‘Berlusconi’ London Musical Sparks Satire on Mediaset

The announcement of a London stage musical titled “Berlusconi,” depicting the turbulent life of Silvio Berlusconi through a feminist prism and produced by British “Fleabag” producer Francesca Moody, has prompted the Italian media-mogul-turned-politician’s Mediaset TV to poke fun at the project on its nightly satirical show.

The “Berlusconi” musical, which Moody described to The Guardian as “‘Evita’ on acid,” chronicles the populist, three-time prime minister’s historic time in office, told from the perspective of three women who wish to tell their side of the story: prosecutor Ilda Boccassini, who sparred with Berlusconi’s lawyers in court for two decades; his second wife Veronica, who divorced him after he attended the 18th birthday party of an aspiring Neapolitan model; and a fictional reporter said to be based on real ones.

Berlusconi did not react to news of the “Berlusconi” musical, which is set to open on March 29 at London’s Southwark Playhouse Elephant and on Wednesday made headlines in the U.K., Italy and elsewhere. However, Mediaset’s satire show “Striscia La Notizia,” aired in evening primetime on its flagship Canale 5 channel, did take note in its typically misogynistic fashion.

One of the top-rated program’s two male hosts during their opening banter about news of the day described the “Berlusconi” musical as: “Three women in his life will tell his story,” to which the other host replied: “Why only three?” The comeback was: “If it were all of them, it would make for an eight-season TV series!”

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Berlusconi’s political career has been marred by numerous trials, a tax fraud conviction, and sex scandals linked to his sex-fueled “Bunga Bunga” parties. Currently a senator in Italy’s parliament — after being barred from parliament for a spell due to his conviction — he has more recently come under scrutiny for his close ties to Vladimir Putin from whom, Berlusconi himself revealed, he received in October a case of vodka for his birthday along with a “very sweet letter.”

The “Berlusconi” musical is based on an original idea by Alan Hayling, who is the current co-chief of London’s Renegade Pictures and a former head of docs at the BBC. It is being directed by James Grieve, the former co-artistic director of Paines Plough, the U.K.’s national theater of new plays.

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The show will feature what Moody described as a “soaring pop score, beats and Eurotrash-style songs” with titles that include “For Italy,” “Bunga Bunga,” “Thank Goodness for Silvio” and “My Weekend with Vladimir.”

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