Author's note: This one is all the fault of Phantom Empress, so blame her. She also gets co-credit for contributing some truly inspired lines to the seduction song-danke, your highness!

The difficulty of parodying operatic musicals, especially the well-known ALW style, is that the rhythms and forms of the songs are less consistent than they would be if it were just one song at a time. I was tempted to write the whole damn thing, Joe-style, but I just couldn't justify it-and frankly, the joke would get old reeallll fast. So I confined myself to a few well-known numbers and ended by ripping off Evita.

(And yes, I know the text of that last ripoff may be hugely ironic, considering the fluffy crap I write. I can only defend myself by saying that while I enjoy the romance aspect of Scarlett's character, I know that that's not all to her-and there's a big difference between breaking frat regs discreetly and turning the whole base into a soap opera.)

P.S.: No disrespect mean to Duke fans. I really do like the guy, but when casting this particular abomination, there was really only one role he could play.

Disclaimer: G.I. Joe and all associated properties are the property of Hasbro Inc. The scores and lyrics for Evita and The Phantom of the Opera are the property of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, and are parodied here with both love and respect. (God knows I've spent enough time listening to them.) No copyright infringement is intended, and no profit is being made from this; it is intended only for the amusement of fellow fans.

Bonus! Find the two obscure references. One is a drama critic, and the other is a nod to a famous work of parody edited by one Mr. Parrott. Whoever finds both gets an exclusive sneak-peek at the endings of either Corazones y Cazadores or Order Up, whichever they like.


An excerpt from Development Hell: The Broadway Hits that Never Were, by Mike Stayn (Harper-Collins)

The name most synonymous with the musicals of the late twentieth century is, of course, Sir Allen Larry Webster-the composer of Rats and other guaranteed moneymakers which have forever changed the landscape of modern musical theatre. Some may question his inclusion in this text, given that a lost Webster musical could presumably be rated up there with a lost Shakespeare play in terms of things most sought after by afficionados, but lost it was. Only pieces remain.

In 1984, a pair of corporate sponsors contacted Webster with an offer. They were seeking to produce a stage version of one of their intellectual properties—a property which had recent become extremely successful due in part to, of all things, a comic book. The writer of the original comic was commissioned to write the book, and Webster eagerly jumped at the chance to compose music and lyrics. "It's a project quite unlike anything I've ever done," he was quoted at the time as saying. "Infusing culture into such a gauche, unsophisticated property is an incredible challenge."

However, it was not to be. Repeated disagreements about characterization, plot and the chosen format of the show (a writer who refused to be credited with some of the scripting duties was heard to say "What the hell does he mean, 'doesn't talk isn't the same as doesn't sing?'") resulted in the scrapping of the as-yet-unnamed production. Bitter feelings persisted on both sides, with the result that Webster actively destroyed many of his notes and original scores for the show itself.

Some rumors later persisted that Webster had in fact kept and recycled some pieces of the score and plotline for another show, resulting in a tangled mess of lawsuits and counter-lawsuits that remains unsettled to this day.

Here follow some of the only known remaining excerpts from the lost show, discovered by enterprising cleaning lady Natalie Dogsbody as she was tidying Webster's office one day in late 1987. Of the plotline there remains only scribbled notes against the pieces of score, but perhaps a little can be discerned from the songs themselves.


Webster's notes: The scene-a training camp for non-commissioned officers of the United States army. Having previously been challenged in her combat qualifications (see L.H.'s file for act 1 scene 2) SHANA (soprano) responds:

SHANA

Think of me, think of me learning

When this camp is through

Remember me, struggling, striving

Discov'ring what to do

When you find that once again you need

Commandos for a secret task

If you ever find that mission,

I'm there to kick ass.

Nobody said that there are threats abroad

At this point it's all "need to know"

But if ever you're in trouble

I'm ready to go . . .

. . . Go to war and fight

For sanity

Not crazed snake-men

In drapery . . .

Think of me, think of me sneaking

Silent and so dread

Imagine me, quietly making

Terrorists so dead

Recall these words,

When missions are at hand

Think of me questioning, so curt

I may be intel, man, but

I know what'll hurt!


Webster's notes: Having surprised those who previously doubted her abilities (note: could risk getting too grrrrl power. Is there any way to work a more codependent theme in here? Resonates with the tween set) SHANA is confronted by her fellow noncommissioned officer JAYE, who is skeptical.

JAYE

Shana? Shana?

ECHOING SPOOKY WHISPER

Shana . . .

JAYE

What in God's name have you been doing

That wasn't pro conduct

You're sharing special forces techniques

If they find out, you're-

SHANA

Jaye . . .

When I joined the Army, my father told me I would always be protected. He said there were great senseis who had studied the ancient arts, the ones no one ever speaks of. And if I proved worthy, a sensei of ninja would instruct me.

JAYE

Shana, do you believe?

Do you really think some spooky martial-arts guru is teaching you?

SHANA

Army regs say that there's no one

Allowed here but soldiers and so

But when I do katas, I see him

And he's sure as hell no NCO!

Here, in this room, or in the dojo

Somewhere nearby, sneaking

Somehow, I know he's more than Army

He, the unseen master

JAYE

Shana, you're risking court-martial

Allowing some guy on the base

Shana, you're learning from someone

And you don't know his face?

SHANA

Sensei in shadow

Guide and guardian

Grant to me mastery

JAYE

Who is this nutjob

This-

BOTH

Sensei in shadow

Shouldn't be here

Who is this great/crazed sensei?


Webster's notes: Together, SHANA and SENSEI descend into the hidden complex underneath the base. BIG PRODUCTION NUMBER. Reconsider guitar riff? Consult LH re: setting motifs; this really says candles to me.

Note for SHANA actress: still too brazen! More clinging and some limpid dewey-eyedness, please. This is opera, not "Patton."

SHANA

In shadows lurking by

In vents he creeps

To slit his target's throat

While guardsmen sleep

It doesn't matter what

Weapons you find

The ninja with the red tattoo

Is right behind!

SENSEI

Your form is good, it's true

But imperfect

You must move easily

When you bisect!

Here in this dojo dark

You'll train your mind

Where ninja with the red tattoos

Creep right behind . . .

SHANA

You hide your face from me

But I can't pout

I shouldn't look a gift-

SENSEI

-horse in the mouth?

BOTH

Your/my training is an art

In murder fine

But always, ninja with the red tattoo

Creep up behind . . .


Webster's notes: The seduction number. SHANA is visibly moved by SENSEI's impressive presence and collection of weapons. (Consult with L.H. again: is there a form of martial arts which requires full-body contact w/teacher?)

Additional: consider shifting SENSEI's voice range to baritone. Damaged throats can result in deeper tones sometimes, right? And if LH doesn't like it, the script is his job, he can come up with something.

SENSEI

Nighttime, sharpen, prep your silent weapons

Darkness serves to hide your bad intentions

Unawares, a jackass goes about his business . . .

Quickly, smoothly, abseil down the chute line

Break in, sneak in, either way you're on time

Poisoning the henchmen weakens their defenses

Helpless to resist the bladed strike . . .

For you become a ninja in the night.

Left hook, back kick, now the target's sweating

Right cross, axe kick, he shouldn't've bombed that wedding

Dodge a would-be hero, allies down to zero

In the darkness where they know they cannot fight

The darkness hides a ninja in the night!


Webster's notes: Act Two opener. A chorus of G.I. JOES are gathered in their brand-new base, celebrating the loss of their identities with some (ironic, but not TOO ironic, the NY Times always catches on and gets sarcastic about it) mask-themed costuming. DUKE and SHANA are present in their new uniforms, and DUKE is attempting to divert SHANA's attention from the long-missing SENSEI. Note: rewrite scene ending for more romantic possibilities? LH seems to be losing sight of who the handsome blond tenor hero is . . .

CHORUS OF JOES

Under wraps!

Causing censored intel gaps

Under wraps

Hide your face since your government denies you

Under wraps!

Full disclosure is for saps

Under wraps

Keep it sharp!

There's a secret

mission for you!

Disavowed

By the brass

If you're caught

It's your ass!

Secret tech

Is quite fun

Area

Fifty-one!

Files!

Take your pick

Of the best

Of the special forces

Who were never here!

Don't admit

What you find

Or you'll be

Reassigned!

Files!

Cover up

X it out

'Til you strangle on red tape-

DUKE and SHANA:

Under control, move along!

CHORUS:

Under wraps!

Foiling killers and kidnaps

Under wraps

Had enough?

Well, too bad

There's more to cover!


Webster's notes: This is really the last straw. Does he have no idea of conventional drama? This is an opera! Make STORM SHADOW a woman, at the very least, and perhaps I'll consider this lunacy.

DUKE (to STORM SHADOW): Is there anything I can do to protect myself? Some kind of defensive maneuver? (Raises his hand to the level of his eyes)

STORM SHADOW: (Gives him a "Are you serious" look)

DUKE: . . . I was just wondering. (Lowers hand.)


Aside from these few cryptic scraps, little remains of the untitled show. Webster himself has disavowed all knowledge of it, and in fact sued his former cleaning lady when she produced the scraps for the media: "It was an embarrassment," he claimed, "to be shackled by these ridiculous characters. Where's the drama? The passion? 'Get the bad guy' is not a legitimate excuse for theatre."

The only known additional piece of information—a response signed by the mysterious L.H., Webster's uncooperative co-author—is reproduced here, below, for the first time.


SHANA

Don't try that with me, America

The truth is, it's out of character

To make a big scene

Of one's emotions

I keep my reticence

Professional distance

And as for hot guys, and love triangles

That's the BS cartoon's fault

Though it seems that a girl must be torn 'tween two lovers-

-To be in fiction

It is not the whole essence of me

The fact is, I rescue myself

And I act . . . professionally!