Baghdaddy is a satirical musical comedy stage play with music and book by Marshall Paillet, lyrics and book by A.D. Penedo, based on an unproduced screenplay by J.T. Allen, and produced by Charlie Fink. The musical is based on historical events leading up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq by the United States, and focuses on how the CIA and BND (German intelligence service) provided the Bush administration with a justification for invading Iraq.
Baghdaddy was produced Off-Off-Broadway at the Actor's Temple in 2015. The production was critically acclaimed, and was dubbed a Critic's Pick by the New York Times. A new production opened Off-Broadway at the St. Luke's Theatre on May 1, 2017.
The musical takes place in a narrative frame in which the cast and audience attend an AA-style support group for people who started the Iraq War. The cast includes CIA operatives, an Iraqi informant, and a BND operative.
The story focuses on the recruitment and eventual disgrace of an Iraqi defector, codenamed "Curveball," and the use and misuse of his testimony by the CIA, State Department, and Bush Administration. In Baghdaddy, as in reality, Curveball provides Western intelligence agencies with false intelligence on Iraqi mobile weapons laboratories. This intelligence, which is later discovered to have been fabricated, was used by Secretary of State Colin Powell in his 2003 speech to the UN Security Council to justify the invasion of Iraq and overthrow of Saddam Hussein.
Near the opening of the show, the cast explains to the audience that some of the characters are loosely based on actual figures, while others are composites of multiple figures. The story hews closely to historical accounts of the period, particularly Bob Drogin's book Curveball: Spies, Lies, and the Con Man Who Caused a War (2007) and Frank Rich's book The Greatest Story Ever Sold: The Decline and Fall of Truth in Bush's America (2006).
The character "Curveball" is based on an actual Iraqi defector and BND informant, Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, who was known by the Defense Intelligence Agency cryptonym "Curveball." The fictional character "Tyler Nelson" shares a first name and some biographical details with the late, retired CIA official Tyler Drumheller, while the character "Martin Bouchard" shares several biographical details with former UN Chief Weapons Inspector and Iraq Survey Group leader David Kay.
Washington, DC production
In 2011, Baghdaddy premiered at the Capital Fringe Festival in Washington, DC, where it received the "Best Overall Production" award. It then played an extended run at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre. The show was produced under the title Who's Your Baghdaddy?
In 2015, Baghdaddy was produced Off-Off-Broadway at the Actors' Temple in New York City, also with the title Who's Your Baghdaddy? The production was critically acclaimed, with positive reviews from publications including Broadway World, the Voice of America, and Manhattan Digest. The New York Times dubbed Baghdaddy "An important, cunning, rock-solid musical comedy with a terrible title," and named it a Critic's Pick.
In 2017, a production opened Off-Broadway at the St. Luke's Theatre in New York City. Previews began in April 2017, and the official opening was May 1, 2017. The production features much of the cast from the 2015 Off-Off-Broadway production (Brennan Caldwell, Jason Collins, Bob D'Haene, Brandon Espinoza, Claire Neumann, and Larisa Oleynik), and adds two new actors: Joe Joseph and Ethan Slater.
- "How the Creators of Baghdaddy Turned the Crazy True-Life Story of the Iraq War Instigators Into a Musical | Playbill". Playbill. Archived from the original on 2017-04-27. Retrieved 2017-04-27.
- Gates, Anita (2015-10-13). "Review: 'Who's Your Baghdaddy?', on the Difference Between Credible and Reliable Intelligence". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 2017-01-07. Retrieved 2017-04-27.
- Drogin, Bob (2007). Curveball: Spies, Lies, and the Con Man Who Caused a War. Random House.
- Rich, Frank (2006). The Greatest Story Ever Sold: The Decline and Fall of Truth in Bush's America. Penguin Books.
- "2011 Capital Fringe - it's a wrap". DC Theatre Scene. 2011-07-25. Archived from the original on 2017-04-28. Retrieved 2017-04-27.
- "Capital Fringe Review: Who's Your Baghdaddy? or How I Started the Iraq War". DCist. Archived from the original on 2013-12-06. Retrieved 2017-04-27.
- Clarke, David. "BWW Review: WHO'S YOUR BAGHDADDY? is Exceptionally Executed Intellectual Comedy". BroadwayWorld.com. Archived from the original on 2016-01-05. Retrieved 2017-04-27.
- Byrd, David. "Who's Your Baghdaddy - New Musical Pokes Serious Fun at Iraq War". VOA. Archived from the original on 2017-04-28. Retrieved 2017-04-27.
- Leeds, Ryan (2015-11-10). "Theater Review: WHO'S YOUR BAGHDADDY? OR HOW I STARTED THE IRAQ WAR". Manhattan Digest. Archived from the original on 2017-04-28. Retrieved 2017-04-27.
- "BAGHDADDY - A Musical Support Group - Join Us!". baghdaddymusical.com. Archived from the original on 2017-04-28. Retrieved 2017-04-27.