If you’ve always wanted to see a dancing Bernie Sanders singing along to tunes from the Broadway musical ‘A Chorus Line,’ then the Iowa Stage Theatre Company has just the production for you.
Writer Robert John Ford will premiere his musical ‘Adore Us! Line’ on Jan. 24, 2019. It features actors who will play all of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates who were still in the race in October, including Beto O’Rourke, Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren and Sanders. (The show runs through Feb. 2 and tickets are available here). Given the unpredictability of the current field, they didn’t want to have to cut any actor for a candidate who suddenly dropped out.
Maybe don’t expect too much singing and dancing from the actor who plays Sanders, though. According to the writer, Sanders obtains a doctors note and he is allowed to sit on the sidelines during some of the scenes.
The musical will take place in a union hall or legion hall — a sort of setting where Iowans have definitely run into the candidates before — and feature each of the presidential hopefuls making a comedic, yet heartfelt and poignant plea to an Iowa voter (the voter will be similar to the role of the director if you’re familiar with A Chorus Line).
Matt McIver, the artistic director for the Iowa Stage Theatre Company, said the plot of ‘A Chorus Line’ and the battle to win the Iowa Caucuses meld perfectly together.
“For the vast majority of the candidates, this is not going to end with the outcome that they want,” McIver said. “That’s the brilliant part of Robert’s selection with ‘A Chorus Line’ is the source material that’s the arc of ‘A Chorus Line.’
“There is this crowd of people who are desperate for this thing that they really, really want and most of them aren’t going to get it,” he said. “So there’s an inherent, even within a comedic piece like this, emotional arc of you already know that most of them aren’t going to get there and you’re watching them chase this thing that they want with all their heart and soul that most of them aren’t going to get.”
Ford created the candidate pleas they’ll make to the Iowa voter by studying each of their debate performances, stump speeches and Twitter feeds. He described the story as a fictionalized imagination of what candidates might say in a private meeting with a voter.
“It was just taking what I know to be true about them and their histories and personalities and everything and creating what I would believe they would say in a conversation,” Ford said. “I don’t think there’s anything in here that’s outrageously off the mark as far as something the candidate would say or do.”
Ford is familiar with writing about the Iowa Caucuses. He wrote ‘Caucus! The Musical,’ a story line that was presented before the 2006, 2010 and 2016 caucus cycles.
That story ended in 2016 because Ford couldn’t figure out how to continue the story after Donald Trump won the presidency.
He said he enjoys writing about the caucuses because “by the time you get to the week or two before the caucuses, people are kind of worn out by it all and they’re looking for a reason to laugh at the whole craziness of the caucus.”
“It allows people to step away from the very serious nature that we are chosen to do here in Iowa and that is basically being the first voice in selecting the next president,” Ford said. “We take that very seriously, but this is just an opportunity for people to step aside for a moment and kind of step back, look at what it all is, laugh at what’s funny about it and cry at what’s serious about it.”
The musical was written so it can be enjoyed by Democrats or Republicans and it doesn’t bash anybody in particular.
McIver said it “pokes fun” and the candidates “without mockery” and everyone is able to “laugh at foibles without bullying.”
“That’s a very fine line, I think, for a lot of writers,” McIver said. “I think we live in an era in which satire is the hardest forms to do anymore because the whole world is so damned outrageous, how do you satirize it?”
by Paige Godden