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Saddam 'doubles' invade stage

Saddam lookalikes
Saddam lookalikes audition in London.

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What better place to look for Saddam Hussein than in London's theatre district, CNN's Mallika Kapur explains (May 1)
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- The hunt for Saddam Hussein has broadened to a London theater.

Producer Raymond Gubbay auditioned more than a dozen Saddam lookalikes, including one woman, for a cameo role in his new satire, "Follow My Leader," set to open this summer.

The hopefuls -- all dressed in army uniforms, berets and moustaches -- gathered for the audition at London's Riverside theater.

They included actors and came in all shapes, ages and sizes with varying degrees of similarity to the ousted Iraqi dictator.

For their audition, they imitated Saddam, posing and waving for the play's director, Geoff Butler.

Steve Moss said he studied basic Arabic for the role, including the phrase "Thank you for showing me your marvelous guns."

Raj Kumar, a part-time actor who has played Saddam before, told CNN he had no reservations portraying one of the world's most wanted men.

"I love to do bits and pieces like this, where at least I'm someone important, whether its hated or liked.".

Gubbay said "Follow My Leader" is a satirical look at how the British and U.S. governments carried out the war in Iraq.

"A satirical voice is needed," Gubbay said, to look at what has been "done in our name."

Gubbay placed an advertisement in The Stage newspaper seeking lookalikes for the play. He said he was "overwhelmed" by the response, with calls from as far as the Middle East expressing interest.

Saddam used doubles as decoys to maintain his personal safety, and while lookalikes may be out of fashion in Iraq, the question of Saddam's fate remains a mystery.

"We may turn up with one of the real doubles, or with a little bit of luck, the real guy himself. He's out of work," Butler joked.

The play's script was written by Alistair Beaton, a one-time Downing Street confidant and speech writer to Chancellor Gordon Brown. Beaton penned the 2001 West End hit "Feelgood," another political satire.

"The theater has always been an area where you can portray events in a satirical way, and I think its a good thing to do so, to get people thinking ... questioning. That's what live performances are all about," Butler said.

It is not the first time an ousted dictator has been portrayed on the London stage. Hitler, Stalin and Milosevic have all had their turn.


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