'Twas The Night Before Caucus
ANIMATED SHORT MUSICAL FILM - conceived, written & composed by RJF. Continuing a caucus-year tradition he began in 2004, Robert John Ford has created a new musical feature just in time for the 2024 Iowa Republican Caucuses. Rather than a stage musical as has been the tradition in the past, this year's ode to the caucuses is a short animated film, in which a MAGA family prepares for the upcoming political season. Produced with illustrator Bill Nelson and orchestrator & sound/video editor Lucas Tahiruzzaman Syed, the seven-minute film is viewable on YouTube by clicking HERE. Premiering December 28, 2023. MORE INFO
Cyclepaths - The RAGBRAI Musical
FULL-LENGTH STAGE MUSICAL COMEDY - book, music, and lyrics by RJF. This one-hour musical comedy tells the saga of a hipster couple from Brooklyn who falsely believes a tandem-bike journey as part of RAGBRAI - the Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa - will be a relaxing, carefree summer vacation. Each song focuses on a specific aspect of the ride, such as the delusions, the host towns, the weather, the food, the debauchery, the locals, and the exhaustion. "Cyclepaths" began as a sketch in RJF's musical revue "Utopia," which has been performed 75+ times throughout Iowa since 2008. Premiering summer 2024.
FULL-LENGTH STAGE MUSICAL COMEDY - book, music, and lyrics by RJF. You know him from "The Sound Of Music," but how did a dancing messenger boy become a member of the Nazi Youth movement during one fateful summer? Was he the villain or just a naïve, hormonal teenager? And exactly how do you spell his name? "Rolf(e)" tells the hilarious back-story of an unheralded and misunderstood hero-wannabe who would do anything for love and the resistance, while also examining more serious and timely themes such as gender/sexual identity, the rise of fascism, and the challenge of discerning what is actually true in an era of disinformation. Original 2022 workshop production supported by an Iowa Arts Council major project grant. Off-Broadway workshop production scheduled for fall 2024.
FULL-LENGTH STAGE MUSICAL DRAMA - currently in development with numerous collaborators. This new full-length musical drama focuses on the inspiring life and tragic death of college football legend Jack Trice - one of the first Black Americans to play the sport - and the efforts by a group of students and alums determined to have him properly honored.
Adore Us! Line
FULL-LENGTH STAGE MUSICAL COMEDY - book and parody lyrics by RJF. "Adore Us! Line" is a song-by-song parody of the landmark Broadway musical "A Chorus Line" in which each of the 24+ 2020 Democratic presidential candidates audition for the Iowa voters prior to the first-in-the nation caucuses. A hilarious and at times poignant look at the candidates as they are compelled to move beyond their standard stump speeches and typical song and dance routines to examine their own lives, dreams, motivations, flaws, and strengths. Who will be the "one singular sensation" in the end? Premiered January, 2020 at Iowa Stage Theatre Company, Des Moines. Recipient of an Iowa Arts Council major project grant and winner of four BroadwayWorld Best-Of-The-Decade Regional Awards, including Best Original Script, Best Production, Best Ensemble, and Best Direction. To view a full performance, click HERE.
Caucus! The Musical
FULL-LENGTH STAGE MUSICAL COMEDY - book, music and lyrics by RJF. "Caucus! The Musical" is an irreverent look at the first-in-the-nation Iowa Caucuses, offering audiences an entertaining opportunity to see how one undersized state plays such an oversized role in the presidential selection process. When an Iowa farmer and his family are dubbed “the typical Iowa caucus-goers” by the media and political machines, the candidates plot to do anything to win their votes!
From 2004 to 2016, "Caucus! The Musical" was presented in Des Moines during each election year, attracting more than 10,000 audience members and extensive national and international media attention. It was called “the hottest new musical in the country” by The Washington Post, and was the subject of feature stories in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, Time Magazine, and on CNN, NPR, ABC World News Tonight and the CBS Morning Show, to name just a few. In 2020, RJF wrote an entirely new caucus-themed musical "Adore Us! Line," a political parody of "A Chorus Line."
FULL-LENGTH STAGE MUSICAL COMEDY - book, music and lyrics by RJF. "Six-On-Six" is a musical comedy that celebrates the rich tradition of six-on-six girls' high school basketball in Iowa - its glorious history, unique rules, phenomenal popularity, colorful personalities, and the Title IX legal controversy that ultimately resulted in the game's demise. Proponents of six-on-six are the fans of the game, including the athletic union members who govern the sport and the lawyer they hire to represent their case. Opposed to the game are the detractors, including an outspoken mother, her teen daughter, and the lawyer they hire to represent their case. Intertwined with the main story are several subplots, including: the media attention surrounding a high school standout and her opportunity to break a national scoring record; the tension that develops between the two lawyers who represent opposite sides of the controversy; the pressure the mother places on her daughter to succeed; and the simplicity and sweetness of young love.
NEW! Licensing is now available for high school productions in the 2024-25 academic year! Since its first production at Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge in 2005, dozens of performances have been presented by community theatres and educational institutions throughout Iowa with an average of more than 500 people attending each performance. The musical is ideal for high schools, as it features numerous high school-aged characters and opportunities for a large number of participants. And it has great appeal to audiences, especially those in communities with a rich tradition of six-on-six. Licensing package includes digital scripts and digital orchestral scores and vocal parts; costume rentals and other services are also available. It's the perfect show to educate today's students about Iowa's history. To inquire about production rights, email email@example.com.
Utopia - The Iowa Musical Revue
"Utopia - The Iowa Musical Revue" features a wide variety of original sketches and parody songs that celebrate - and poke a little fun at the unique people, places, and traditions of the great state of Iowa. To date, more than 60 songs and sketches have been presented in five unique versions of the show, and new songs and sketches are being constantly added, guaranteeing something new for audiences to see at each performance. "Utopia" is the perfect entertainment option for Iowans who like to laugh at themselves and visitors who want a little taste of the Hawkeye State.
The World's Largest Aluminum Foil Ball
FULL-LENGTH STAGE MUSICAL COMEDY - book, music and lyrics by RJF. Business is slow at a roadside attraction run by a simple rural couple and their socially-challenged son... until mysterious strangers appear, eager to view the main novelty item - the world's largest aluminum foil ball. When it is discovered that the ball has recently been included on the Department of Homeland Security's list of potential terrorist targets, they become suspicious of the "tourists," their true motives, and the curious timing of their visit. This dark musical comedy takes the audience on a road trip to a deep red state, where the main culture is the culture of fear. Premiered August 2007 at the Minnesota Fringe Festival, where the St. Paul Pioneer Press named it a "must see" production.
FULL-LENGTH STAGE DRAMA - written by RJF. Two mothers are trying to uncover the facts surrounding a car accident that has left one woman's son dead and the other woman's son comatose. Their investigation, which leads to surprising and disturbing revelations about the circumstances leading up to and immediately after the accident, ultimately forces the mothers to re-examine the identities of both themselves and the sons they thought they knew so well after realizing there has been a misidentification and switch of the victims. Loosely based on a true story, "Sleeping Dogs" examines the complex and very personal reasons why some people are content to accept matters as they appear to be while others are compelled to seek the truth at any cost. Winner of the Ashland New Play Festival (Oregon), the Hudson Repertory Company New Play Festival (New York), Cygnet Theatre's Playwrights In Process Fest (California), and the Iowa Playwrights Workshop. "Riveting...it is Ford's well-paced script that makes the show so remarkable." - The Des Moines Register
My Dinner With Andrew
FULL-LENGTH STAGE DRAMA - written by RJF. In 1997, Andrew Cunanan became the subject of one of the largest manhunts in U.S. history when he went on a cross-country killing spree that began in Minneapolis and ended with the broad-daylight slaying of iconic fashion designer Gianni Versace. For a period of eight months prior to the first murders, playwright Robert John Ford had nearly daily encounters with Cunanan at a San Diego dog park. "My Dinner With Andrew" chronicles their disturbing and foreshadowing conversations as well as how the playwright found himself in the middle of the FBI investigation and the national hysteria that followed. A must-see for fans of the FX true crime series American Crime Story - The Assassination of Gianni Versace. Premiered August 2011 at the Minnesota Fringe Festival, where the St. Paul Pioneer Press named it a "must see" production.
The Casserole Brigade
FULL-LENGTH STAGE COMEDY - written by RJF. Suddenly finding themselves single again in the unfamiliar era of online dating, four inventive widows develop a decidedly old-school method to meet potential new partners. One of the widows pays a visit to a man she had a crush on more than 60 years earlier, and as they begin to rekindle their friendship, their traditional views on relationships are turned upside down. A series of revelations and unexpected visitors help them look at life and love in a new light.
The Last Ride
NOVEL/SCREENPLAY - written by RJF. When a middle-aged architect learns that a rickety old wooden roller coaster - one that he and his friends would congregate around during the carefree summers of his childhood - is scheduled to be torn down, he journeys to the site, determined to enjoy one last ride. Along the way, he examines everything from his career choices to his current relationships with his son and his spouse-to-be. This novel is currently in development.
Theatre, Stand-Alone, and Parody Songs
Robert John Ford has written the music and/or lyrics for more than 100 musical theatre songs, 50 stand-alone songs, and 100 parody songs. For a full list of RJF's songs, click HERE.