‘I Saw Them Standing There’ — How the Fab Four Pleased, Pleased a Budding Fan Like Me

Paul McCartney (R.) shows his guitar to Ed Sullivan before the Beatles’ live television appearance on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ in New York City, Feb. 9, 1964. In the center are, John Lennon (L.) and Ringo Starr, partial view. (Photo: Associated Press)

Storm Clouds a-Comin’

Ah, to be young again and relive those treasured moments from one’s past!

One such moment — indeed, one of the more pleasurable experiences I can recall from my youth growing up in the Soundview section of the Bronx — was the first time I laid eyes on the Beatles, live and in the comfort of our parents’ living room.

That took place, of course, on Ed Sullivan’s Sunday night variety show on the CBS Television Network. The performance was broadcast “coast to coast” on February 9, 1964, not three months after President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated, another of those life-altering events that, frankly speaking, was not so pleasant. When the nation needed a lift, however, the Beatles’ initial U.S. tour did exactly that.

My family and I also bore witness to the Mop Tops’ mammoth Shea Stadium concert, broadcast live as well on August 15, 1965. If the Beatles could impress my Portuguese-speaking, Brazilian-born parents, then their future in our home was secure. No doubt the gathering storm had turned into a veritable tornado.

By that time, the Fab Four’s music and exuberant personalities had exploded across the globe and onto every continent — even in Brazil, the country of my birth, where the group’s recorded output went on to make an immediate and enduring impact. Not only was their sound a fixture in every record shop, but in the way people dressed, in the way they wore their hair, the way they talked, the way they walked, and especially how their music was played.

How could that be? The Beatles didn’t sing their tunes in Brazilian Portuguese but in the Queen’s English. Back in the group’s Hamburg days, when German-language versions of their “I Want to Hold Your Hand” were all the rage, the boys used to feature the Mexican pop ballad “Besame Mucho” (“Kiss Me A Lot”) as part of their act. Paul even got to record the number in June 1962 during the band’s ill-fated relationship with Decca records. It also turned up in their later January 1969 “Get Back” sessions (released on Beatles Anthology 1 in 1995) and as part of the Let It Be film.

In spite of this backdrop, many Brazilian and/or Argentine artists, including (but not limited to) Roberto Carlos, Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, the Beat Boys, Erasmo Carlos, Milton Nascimento and others, took the Lads from Liverpool as their guiding lights.

A notable example of the above was a young performer named Ronnie Von (born Ronaldo Nogueira), a 23-year-old singer-turned-actor who, in 1966, introduced the Beatle’s Dylanesque “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” on Agnaldo Rayol’s TV show, then a year later sang John Lennon’s “Girl” on the live Sunday afternoon program Jovem Guarda (“The Young Guard”). The song was translated into Portuguese and retitled “Meu Bem” (“My Beloved”) for the Brazilian market.

Oddly enough, it wasn’t Von’s wisp of a singing voice that served as the main attraction, but his oh-so-bashful looks that seemed to “mow the crowd down,” so to speak. The dreamboat Ronnie would shyly croon the number with forelock hanging precariously over one side of his face. He barely managed to get the lyrics out (in truth, he edged ever closer to incoherence), which endeared him even more to the female members of the audience.

The artist known as Ronnie Von (aka Ronaldo Nogueira) ca. the mid-1960s

It was obvious from this milestone performance that Ronnie Von had connected with Brazilian youth by virtue of the Beatle’s music. And it seemed equally evident that the British invasion had hit South American shores about as hard as it did the North American variety.

So when and how did their music and reputation affect me personally?

Public School Daze

I was all of 11 or 12 years of age and living in the Bronx when Beatlemania had been on the scene for several seasons. What I heard on the radio, and from what most of the kids at school had told me, was that the group’s tunes had become the Number One pop hits in the land. Soon afterward, one of those hits had smacked me right between the eyes (and in the pit of my stomach) at, of all places, our public school’s auditorium.

Yes, that’s correct, at Public School 77 in the South Central Bronx, located on East 172 Street between Ward and Manor Avenues. My family had already taken up residence at nearby Stratford Avenue, about a two or three block walk from the school.

As near as I can remember, P.S. 77 had what was known as “assembly day,” which normally occurred every Friday morning (at least, that’s when our school held it). On those days, all the school kids had to be dressed in white shirts or blouses, blue pants and skirts, and red ties or kerchiefs. (Note the colors, symbolic of the American flag). That was a requirement — no ifs, ands, or buts about it. If you forgot to bring your tie, one of the teachers would pull out a clip-on from his or her desk. If you failed to wear a white shirt or blouse (or blue pants and skirt), you were sent home with a note to your parents which stipulated, in no uncertain terms, that you could not return to class until you were properly dressed. Try doing THAT today!

I was in the sixth grade at that point, so this particular assembly day must have taken place sometime between the months of September 1965 and June 1966. I don’t believe it happened in the fall, but it wasn’t in the winter either (I have no recollection of having to wear a coat to school that day). So I’ll take a wild guess and say the assembly in question must have occurred around the spring of 1966.

In prior assemblies, we students were privileged to have seen a number of programs: from puppet shows (I remember a colorful presentation of Stravinsky’s The Nightingale), a chamber orchestra, magicians, and short educational or animated features (of the “Don’t Do This or You’ll Be Sorry” type) showing the hazards of smoking or playing with matches, along with public service announcements about hurricanes and such — something we hardly ever experienced in the Bronx, at least not at that time.

On that specific assembly day, we were treated to a talent show. Kids from some of the lower and upper grades performed their acts on the school’s stage. My memory is a bit fuzzy as to what the majority of students did that day. However, one group REALLY got my attention, and the attention of everyone present.

Three boys roughly my age, from either the fifth or sixth grade (neither of them were in my class, by the way), took it upon themselves to form a singing group. The tallest of the boys, Ronald Naso (we called him Ronnie), stood in the middle and played an acoustic guitar. The other two boys, Joseph Pavone and David Diaz, flanked Ronnie on either side. After a brief pause, Ronnie looked about and started strumming the guitar as all three boys chimed in at once:

     Last night I said these words to my girl

     I know you never even try girl

     Come on (come on), come on (come on)

     Come on (come on), come on (come on)

     Please, please me, whoa yeah, like I please you

It was the Beatles’ “Please, Please Me,” from the group’s first UK album of the same name (the song was released as a single in both the U.S. and the UK in early 1963). Reliving that moment in my mind’s eye, I am unable to recollect, for the life of me, what exactly went through my head. Surprise, I suppose, or maybe shock. Quite feasibly, I might have been stunned beyond belief. A fleeting lapse of consciousness took hold, and of numbness — about as apt a description as any.

But saying I was oblivious to the event, as it was happening in front of me, isn’t quite accurate, either. All of us, including our teachers, had no idea what to expect. I don’t want to belabor the point and state the obvious; that is, to spew forth tiresome clichés about how the three boys had wowed the student audience (which they did — girls screaming, lots of yelling, vigorous cheers and applause).

I couldn’t begin to capture the exuberance if I tried, or the sense of excitement and discovery we collectively experienced concerning what we had heard. It must have been a magical moment, otherwise I would have wiped it from my memory. After it was over, there was chatter galore from the student audience as to who they liked the most. And, best of all, their names — Ronnie, Joseph and David — started circulating among the crowd. Within a day, the youngsters had turned into celebrities.

As I write this, I’m struggling to decipher what made these boys stand out from the other so-called talents. It might have been the simple fact that each of them bore a passing resemblance to the Fab Four. Yes, that must be it! As a matter of fact, dark-eyed Ronnie was a dead ringer for hazel-eyed Paul (tousled hair over his forehead and all); blue-eyed Joseph actually “looked” like bashful George (except for his short haircut); and hook-nosed David could easily have passed for a hook-nosed John (despite David’s dirty-blond locks).

A group portrait of the Beatles, straightening their ties, backstage at the Odeon Cinema in Luton on Sept. 6th, 1963. (L-R) Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, John Lennon. (Photo: Tom Hanley/Redferns)

Was it my imagination? Had I subconsciously associated their physical aspects with my burgeoning affection for the Beatles and their tunes? I really couldn’t say. Well, then, how did they sound? Did the tone and timbre of their voices add or detract from the image I had inadvertently formed in my head?

Here’s the answer: Ronnie, Joseph and David excelled in three-part harmony, and, to tell you the truth, all three of them sang in tune. They did take the number a beat or two slower than the original, but considering the ad hoc nature of the circumstances they made “Please, Please Me” succeed in their favor. Like the title of that 1965 Beatles’ hit, they had worked it out.

But hold on a minute! Where was “Ringo”? I couldn’t help noticing that the trio needed a fourth member to complete the picture. If their idea was to mimic the Fab Four, the boys had come up short. I began to imagine that I could be the one to fill the drummer’s shoes (I don’t know WHY I thought that, since I couldn’t play the drum to save my life). All I remember was seeing myself joining the boys on stage and singing along with this terrific trio. By doing so, I could (hopefully) transform this motley crew into that fabulous foursome.

Fat chance of that happening! For one, I was much too shy at the time and much too self-conscious about getting up on a stage and warbling my amateurish way into a song — any song! “Please, Please Me,” my butt! For another, there was no way I would have had the chutzpah to do what those brave public-school lads had done. Kudos to them for trying, though. They had more courage than I could ever muster.

Beatlemania or Bust!

It was shortly after this occurrence that I sent away for a Beatles songbook. I must have torn apart that songbook every which way. Along with the lyrics and sheet music to all their hits (up to and including the year 1965, if I’m not mistaken), the songbook was filled to the brim with photos and mementos of the Mop Tops’ concerts — in other words, a Beatlemaniac’s dream! I even started wearing my hair long in a Beatle-like manner. Well, if you can’t join them, be them!

Between 1965 and 1967, my obsession with the Beatles peaked with the television debut of a syndicated cartoon series on ABC: The Beatles half-hour TV program solidified my love for their music, with each of the two individual segments devoted to one of the group’s songs. I owe my knowledge of their song lyrics to this Saturday morning showcase and to my trusty songbook. But my fandom did not end there.

There was one winter when I begged my mother to buy a purple Navy CPO jacket, just like the one the Beatles used to wear in their Sgt. Pepper period. It was a hideous thing, made of heavy wool with rows of brass buttons and shoulder epaulets. It was hot as hell, too. I wore it once to school and even tried dancing in it, sweating profusely with every arm movement (somehow, I survived the ordeal). Along with the CPO jacket came a matching 1960s long-sleeved blue shirt with super-wide collar and bright-yellow polka dots. Trashy and kitsch, it too was a one-shot deal. Both articles of clothing hung in my closet for years before mom convinced me to toss them out (oh, the pain).

So much for Mod fashions from Carnaby Street!

The Beatles Songbook – circa 1964-1965

‘Tomorrow Never Knows’

As these stories tend to go, a short time later Ronnie and Joseph found their way to one of my classes. Coincidentally, we all wound up going to the same junior high school (or middle school, as they’re called in some regions): to be precise, James M. Kieran Junior High School 123.

While at Kieran, I got to know both of them quite well. Ronald Naso lived a few blocks from the school, and we would often get together afterwards to play touch football. We’d chat about the latest James Bond flick and, of course, the Beatles. Instead of practicing how to conjugate the verb “to be” in French class, Ronnie and I would bounce song lyrics off one another, for instance, from John Lennon’s heartfelt “If I Fell in Love With You.”

Joseph Pavone and I went on to attend James Monroe High School (no longer in existence). Joe even went to Fordham University in the Bronx, where I, too, had graduated from. I never did get to know David Diaz, though, since he must have moved out from our old neighborhood some years before.

Needless to say, neither Joseph Pavone nor Ronald Naso (nor I, for that matter) developed into a performing artist of any renown. Years later, I ran into Ronnie at an outdoor basketball court. He had grown bigger, and had also filled out some. I did manage to keep in touch with Joe for a while after graduation from Fordham. Last I heard, he was working for the Metro North rail system. They both must be retired by now, David included.

The Beatles’ Brazilian influence continued, however. In 1969, pop singer Milton Nascimento, along with lyricist and friend Fernando Brant and the brothers Marcio and Lô Borges, wrote an offbeat number dedicated to John and Paul. They called it “Para Lennon e McCartney” (“To Lennon and McCartney”).

The song is in the form of a “challenge” to the British duo, sort of a question and answer session where Milton attempts to “educate” both Lennon and McCartney about what’s going on in the world (a few years before Marvin Gaye’s attempt). That he, Milton, is a native of South America, from the State of Minas Gerais. So why are they not familiar with the problems relating to the West? Why do they feign ignorance of Third World issues, their being from the First World? Their visibility as artists should place them in the unique position of addressing social injustice. Still, they have nothing to fear from him, Milton assures them, for he’s also one of their own.

The high literary quotient and elevated quality of the lyrics make “Para Lennon e McCartney” one of Milton, Brant and Borges’ most memorable song structures.

More recently, in January 2008 (and for several years thereafter) the Rio-based musical theater team of Charles Möeller and Claudio Botelho brought to life a song-filled spectacular in honor of the Fab Four. They called their revue “Beatles in the Sky With Diamonds.” With a cast of 11 singing actors, accompanied by piano, cello and percussion, Charles and Claudio led audiences through a magical mystery tour of the group’s output, to include “Eleanor Rigby,” “She’s Leaving Home,” “Help!”, “Get Back,” “Because,” and various other novelties.

Ronnie Von today, at age 75, still singing and performing

Which brings me back to present-day matters. Whatever became of the so-called “Brazilian Beatle,” Ronnie Von? He’s still alive and kicking! Currently at age 75, Ronnie Von had been a fixture at São Paulo-based TV Gazeta since 2004 as a singer-host and presenter. Unfortunately, Ronnie was fired last July 2019 by the station due to budget cuts and alleged low ratings, but vowed to come back to live television. Supposedly, within hours of the announcement of his firing, Von received a proposal for a new show to debut in 2020.

In the wise words of the Lads from Liverpool:

     Any time at all

     Any time at all

     Any time at all

     All you gotta do is call

     And I’ll be there!

Beatlemania dies slowly.

Copyright © 2020 by Josmar F. Lopes

 

Your Next Musical-Theater Project: Carmen Miranda — An Open Letter to Lin-Manuel Miranda

The Brazilian Bombshell: Carmen Miranda

Dear Lin-Manuel,

Are you ready for your next musical-theater challenge? Are you willing to hear about the artistic and personal life of the Brazilian Bombshell, Carmen Miranda? I don’t know why this subject hasn’t occurred to you before, but it would be a natural fit for your background and musical-theater abilities. And considering your surname, the (ahem) obvious choice!

Speaking of which, my name is Josmar Lopes, but everyone calls me Joe. You see, I am a former immigrant myself. I came to the United States in 1959 from São Paulo, Brazil. I was five years old at the time. I grew up in the inner city, i.e. the South Bronx, near Fort Apache. You were born in Washington Heights and grew up in the Linwood area. My family and I lived for eight years at the Bronx River Houses — on the 14th floor to be exact — so we were intimately familiar with adversity and difficult times, much like the characters in your first hit play, In the Heights. In that, we share a commonality.

I recently watched a clip from the CBS Sunday Morning program in which both you and author Ron Chernow admitted that Alexander Hamilton’s life story was the ultimate immigrant take on the theme of making it in America.

In view of this, I can say with absolute authority that Carmen Miranda’s story is Hamilton’s twice over: she wasn’t born in Brazil, as many people mistakenly believe, but in Portugal. Maria do Carmo Miranda da Cunha was brought to Rio de Janeiro (the country’s capital at the time) in 1909 by her mother when she was less than a year old.

The young Maria do Carmo Miranda da Cunha, ca. 1920s

Incredibly, Carmen never became a Brazilian citizen, for which she was severely criticized. And despite a successful ten-year stage and recording career in Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, Carmen longed for fame in the U.S., especially in Hollywood. Fate would eventually come to tap her on the shoulder.

In 1939, famed theater producer and impresario Lee Shubert was told of this sizzling new attraction by various individuals who had caught her act at the Urca Casino in Rio. He sent advance men to report back and keep an eye on the Brazilian’s progress. Upon his arrival there — and after watching Carmen perform live on stage — Shubert decided to invite Carmen to come to Boston and New York, and eventually make her Broadway debut in the musical revue, The Streets of Paris, in which she sang the number, “South American Way.” From there, it was a motion-picture contract with Darryl Zanuck’s Twentieth Century-Fox Studios.

Carmen stayed in America for a solid year, returning to Brazil in 1940, where she was “greeted” with a cold shoulder by the elite of Brazilian society for having made her fame away from her home country. One could add that her story from this point on was a “rags to riches to more riches” tale. Carmen decided to make America her home, which in return made her the highest paid woman entertainer in the business, only to end up in a miserable, loveless marriage to a minor American producer, an addiction to alcohol and barbiturates, electro-shock therapy, and a premature death at age 46. Whew!

How does all this connect to your personal style of writing and composition? Well, to put it plainly: Carmen was a uniquely gifted talent, in that she carved out her own individual performance style. She was more than just a singer and an entertainer: she was Brazil’s most famous international export. Her rapid-fire delivery and natural flair for language and self-expression came across not only on screen in those colorful Fox musicals of the 1940s, but in her many Brazilian recordings from the period 1929 to 1939, the decade before she immigrated (for the second time in her life) to America.

As evidence of her uniqueness, check out her classic appearance in Greenwich Village, a Fox musical from 1944, in particular two numbers: Nobel Sissle and Eubie Blake’s “I’m Just Wild about Harry”; and “Give Me a Band and a Bandana” by Leo Robin and Nacio Herb Brown.  In both, Carmen interpolates some lines in her native Portuguese that, believe it not, could have been harbingers of rap and hip-hop (Brazilian style, of course!). It’s the kind of thing that Carmen did naturally.

Poster art for Greenwich Village (1944)

If all this intrigues you, Lin-Manuel, then please let me know. I have had wide-ranging experience with Broadway and theater people, for example, Stephen C. Byrd and Alia Jones-Harvey of Front Row Productions. I worked closely with them in our efforts to bring the 1959 cult film Black Orpheus to the New York stage. They can vouch for my proficiency in the area of cultural consultant. Not only was I successful in helping to obtain the rights to the original Brazilian play Orfeu da Conceição, but I also introduced Stephen and Alia to the team of Charles Möeller and Claudio Botelho, the most successful producer-director duo in Brazilian musical theater today. In addition, I helped to translate (from the original Portuguese to American English) the team’s version of Black Orpheus, as well as Möeller-Botelho’s original theater piece, 7 – The Musical, a modern interpretation of the Sleeping Beauty-Cinderella fairy tales.

The most fascinating aspect of my association with Claudio Botelho was his challenge to me to write an original stage treatment based on Carmen Miranda’s life. I did so — willingly — and called it Bye-Bye, My Samba (or, in Portuguese, Adeus, batucada, after one of her hit songs). Much as you were inspired by Chernow’s biography to write Hamilton: An American Musical, I too have met the challenge head on of doing justice to my fellow Brazilian compatriot. It took a great deal of research and study, and long hours at home contemplating the best way to present this subject to audiences unfamiliar with Carmen’s history. I can tell you that I learned quite a lot about the real Carmen Miranda.

In spite of his poverty and illegitimacy and lowly station in life, Hamilton developed supreme self-confidence and a built-in reliance on his intelligence and work ethic. As for myself, I can only boast of my dedication and thoroughness to whatever project I work on. With that said, I am confident you will give this pitch of mine the dedication and thoroughness of thought it requires. As I stated at the outset, it’s a natural!

Thank you so much for your time!

In the Heights with Lin-Manuel Miranda (center)

P.S. We LOVED your play In the Heights, along with your Spanish translation of West Side Story. As a matter of fact, Stephen Byrd wanted to develop the Black Orpheus project along similar lines — that is, intersperse some Brazilian-Portuguese dialogue into the English translation. If that isn’t a compliment to the fine job you did with In the Heights, I don’t know what is!

Copyright (c) 2017 by Josmar F. Lopes

‘Through the Dark of Night’ (‘Pela Escuridão’) — The Songs of ‘7 – The Musical’ (Conclusion)

Amelia in 7 - The Musical (Moeller-Botelho-Motta)

Amelia in 7 – The Musical (Moeller-Botelho-Motta)

Make a Wish (On Second Thought, Maybe Not!)

 On this day after Christmas, what better way to celebrate the holidays than with a song on your lips! Better yet, the Songs of 7 – The Musical (7 – O musical), the adult-themed theater piece written and produced by the Brazilian musical “Dream Team” of Charles Möeller, Claudio Botelho and Ed Motta.

Back, by popular demand, are the English lyrics to the Second and Final Act of this unforgettable musical theater extravaganza, first staged in Rio de Janeiro on September 1, 2007:

  

ACT TWO

"The Heart in the Forest" - Clara, Bianca, the Dwarfs

“The Heart in the Forest” – Clara, Bianca, the Dwarfs

“A HEART IN THE FOREST” (Young Men, Clara)

THERE’S A WOUNDED HEART IN THE FOREST

THERE’S YOUR PRINCE CHARMING

A PUMPKIN, A COACHMAN

A CLOCK WILL STRIKE AT TWELVE

A CALENDAR THAT READS OF SEVEN

 

THERE’S A WOUNDED HEART IN THE RAINSTORM

FROGS THAT GO LEAPING

RIGHT OUT OF THE OCEAN

SO WHAT’S YOUR HEART’S DESIRE

WHEN THE CLOCK WILL STRIKE THE HOUR?

 

HUNTER WITH A HORN

RIDER ON HIS HORSE

WHO WILL THEN INVADE MY BASTION?

AND WHEN WILL HE ENCHANT ME WITH FEELING,

ARDOR

PASSION

 

AH AH AH AH AH AH …

 

HUNTER WITH A HORN

RIDER ON HIS HORSE

WHO WILL THEN INVADE MY BASTION?

AND WHEN WILL HE ENCHANT ME WITH FEELING,

ARDOR

PASSION

 

"Mop That Dirty Floor" - Clara

“Mop That Dirty Floor” – Clara

  1. “MOP THAT DIRTY FLOOR” (Clara)

MOP THAT DIRTY FLOOR

TRA LA LA LA LA

SAID THE WICKED OLD STEPMOTHER

LOCKS HER UP, THEN SHUTS THE CUPBOARD

 

TIDY UP THAT ROOM

TRA LA LA LA LA

MAKES SNOW WHITE A CLEANING SERVANT,

WASH THAT WINDOW, CLOSE THOSE CURTAINS…

"Little Baby at My Door" - Dona Rosa, et al.

“Little Baby at My Door” – Dona Rosa, et al.

  1. “LITTLE BABY AT MY DOOR” (Rosa, Carmen, Odette)

A LITTLE BABE

CAME KNOCKING AT MY DOORSTEP

LOVELY

MAGICAL

A LITTLE BUD

THAT FLOWERED IN MY GARDEN

FRESH AND

BEAUTIFUL

LIKE A BLOSSOM ON THE FLOOR

LITTLE BABY AT MY DOOR

 

I CAN SEE HER DIAPERS PILING HIGH

HER BABY FOOD CAME SPITTING UP WITH SIGHS

SAY HELLO TO ALL YOU COLDS AND SORES

ALL THOSE SLEEPLESS NIGHTS GALORE!

 

A BABY GIRL

THAT’S LANDED ON OUR DOORSTEP

GORGEOUS

MIRACLE

A SWEET BOUQUET

THAT OCCUPIED MY SUNSET

LIVELY

LYRICAL

 

THE RAIN AND THUNDER

CRASHED UPON MY HEAD

HER TINY HAND IT WAS

THAT CHOSE INSTEAD

SHE ARRIVED, I THRIVED

SHE CAME, I CRIED

SHE’S MINE, SHE’S MINE

ALL MINE – ALL MINE!

 

"Oh, Look at Me" - Amelia, the Dwarfs

“Oh, Look at Me” – Amelia, the Dwarfs

  1. “OH, LOOK AT ME” (Amelia)

OH, LOOK AT ME

I IMPLORE YOU

ALL THAT’S IN ME

BEGGING FOR AID

FROM YOU

FROM YOU

 

WHAT DID YOU SEE?

MY LIFE AS IT WAS THEN

MY TRUE SELF

MY DARK SIDE AS WELL

MY CALM, MY CALM

 

SO TAKE ME AWAY

IN A CARRIAGE

TAKE

ME AWAY FROM THE BALL THIS NIGHT

THE DAWN

 

TIME PASSED ME BY

AND MY FATE HAS BEEN TOSSED

AT YOUR FEET

 

TAKE CARE OF MY NIGHTS,

NEVER RESTING

ALL THAT’S IN ME

TREMBLING WITH LOVE

WITH LOVE

TRUE LOVE

 

TELL ME I’LL BE

YOUR SLAVE AND YOUR SERVANT,

A LOYAL MAID

FAITHFUL AND TRUE

SO TRUE

SO TRUE

 

AND SO

NOTHING’S LEFT THAT MATTERS

COME

AND THE DOORS WILL BE CLOSING SOON

SO SOON

 

COME, HURRY, OH HURRY, TAKE CARE OF ME

TAKE CARE OF THE HURT THAT AILS ME INSIDE

OH HURRY, BE QUICK FOR THE SUN HAS COME OUT

ALL THAT’S LEFT FOR ME HERE IS TO HIDE

COME AWAY

 

COME AWAY

AWAY

 

 

  1. “HERCULANO’S SECOND LULLABY” (Herculano)

MOMMY’S ON HER WAY

TRA LA LA LA LA

SHE’S JUST COMING ‘ROUND THE CORNER

DADDY SINGS SO BABY’S CALMER

 

BEWARE THE WITCH

SHE’S ON HER WAY

SHE WILL BITE YOU

SHE WILL GRAB YOU …

 

WATCH HER CLOSELY

 

 

  1. “HE’LL ARRIVE ON TIME” (Amelia, Bianca)

LIKE THE DAY OF A WEDDING

LIKE THE END OF A SEASON

LIKE THE SMILE ON A BABY

LIKE THE SWEETS AT A BANQUET

LIKE A BREEZE FROM THE OCEAN

 

HE’LL ARRIVE ON TIME

HE’LL ARRIVE, I KNOW

 

HE WILL WIPE AWAY

MY TEARDROPS

ALL MY SORROWS, ALL

ALL OF THEM

 

HE’LL ERASE FROM ME

 

HE’LL ERASE FROM ME

 

MARKS OF MY DESPAIR

 

MARKS OF MY DESPAIR

HE WILL WIPE THEM CLEAN

 

THEY’LL BE WIPED AWAY

 

THE SHADOWS

FROM THIS FACE OF MINE

 

SHADOWS

 

FROM THIS FACE

Clara & the Seven Young Men (aka Dwarfs)

Clara & the Seven Young Men (aka Dwarfs)

 

  1. “MY HEART ON YOUR HEART” (CLOSING NUMBER: Amelia, Old Mistress)

MY HEART ON YOUR HEART

MY KINDNESS, MY PASSION, MY ALL

THE MOON IN THE SKY

WILL RISE AGAIN TONIGHT, MY HEART

 

THE ONE I ADORE…

 

MY HEART ON YOUR HEART

MY KINDNESS, MY PASSION, MY ALL

THE MOON IN THE SKY

WILL RISE AGAIN TONIGHT, MY HEART

 

THE ONE I ADORE!

 

The Women of 7 - The Musical

The Women of 7 – The Musical

 

Curtain

 

T H E   E N D

 

Book by writer/director Charles Möeller

Portuguese Lyrics by musical director Claudio Botelho

Music by singer/composer/performer Ed Motta

English translation and English lyrics by Josmar Lopes

 

Copyright © 2016 by Josmar F. Lopes

Brazilian Dream Team — Möeller & Botelho (Part Three): Celebrating 25 Years of Making Beautiful Musicals Together

Brazilian Dream Team: Charles Moeller & Claudio Botelho

Brazilian Dream Team: Charles Moeller & Claudio Botelho

Time to Remember…

A lot has happened in Brazil these past few months. Why, the headlines of the major news organizations are filled with the goings-on from below the equator. The problem is they haven’t been on the positive side of things, if reporters and media pundits are to be believed.

From the political crisis involving President Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment proceedings to the worst economic downturn in nearly a century, Brazil has been reeling from a plethora of terribly bad to steadily worsening bulletins.

Unemployment is up, while GDP is down. Despite claims to the contrary, the Zika virus continues to worry athletes and participants of the upcoming 2016 Summer Olympic Games; while the threat of bacterial infections has raised concerns with World Health Organization officials over the growing unsanitary conditions found in Rio’s Guanabara Bay.

Add to this the increasing climate of violence due to widespread police killings; the mind-blowing and ever-expanding corruption scandals at all levels of government; the shortage of available housing brought on by the massive number of evictions from Rio’s poorest districts; delays in construction and infrastructure projects that have led to cost overruns and overly optimistic projections of a return on the government’s investment.

All these factors have contributed to the disquiet and unrest that have gripped the Brazilian nation for well-on two years now.

Despite the gloomy forecast, there remains one bright spot — an oasis in the desert of political and economic instability — and that is, the continuing esteem Brazil’s musical theater has been held in by the paying public. It’s as if those MGM wartime musicals had been recreated strictly for the Brazilian market, in the way they used to divert audiences from the horrors of real life.

Today, this has been made possible by the presence of two uniquely talented individuals.

I’m referring, of course, to the Brazilian Dream Team, that dynamic duo of the Rio stage, the “Kings of Musical Theater”: director, writer, costume and set designer Charles Möeller and musical director, translator, adapter and lyricist Claudio Botelho.

I’ve given extensive coverage to Charles and Claudio’s efforts in this vein ever since I began corresponding with the “Boys from Brazil” back in October 2010, and regularly after I had met them in Manhattan in September 2011. Their work, in particular a remarkably entertaining and thoroughly absorbing theater piece named 7 – The Musical, left no doubt they were on the cusp of international stardom.

It happened that at the end of December 2015, Charles and Claudio celebrated their 25th season together as working partners and business associates. In recognition of their hitting the quarter-century mark — and in expectation of bigger and better productions on the immediate horizon — the pair granted a year-end interview to Rio de Janeiro’s Globo News.

After perusing their comments and listening to the enthusiasm they appear to express when discussing their chosen profession, I’m sure readers will agree that with Möeller and Botelho, the sun will always come out on their shows — if not tomorrow, then the day after.

And the day after that and the day after that … And boy, do we need it now!

Recounting the Duo’s Success Which Led to 38 Hit Shows

Spring Awakening, staged by Moeller & Botelho, with Leticia Colin & Rodrigo Pandolfo

Spring Awakening: staged by Moeller & Botelho, with Leticia Colin & Rodrigo Pandolfo

One is sarcastic and self-contained. The other is open and expansive. The very different and quite opposite personalities of these two gentlemen prove that Charles Möeller and Claudio Botelho were born to complement each other as they embarked on a direct path to success.

They’re celebrating 25 years of a professional partnership that has borne such marvelous fruit as Cole Porter — He Never Said He Loved Me and Spring Awakening. There have been nearly 40 works signed off by the team that has also given birth to numerous other partnerships in their field: iconic actors and actresses, as well as those they have seen rise to stardom.

Here is the most recent conversation with this accomplished Carioca twosome that has become a reference point in the genre of musical theater in Brazil.

Trade Secrets

Charles Möeller: The secret of a professional relationship is in knowing when to pick your battles. The argument is the most beneficial thing that exists in a relationship because it can determine who gets the last word. When you realize there’s something bigger at stake and come to believe that it’s really worth fighting for … then the argument can only make it better. Friction is what moves us to action and causes us to accept these differences of opinion. We’re two regular guys who enjoy a good fight! Anybody who stands next to us can’t believe what they’re witnessing! You’d think we will never be able to look each other in the eye; but five minutes later we’ll act as if nothing’s happened (laughs).

Claudio Botelho: In the past we would argue almost to the point of coming to blows (laughs). Knowing how to fight is the secret, no doubt about it. If one side is right and the other side is wrong, the end result will demand at lot from us both: we always have to prove we’re right. What makes me the happiest guy in the world is the recognition we get from our work.

Artistic Affinity

Charles Möeller: We met each other as soon as I moved to Rio de Janeiro, in 1989. I was performing in a soap opera called Mico Preto (“Black Monkey”), playing Miguel Falabella’s son, who was then directing the play Um e Outro (“One and the Other”) in which Claudio was part of the cast. I attended an open rehearsal and, as soon as we started talking about musicals, we identified with each other. He was already an expert on the subject and had this goal in mind of an artistic career, while I had just left the company of Antunes Filho and had an aesthetic affinity with the genre. There was a meeting where I provided the stage pictures for a musical and Claudio provided the songs. Duos need to play off one another; those that don’t usually backfire. The neat thing is to be different.

Claudio Botelho: Musical theater is basically a craft made for twos and threes. No single person can go it alone. We only succeed because of one another. When we first met, I realized I had found someone with the same reference points as I had. It was extremely rare for someone my age to have seen the same movies as I had. We had so much love for musicals that, from one day to the next, something clicked. I thought: there’s no way we can do this [type of thing] here [in Brazil] (laughs)! I wanted to show people what I loved the most about musicals; I wanted to share with them what I found so amazing about them. I get excited when I can finally convince the public of this. My greatest pleasure is to sit in the audience and see the place go wild with what we’ve brought to the stage.

Reference to Type

Charles Möeller: We’re obsessed with the genre. It’s not a passing fancy with us, nor are we following the demands of the market. What motivates me to want to do musicals even today is the same motivation I had from the beginning: that the show transforms me and takes me out of myself. We strive for the professionalization of the genre, and lavish it with great technical care. In that way we become a brand.

Claudio Botelho: We changed the type of public that goes to musical theater, which used to be a much older crowd. The generation that watched our show Cole Porter, which really lifted us to success, doesn’t go to the theater anymore. It was Spring Awakening that brought younger audiences to the theater and exposed them to the genre. Our main focus, then, became entertainment for the whole family. We concentrate on the needs of the market, on what the competition has to offer, but without setting aside artistic quality.

All Work, All the Time

Charles Möeller: I have my favorites, but each piece I present takes such a huge chunk out of my life that I always feel the last play I work on is the one that best reflects who I am at the time. I still want to work with so many artists. I love to call on unusual people to partner with, and they end up becoming quite close. My dream is to work with Fernanda Montenegro. I also admire the work of Domingos Montagner and that of Fernanda Torres.

Claudio Botelho: It’s that old cliché of asking which child do you love the most (laughs)? The most important “child” of our career was, curiously enough, the one that made the least money: ‘7.’ It was our creation, one that garnered many awards, but the public wanted to hear more familiar tunes. Still, it was an important benchmark in our history. I, too, dream of working with Fernanda Montenegro and feel this can happen at any moment.

The Future

Coming Attractions: Ewa Wilma & Nicette Bruno in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

Coming Attractions: Ewa Wilma & Nicette Bruno in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

Charles Möeller: Next year [2016] we’ll present an adaptation of the movie The Apartment, in the musical Promises, Promises with Marcos Veras and Maria Clara Gueiros. In the second half of the year we’ll be bringing Pippin to the stage, with a huge cast of unknown performers!

Claudio Botelho: I’m certain that Pippin will bring the same audience that saw Spring Awakening to the show. In addition, we’ll be releasing the film Os Saltimbancos Trapalhões (“The Bandit Stooges”), and we just bought the rights to the movie Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, which has been adapted for the theater. We’ll be responsible for the world premiere showing!

By Globo Theatre, December 25, 2015

(Translation by Josmar F. Lopes – Copyright © 2016)

‘Through the Dark of Night’ (‘Pela Escuridão’): The Songs of ‘7 – The Musical’

 

Fairy Tales Can Come True

The original cast of 7 - The Musical

The original cast of 7 – The Musical

With the box-office success of the Disney Studios’ film adaptation (directed by Rob Marshall) of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Into the Woods, it behooves me at this point to revisit an overlooked masterwork of Brazilian musical theater: Möeller-Botelho-Motta’s 7 – The Musical, an adult version (a VERY adult version, I should strongly add) of the Snow White story.

This elaborate excursion into the fairy-tale realm, a dark-themed noir extravaganza that explores the libidinous motivations of its principal protagonists, made its triumphant debut on September 1, 2007, in Rio de Janeiro. And since 2010, when I first heard about the show, I have spent these past several years viewing, studying, and describing the origin and background of this fabulous musical-theater piece in several blog posts (see the following link: https://josmarlopes.wordpress.com/2012/09/11/be-careful-what-you-wish-for-a-brazilian-fairy-tale-musical-comes-to-the-rio-stage/).

Today, however, I want to focus primarily on the English translation of its remarkably cogent songs, some of the catchiest and melodious numbers — be they Brazilian, American or otherwise — of any stage musical in recent memory.

So, without further interference from yours truly, here are the songs of 7 – The Musical, in the order in which they appeared in the original 2007 production:

 

7 – THE MUSICAL

 

Book by CHARLES MÖELLER              

Music by ED MOTTA          

Lyrics by CLAUDIO BOTELHO

English Adaptation by JOSMAR LOPES

 

Musical Numbers 

ACT ONE:

 

  1. “SONG OF THE REQUESTS” (The Seven Young Men)

A PALE WHITE RODENT

SOME POMEGRANATE SEEDS

A TOOTH THAT’S ROTTED

A LADY’S HIGH-HEELED SHOE

A HOLY BIBLE

A WEDDING BAND

 

Amela (Alessandra Maestrini) & Carmen (Zeze Motta)

Amelia (Alessandra Maestrini) & Carmen (Zeze Motta)

  1. “NIGHTTIME” (Carmen, Seven Young Men)

NIGHTTIME

ALL AROUND US IS THE NIGHTTIME

ALL AROUND US IS THE BLACKNESS

ALL AROUND US IS DISTURBANCE

BUT BEHIND US IS THE DRABNESS

 

ALL THE CATS ARE DRAB AND DREARY

ALL THE AIR AROUND IS WEARY

ALL THE ALLEYWAYS ARE TWISTED

CURVING OUT OF SIGHT AND

 

Seven Young Men

IN THE DARK OF NIGHT!

 

Carmen and the Cast

AH… NIGHTTIME

SUDDENLY IT WAS THE NIGHTTIME

SUDDENLY THE SOUND OF SCREAMING

SUDDENLY A BODY FALLING

SUDDENLY IT LEFT A BLOODSTAIN

 

ON THE STREET THERE WAS A BLOODSTAIN

ON THE WALL THERE WAS AN OUTLINE

ON THE COBBLESTONES WERE FOOTSTEPS

AND THE FOOTSTEPS ECHOED

 

THROUGH THE DARK OF NIGHT

 

Carmen and the Cast

NIGHTTIME

WHEN WE LISTEN TO THE CHATTER

WHEN WE HARKEN TO THE CLATTER

OF THE VOWS THAT SEEM TO MATTER

AFTER THAT, WHAT ELSE BUT DAY BREAKS

 

WHEN THE LIGHT OF DAY ADVANCES

WHEN THE RATS GO INTO TRANCES

AND THE PIGS TURN UP THEIR NOSES

WHILE THE DEVIL SLIPS AWAY

 

THROUGH THE DARK OF NIGHT

THROUGH THE DARK OF NIGHT

THROUGH THE DARK OF NIGHT

 

 

  1. “MAGIC MIRROR’S FIRST RESPONSE” (Seven Young Men)

NOT IN THIS KINGDOM

NO, NOT IN ALL THE WORLD

IS THERE A FAIRER MAID THAN YOU

NOT IN THIS KINGDOM

 

 

  1. “MAGIC MIRROR’S SECOND RESPONSE” (Clara)

SO FAIR AND FRAGILE

THAT LOVELY GIRL, SNOW WHITE

SNOW WHITE IS FAR FAIRER THAN YOU

 

 

  1. “THE SEVENTH REQUEST” (Carmen)

BRING ME A HEART THAT’S STRONG

STILL YOUNG AND VIBRANT

HAPPY AND FREE

 

Seven Young Men

HAPPY AND FREE!

 

Amelia (Alessandra Maestrini)

Amelia (Alessandra Maestrini)

  1. “HE’LL BE BACK” (Amelia)

LIKE A RUNAWAY SERVANT

WHO RETURNS TO HIS MASTER

LIKE A DEAR OLD COMPANION

LIKE A WAVE ON THE WATER

FLOWING ONE AFTER ANOTHER

 

HE’LL BE BACK, I VOW

HE’LL COME RUNNING BACK

AS THE SUN AND STARS,

THE MOONLIGHT

WILL COME OUT AS WELL

ALWAYS

 

NO EXCEPTIONS, NONE

NO THOUGHTS OR WORDS, NONE

 

HE’LL BE MINE, I SWEAR

MY LOVER

AS I’VE ALWAYS DREAMED

ALWAYS

I SWEAR

 

YOUR EYES ARE ON MINE, MY LOVE

YOUR ARMS SURROUND MY HEART

THE DOORS ARE NOW CLOSING

CLOSING FAST, MY LOVE, MY HEART

THE ONE I ADORE

 

Odette (Rogeria), Madeleine (Marya Bravo) & Elvira (Gottscha)

Odette (Rogeria), Madeleine (Marya Bravo) & Elvira (Gottscha)

  1. “DANCE AROUND THE DEAD MAN” (Odette, Elvira, Madeleine, Dead Man)

Odette

HE’S DEAD

HE’S GONE

THE DOORS HAVE CLOSED BEHIND

HE’S DOWN

HE’S OUT

HE’LL NEVER COME AROUND

 

HOW LOUD

HOW SOFT

HOW STRONG

HIS WHINE

HIS SHOUT

HIS SONG

 

AND THE FLIES BUZZING HERE

 

HOW KIND

HOW MEAN

HOW HARD WAS HE IN LIFE

A FRIEND

A FOE

A HUSBAND TO HIS WIFE

 

BUT NOW

HE’S OFF

HE’S THROUGH

HE’S FLAT

HE’S BROKE

HE’S STEW

 

AND THE FLIES BUZZING HERE

ALL THOSE THINGS ‘ROUND HIS EARS

WHAT A MEAL FOR THE FLEAS

SUCH A JUICY SIGHT

THOSE BLUE FINGERTIPS

THOSE RED EYES, THOSE LIPS

ARE THEY SAYING: WHAT NOW?

 

Elvira

HE’S DEAD

HE’S DOWN

NO SOCCER GAMES, FOR SURE

HIS TRAIN

LEFT TOWN

BUT NOW HE’S GONE FOR GOOD

 

HE LEFT

HIS DOG TO MOAN

HIS LEGS

ARE STIFF AS BONES

 

HIS POOR KIDS, STRANDED THERE

 

NO MOM

NO POP

TO SAVE HIM IN THE END

NO JOY

NO HOPE

NO SERVICE FOR A FRIEND

 

IT HURTS

TO DIE

ALONE

TO LIE

HERE ON

HIS OWN

 

JUST TO WATCH ALL THOSE WORMS

DO THEIR SAMBAS AND TURNS

THEY DON’T CARE HOW HE CHURNS

WE’RE THE SAME INSIDE

FRUIT IS FRUIT INSIDE

WE ALL ROT INSIDE,

KEEP IT OUT OF SIGHT

IT’S TRUE!

 

Odette

HE’S DEAD

HE’S GONE

THE DOORS HAVE CLOSED BEHIND

 

HE’S DOWN

HE’S OUT

HE’LL NEVER COME AROUND

 

 

HOW LOUD

HOW SOFT

HOW STRONG

HIS WHINE

HIS SHOUT

HIS SONG

 

 

 

 

 

ALL THOSE FLIES

BUZZING HERE!

AH!

Madeleine

ALL RIGHT, ALL RIGHT

I THREW IT UP,

ALL RIGHT?

I REALLY CAN’T GO ON

 

I CAN’T GO ON

WITH THIS

I HAVE TO GO

FOR PITY’S SAKE

SAINT JUDE

AND SAINT JEROME

BY ALL THAT’S RIGHTEOUS IN

THIS WORLD I’M LIVING IN

I REALLY HAVE

TO GO

 

OH MY SAINT GENOVIEVE

AS LONG AS I CAN BREATHE

I KNOW I CAN’T GO ON

 

 

ALL THOSE FLIES

BUZZING HERE!

AH!

Elvira

HE’S DEAD

HE’S GONE

THE DOORS HAVE CLOSED BEHIND

 

HE’S DOWN

HE’S OUT

HE’LL NEVER COME AROUND

 

HOW LOUD

HOW SOFT

HOW STRONG

HIS WHINE

HIS SHOUT

HIS SONG

 

 

 

 

 

ALL THOSE FLIES

BUZZING HERE!

AH!

 

The Dead Man

I’M DEAD

I’M SCREWED

NO ONE LEAVES ME ALONE!

 

NO REST

NO JOY

ANNOYING BITCHES TOO!

 

WHY DON’T

YOU GO

AND SCREW

 

YOUR MOMS

AND POPS

PLUS TWO?

 

CAN YOU SHOW ME THE WAY

TO THE NEAREST CAFÉ

HELL’S A GREAT PLACE TO STAY

 

Dance Around the Dead Man

“Dance Around the Dead Man”

The Dead Man

THAN TO BE HERE

WITH THESE FOOLS

I BET

 

 

 

PURGATORY’S BETTER

THAN THIS

PLACE

 

 

I SWEAR THAT

PURGATORY’S BETTER THAN THIS PLACE,

I SWEAR

 

I CAN’T GO ON!

Madeleine

OH, I CAN’T, I CAN’T

I WON’T GO ON

EVEN HELL IS BETTER

THAN THIS PLACE

 

 

WHAT A CURSE!

OH WHAT A MESS!

PURGATORY’S BETTER THAN THIS

 

I JUST

CAN’T GO ON,

NO MORE, NO MORE

MY GOD

 

I CAN’T GO ON!

Odette & Elvira

THAN TO BE HERE

WITH THESE FOOLS

I BET

 

 

PURGATORY’S BETTER

THAN THIS

PLACE

 

 

I SWEAR THAT

PURGATORY’S BETTER THAN THIS PLACE,

 

I SWEAR

 

I CAN’T GO ON!

 

  1. “THE HUNTER’S PLEA” (Hunter)

FLEE FOR YOUR VERY LIFE

MY POOR YOUNG PRINCESS

FLEE TO THE WOODS

NEVER COME BACK

 

  1. “WHEN A WOMAN WANTS” (Carmen, Rosa, Amelia)

Carmen

WHEN A WOMAN WANTS

A MAN OF HER VERY OWN

SHE BECOMES THE IMAGE OF A SIREN

SHE HOLDS IN HER HAND

AN APPLE FOR HIM TO EAT

A SIMPLE ACT WITH DIRE CONSEQUENCES

 

AND WHEN THE LIGHTS GO DOWN LOW

HE’LL TAKE A BITE AND THEN SHOW

HE IS IN HER ARMS WHEN HE HOLDS ON TO YOUR ROBE

 

AND WHEN YOU EXCHANGE A KISS IN HER PLACE

YOU WILL REMIND HIM WHEN HE LAYS BESIDE YOU

IT’S HER HAND THAT HE IS HOLDING

IT’S HER BACK THAT HE’S BEEN SCRATCHING

EVEN THOUGH YOUR BLOOD IS FLOWING

 

Rosa

TAKE THIS WOMAN FAR

AWAY FROM MY LITTLE GIRL

MAKE HER FIND HER FATE SO FAR FROM HERE

TAKE THIS WOMAN NOW

WITH ALL OF HER CARES AND FEARS

TO A PLACE THAT’S NOT SO VERY NEAR

 

AND MAY SHE FIND HER RELIEF

IN A HOLE IN THE GROUND

ON THE SIDEWALK, IN A SHELTER,

WHERE SHE LAYS DOWN

 

AND WHEN SHE AWAKES, AWAY FROM THIS PLACE,

MAKE HER AWARE OF HER SURROUNDINGS

SO PRINCE CHARMING SEES WHERE SHE’S BEEN SLEEPING

SHE WHO TRIED TO GET INSIDE HIM

MAY HER HAND BE ALL HE’S SEEKING

 

Amelia

FOR ME

 

Carmen

YOU’RE THE ONE WHO PUCKERS

BUT HER LIPS ARE THOSE HE’S KISSING FREELY

 

Amelia

FOR ME

 

Rosa

LET HER FORCE HERSELF ON OTHERS

ON THE STREET OR WHERE SHE’S KNEELING

 

Carmen and Rosa

YOU’RE THE ONE THAT HE IS HOLDING

BUT IT’S HER THAT HE’S BEEN FEELING

 

Amelia

FOR ME!

 

  1. “HERCULANO’S LULLABY” (Herculano)

SLEEP MY LITTLE BABE

YOUR DADDY CAME

 

SLEEP MY LITTLE DOVE

YOUR MOMMY’S GONE

 

Old Stepmother (Ida Gomes) & Clara (Marina Ruy Barbosa)

Old Stepmother (Ida Gomes) & Clara (Marina Ruy Barbosa)

  1. “HEIGH-HO” (Clara, Seven Young Men)

ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR, FIVE, SIX, SEVEN DWARFS!

HEIGH-HO

HEIGH-HO AND NOW WE’RE GOING HOME

AND NOW WE’RE GOING HOME

 

12.   “CARD DECK” (Amelia, Carmen)

Amelia

THE TOOTH OF A CAT

AND THE TAIL OF A RAT

AND THE WING OF AN OWL

STIR THEM ALL TOGETHER

 

Carmen

TOGETHER!

 

Amelia

THE TOOTH AND THE TAIL

AND THE SHELL OF A SNAIL

WITH A BUCKET AND PAIL

YOU MIX THEM ALL AT ONCE

 

Carmen

ALL AT ONCE!

 

Amelia

BOIL THEM ALL IN A POT

LIKE A SOUP IN A SHOP

IN A KETTLE SO BLACK

THEY’LL BE COMPLETELY MELTED

 

Carmen

MELTED!

 

Amelia

FILL THE TOP OF THE POT

THE MOST POWERFUL POT

YOU CAN FIND IN YOUR SHOP

BRING THEM ALL TO A BOIL

 

Carmen

ALL TO A BOIL!

 

CARD DECK

DEAREST OF CARD DECKS

TAROTS, SHOW ME THE WAY

SEEK, AND YOU SHALL FIND

COME, MAKE ME ALL POWERFUL

 

Amelia

THE TIME OF NO TIME

THE HOUR’S SO FINE

WHEN THE MOON’S GETTING READY TO SHINE

GATHER ‘ROUND THEM CLOSER

 

Carmen

CLOSER!

 

Amelia

THE DAY IS A SAD ONE

A DAY WITHOUT SUN

WE TAKE UP OUR SONG

THEN IT’S OVER AND DONE

 

Carmen

OVER AND DONE!

 

Amelia

THEN YOU WISH FOR A WISH

AND YOUR WISH WILL COME TRUE

IF IT’S ALL THAT YOU DO

A HUNDRED TIMES OVER

 

Carmen

A HUNDRED TIMES OVER!

 

Amelia

YOU VOW AND YOU SWEAR

AND IT ALL COMES YOUR WAY

‘TILL YOU SAY WHAT YOU SAY

A THOUSAND TIMES OR MORE

 

Carmen

A THOUSAND TIMES OR MORE!

 

CARD DECK

OPEN MY EYELIDS

HELP ME, SHOW ME THE WAY

SPEAK, GRANT ME A SIGN

SPEAK, DON’T MAKE ME WAIT ANYMORE

 

Carmen

ASK, AND YOU’LL RECEIVE

 

COMMAND, IT SHALL BE DONE

 

PLEASE, SHOW ME THE WAY

MY ONLY TASK IS TO OBEY!

Amelia

ASK ME, AND I’LL RECEIVE

 

I SWEAR IT SHALL BE DONE

 

SAY IT’S NOT TOO LATE

MY ONLY TASK IS TO OBEY!

 

 

  1. “SCRUB THAT DIRTY STAIR” (Elvira, Madeleine, Amelia)

Elvira, Madeleine

SCRUB THAT DIRTY STAIR

TRA LA LA LA LA

CLEAN IT UP WITH SPIT AND POLISH

PRESS DOWN HARD, NOW TOSS THE RUBBISH

 

WAX THAT FILTHY FLOOR

TRA LA LA LA LA

MAKE IT SHINE AND DO IT SNAPPY

OR ODETTE WON’T BE SO HAPPY

 

WRETCHED WOMAN

USELESS VERMIN

LIFE OF EASE

JUST OUR LUCK

 

Amelia

YOUR FACE IS WITH ME HERE, MY DARLING

MY HEART IS IN YOUR HANDS

EACH PASSING HOUR

IT’S YOU THAT I SEEK

AND STILL I AWAIT,

MY TRUE LOVE

 

Elvira, Madeleine

GET DOWN ON YOUR KNEES

HEE HEE HEE HEE HEE

IT’S JUST SHAMEFUL, SO DISGUSTING

SUCH A LAZY GOOD-FOR-NOTHING

 

LOOK AT ALL THAT WASH

TRA LA LA LA LA

PICK THAT UP, IT’S NEVER-ENDING

HERE’S SOME MORE THAT NEED A MENDING

 

WRETCHED WOMAN

USELESS VERMIN

LIFE OF EASE

JUST OUR LUCK

 

Madeleine

HEAVY WOMAN

 

Elvira

BEAST OF BURDEN

 

Both

LIFE OF EASE

JUST OUR LUCK!!!

 

7 Curses, 7 Wishes

“7 Curses, 7 Wishes”

  1. “SEVEN CURSES” (Madeleine, Elvira, Carmen, Bianca, Seven Young Men)

BITE A PLUM PIT

CHEW A FISHBONE

FILL THOSE VEINS UP NOW

SPITTEL CHOKING

SPIRITS POKING

DRINK THAT POTION NOW

 

MALEDICTION

MALEFACTION

SUPERSTITION NOW

SPELL ALL-BINDING

STUPEFYING

BLINDLY CURSING SOW

 

TOXIC FOAM

ROUNDABOUT

OVERLOAD

CRY AND SHOUT

 

WRINKLES SPREADING

DISRESPECTING

EARTH IS QUAKING

SKIN IS SHEDDING

 

MILK TURNS SOUR

NOW’S THE HOUR

SPILL THAT BUTTER

DYING MOTHER

 

STIR THE CAULDRON

HEAT THE OVEN

HANDS IN FIRE NOW

IN THE GARDEN

BEASTS OF BURDEN

IN THE CUPBOARD NOW

 

MOLDY STORAGE

TRY THAT PORRIDGE

PLUCK A PULLET NOW

IN YOUR BEDROOM

ALL IS BEDLAM

WASH THOSE EYEBALLS,

WHERE AND HOW?

 

TRIM YOUR BODY

CUT TO RIBBONS

FEED YOUR PONY

APES AND GIBBONS

 

BORE A HOLE IN

ROOF AND CEILING

MAKE A HOME FOR

LICE AND WOMEN

 

SWEAR A CURSE AND

KILL YOUR FATHER

SHOW THE WEAPON

THEN AIM HIGHER

 

SEVEN CURSES

SEVEN WISHES

TAKE THEM BACK

THEN DO THE DISHES

 

 

  1. “THE LIGHT OF DAY” (Carmen)

THE LIGHT OF DAY

IS THERE, WAITING FOR YOU

THE MORNING GLOW,

THE SIDEWALK’S JUST FOR YOU

 

AND THERE’S

A SEA OUT THERE

WITH SEASHELLS

AND SAND OUT THERE

 

ALL OF RIO AWARE

A RED CARPET TO SHARE

CITY LIFE AT YOUR FEET

WAITING, HOPING THERE

AT YOUR BECK AND CALL

AT YOUR FEET!

 

Herculano (Jarbas Homem de Mello) & Bianca (Alessandra Verney)

Herculano (Jarbas Homem de Mello) & Bianca (Alessandra Verney)

 

  1. “IF THIS PATHWAY” (Bianca, Herculano)

Bianca

IF THIS PATHWAY

COULD UNLOCK MY HEART

I WOULD PAVE IT

WITH THE GEMS FROM MY PART

STONES, MOST PRECIOUS STONES THAT I HAVE LAID

FOR MY ESCAPE

 

Bianca

FROM THE SILENCE

WHERE HE LOCKED ME IN

FROM THE FENCES

WHERE HE KEPT ME BOUND

FROM THE DOORWAY

WHERE HE FORCED ME DOWN

EVERY DAY AND NIGHT

 

THIS IS MY HELLHOLE

 

THIS IS MY PENANCE

 

I WANT MORE

I NEED SO MUCH MORE…

 

IT’S SO COLD INSIDE ME

 

SO EMPTY INSIDE ME

 

A TIGER INSIDE ME

 

AND NOW I MUST LEAVE YOU

FOR US

FOR US

 

IF THIS PATHWAY

COULD UNLOCK MY HEART

I WOULD PAVE IT

WITH THE GEMS FROM MY PART

STONES, MOST PRECIOUS STONES

THAT I HAVE LAID

FOR MY ESCAPE

 

THERE ANCHORS MY VESSEL

 

THERE LIES A NEW FUTURE

 

I WANT MORE

I NEED MORE

OH, SO MUCH MORE

 

OUTSIDE A SWEET WINTER

 

OUTSIDE ENDLESS SUMMERS

 

A SUNSHINE INSIDE ME

 

AND NOW, I MUST LEAVE YOU

FOR US

FOR US

 

PATHWAY

PLEASE UNLOCK MY HEART

 

IF THIS PATHWAY…

Herculano

ALL I HAVE IS YOURS

MY LOVE

MY LOVE

 

 

 

 

 

THIS IS OUR LOVENEST

 

THIS IS OUR DREAM HOUSE

 

STAY WITH ME HERE

WHERE IT’S OH, SO WARM

 

IT’S SO COLD OUTSIDE ME

 

SO UGLY OUTSIDE ME

 

A WOLF AT THE WINDOW

 

DO IT FOR ME

FOR US

FOR US

 

SAVE OUR LOVE TONIGHT

MY LOVE

MY LOVE

 

 

 

 

 

FAR FROM ANY STORM CLOUD

 

SAVE OUR LOVE TONIGHT

 

OUR LOVE

IS ALL

WE NEED

 

OUTSIDE THERE ARE OGRES

 

OUTSIDE STRIFE ETERNAL

 

OUTSIDE AN INFERNO

 

DO IT FOR ME

FOR US

FOR US

 

PATHWAY

DON’T TEAR OUR LOVE APART

 

IF THIS PATHWAY…

 

 

  1. “BEFORE I FORGET” (Amelia, Alvaro)

Amelia

BEFORE I FORGET MYSELF IN YOU, STAY

BEFORE I REMEMBER WHAT I DO, STAY

COME, STAY WITH ME HERE

DON’T LEAVE ME, I FEAR

 

BEFORE MY TEMPTATION TO SAY YES, STAY

BEFORE CONTEMPLATION TELLS ME LESS, STAY

STAY, I’VE BEEN AWAY

DON’T LEAD ME ASTRAY

 

STAY, TIME GOES BY FASTEST WHEN WE SAY:

STAY!

 

Alvaro

CLOCKS WITH ALL THEIR HANDS WILL STOP AND SAY: STAY

SHINGLES ON THE CEILING FALL AND SAY: STAY

SAY I FOUND YOU HERE

PRAY, NO ONE COMES NEAR

ALL THAT IS FORGOTTEN’S IN THE PAST

STAY

 

Both

FOREVER,

AND ALWAYS

TOGETHER,

STAY WITH ME

 

Amelia

STAY, MY NIGHTS ARE FADING OH SO FAST, STAY

 

Both

STAY, THE DOORS ARE CLOSING TO THE PAST, STAY

 

STAY, BEFORE THE SPRING

STAY, BEFORE THE THAW

BEFORE WE FORGET HOW MUCH WE SAY:

STAY

 

FOREVER

AND ALWAYS

 

Alvaro

LONGING

 

Amelia

SWEAR IT

 

Both

STAY!

 

Full Cast in Finale to Act 1

Full Cast in the Finale to Act One

  1. FINALE: “TIME AND AGAIN” (Entire Cast)

Madeleine, Elvira, Seven Young Men

TIME AND AGAIN

NIGHTTIME HAS COME

 

Seven Young Men

THE PATHWAY, PATHWAY, PATHWAY, PATHWAY

 

Madeleine

STAY WITH ME!

 

Elvira

HEY THERE!

WHAT’S IT TODAY?

 

Madeleine

WHO WILL CARESS ME?

 

Madeleine, Elvira, Seven Young Men

TIME AND AGAIN

WE’RE ALL THE SAME

 

Seven Young Men

THE STAIRWAY, STAIRWAY, STAIRWAY, STAIRWAY

 

Madeleine

STAY WITH ME, OH STAY

 

Elvira

MAKE OF ME

YOUR HEART’S DESIRE OR SOMETHING MORE

 

Madeleine

WITH ME THE LIGHTS ARE BURNING BRIGHTER

 

Elvira

WITH ME THE FLAMES STAY LOW

 

Both

NEAR TO YOUR CHAMBER

A CUP ON THE FLOOR

AND STILL I AWAIT

 

All

MY TRUE LOVE

 

Seven Young Men

TIME AND AGAIN

NIGHTTIME HAS COME

 

Bianca

THE PATHWAY, PATHWAY, PATHWAY, PATHWAY…

 

Madeleine

STAY WITH ME!

 

Elvira

ANYONE

OR NO ONE

 

Madeleine

WHO WILL CARESS ME?

 

Seven Young Men

TIME AND AGAIN

WE’RE ALL THE SAME

THE STAIRWAY, STAIRWAY, STAIRWAY, STAIRWAY…

 

Madeleine

STAY WITH ME, OH STAY

 

Elvira

MAKE OF ME

YOUR CRUEL HEAVEN OR YOUR HELL!

 

Elvira, Madeleine, Seven Young Men

AT NIGHT MY PRINCE IS WAITING FOR ME

HIS FATE IS IN MY HANDS

 

Carmen, Odette, Rosa

INSIDE OUR SOULS WHERE

IT’S WARM AND IT’S COLD

 

All

AND STILL I AWAIT

MY TRUE LOVE

 

BLACKOUT

Curtain

End of Act One

 

(To be continued…) 

Copyright © 2015 by Josmar F. Lopes

 

‘7’ the Winner! The Brazilian Musical Comes of Age — Part Four: The Beginning or the End?

THE CONCLUSION TO MY ANALYSIS OF MÖELLER & BOTELHO’S 7 – THE MUSICAL, ONE OF THE FINEST MUSICAL-THEATER PIECES EVER TO HIT THE BRAZILIAN STAGE

"The Heart in the Forest" with Clara (Marina Ruy Barbosa) (Photo: Paulo Ruy Barbosa)

“The Heart in the Forest” with Clara (Marina Ruy Barbosa) (Photo: Paulo Ruy Barbosa)

In this final chapter of my multi-part study of Charles Möeller, Claudio Botelho, and Ed Motta’s masterwork 7 – The Musical, wherein we left readers with an in-depth analysis and appreciation of Act I (see the following link: https://josmarlopes.wordpress.com/2014/01/05/7-the-winner-the-brazilian-musical-comes-of-age-part-two-ele-vai-voltar-hell-come-back-i-vow/), we conclude with the major occurrences of Act II (Reader Alert: Spoilers ahead!).

Prologue on the Ice: “The Heart in the Forest”

The prelude is taken (quite appropriately, one might add) from the “Seven Curses” ensemble in Act I. After a brief exchange between Madeleine and Elvira atop a balcony, the curtain rises on an ice-covered lake. Just below the surface is the frozen body of a young woman, Bianca, who was last seen wandering the streets in search of safe haven from the storm. The premise is that she must have fallen into the lake by accident (a possible stand-in for Rio’s Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas).

The seven young men (or dwarfs) assume the roles of motorized musicians, the type once found at amusement parks. In this instance, the dwarfs are providing a musical diversion for the ad hoc skating rink. Each of the men is playing a different instrument (piano, trombone, maracas, accordion, etc.) in robotic fashion. Clara is frolicking behind them, tossing her dolls into the air and giggling uncontrollably like a child.

The scene opens with an impressive number, “The Heart in the Forest,” which recounts some peculiar plot points:

Eis o coração no bosque
Eis mais um príncipe
Mais uma abóbora
Quantas doze badaladas
Quantas sete luas

There’s a wounded heart in the forest
There’s your Prince Charming
A pumpkin, a coachman
A clock will strike at twelve
A calendar that reads of seven

The next stanza is directed at Clara’s rescue from the “castle” that Old Stepmother has allegedly imprisoned her in (another nod to the Rapunzel story):

Eis o caçador
Eis o alazão
Quem invade o teu castelo?
E vem te enfeitiçar com beijos
Rubros
Loucos?

Hunter with a horn
Rider on his horse
Who will then invade my bastion?
And when will he enchant me with feeling,
Ardor,
Passion?

These are but the musings of a prepubescent girl about to reach maturity, who still dreams of a knight in shining armor to sweep her off her feet and carry her away on his mount. A mysterious voice — that of the frozen Bianca, whose head protrudes from a hole in the ice — interrupts the goings-on by emitting a few coloratura scales in melodious counterpoint to Clara and the dwarfs.

“Mop That Dirty Floor”

The scene shifts to Old Stepmother’s house. She’s barely concluded a portion of the Snow White story, when Clara asks a question of her: “Do you love me?” Old Stepmother conveniently sidesteps the issue, but Clara insists that deep down inside, “You love me as if I were your own daughter!” To this the cantankerous old woman snaps back that she is Clara’s stepmother and, as such, demands that she be respected. She sends the girl off to make her bed and takes her leave.

"Mop that Dirty Floor" - Clara (Marina Ruy Barbosa) (Photo: Paulo Ruy Barbosa)

“Mop that Dirty Floor” – Clara (Marina Ruy Barbosa) (Photo: Paulo Ruy Barbosa)

Scrubbing the floor in as resentful a manner as she can manage, Clara expresses her annoyance by repeating the old lady’s instructions in sing-song fashion (“Mop that dirty floor, tra-la-la-la-la…”) to the same melody that Elvira and Madeleine used on Amelia in a comparable situation at the brothel. Overhearing Clara’s mocking tone, stepmother orders her to keep silent. Clara hurriedly exists from the room. Old Stepmother repeats to herself the words she has just hurled at Clara: “You don’t know who I am. You don’t know who you are…”

“A Little Babe Came Knocking”

At that, there is a flashback to 20 years prior, when Dona Rosa, Amelia’s “godmother,” recalls how she came to be in possession of baby Amelia (Note: an extended scene that was cut from the original text included Dona Carmen and Dona Odette as well). “It was a dark and terrible night of rain,” when Rosa heard a knock at the door. A man dropped off a baby girl whose name was Amelia; the man turned out to be her father. We are told that Dona Rosa embraced Amelia as her own child, an abandoned orphan with no past and very little future. Now we know who Amelia is, but who is Clara?

“Oh, Look at Me”

Returning to room number 7, where Amelia has been “entertaining” her client Alvaro, we hear the “Song of the Wishes” as intoned by the young men, along with Carmen’s admonition to Amelia to bring her “a heart that’s strong, still young and vibrant, happy and free” — only this time it’s sung by Alvaro, the young man whose strong heart now beats for Amelia, and that Amelia so desperately needs in order to complete her task.

Repeating the same motion with the knife that tore open the Belt Strangler’s chest in the early going, the enamored Amelia cannot bring herself to kill the fetching lad. Her reasoning: “He loves me, the boy loves me!” The clairvoyant reminds her that she’s not herself, that both she and the boy have been bewitched by the magic spell. Again, we see the past intruding upon the present, as the couple finds itself trapped in a time warp, unable to break free. Amelia and Alvaro make plans to run away together. They will meet at the train station at midnight.

Carmen warns Amelia that if she fails to comply with the seventh task, she will face a terrible curse. Amelia looks at her in disbelief: “What curse?” Carmen obliges with a riposte: “The seven years curse. Whoever fails to complete the spell will live seven years in one.” “How’s that?” Amelia inquires. “You are going to get seven years older with each passing year,” Carmen admonishes. “The circle must be closed.” She holds up a hand mirror to Amelia’s face. But instead of reacting with alarm, Amelia can only gaze at her pale features. She stares blankly into the mirror, transfixed by what she sees (the fairy-tale phrase, “Who in the land is fairest of them all?” comes to mind).

"Oh, Look at Me" (Alessandra Maestrini)

“Oh, Look at Me” (Alessandra Maestrini)

Amelia now begins her song, “Olhe pra mim” (“Oh, Look at Me”), the most insightful and psychologically potent number of all. The young men surround Amelia while they hold hand mirrors up to her face. But what does Amelia see? Speculating on the possibilities, perhaps she can peer inside herself — inside her soul, that is —and outside, at her fading beauty.

In fairy tales, mirrors can represent windows to the soul. Here, Amelia’s soul is reflected back at her as a form of punishment for the evil she has done — and still intends to do. Beauty is only skin deep, so the saying goes, and the face that turns men “on” can also turn them “off,” a cruel lesson for any woman to learn:

Diz que me viu
Como eu era
Meus azuis
Os verdes meus
Meu mar, meu mar

What do you see?
My life as it was then
My true self
My dark side as well
My calm, my calm

In the concluding moments of her song, the words “Que as portas já vão fechar, fechar” – “And the doors will be closing soon, so soon” ring out loud and clear. It’s the darkest of sentiments, a remarkable display of chromaticism at work (note the presence of piano and vibraphone), along with the sophisticated use of melody and harmonics — a marvelously atmospheric piece!

Intermezzo

We segue directly to the most sensuous, indeed the most dreamlike passage in the entire musical: the scene of Clara, slowly and deliberately, descending the steps to Old Stepmother’s house. She is wearing a revealing, low-cut gown that had once belonged to her mother. For the first time the girl is in touch with her own sexuality. We marvel at the radiance of her hair which is straight and combed for the occasion, the contours of her form, the loveliness of her skin and face — in sum, she’s an exquisite flower of the night that has come into bloom.

First the violin, then the cello, play a sumptuous solo passage based on the opening section of “There’s a wounded heart in the forest,” but the pace is languorous, the atmosphere sexually charged, the entire episode appearing to take place in Clara’s mind. This sequence is in sharp contrast to the number that opened the act, where Clara, in the last throes of her childhood, is found still playing with her dolls, laughing and carrying on over the frozen lake — the lake that encases Bianca’s frozen body.

Clara (Marina Ruy Barbosa) descending the stairs

Clara (Marina Ruy Barbosa) descending the stairs

Old Stepmother chastises her for wearing her mother’s gown and tells her that “mommy” was a worthless tramp, that Clara is “ugly, very, very ugly.” Our eyes, however, tell a different story. We see an ugly duckling transformed into a gorgeous swan. Clara sways her arms in time to the music as she glides down the staircase, in delicately choreographed movements that provide ample proof of her swan-like transformation. The audience, too, becomes aware of the moment, i.e., of her entry into womanhood — just as Bianca before her had experienced with the pricking of her finger.

Toying with the girl (probably to get back at her for her prior misbehavior), Old Stepmother observes that “Mirrors are a woman’s worst enemy,” which only leads to Clara repeating the hackneyed phrase, “Magic mirror on the wall / who in the land is fairest of them all?”

After telling her again to keep her mouth shut, Old Stepmother rudely berates her. The poor heart-broken girl bursts into tears and runs off to her room. Right on cue, the seven young men repeat the opening stanza of “There’s a wounded heart in the forest.” We know now whose heart has been wounded, among so many unfortunates: “There’s your Prince Charming, a pumpkin, a coachman / A clock will strike at twelve / a calendar that reads of seven.” It’s the plot of the musical itself, brilliantly encapsulated in verse and song.

“Mommy’s on Her Way”

We are back at Dona Odette’s house of ill repute. Amelia is preparing to leave. Not wanting to lose such a valuable “employee,” Odette invites her to stay in room number 7 for as long as she wants. But Amelia reveals that she is taking the midnight train back to her home.

Odette dismisses the two whores (who realize they must do all the housework themselves) and contacts Carmen by phone to apprise her of the situation: Amelia is on her way at last. Their plan worked! The two women “go back a long way together” as Carmen once hinted. They have worked out the details of their scheme to perfection and, if we are perceptive enough to notice, have succeeded in sparing themselves the curse’s wrath by luring Amelia to the appointed spot before the clock strikes twelve.

We see Herculano through a window of the house he shares with Bianca. He hums a lullaby to the child, the melody of which belongs, ironically enough, to Elvira and Madeleine’s number, which was taken up by Clara. He is interrupted by a phone call telling him that Bianca’s body has been found on the beach. Next, we find Bianca lying on a bier — in juxtaposition to the episode in the Prologue to Act I, where Clara was seen lying on a bench underneath the huge clock while holding a lily in her hands. Bianca, too, is holding a lily, only she is unconscious. The seven young men are there, surrounding and protecting her much as the seven dwarfs would do.

Old Stepmother (Ida Gomes) and Clara (Marina Ruy Barbosa) (Photo: Paulo Ruy Barbosa)

Old Stepmother (Ida Gomes) and Clara (Marina Ruy Barbosa) (Photo: Paulo Ruy Barbosa)

Shifting rapidly to the next scene, Clara and Old Stepmother argue whether Prince Charming had arrived in time to rouse Snow White from her poisoned slumber. Old Stepmother complains that Clara always interrupts her at this point. Clara counters that Old Stepmother hates it when Snow White gets kissed and awakens to live happily ever after. “Your mother died, my dear,” the stepmother proclaims coldly. “There was no prince to wake her. She died while drowning.” The contrast between Snow White and Clara’s mother is purposely done in order to create a play on words as well as inject a little levity.

In another scene change Alvaro enters and is captivated by Bianca’s frozen form. He impulsively kisses her on the lips. This startles the other men as well as the two prostitutes peering over the balcony. Unexpectedly, Bianca sits up with a start — the dead have come back to life again, raising the “specter,” if you will, of whether any of them were dead to begin with, or merely feigning death. This issue of permanence (or the lack thereof) is the insoluble dilemma of the play: is there such a thing as the separation of reality from fantasy?

Another brief scene features Amelia speaking to Dona Rosa on the phone, telling her that all is well and that she should prepare two places for breakfast in the morning. “From now on, I’m going to be happy… very happy!” she announces gaily.

As Bianca and Alvaro walk off in the distance, the seven young men sing Amelia and Alvaro’s love song, the cabaret number with its eerie allusions to clocks and to the past:

Clocks with all their hands
Will stop and say: stay
Shingles on the ceiling fall and say: stay
Say I found you here
Pray, no one comes near
All that’s been forgotten’s in the past,
Stay

Pick a Card

In imitation of the conclusion to Act I (and with the same hurried theme music), Herculano rushes in, desperately seeking Bianca. But her bier is empty and Bianca is nowhere to be found. Herculano asks the passersby if they’ve seen his wife and rudely barks orders at them, all the while holding the infant in his arms. Carmen materializes and instructs him to pick a card. Dubious at first, Herculano obeys her command.

Dona Carmen (Zeze Motta) Photo: Renata Jurban / AE

Dona Carmen (Zeze Motta) (Photo: Renata Jurban / AE)

Drawing a card from the deck, he hands it to Carmen, who sends him scurrying off to the train station to meet his wife. However, she neglects to mention that Amelia, his first wife, will be the one waiting for him, not his precious Bianca. Semantics and the deliberate misrepresentation of words and their meaning is the staple of many stories, including the tale of Rumpelstiltskin, a fable about individual identity and the power of names over persons or situations.

Looking at the card that Herculano has just picked, Carmen provides the audience with a characteristic fare-thee-well: “I’ll bring your love back in seven days! Seven days!” And with that she vanishes.

“Like the Day of a Wedding”

Bianca and Alvaro are standing on the beach. She has longed to see the ocean. The orchestra plays the “If this pathway” theme, as she and Alvaro form a close bond. Has she finally found her pathway? That remains to be seen. They hold each other’s hand. Alvaro asks to stay with her. Bianca has lost all memory of her past. All she knows is that she loves Alvaro. Alvaro, in kind, has also forgotten the past, especially the reason for his going to the train station: to rendezvous with Amelia.

“All that’s been forgotten is in the past,” the last line of Alvaro and Amelia’s love song, gives us a clue as to where Bianca and Alvaro’s relationship may be going. Sealing their passion with a kiss, Bianca fails to notice that it was in this exact same manner that she bid goodbye to Herculano before she ran away from home.

We are both at the beach and at the train station. There’s a duet between Amelia and Bianca. The music of “He’ll Come Back” returns but with new words: “He’ll arrive on time.” Once more, there is a musical theme in search of a melody that mocks Amelia’s search for her lost love. The two female voices join together, albeit temporarily, the one unbeknown to the other. They are on opposite ends of the stage, the physical separation indicative of how far apart they are in temperament.

Their brief duet is a fascinating blend of the characters’ differing states of mind, each with her own view of where fate will lead them. Neither is aware of how much they have changed since the start of the drama, nor will they ever know. Bianca departs with Alvaro in tow, leaving Amelia alone, to wait for Alvaro at the train station.

Finale: “My Heart on Your Heart”

The music reverts to the “He’ll Come Back, I Vow” theme. As we have seen, the sequence of events is recurring in reverse order from those at the start of the play. All the musical numbers will follow this reverse course. We are going backward in time, edging ever closer to the end… or are we?

Amelia counts off the numbers in sequence: one, two, three, four, five, six — each one voiced more desperately than the preceding one — until Herculano arrives on the scene with the baby still in his arms. Sheepishly, they turn away from each other as they talk. Their conversation is broken up into short spurts — it’s stilted and formal, not what you’d expect from husband and wife. Amelia sees him with the child and inquires, “Is this your daughter?” “Yes, she is,” he replies. “Her name is Clara.” “She looks just like you,” Amelia comments. Clearly, Herculano did not wish to meet Amelia there, although Carmen did say he could find his “wife” at the station.

Amelia (Alessandra Maestrini) & Herculano (Jarbas Homem de Mello)

Amelia (Alessandra Maestrini) & Herculano (Jarbas Homem de Mello)

Noticeably uncomfortable with this forced arrangement, Herculano excuses himself by claiming he needs to get cigarettes — the same excuse he offered at the start that led to his leaving Amelia. Baby Clara is now in Amelia’s arms. Not knowing what else to do, she sings a soothing lullaby to keep the girl quiet:

Meu peito no seu
Meu colo, meu calor, meu sal
A lua que vai
Voltar enfim ao meu quintal
Meu pródigo amor!

My heart on your heart
My kindness, my passion, my all
The moon in the sky
Will rise again tonight, my heart
The one adore!

For the last time, the huge clock is lowered onto the stage in exactly the same manner as at the beginning. A train whistle is heard in the distance, sounding closer and closer to the station. Resolutely speaking the words, “Está na minha hora” (“It’s time for me to go”) Amelia takes the baby and suitcase and disappears behind the clock.

From the opposite side of the clock, Old Stepmother emerges with Clara. She sings the same lullaby that Amelia just sang to the baby. Clara lays her head on her stepmother’s lap. It’s obvious the two most important women of the story, Amelia and Old Stepmother, are one and the same person, that the girl Clara is the product of the union between Bianca (Snow White) and Herculano (Prince Charming), and that she was abandoned — as Amelia was — by her mother.

Taking up where she left off, Old Stepmother begins to tell the story of Snow White anew: “Once upon a time,” she commences. Tired of the routine, Clara interrupts Old Stepmother to ask why is it they have to go to the station every week. To which Old Stepmother responds: “I’m waiting for someone.” “But we’ve been coming here for years,” Clara complains, “but so far…” Old Stepmother cuts her off with a phrase she’s been muttering every day of her life: “There were seven tasks and I fulfilled them all… except for the seventh one… Now, what was that task again?” She looks at Clara for a moment and, absentmindedly waving the thought from her mind, declares simply, “I forget.”

Old Stepmother (Ida Gomes) & Clara (Tatih Koehler)

Old Stepmother (Ida Gomes) & Clara (Tatih Koehler)

“That’s because you’ve grown old,” Clara concludes. Perking up, she poses a rather curious question to the old woman: “Will I live happily ever after?” Looking forlornly at the girl, Old Stepmother shakes her head and replies, but not in a cruel way: “No, my darling.” She then resumes the Snow White story. But instead of Old Stepmother reciting, we hear Amelia picking up the thread as she voices the oft-spoken line: “Magic mirror on the wall / who in the land is fairest of them all?”

At the same time, the music changes to a cello solo and the theme of “If this pathway,” as a young man with a suitcase comes striding in. It is Alvaro — Clara’s knight in shining armor — several years older yet none the wiser. What’s happened to Bianca? We may never know. He is wearing an overcoat to protect him from the elements (the elements of shock and surprise, no doubt) as he glimpses the couple seated together.

Old Stepmother recognizes the young man. “Alvaro!” she gasps in astonishment. Immediately, she rises from the bench and rearranges her hair in a provocative manner. Alvaro moves closer to the pair. Old Stepmother smiles expectantly, but he passes right by her, as if she were never there, a shadow of her former self. He sits on the bench in her place and looks deeply into Clara’s eyes. It’s love at first sight!

Amelia chooses that exact moment to come out from behind the clock. As she does so, we hear the same pulse-pounding notes that began the musical, Amelia’s “He’ll Come Back” motif. And, indeed, he has come back, hasn’t he? But not in the way she had hoped.

The two women face each other for the first and only time — the young Amelia and her older embodiment — while Clara and Alvaro sit alone on the bench, gazing longingly at one another. Finally breaking the silence, Amelia and Old Stepmother speak the words that by all rights should bring the story to its end: “Aqui começa o teu sortilégio!” (“Here begins your magic spell!)”

But the curse continues. The circle refuses to close… And the story never, ever ends…

BLACKOUT

Curtain

                                                             *             *              *

According to Spanish philosopher George Santayana, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Not only is this the real cause of Amelia’s sorrow, but the central plight of all the characters in 7 – The Musical.

They have been duped by their own mad obsessions into forgetting the past. Recalling only their present predicaments, Amelia, Carmen, Bianca, Rosa, Odette, Clara, Herculano, and the rest are forced, one by one, to re-experience their transgressions: to wallow in self-pity over such monstrous indulgences as adultery, murder, prostitution, deceit, abandonment, infidelity, black magic, and other debaucheries.

Relief from this vicious cycle is not to be had: their fate has been sealed, the portal remains closed — predetermined from the outset by Carmen’s powerful spell. They are all condemned to endlessly repeat their mistakes — complicit bystanders in a living hell of their own making, existentialism taken to the ultimate extreme. A revisionist No Exit perhaps? Absolutely!

Musical director Claudio Botelho once told me that “7” is very much like Sondheim’s Passion, in that it’s “a story about love and loss, about being left by the one you love, about losing your mind for someone else,” until you spend every waking hour in a fruitless search for that which you have lost. It’s a grown-up tale with a grown-up vision and viewpoint — the very model of a modern major musical.

The Brazilian musical has indeed reached its maturity. And, like the memorable characters of Bianca and Clara, it has come of age at last: long may it thrive.

If I were a gambling man, I’d be willing to wager that in a game of chance “7” would come up the winner every time. You can bet on it! ☼

(With gratitude and acknowledgement to Charles Möeller, Claudio Botelho, Ed Motta and Tania Carvalho)

English lyrics by Josmar F. Lopes – Copyright © 2014 All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2014 by Josmar F. Lopes

 

Brazilian Dream Team — If it’s Musicals You Want, Möeller-Botelho You’ll Get! (Part Two)

Claudio Botelho, interviewer Marilia Gabriela & Charles Moeller (atelevisao.com)

Claudio Botelho, TV interviewer Marilia Gabriela & Charles Moeller (atelevisao.com)

This is Your Life!

Picking up where we left off, we continue with the biographies of the Brazilian “Kings of Musical Theater.” Today’s subject is the versatile actor, singer, musical director, adapter, composer, translator and lyricist Claudio Botelho, one of the major names of musical theater in Brazil.

Born in the town of Araguari (in the state of Minas Gerais), Claudio Botelho Pacheco was raised in Uberlândia, a principal city. “One of the first words I remember uttering was ‘radio.’ I loved listening to the radio, and I used to go crazy when a band would go down my street. I was a child of the 1970s, in the countryside of Minas Gerais, where the local bands would pass right under my window!

“Music played a large part in my upbringing,” he recalled. “My grandmother Raúla, my mother’s mother, was a violinist who worked in movie theaters when live music was the norm. My grandfather Nenê, my father’s father, used to play the accordion. No doubt their genes had an effect on my life.”

What about the theater? “Theater? I didn’t know such a thing existed. There weren’t many theaters in Uberlândia in the decade of the 70s. The biggest cultural event in the city was the annual show put on by pop star Roberto Carlos, who appeared at a soccer stadium directly across from our house.”

It was during these formative times that Claudio came into contact with the song output of many of the era’s top singing sensations, Chico Buarque chief among them.

“Our household was filled with the mellow sounds of Silvio Caldas and Nelson Gonçalves, who were my family’s favorites. When I first heard Chico, whose voice was nothing extraordinary, I went into shock. But little by little, as I listened closely, again and again, to his lyrics, what I initially thought was outlandish turned out to be a revelation: Chico Buarque quickly became my idol.”

In 1978 — coincidentally, the same year that Chico’s musical play, Ópera do Malandro (“The Street Hustler’s Opera”), made its premiere there — Claudio’s family uprooted itself and moved to Rio de Janeiro.

“My mother was invited to be the coordinator of the Sacré Coeur de Marie School in Rio … We went to live in Copacabana. That’s where the piano first entered my life: my aunt Maria Helena, who already lived there and would become our guardian angel, had a piano in her house. Whenever I used to visit her, I would go directly to her piano. And that’s how I learned to play, by myself.

“In 1980, I changed schools from Sacré Coeur to São Vicente de Paulo, where there was a strong artistic movement and more progressive air; that’s when I experienced a rebirth. It was there that I discovered a wider world than I had known in Uberlândia, that I began to understand and appreciate Rio de Janeiro which opened my eyes to a new life.”

Actor, singer, musical director Claudio Botelho (nabroadway.com)

Actor, singer, musical director Claudio Botelho (nabroadway.com)

That “new life” Claudio hinted at would comprise a career in musical theater. First, he began by studying theater at UNI-RIO, then letters at the State University of Rio (UERJ), graduating as an actor at the Art House of Laranjeiras (Casa das Artes de Laranjeiras – CAL).

After several youthful ventures, including an early adaptation of Ferenc Molnár’s play, The Paul Street Boys, he almost gave up his dream of ever being on the stage. In a burst of “arrogance and audacity,” as he politely phrased it, Claudio went straight to the theater where actor, writer and director Ary Fontoura was appearing and, as Lady Luck would have it, convinced Fontoura to hear him out as Claudio presented his own musical version of Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist.

“Ary must have thought it the oddest thing in the world … He told me (with all the patience of Job) that my version of Oliver would be difficult to mount, with more than 30 characters on stage, that he couldn’t possibly do it. However, he was about to put on a play that he was writing with a friend, in which he’d thought about inserting some music. Would I be interested?”

Indeed, he was. Not only did Claudio compose the score to Moça, Nunca Mais (“No More a Woman”), he also rewrote the song lyrics (“I thought the originals were awful”). After several more such endeavors, and many “ups and downs” in the musical-theater market, he started to rub elbows with other well-known theater personalities, to include the late Sergio Britto, Miguel Falabella and Ítalo Rossi.

During rehearsals for Rossi’s 1989 mounting of Tadeusz Rózewicz’s White Wedding (“Casamento Branco”), in the audience Claudio noticed “a young man with golden curls who answered to the name of Charles Möeller. He played Miguel Falabella’s son in a TV soap opera and was attending his friend’s rehearsal that day — and that’s how it all started.”

(To be continued…)

(The above information was compiled from the Möeller-Botelho Website, along with various excerpts from Tania Carvalho’s book, Os Reis dos Musicais, published by Imprensa Oficial, São Paulo, 2009. English translation by Josmar Lopes, with grateful acknowledgement to Charles Möeller and Claudio Botelho)

Copyright © 2014 by Josmar F. Lopes