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Creating Caucus Chaos: Robert John Ford's Newest Musical

The following was written by playwright Robert John Ford for Iowa Stage Theatre Company

When Caucus! The Musical was first presented to audiences as a staged reading at the Des Moines Playhouse in January 2004, little did I know it would become a theatrical tradition and an international phenomenon every four years thereafter. But following the 2016 production (the best, in my opinion), I felt the show had run its course, as the political landscape–and audience sensibilities to political satire–were rapidly transforming.

Still, I felt the three-ring circus known as the Iowa Caucuses was fertile ground for musical comedy, so in early 2019 I started jotting down ideas for an entirely new show. As the number of presidential aspirants surpassed the two dozen mark, it dawned on me that a nearly-perfect musical in which many characters are vying to be the “one singular sensation” had already been written and was ripe for parody–A Chorus Line. At that moment, Adore Us! Line was born.

The concept was simple: rather than dancers auditioning for a Broadway director, the real-life 2020 Democratic candidates would be auditioning for an Iowa Voter (as they do!). As I began writing the script and lyrics, I established three ground rules:

  1. the show would parallel the original ACL as much as possible–the character types, the song order, the balance between comedic and serious moments, etc.;

  2. discussion of political issues would be off-limits. This would be purely a character study; and

  3. it would not be a condemnation of Republicans and the current POTUS, nor would it be a love letter to Democrats.

And, for true fans of Caucus! The Musical, I threw in a few Easter eggs throughout the show for them to discover.

Of course, without the Board, staff, and artists of Iowa Stage Theatre Company, who wholeheartedly committed to presenting the world-premiere production based only on a pitch, Adore Us! Line may have never made it from the page to the stage. And without you, the audience, there is no theatre. I am grateful to the countless number of people who have demonstrated their belief in me and my talents throughout the development of this project.

Robert John Ford

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