Category Archives: Musical Theater

Judith’s Mad Scene, from Gemini the Musical (2004) (Day 186)

While we’re on the subject of Fourth of July fireworks, here’s a scene from the 2004 version of Gemini the Musical that followed immediately after yesterday’s song, Let’s Find Out. Judith arrives to discover that Francis very nearly had sex with her brother, and is hurt and angry. The idea of a “mad scene” is a nod in the direction of the operatic thru-line that was woven throughout the 2004 version; in fact, there is an early draft of this number in which the ghost of Maria Callas appears as a furious Brunnhilde in response to Judith’s scornful remarks about her singing. “Spawn of spite and malice/Do you slander Callas?” asks Maria, who then commands Francis, “Avenge me!” It was inspired, and I’m still disappointed that it never made it to the stage.

As in the previous number, the song follows the dialog closely, with spoken and sung text seamlessly interspersed. The thematic material in this number is derived from Francis’s earlier song Welcome To My Life and Judith’s Not Your Typical Fairy Tale. Jillian Louis does a lot of vocal and emotional heavy lifting in this piece, and listening to this fills me with awe and gratitude. She was (and is) fierce and fearless!

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Let’s Find Out, from Gemini the Musical (Day 185)

Day 185 of Project 194 is Independence Day, the Fourth of July, and this song from Gemini the Musical has plenty of fireworks! If you don’t know the story of the play Gemini, you’ll need to know that Francis, who has come out as a gay man to his girlfriend Judith, is sexually attracted to her brother Randy. The heart of Act II is a long scene between Francis and Randy where the subject of the conversation eventually turns to sex. Bear in mind that Francis is twenty-one and Randy is sixteen – we forget so quickly what it’s like to be young and naive about these matters! Randy is curious enough to invite Francis into the tent for a bit of sexual experimentation, a prospect that Francis is nearly overwhelmed by, but when Randy loses his nerve, Francis is hurt and angry. This track features Barry James Horbal and Jeremiah Downes from the 2004 Prince Music Theater production.

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Good People, from Gemini the Musical (2007) (Day 184)

Bethe Austin and Kirsten BrackenThis was the last song to be written for the 2007 NYMF production of Gemini the Musical, and it was written to showcase the unique charms of Bethe Austin, who played Lucille in that production. (She’s seated on the right next to Kirsten Bracken – now Kirsten Scott – in the photo on the left.) There had been an Act II song for Lucille in the 2004 version of Gemini, called You’re Only Young Once, but we cut the song from the draft we prepared for the 2007 rehearsals. Once we got underway, we realized we had gotten lucky casting Bethe (a classmate of D’Arcy’s from Point Park days, as it turns out), and I had an idea about how to refashion that song (like this one, a jazz waltz, one of my favorite musical idioms) with a new “hook” and title. Both versions of the song included the line, “You can’t make a prince by kissing a queen,” and it’s gratifying to hear the audience reaction to that line on the track.

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The Boy I Thought I Knew, from Gemini the Musical (2004) (Day 183)

Jillian Barry 2004This should have gotten posted earlier, if we’re talking about the chronology of the show. This was the other song I wrote (along with the spec song “Queer” and the 2007 “Somebody’s Knocking“) for the scene in Act One where Francis and Judith are alone in his bedroom for their first private conversation. In 2004, I had the notion that Judith was a guitar-playing troubadour (hence the mention of the “twelve string” in “Happy Birthday, Francis“), a kind of Joni Mitchell wannabe. (There was even a direct reference to Joni in a draft second verse of this song that didn’t make it into rehearsal, and the phrase “cafe confidantes” feels like something she would have written.) You may recognize the “walk along the Charles” refrain as something that originally appeared in “Queer,” the one part of that song that seemed like it could work in this more tender mood. Jillian Louis does a simply lovely job with the vocal, Lars Halle did a great arrangement, and I love the little Jaco-style electric bass figures that Kevin McConnell plays in the “You and me” bridge.

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I’m Gonna Jump, from Gemini the Musical (Day 182)

She's gonna jump!

Albert mentioned once that Leonard Bernstein came to see Gemini during its Broadway run and remarked that it was like a comic opera. Here’s the spot where we really seized that idea and ran with it. The hysterical emotionalism of South Philly life seemed to translate perfectly into this bit of comic opera pastiche. The opening of Act II was unchanged from 2004 to 2007; the photo above is from NYMF in 2004, but the track is from the Prince in 2004. It’s clearly Linda Hart leading the insanity.

Bunny: I’m gonna jump!
I’ll tell you why:
My life is shit ,
I want to die!
I’m going to take a flying leap.
My uncle Jerry’s a mortician
And he’ll bury me for cheap.
I’m gonna jump!
Look out below!
One tiny step and down I go.
And once I fall,
You’ll have to haul
My carcass to the dump!
Don’t try to stop me!
I’m going to jump!

[Dialog: Bunny and her son Herschel.]

Bunny: I’m gonna jump!
No, look away!
To see me fall would wreck your day!
I’m old and fat, too big to fly.
I guarantee it won’t be pretty
It’s a shitty way to die
Try not to scream,
Try not to cry,
Just blow a kiss and say goodbye.
It’s suicide,
So go inside,
Don’t stand there like a lump!
Sweet fucking Jesus,
I’m going to jump!

[Dialog.]

Herschel: I’ll be good, I promise, mom
I’ll brush my teeth and change my sweater.
I’ll remember my inhaler
So my asthma will get better.
No more grass! I won’t pass gas
Or pick my ass, I swear!
I’ll even burn my subway transfers
If you just come down from there!

Bunny: Jesus Christ in heaven,
Can’t I die in peace?

Others: Jesus Christ in heaven,
Call for the police!

Herschel: Another couple minutes and my mother will be dead!

Others: Call for the police…

Francis: No, wait! Call Lucille instead! DE 6-1567.

Judith: DE 6-1567.

Bunny: It’s all for attention!
Choke and cough, throw a fit
Listen, everybody, it is all for attention
I read them books by all the shrinks
I know what everybody thinks.
I got no attention when I was a kid,
And look at me! Am I weird?
Not a bit!
Jesus Christ, turn it off! Leave him be!

[Herschel and Bunny sing their themes in counterpoint, as Judith and Francis sing simultaneously:]

Judith (phone in hand): I get a busy signal.

Francis: Busy? This time of day?
Did you get the number right?

Judith: DE 6-1567.

Francis: Jesus! That’s our number! DE 6-1568.

Judith (dialing): DE 6-1568.

Francis: Never mind, they’re here.

Fran: Yo, Bun!

Bunny: Yo, Fran!

Fran: What the hell is going on here?
Bunny (singing): I’m gonna jump!

Others (echoing): She’s gonna jump! (etc.)

Bunny: I’ll tell you why
My life is shit
I want to die
It’s time to drain the bitter cup.

Lucille: Che disgraziat’!
Who’s gonna clean it up?

Bunny: I’m gonna jump
Look out below
One tiny step and down I go.
This ain’t a trick,
I’m really sick!
I’ve had it up to here!

Randy: This crazy chick’s a lunatic,
We’d better not go near!

Bunny: That arsenic will kill me quick,
Don’t try to interfere!
No more goodbyes!
Time for my demise!
Herschel, hide your eyes!

Others (voices building to choral climax): She’s gonna jump, she’s gonna jump.

Fran (interrupting the music): Come on, Bun, it’s Francis’s twenty-first birthday today.

Bunny: You mean there’s gonna be a party?

Fran: A big one!

Bunny: Why didn’t you say so, hanh? Get that friggin’ ladder, I’m coming down!

All (jubilantly): She’s (I’m) coming down, she’s coming down,
She’s coming down!