Tag Archives: musical

History Rhymes

Maybe you’ve noticed, or perhaps you haven’t, that I am behind in my blogging. I could blame it on Post-Covid Syndrome, which is still wreaking havoc with me. However, the truth is, it’s difficult to write in an environment that is just so nasty.

I don’t know about you, but when I’m seeking wisdom, one source to which I turn includes American Musicals. Even though Tom Lehrer has called them a dead art form that is suitable for academic treatment, I find that they often provide hope.

West Side Story, for example, provides drama, humor, romance, and the inevitable tragic end—after all, it’s a 20th century take on Romeo and Juliet. In the original version, the two gangs, the Sharks and the Jets are squaring off for a fight, but instead of beating the snot out of one another, they break into song and dance, and all to Leonard Bernstein’s music.

But today, I turn to 1776, the musical based on the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia. The first musical number introduces John Adams by the rest of the delegates singing, “Sit down, John! [For God’s sake John, sit down!].

John leaves, and sings a plea to the Almighty. The words may be as applicable today as they would have been during the Revolution.

I do believe you’ve laid a curse on
North America
A curse that we here now rehearse in
Philadelphia

A second flood, a simple famine
Plagues of locusts everywhere
Or a cataclysmic earthquake
I’d accept with some despair

But no, you sent us Congress
Good God, sir, was that fair?

The Play’s the Thing (Complete with Music!)

I’ve decided to write a play specifically designed for off-off-Broadway. I wanted a theme everybody could relate to–something familiar yet somewhat of a challenge. Then the muse hit me–I tried to duck, but she still caught me on the chin.

I realized that no matter what you do, a significant portion of your time will be spent in meetings. It may be called a class, a board, a tiger team, a training session, church, basic training, or whatever–it’s still a meeting. Fortunately, Office Space and The Office have already laid the groundwork. I want to take it one step further and write it as a musical. Imagine——

The stage curtains are closed. The house lights dim and the orchestra begins the overture. [For those of you not musically inclined, overtures are a melodic mashup of the music used throughout the production. Today, we call it recycling.]

SCENE 1: The curtains open to show a conference table with chairs all along the upstage side (a concession to the acoustics in off-off-Broadway facilities). A spotlight is focused on a door, stage right. A man in a suit [the Boss] enters with an armload of papers and breaks into the opening number. “It’s My Meeting So I’m in Control” He dances toward the head of the table, leaving a random portion of the papers in front of each chair, reaches the front empty handed, looks at the various stacks of paper, decides one is slightly taller, dances back to that spot, takes the extras from that stack, dances back to the front of the meeting room and crescendos with the final line, a redux of the first line of “I’m in control.” The spotlight disappears, leaving the stage dark.

SCENE 2: The spotlight, collimated very tightly fades up on a man [the Nerd] with a short sleeved white shirt, out-of-style skinny black necktie, pocket protector, and taped glasses immediately begins singing the second number, “Oh, What I’d Do for a Doughnut!” When he finishes, the stage briefly goes black.

SCENE 3: The lights come up illuminating the table but leaves it dark upstage (behind). The conference table now has people sitting in all but the last chair. The Nerd comes through the door, ignores the looks of derision, grabs a powdered sugar doughnut, leaving a trail of white on people’s clothing. When he sits, the white powder mounds like a snow bank in front of him [special effects, but inexpensive].

The Boss bows and with an exaggerated sweeping gesture points toward the unlit back of the stage. A stern women [Stern Woman] in a business suit emerges from the shadows. As she walks toward the head of the table, with a big smile she begins to sing, “Death by PowerPoint.” The last line, a Capella, is “And My Laser Pointer!”

I don’t have room for everything. Suffice to say, the rest of the play leads to the grand finale with the Stern Woman between the Boss and the Nerd performs a dance number on the conference table surrounded by the entire cast dancing together and singing “Meetings Are Better than Work!

Now, if I can just find a patron.