BWW Review: WHO'S YOUR BAGHDADDY Opens at the Unicorn Theatre in Kansas City
The Unicorn Theatre in Kansas City opened its 46th season with WHO'S YOUR BAGHDADDY, OR HOW I STARTED THE IRAQ WAR on Saturday, September 7, on the Levin Stage. As with most of the productions coming out of the Unicorn Theatre the show itself was extremely well-produced, with fabulous talent, and wonderful choreography provided by Kyle Mullins.
Though no matter how well-produced I felt the play itself lacked sensitivity to the war and the events that led up to the invasion of Iraq. The first act was lively, and the energy of the actors and the music quickly spread over the audience. However, I felt the second act came on with a much more sincere nature and fewer less lively songs. If the writers had kept it more light-hearted, I feel the play would not have dragged like it did in the second act. I observed several audience members that were having a difficult time keeping their interest up and their eyes open.
WHO'S YOUR BAGHDADDY, OR HOW I STARTED THE IRAQ WAR is a musical comedy with music and book by Marshall Pailet and lyrics and book by A. D. Penedo. Directed by Sarah Crawford and music direction by Anthony T. Edwards it is inspired by real-world events leading up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
The musical is centered on a support group of CIA, German Intelligence Service (BND), and a CIA informant by the name of Curveball and the misuse of information given to President Bush to justify the attack by the United States. In WHO'S YOUR BAGHDADDY, Curveball has provided information about Iraqi mobile weapons laboratory to the CIA that is later determined to have been fabricated by him. Curveball is based on a true-life Iraqi defector and BND informant, Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi.
WHO'S YOUR BAGHDADDY opened as BAGHDADDY at the Off-Off-Broadway Actor's Temple in 2015, being called a Critic's Pick by the New York Times. In 2017 a new production opened Off-Broadway at the St. Luke's Theatre.
The entire cast is very talented however, in my opinion, two stood out above the others. Katie Karel listed only as Woman and Darrington Clark listed as Man were phenomenal. Both actors performed several characters in the musical. One moment they are members of the support group and the next they are reporters giving news from Iraq.
WHO'S YOUR BAGHDADDY, OR HOW I STARTED THE IRAQ WAR continues at the Unicorn through September 29. To purchase tickets online go to www.unicorntheatre.org.
Photos by Cynthia Levin