Kevin Schoenfeldt (2L)
How does a balding, short, son of the Supreme Court and a
Lawyer, dropped in the middle of a thriving spot and
Employer in the capital, by providence privileged and white collar
Grow up to be a law dean and a scholar?
This is the question that opens the thrilling new show Iacobucci: A Canadian Musical, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s long-awaited follow up to his Broadway debut In the Heights. Iacobucci combines hip hop, pop, and musical theatre to tell the story of Edward Iacobucci, following his meteoric rise from law student to dean of one of Canada’s best law schools. Iacobucci, the character raps in a standout number, is “just like my country, polite, middle-aged, and wealthy” and he’s “not throwing away [his] shot.” Iacobucci is played by Miranda himself, who turns in an energetic and exhilarating performance that anchors the sprawling and talented cast.
The pre-opening hype surrounding the show centred around its colour-blind casting: Miranda as Iacobucci, Phillipa Soo as former dean Mayo Moran, and Leslie Odom, Jr. as Iacobucci’s nemesis, fictional SLS President Lane Parker who seeks first to prevent Iacobucci from becoming dean and then seeks to bring him down.
Odom, Jr.’s star turn as Parker will receive much attention come awards season. Not only is he a breathtaking singer, but he raps with as much style and flow as Miranda himself in their duet “Faculty Council Battle No. 1” covering their famous fight over tuition. The two trade insults as Parker accuses Iacobucci of recklessly raising tuition: “He raises tuition as he pleases while financial aid decreases and his bank account increases.” Ultimately, of course, Parker fails. “It’s coming to fruition, we’re raising your tuition,” Parker is told after Iacobucci emerges from a closed meeting, leading to another highlight of the show, “The Room Where it Happens.”
Yet another standout performance is Jonathan Groff as Frank Iacobucci. He enters the stage in full Supreme Court robes with great pomp and circumstance throughout the show to comment on plot developments. Not only are Justice Iacobucci’s numbers showstoppers, but as he sings devastating lines like “You won’t last/soon you’ll see/you will never be as good a dean as me,” he sheds psychological light on the younger Iacobucci’s need to prove himself to the point of overcompensation.
The dean of a law school might seem like an odd topic for the usually larger-than-life genre that is musical theatre, but Miranda finds the drama in Iacobucci’s life. From scandals that may affect his future (“Never gonna be provost now”) to the climactic and humiliating Moot Court showdown between Iacobucci and Parker (“The Ten Moot Commandments”), Miranda combines his well-known affinity for creative and complex rhyming with high-stakes drama. Amidst all the spectacle, the show never loses sight of its eponymous character and who he is:
My name is Edward Iacobucci
And there’s a million things I want to be
Wait and see
Just wait and see
Don’t wait. Go see it.
Iacobucci: A Canadian Musical
Tuesday-Sunday at Richard Rodgers Theatre
Tickets starting at $850.00