Presented by Charlie Fink, Lee Seymour
Produced by the New Musical Foundation, Inc
Music & Book by Marshall Pailet
Lyrics & Book by A.D. Penedo
Based on a screenplay by J.T. Allen
Directed by Marshall Pailet
Music directed, arranged, accompanied by Rona Siddiqui
Choreography by Misha Shields
Review by Kitty Drexel
On occasion Geeks go to NYC. On occasion we review shows while we’re there. This is one such review.
(New York, NY) Sweet Mary Mother of God did George W. Bush, Colin Powell and, most specifically, Dick Cheney screw over the American people with the Iraq war. To say that the events leading up to and immediately after were FUBAR, would be putting it lightly. There were no weapons of mass destruction; the US pointlessly wasted lives, resources and oodles of money to appease Republican impotent bloodthirst. The people never received a refund or even a proper apology for this BS. Thank merciful Zeus the arts are here to save us from horrible truths. In particular, thank Pailet & A.D. Penedo for writing Who’s Your Baghdaddy? Or, How I started the Iraq War, a delightful treatment of the events of 2001 that gives them the severity and respect they deserve*.
To sum up the literal and figurative horror that was the Iraq War: the US invaded Iraq because right people at the right time falsely believed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. He didn’t. We still haven’t lived it down.
In Baghdaddy, a Bulworth meets Dr. Strangelove musical, we are invited to a support group for starters of the War. Martin Bouchard (Bob D’Haene) has disseminated information on the internet about Hussein’s secret cache of biological weapons. Far away in Frankfurt, Richart (Brennan Caldwell) has received intel from operative Curveball (Nehal Joshi who has the voice of a baritone angel) supporting Bouchard’s diatribe. Berry (Larisa Oleynik) and Jerry (Olli Haaskivi), are doing their darndest to prove that this intel is accurate. It isn’t. Only adult in the room, Tyler Nelson (Jason Collins who has the rock ballad belt of an 23 year old) isn’t able to prevent this incorrect intel from falling into the hands of the state department. The rest can be found in US history books.
The production started with the minty fresh piano stylings of music director Rona Siddiqui. She gave such hits as “Hit Em Up Style,” Shaggy’s “It Wasn’t Me,” and “Where My Girls At” an organic muzak treatment. It set the tone of the afternoon very well even if the audience behaved as if it had no idea that the gentle accompaniment was a reference to a simpler time.
The staging of Baghdaddy is straight out of the “Yes, and” book of craft. The cast got down and dirty with the naughty, pop-cultured hip hop lyrics by Penedo in such a way as to infer that Pailet asked his cast to take it to 11. The set and costumes are minimal but the choreography is full frontal. It’ll raise your pulse and possibly your nethers. The title song and “Das Man” were juicily inspired by the debauchery that was Cheney & Bush’s bastardization of democracy.
The cast is uniformly excellent. They gave great, intense performances… But, were one to choose favorites, Claire Neumann, the only female ensemble member appearing as too many characters to count, would be it. She has a rubber face capable of any expression and the vocal versatility of a wizard. Her performance was exemplary in a production bursting with near perfect performances. Neumann’s partner in crime Brandon Espinoza delivered a powerful counter-balance.
One small fault: the cast did not always sing for the room. There were moments at which the entire front row may have suffered hearing loss due to the cast’s exertions. It’s small but just enough to take the audience out of their revery.
The US went to war with Saddam Hussein because George W. Bush was incapable of finding Bin Laden (#thanksObama). It was a financially travesty and a pox on the ass of US history. So it is fitting that Who’s Your Baghdaddy? is deliciously offensive. Its toying with the truth echoes exactly the republican cabinet’s puppeting of human lives. Should one have a limited sense of humor and disdain for liberal thinking, this production isn’t for you. If you enjoy a well-deserved razzing at the expense of dickholes who deserve it/effective storytelling, you’ll have a great time.
Those who enjoy the work of Pailet and Penedo should check out their 2012 musical Triassic Parq.