ILLUSTRATION BY JOE CIARDIELLO FOR USN&WRSure, politics makes for great theater—so why not a musical? That's what Iowa native Robert Ford thought when he created Caucus! The Musical, set to open in Des Moines next month (and in New Hampshire under the title The Primary Primary!) to considerable buzz and sell-out sales. "It's all about big personalities, overacting—and a lot of song and dance," says Ford. The cast includes some composite characters. One senator is a cross between former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and President Bush. Another is an African-American woman, clearly a nod to Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
But most of all, says Ford, the musical is an ode to the gumption of Iowa natives during the campaign season. The tune "Anything for a Vote" sends up candidates' willingness to do just that—and the willingness of Iowans to let them. "Why tell him I'm Republican/Until he got the dishes done?" muses one voter. The musical offers the rest of the country a window into "this unique access that Iowa voters have," says Ford. "And you can see why I'm a supporter of keeping Iowa first. I like this idea that very politically involved Iowans are giving the rest of the country a good picture of the candidates," he adds. "And giving them the kind of scrutiny they wouldn't get anywhere else."