Set to open March 21 at Boston playhouse the Improv Asylum, Brothers' "You're a Good Man, Scott Brown" is a musical reinterpretation of the events that led to the Massachusetts Republican's landmark January upset. The production is less about plot than parody: The story starts with the death of Ted Kennedy and ends with "that speech!" as Brothers gleefully describes it. Like in real life, it's the details that count.
As the 90-minute show progresses, the Brown character flashes some skin and test-drives various Massachusetts dialects, while Coakley slowly goes batty. If "You're a Good Man, Scott Brown" has a message, it is that politics can be completely absurd. Among the other dramatis personae are Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick; Brown's wife, local ABC reporter Gail Huff; and the ghost of Ted Kennedy. ("Even Ted Kennedy hates Martha Coakley by the end," Brothers says.) There's romance, too. In one particularly tender scene, Brown serenades his pickup truck, played by Emerson College senior Quinn Beswick. The truck serenades him right back.
Finding the actor to capture Brown was the first major challenge: that dreamy jaw line! The improv genre, Brothers says, does not usually involve such meticulous casting. But in political satire, there are certain physical expectations that need to be respected. And in the case of Scott Brown, the former centerfold, there are certain physical traits the audience wants to see. "We wanted someone who was funny, someone who could sing, and yes, someone who had the figure," Brothers says. The part went to Evan Kaufman, a tall, dark and handsome Improv Asylum vet now living in Los Angeles.
Kaufman, calling from L.A., says he's been preparing for his role by fine-tuning "an incredible Boston accent that disappears and reappears whenever the political situation calls for it." He adds that he's been working hard to make himself hunkier with each passing day. "You can say one thing about Scott Brown," says Kaufman, his voice relaying shades of that oh-so-enchanting Scott Brown baritone. "He loves his family. Also, he's very handsome." Having interviewed Kaufman over the phone, this reporter cannot say whether the latter applies to Kaufman as well. But he sounds hot!
Even as Brothers wraps up his script, further challenges will loom. "You're a Good Man, Scott Brown" will run for six weeks before a possible national tour, and each news day offers up new fodder to potentially incorporate. Brothers is OK with that. Having spent time on Improv Asylum's Main Stage, in which players act out scenes based on audience suggestions, politics was for a long time a topic non grata. "During the later Bush years, no one yelled anything political," he says. "It was sad."
In the end, the script is really only a guide. "I've come to realize that everything could be different even by the time we open," says Brothers. "The best part about working with a crew trained in improv is that no one cares when the writer changes his mind." Which is another way of saying that for all its satirical intentions, "You're a Good Man, Scott Brown" may just resemble politics as usual.