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:
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
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.
ECHOING SPOOKY WHISPER
Shana . . .
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-
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.
Shana, do you believe?
Do you really think some spooky martial-arts guru is teaching you?
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
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?
Sensei in shadow
Guide and guardian
Grant to me mastery
Who is this nutjob
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."
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!
Your form is good, it's true
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 . . .
You hide your face from me
But I can't pout
I shouldn't look a gift-
-horse in the mouth?
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.
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
Causing censored intel gaps
Hide your face since your government denies you
Full disclosure is for saps
Keep it sharp!
There's a secret
mission for you!
By the brass
If you're caught
It's your ass!
Is quite fun
Take your pick
Of the best
Of the special forces
Who were never here!
What you find
Or you'll be
X it out
'Til you strangle on red tape-
DUKE and SHANA:
Under control, move along!
Foiling killers and kidnaps
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.
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
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!