book the musical’s based on and the lyrics with collaborator P. Joseph Regan. Another person who Mccaig has collaborated with in the past, Anthony Bastianon, wrote the music to go along with the lyrics.
Rather than looking at Rob Ford’s behavior as being a black eye for Toronto, Ontario native, McCaig, seems to view it as any publicity is publicity, stating that “Toronto has never been more spoken of or thought about in the North American diaspora than ever.”
McCaig calls Rob Ford: the Musical “a timeless story.” There will be a total of 10 original songs in the musical, in the genres of country, pop, and rock. Whoever is chosen to play Rob Ford will need to also be a good enough singer to carry a few of the songs, some of which will be ballads.
Besides looking like Rob Ford and being able to act and sing, McCaig is also wanting the actor that will play Ford to be able to dance. According to McCaig, “You might see a crack pipe mixed with tap shoes.”
Brett McCaig has stated that it would be great if Rob Ford would be able to be there when Rob Ford the Musical: Birth of a Ford Nation debuts, and “give the opening-night curtain speech.” He said that Rob Ford and his family have “an open invititation” to come to the play, and they would “supply him with tickets,” whenever he can come. He stated he’d even like to put Ford into the play, “if he’ll be interested in that.”
Is the world ready for a musical comedy based on Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s life? Ready or not, Brett McCaig’s production, Rob Ford the Musical: Birth of a Ford Nation, is going to begin its two-week run this coming September. It will be an entertaining show, filled with the absurdities that have marked many aspects of Rob Ford’s life, music, dancing, and satire. Ford might not be Falstaff; but, he’s definitely a larger-than-life character whose life and exploits just might also be the makings of a successful musical.
Written by: Douglas Cobb