Following Stephen Harper’s performance last October of the Beatles’ classic With a Little Help From My Friends, comedian Steven Shehori and his brother and writing partner, Daniel, wondered what would happen if the Conservative party staged a musical about the Prime Minister to boost his ratings.
So they created Stephen Harper! The Musical. The show, which just wrapped up a two-week run at Second City in Toronto, is the Canadian response to successful musicals in Chicago about the former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich and the conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh.
Instead of “taking cheap shots at the PM,” says Steven, the musical depicts a sympathetic leader, stuck in the middle of a circus of overbearing advisers who scheme to recreate the magic of his famous Beatles performance. The best way, they decide, is to release a Broadway musical about Harper in advance of an election. While there is no mention of his policies, the show credits Harper with staging the Riel Rebellion and defeating former Olympic sprinter Carl Lewis in a race. “We’re poking fun at the absurdity of politics,” says Steven. Harper’s Beatles song “is a microcosm of a bigger issue: the cult of personality has become more intriguing than policies.”
In January, the two-act comedy heads on the road. So far, 15 cities—chosen for economic reasons, not political ones—are confirmed for the cross-country tour. The brothers hope to add a stop in the Tory stronghold of Calgary, and one in Ottawa—where they’ve offered Harper a standing invite. “He can come in disguise if he wants,” says Steven, though they’d love if he joined the performance—giving the audience a night of art imitating the PM imitating art.