Singing with Saddam, in Bug Theatre's Iraq War, the Musical!

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A new musical -- aptly titled Iraq War, the Musical! -- attempts to make sense of the nonsense our current administration is spouting. We caught up with director Paul Cross to ask him about his singing, dancing extravaganza.

Westword (Amber Taufen): How did you come up with the idea for this production?

Paul Cross: I was in L.A. in 2003, and I really wanted to do it there, but I was contemplating moving back to Denver. And three years later I moved back and I wanted to do it here, I just thought it was a better audience with the state being so split. My goal at that time was to help make Colorado a blue state. And then, once I heard about the Democratic National Convention later on, I’ve been writing little bits and pieces of it and was like, well, now I have to do this. I moved to california for a job and I moved back and, now I’m here. I gotta do this.

WW: Can you tell me a little about the plot?

PC: It’s a satire, and it’s all based on actual facts and sometimes happenings that occurred. I watch a lot of documentaries and read a lot of books. The hardest part was just finding out what’s something that the American people may not know, and how do I make that funny. I think all the major points get brought up. It starts out, the audience sees Bush with a Bible on stage, and he says he’s going to read from the Bible. This was actually a Second City sketch I wrote, we were going to do it and then 9/11 happened, and they were like no, we can’t do anything negative about the President. He prays to God and Jesus, and they show up. The color codes, how they created those to keep America scared. Saddam and Osama have a love/hate song, they just want to get closure. Colin is at the UN presenting his fake evidence -- it’s a lot of Second City-type stuff.

We’ve been getting a lot of talk and I’m happy about that, I’m doing the whole thing so it’s been pretty stressful for me, but it’s coming along pretty well, our music guy’s awesome, our choreographer is awesome. The cast is from Bovine Metropolis, and coming from an improvisation background, I’m really happy with all the cast, and they’ve added so much to the script and they’ve really got a unique grasp on the characters.

WW: Who are the characters involved?

PC: Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Saddam, Osama, members of the chorus who play different characters, reporters and whatnot. Bush Senior and Tony Blair, actually played by the same guy. He also plays Jesus. We’ve got Ronald Regan in one scene...and that’s it.

WW: Does this follow the war from beginning to end -- what’s the time frame?

PC: Most of it’s set in the events that happened as the war was progressing, and twoard the end, it’s stuff that could still be happening now. There’s a serious piece with soldiers and Bush on stage. One thing I want to make clear is that I’m not being disrespectful to the troops at all, I was very angry about the war and the more I found out about it the more I realized I had to do this. It’s a serious piece about how they’re not getting the supplies they need, going through a veteran’s hospital. It’s ridiculous.

Catch Iraq War, the Musical! Friday and Saturday nights at 8 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. through August 31; it's an all-ages show, and tickets are $20. The play runs at the Bug Theatre, 3654 Navajo Street. Visit www.iraqwarthemusical.com.

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