Harold Prince had (has?) a tradition of holding a production meeting for a new show the morning after any opening night. That way, if the opening is a smash, he resteth not upon his laurels; and if the opening is a disaster, he’s straight on to the next thing.
In that spirit, here’s everything I’m in the midst of writing – no matter what 2009 turns out to have been, I am straight on to the next thing. Showing some of them here at such an early, early stage makes me nervous, because it’s a very intimate thing to do, to show ideas with all their flaws intact. It’s not like standing before you naked, but it’s close.
The Devil Builds a Chapel, the chamber opera I promised to write for my Creative Arts Fellowship from the ACT Government, is about half done. I have to fix some scenes in Act Two, give a couple of characters a better reason to exist, and orchestrate the piece for a small orchestra, by Easter. I like to tell people that it’s your basic dirty priest/horny schoolgirl opera: it’s based on the same mass possession case that inspired Aldous Huxley’s The Devils of Loudon, but I’ve updated it to 1960 and set it in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales. Several wags have already remarked that at least my priest likes girls.
The Happy Medium, the musical I began before Devil took over. It’s set in 1993, and follows the slightly dim but perfectly designed Paul Medforth as he rises effortlessly to musical theatre stardom, at the same time as the talented Sam Davis struggles to get anywhere. The piece has few prospects, I reckon, aside from graduating classes of musical theatre courses, but that would be bloody great. Also it’s piss funny, and very few new musicals are.
Unnamed New Piece, about a tired celebrity and the stalker who agrees to impersonate him for a week, and then does a far better job of being a celeb than the celeb ever did. So the two agree to continue the ruse, and the celeb starts keeping very close tabs on how the stalker does it, effectively stalking the stalker. And – this is my favourite part – the celeb’s girlfriend, who had gone cold on the celeb when he was a celeb, starts to really fancy him when she meets him as a stalker, and they begin an affair which isn’t strictly an affair at all. Things get even weirder when the stalker refuses to give up his celeb status, and the celeb, egged on by the girlfriend, thinks about doing away with him somehow. My other favourite part of this piece is that the celeb and the stalker look alike, but not that much alike, and any differences are explained away as the results of grooming, day spas and eight glasses of water a day. This piece adheres to a modern fashion by having only three characters, but I wasn’t trying the make it budget-friendly. I just hate, hate, hate an unnecessary chorus.
Songs to follow, in Part Two.