Post image for CD Review: WHO’S YOUR BAGHDADDY? OR HOW I STARTED THE IRAQ WAR (Original Cast Recording)

by John Todd on October 10, 2018



The Iraq War lasted seven years (2003 – 2011) and cost $1.06 trillion, adding more than more than $1 trillion to the U.S. debt. I thought this was going to be a heavy-handed listen, but it’s a hoot to listen to the Original Cast Album about the war’s genesis. Seen Off-Broadway in 2015, and again with a shorter title at St. Luke’s in 2017 (which is the cast you get here), Who’s Your Baghdaddy? Or How I Started the Iraq War — written and scored by Marshall Pailet (Triassic Parq) and A.D. Penedo – concerns the true-life actions that led the United States to raid Iraq in 2003. The tale concerns six characters who meet Alcoholics Anonymous-style (“Hi, I’m ‘—-‘ and I started the Iraq War”) because they all feel they deserve recognition; as the show progresses, they end up looking for atonement and pity.

Curveball (Joe Joseph), an Iraqi defector who got his code name from the CIA, is the inconsistent biochemical scientist who has info on Saddam Hussein’s theoretical biological weapons (but is it the right info?). He is questioned by Richart (Brennan Caldwell), a German Intelligence minion who aches to be a big honcho (the riotous “Das Man”). Watching closely is the CIA: Knowledgeable in biological warfare, Martin (Bob D’Haene) takes this info as a sign that he will finally get the attention his research deserves. Systems analyst Berry (Larisa Oleynik) is champing at the bit to take the case to prove her worth, Jerry (SpongeBob’s Ethan Slater), is a translator who wants to look good to Berry, and Tyler (Jason Collins), whose allegiance to his employer comes before personal beliefs or loyalty to fellow workers, wants everybody to follow procedure. There’s also The Man (Brandon Espinoza) and The Woman (Claire Neumann) who take on many other roles. Much of the action takes place in 2001 and halfway through the Trade Center towers falling beomes part of the show.

This robust and catchy score embraces rap, rock, and ballads; especially good are the fuming “We Deserve Better,” the melancholic “Speak to Me Tomorrow,” and the second act opening number, “Change of Tone.” Because the creators are going for the culpability of people other than politicians, the show’s off-kilter examination actually hits home harder than had they simply slammed Bush and Powell, say. The eclectic songs stay true to character, which is why the tunes are so humorous. Definitely recommended.

Who’s Your Baghdaddy? Or How I Started the Iraq War
Original Cast Recording
Broadway Records
released September 28, 2018 | 21 tracks | 48:36
available on Amazon, iTunes, and Broadway Records

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