Transit City: The Musical!

I’m tired of sitting on the sidelines while everybody else gets into the fun of musical theatre.

They’re making millions and those of us who don’t dip into the ever-growing and lucrative world of the old soft shoe and warble are suckers.

There’s a “Shrek: The Musical,” for God’s sake. Only a matter of time – mark me – before we’re enjoying the elevated buzz around opening night of  “Flashpoint: The Musical.” Hell, Hugh Dillon will probably write the music himself.

Stintz and Ford: Another title could be “A Streetcar Named You’re Fired.”


However, long before we get to that, we shouldn’t look past the incredible drama and intrigue that is Toronto’s own city council. Lots of meat on that bone, even if the gravy’s gotten scarce.

Divine inspiration struck me as I watched the unfolding events down at the ol’ clam shell on Wednesday. As wave after wave of venom-filled tweets from both sides of the debate electrified my brain, I had an epiphany.

“Transit City: The Musical.”

Oh, baby. Ka – friggin’ – ching!

‘This idea’s too good not to have an exclamation point in the title,’ I thought. And so was born:

“Transit City: The Musical!”

Political intrigue. Backstabbing. Quickly unfolding drama. This can easily be translated to the stage. And will be, once Garth Drabinsky gets out of jail and is looking for the next great thing.

What follows is a general overview of my vision for Toronto’s greatest homegrown musical.

As far as casting, I’ve already nailed down my principal players. I need the mayor and his brother, as well as a TTC Chair.

Brent Butt will play Rob Ford. Gerry Dee will play his brother Doug. That’s perfect casting. Use your imagination. And we’ll use hair and make-up. As well as prosthetics, if need be.

Their signature number will come in a scene where, just after coming to power, they hatch their plan to ditch former mayor David Miller’s Transit City initiative. The scene is punctuated with their duet treatment of an old Spoons’ chestnut, with a slight twist:

Doo-doo, doo-doo, doo-doo-doo-doo…. Doo-doo, doo-doo, doo-doo-doo-doo… broooooomaaaaantic traffic….

Butt’s big dramatic solo moment will come later in the show, when Transit City is revived by council vote. It’s at that point that I see him making his way to downstage right, and sitting with his legs dangling over the edge. A single spotlight trained on him, he forlornly sings The Doors’ “The End.”

Sheila McCarthy: A better Karen Stintz than Karen Stintz.

Playing TTC Chair (for now) Karen Stintz, I’d like Sheila McCarthy. Only she could bring the complex mixture of strength and weariness so crucial to the multi-layered role of a woman who is conflicted by past alliances with a man she’d previously been devoted to, and her burgeoning ambition. She’s basically the Brutus to Rob Ford’s Caesar. (Mental note: Should we re-imagine this play as being set in Roman times? Brent Butt and Gerry Dee would be hysterical in togas.)

It HAS to be Sheila McCarthy. Realistically, Reese Witherspoon could carry it off, too, but, c’mon, we need to keep spending under control. If we can’t get McCarthy, I’d be happy with BT’s Jennifer Valentyne. She’s delightful.

I haven’t quite worked in a David Miller part just yet, but I know it’s essential. When I get a handle on that, I’ll approach veteran actor Michael Murphy to do it. Great actor. And look at him! That’s David Miller!

Let’s see, what else have I got?

There will definitely be a “West Side Story” type of number in there, probably to close the first act. A Sharks versus Jets thingy. Subway advocates against LRT lobbyists. It’s here that I envision a bit of a Ford-Stintz romantic tension undercurrent.

I hope to build in a gaggle of journalists, who can push the narrative with the odd question for each of the main characters. That’s where I’ll be able to invite crowd-pleasing Toronto news celebrities to do quick cameos, like in The Nutcracker. Peter Mansbridge. Lisa LaFlamme. Gord Martineau. Somebody From The Weather Network.

It’s a work in progress, so be gentle with critiques of this treatment. We need to workshop this puppy a bit, preferably at a place that’s not easy to get to by public transit. Soulpepper would suffice. Are you interested, Albert Schultz? I’d even let you play Giorgio Mammoliti, if you’re willing to go there as an actor.

I envision casting changes, rewrite after rewrite after rewrite, and impatient third party investors wondering when the hell this thing is going to actually hit the stage. If ever.

That only seems appropriate.

[box border=”full”]To read “The Mammoliti Gambit,” click here.[/box]

[box border=”full”]To read “Rob Ford and Mary Walsh: Do Two Wrongs Make a Funny?” click here.[/box]

[box border=”full”]To read “Jim Flaherty’s Budget Speech Translated,” click here.[/box]

[box border=”full”]To read “Unveiled: Top Secret Rookie MP Guidebook,” click here.[/box]