A promo for It's a Wonderful Toronto: The Rob Ford Holiday Spectacular (Kurt Firla graphic)
The show will go on. It’s a Wonderful Toronto: The Rob Ford Holiday Spectacular, that is.
“Obviously, I’m busy rewriting it,” said Matt Baram — the Second City veteran who wrote the satirical musical that’s set to play at Theatre Passe Muraille’s Backspace starting Dec. 11 — in light of Monday's conflict-of-interest ruling.
“As a left-leaning writer, I guess it’s odd that I would be hoping Rob Ford stayed in office, at least long enough for my play to happen,” Baram says.
The show features Second City veterans a’plenty, including director Chris Earle and skinny, straw-haired Paul Bates (CTV’s Dan For Mayor) as the erstwhile Mayor Ford. “We have a fat-suit. But basically it is a character study Paul’s been going through, learning the voice, learning the mannerisms.”
A plot mash-up of It’s A Wonderful Life, A Christmas Carol and other seasonal nuggets, it begins with Ford supporters putting on a variety show to boost his profile and morale.
Meanwhile, Ford is at his lowest ebb, and considering ending it all. “And then the Ghosts of Mayors Future show him that if he hadn’t got rid of that bike-lane, there’d have been a gigantic pile-up that would have killed thousands. Or that if he hadn’t decided to get rid of libraries and turn them into ‘rib-braries,’ the city wouldn’t have made millions of dollars to pay for infrastructure.”
Baram says that, while they’ll be sweating out the re-writes, the mayor’s ouster actually plays into the story. “The story is essentially It’s a Wonderful Life, or it starts that way, and George Bailey is at the bottom.
So this just puts the character further at the bottom.
“Obviously no one wants to see a guy fail. There’s tons of sympathy for him as a human being in the show. There are tender moments — 'I just wanted to be with my brother and be in football and be a coach and have people love me for it.'
“Rob Ford does love the city and we get that, and that’s definitely a part of his journey in the play.”
Ironically, the financially-troubled Theatre Passe Muraille was purchased by the city in 2007 during the term of Mayor David Miller.