I love the funny quirky terminology of the musical, and “Finale Ultimo” is right at the top of my list of beloved musical theater jargon. The ultimate end, the last music you hear before the applause begins and the actors take their bows. The “Finale Ultimo” of Project 194 is just a few days away, and I’m wrapping up Gemini the Musical by posting this track from 2004. There’s no real singing, so no lyrics to transcribe, just a spirited reprise of “Happy Birthday, Francis” to underscore the final moments of the play. Listen close and you’ll hear Linda Hart on the phone calling “Uncle Albert and Uncle Charlie” – a bit of spontaneous editing that she did in this scene. Final words: “I think they’re gonna make it!”
This recording is a Project 194 exclusive, featuring the South Philly vocal stylings of the Speech Diva herself! I wrote this song for Gemini the Musical and it survived the first reading before getting cut. Later, D’Arcy used it in her show, “Just One Step: Songs From The Edge.” Pay attention, yo, this song has good advice for yiz!
This song from Gemini the Musical always seemed to please the crowds. It was composed very casually, almost tossed off, but the chemistry between the two performers (Linda Hart and Robert Picardo on this track) made it shine. If you haven’t seen it, you should look at the video that was created to promote the NYMF production in 2007; it opens with Linda singing this song with Joel Blum, who played Fran in New York.
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!
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.