But who were these clever dissenters, who could see that the pathway to Little Women: the Musical would not be a smooth or fruitful one? In fact, it was 2/3 of Julyanne Gallium - Amanda and Emmelyn - who came up with the idea and the catchy title. So for two years it lay dormant, with only two ideas generated: the beginning would have to start with a chopper effect (freely available from the composition lab keyboards), and it had to have a song Cabaret (based on the music of Masquerade from The Phantom of the Opera). Other than that, the project was stalled - stalled, until it was dug up and revived by Amanda and I during a conversation while away at schoolies in Merimbula at the end of year 12. And with renewed enthusiasm, Amanda went away and came back with Bars (tune of Stars, from Les Miserables). This was all very well, but we still had no idea of how these songs would link.
One April evening, in the year 2001, Amanda came to sleepover at my place. We decided after dinner to try and begin the story of our musical. 3 hours, 2 cups of coffee liberally doused with Baileys and many many laughs later, we had a rough idea of what our musical would be about. We had included elements we felt were necessary for the spectacle that is a musical: tragedy, unrequited love, seedy settings, prostitutes, alcohol, masks, humour, and treachery. And every holiday when we could get together and bring some friends, we listened to musicals, thumped out tunes on the piano, scoured our brains for rhymes that made some sense, and generally outstayed our welcome in cafes.
And so we present to you our unfinished masterpiece (which should be read as thus). Don't bother telling us that there is no Miss Saigon in this, nor that the first act has two songs and a large unintelligible chunk of plot. We know.
Disclaimer: We own nothing but the story and lyrics from our fevered imaginations. Otherwise, credit is given where due.
Two rather drunk young men, CHRIS and his best friend ERIC, stumble out of a dark shopfront. They laugh, and simultaneously pull their shirts to show identical tattoos of a strange symbol of a half theatre mask. They then stumble off into the night...
Next we see CHRIS being upbraided in an office, by the headmaster of the conservatorium he attends where he is studying to be a concert pianist. Actually, was studying, as CHRIS has just been expelled for he has tested the patience of the staff sorely with his raucous behaviour, which is really the fault of ERIC. However, CHRIS sadly has to leave his dreams behind.
While wandering sadly through the city streets at night, pondering what to do as he has not many skills other than piano playing, CHRIS stumbles into the seedier side of town, an area littered with drunks and bars and houses with red lights outside. He observes all around him with a wry song - BARS
BARS (tune: Stars from Les Miserables)
lyrics by Amanda Kuek
Bars, in your multitudes
Scarce to be counted
Filling the darkness
With audible fights
If you are sensible
You will be sure
To keep watch on the sights (x 2)
You're hard to trace in the dark
You can use force without blame
And each without reason return and return
Til you lose your own name.
And if you fall as Lucifer fell...
oh well, what a shame...
And so it has been, and so it is written
That you are the doorways to paradise
Memories alter; buy drinks for all
And pay the price...
And so CHRIS wanders into a certain club/bar, where CHRISTINE works as an exotic dancer. He is entranced by her, and conveniently gets the job being the pianist for the nightly shows. One of the other dancers, CHRISTINE's younger friend MIMI, falls in love with CHRIS, but he has no idea of this. In fact, MIMI is the younger sister of ERIC, but there is a rift between them that involves CHRISTINE. ERIC hates CHRISTINE as she guided MIMI into her current job, which ERIC does not approve of. However, ERIC is far from being the good protective brother, for he, while incognito wearing a half mask, sells drugs to the MANAGER of this club, which is used to keep the girls compliant and happy and bound to the MANAGER.
The exotic dancers present one of their shows with CHRISTINE as the star, accompanied by CHRIS. The number is CABARET.
CABARET (tune: Masquerade from Phantom of the Opera)
lyrics by Amanda Kuek and Judith Ngai
Girls inviting you to play!
Turn away, lest the glitter sequins blind you.
Not much clothing on display
Look around, hope your wife will never find you.
Flash of pink, splash of beer, near the stage, many leer
Showing skin, twirl on heel, they don't come here for the meal
Gentlemen! Wait your turn, to take a ride on the merry go round
(she's got a warm embrace)
Boozy chicks, showing leg, let's roll out another keg
Beds are warm, stay the night, when you leave your purse is light
Gentlemen! Drink it in, drink it up, till you're downed in a fight
Bodies found, but who can name the face?
Watch our feathered arses sway
Take your fill, let the spectacle astound you!
Unfortunately, after this triumph CHRISTINE falls pregnant to CHRIS, and despite the MANAGER's request that she have an abortion, she refuses, and is fired. CHRIS continues to work at the club to support them. With CHRISTINE gone, MIMI makes a pass at CHRIS, but is soundly rejected. Thus, she plots to break up CHRIS and CHRISTINE's relationship.
With the help of ERIC, with whom she reconciles and tempts with the ruin of CHRISTINE, MIMI first poisons CHRISTINE's mind against CHRIS by lying to her about CHRIS flirting with other exotic dancers at the club. Then ERIC seduces ERICA, a nubile exotic dancer, who is overheard by CHRISTINE as she tells MIMI of her lover's "strange tattoo" - only CHRIS, ERIC and MIMI know about the identical tattoos. Finally, MIMI plants suspicious items in CHRIS' belongings while he works, and they are discovered by CHRISTINE at home. This causes a fight between the lovers, with criminations all round, and they break up, with CHRIS moving out, to stay with ERIC.
Right after this fight, CHRISTINE falls down the stairs and loses her baby. Alone and penniless, she begins her new life as a prostitute, but in these days and times, she contracts an STD. All the while, MIMI has been acting the supportive friend, and continues to visit CHRISTINE. Finding CHRISTINE almost at death's door one night, MIMI is struck with grief and guilt when CHRISTINE tells her she is "the only one who has remained true". Knowing that CHRIS and CHRISTINE still love each other, she relents and brings CHRIS to see CHRISTINE once more before she dies. They have a tear and soppy duet professing their true love for one another (as yet unwritten) before CHRISTINE dies in CHRIS' arms
Since CHRISTINE's death, CHRIS has been miserable and not doing anything. MIMI looks after him, still in love with him, and CHRIS still has no idea. Meanwhile, ERIC makes a fatal error in selling some dodgy drugs to the MANAGER, which results in the death of ERICA, who had become the star replacing CHRISTINE. The MANAGER is extremely angry at losing two promising stars so quickly, and seeks revenge on the mysterious masked dealer (ERIC). He sings BRING HIM HOME to his henchmen
BRING HIM HOME (tune: Bring Him Home from Les Miserables)
lyrics by Belinda Leong, Amanda Kuek and Judith Ngai
Girls are high
In this lair;
On this weed
They are walking on air.
She was young, now laid to rest
12D chest, we were impressed!
Bring him home (x3)
He's such a sod, I might have known
If only now I had a gun
She was high, having fun
And now we cry, 'cos of this con,
Now she is cold
And forever gone.
Piece by piece
Bring me joy
He's been sprung, that double-dealing boy!
He will break. He will give.
Crack his knee - but let him live.
He will die (x2)
By my hand, I'll make him foam!
Bring him home -
Bring him home!
With ERIC in mortal danger, MIMI tells her brother to leave his mask on at all times and hides him in the attic of the club. However, ERIC feels the need to roam, and 'accidents' happen, causing many patrons to think the club is haunted and they avoid it. MIMI, at the end of her tether looking after both ERIC anc CHRIS, decides she must get ERIC out of the country before he is killed. In desperation, she asks CHRIS to help save his best friend.
As the MANAGER has posted henchmen to look out for ERIC everywhere, they decide that they need a decoy to lure the guards away so MIMI can smuggle ERIC out of the country. As CHRIS has lost his will to live since CHRISTINE's death, he readily agrees to wear the strange mask of ERIC's and lure the henchmen in the opposite direction to where ERIC will escape, in the song TRY MY MASK ON YOU
TRY MY MASK ON YOU (tune: All I Ask of You from The Phantom of the Opera)
lyrics by Belinda Leong, Amanda Kuek and Judith Ngai
Now we talk in darkness
I see you hide in fear
I hear - mobsters will harm you
Oh dear, did I alarm you?
You went and lost your freedom
And nearly her career
Yet she's here, with you, beside you,
To guard you and to guide you.
Just like brothers we've shared every moment
Turn their heads with this disguise of mine
(musical interlude for one line where we cannot think of any lyrics)
Promise me that this is what you'll do
Try my mask on you.
ERIC escapes safely, but CHRIS is captured coming back to the club, by the MANAGER. When MIMI sees that they have caught the man in the mask, she realises she has put CHRIS in great danger. Just in time, as MANAGER is about to shoot CHRIS, MIMI bursts in and pushes herself in front of CHRIS, shooting at the MANAGER at the same time. Both are fatally wounded, but the MANAGER dies first. CHRIS frees himself from his bounds, and holds the dying MIMI in his arms. She sings THE LITTLE CALL OF PAIN to him, and makes him promise he will look after her; but after he agrees, she seems to get stronger and recover intantly. So CHRIS, unable to imagine looking after MIMI for many more years to come, ends the show by shooting MIMI, and she dies.
THE LITTLE CALL OF PAIN (tune: A Little Fall of Rain from Les Miserables)
lyrics by Amanda Kuek and Judith Ngai
Won't you bet, Bob...Mark...John...er, Chris!
This song will be inane
As I'm in lots of pain
But I will cope somehow,
You're here -
I think that I should go -
But will you keep me safe?
And will you keep me close?
I wonder: what if I said no?
Well I could tell Mimi, "You're dying, love"
By the song's end, she'll be in heaven above.
No, I'll just hold her and let her be -
Shelter me, comfort me
But she could live a hundred years
What should I do now?
I don't want to cause a row
The pain can't hurt me - ow.
In fact, I think the worst is past
You said you'd keep me safe
You said you'd keep me close
I'll sleep in your embrace at last!
The pain has gone -
Oh dear, I must confess
My soul begins to fear -
Surely you jest
My death, I feel, is very far
And now you are mine, ha ha!
So don't you fret, my darling Chris
I don't feel any pain
Are you feeling some strain?
What is hurting you now?
Yes, it's the end of the show
I'm going to cry, I'm going to scream
I'm starting to go insane
Does she have no brains?!
If I could hurt her now,
I must go now or I will be
And kneeling in front of the slain MIMI, CHRIS rips off his mask and sings:
(tune: Music of the Night from Phantom of the Opera)
music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
It's over now, you ladies of the night!!!!!