Ford role cast in musical about Toronto's mayor

Ford role cast in musical about Toronto's mayor

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TORONTO (AP) — A Canadian actor with an uncanny resemblance to Rob Ford has landed the role of Toronto's infamous mayor in an upcoming new musical comedy.

"Rob Ford the Musical: Birth of A Ford Nation" is set to debut at Toronto's Factory Theatre on Sept. 16, just over a month before Ford seeks re-election Oct. 27. It will run through Sept. 28.

The 90-minute show has 10 original tunes and sees a "spiritual guide" leading Ford through the past year of his tumultuous life — including his admitted drug use and stint in rehab.

Sheldon Bergstrom, a portly 42-year-old Canadian who dyed his hair blond, said he begged the producers to try out. Producers said he won the role over nearly 100 other hopeful actors, including one who is starring on Broadway.

"All across Canada, all throughout the world, people are watching this man, this mayor of ... Canada's greatest city, and he has managed to pull off some amazing things and pull off some crazy things in his time as mayor," Bergstrom said.

Bergstrom said the script gives Ford a "fair shake" and it's not about picking on Ford, who has bounced from controversy to controversy since admitting last year that he had smoked crack in a "drunken stupor."

Ford returned to work June 30 after a two-month stint in rehab, pledging an "unwavering" commitment to living clean. His duties as mayor have been curtailed since last year, when Toronto's City Council stripped him of most of his powers.

Writer Brett McCaig said that resemblance, as well as Bergstrom's talent, got him the part. McCaig said he's hoping the show will be extended, and he has ambitions of going off-Broadway with the production. He said much may depend on the outcome of the mayoral race.

"The story dies if Rob doesn't get voted back in," he said. "If Rob gets voted back in, I think we've got legs for a continued run, for sure."

Ford spokesman Amin Massoudi expressed indifference about the musical, repeating a phrase that the mayor has taken to invoking when asked about his personal troubles: "This is not news."

"The mayor is concerned with running an efficient municipal government, creating jobs and building more subways in Toronto," Massoudi said.

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