Tony award? Opera to open about Britain's former PM Blair

Mr Tony Blair is the subject of an opera, with a colourful cast of characters. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (AFP) - He once played guitar in a band called Ugly Rumours and hosted Britpop's leading lights in 10 Downing Street.

Now former British prime minister Tony Blair is the subject of an opera, with a colourful cast of characters.

Tony! (A Tony Blair Rock Opera), written by comedian Harry Hill, will be performed next year at the Turbine Theatre next to Battersea Power Station.

The theatre called the show, set to open in February, "a reckless reappraisal" of the life of the Labour Party's most successful leader, who was in power from 1997 to 2007.

Publicity for the spectacle says it is "the story of how one man went from peace-loving, long-haired hippy and would-be pop star to warmongering millionaire in just a couple of decades".

The story plays "fast and loose with the facts, owing as much to Citizen Kane as it does to The Marx Brothers - Karl and Groucho", it added.

Characters set to feature include Mr Blair's wife, Cherie, his combative press secretary Alistair Campbell, former Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and former United States president George W. Bush.

Depictions of Princess Diana, former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and former British prime minister Gordon Brown - Mr Blair's dour finance minister and successor - will also appear on stage.

Mr Blair, now 67, became Britain's youngest prime minister since Lord Liverpool in 1812 when he won a landslide election victory in 1997 aged 43, ending 18 years of unbroken Conservative rule.

He was initially popular, introducing social and economic reforms, with a media-savvy approach, which included describing Diana as "the people's princess" after her death in 1997.

But critics have still not forgiven his support for Mr Bush's "War on Terror" and invasion of Iraq to oust Saddam, who was executed in 2006.

Since leaving office, Mr Blair has been a Middle East envoy and set up his own foundation on religion, climate change and Africa, but been criticised for accepting lucrative private-sector work, including for autocrats.

The opera is not the first spoof about the former prime minister. Britain's Channel 4 television in 2006 broadcast Tony Blair: Rock Star about his early musical ambition.

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