Book 2. SOON .1

Book 2.  SOON .1

 Not long ago (two to three months) a young man involved with a small theater Company in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, contacted me for permission to do a production of my Rock Opera “SOON”.

We have since exchanged a number of emails, and I have given him my permission to go forward. 

We will be meeting some time in the near future to go over the script and to discuss the specifics of the production in terms of content. He originally found (and downloaded) the Los Angeles Recordings of SOON and wondered if I had any leads on any recordings of the Broadway production. I told him that I might and would take a look.

It happens that fairly recently (with in the past two years) I had been contacted by someone from the mysterious shadow world of “Broadway Musical Collectors” who “knew someone” who “might know” someone who “knew someone” who “might know” someone who “had information’ that could lead to a copy of a bootlegged tape of SOON, illegally recorded one night in 1971, live at the RITZ Theater. 

Believe it or not, the trail ultimately led to the United States Library Of Congress, whose librarians and kind customer service people were good enough (for a substantial but not unreasonable fee) to make and send along a copy of the bootleg recording of my opera for me.

The thing arrived on two of the shiniest golden discs this side of prophecy, I gazed upon them in dazzled wonder and amazed-eye for a long while, then stuck  Act One in the player to see what I could hear.

I tore it out quickly when I heard the beginnings of  a cockamamie mishmash “overture” and realized in horror that the recording residing in The Library Of Congress, and representing SOON to the ages in perp..perp..perpetuity, had been made after I (along with my partner Joe (Jose Silvio Martinez) Kookoolis and co author and director Robert Greenwald) had been fired and barred from the theater.

Fired and barred as part of a sequence of preposterous events and changes designed by Producers Bruce Stark and Sagittarius Productions (Edgar Bronfman Sr.) along with new Director Gerald Freedman, “adapter” Martin Duberman and Musical Director Louis St. Louis to “commercialize SOON”.

 Attitudes, events and changes that in a most sublimy apex of reverberant self reverential irony, perfectly paralleled the very story that we were telling in SOON. Actually doing in the production of  SOON the exact kinds of actions that SOON had been written to illuminate and protest.

A story about how tragically and unnecessarily destructive the dollar driven establishment music business could be to artists, to their  music and to the society most affected by their music.  

I will write in much  greater detail about SOON and the super crazy reality surrounding it, in the course of this memwa? but for the moment..

 I put the CD back in and listening to the voices, was transported to a time (January 1971), and a place, (backstage at The Ritz Theater, 48th street, New York City). Peopled by young and  beautiful hopefilled faces.

We were a cast of casts, absolutely bursting with the brightest promise and potential. Marta Heflin, Peter Allen, Nell Carter, Vicki Sue Robinson, Dennis Belline, Richard Gere, Leata Galloway, Marian Ramsey, Joe Butler, Michael Jason, Pendelton Brown, Pamela Pentony, Tony Middleton, John C. Nelson and Singer Williams. I don’t think that there has ever been a cast with more promise on a Broadway Stage.

 The whole of it and us, now only young and beautiful voices floating in my head. Peter Allen, Nell Carter, Vicki Sue Robinson, Dennis Belline, and who knows how many others, gone from this world.

Listening to the recording was a seesaw tsunami of happiness and horror.

Happiness at the heart and vocal performances demonstrated by the performers as (I suspect) they realized the ship was sinking but, by God, taking full advantage of their moment to shine. 

Peter Allen doing “Soon”, Nell Carter doing “To Touch The Sky”, Marta Heflin’s rendition of  “Annie’s Thing”, Tony Middleton’s ”One More Time”, Marian Ramsey killing them with “On The Charts”, Vicki Sue Robinson all but stopping the show in her duet with Richard Gere in “What’s Gonna Happen To Me When I’m Fifty”, Leata Galloway stopping the show with “Child Of Sympathy” 

The horror at how “Music Music” “Country Store Living” “It Won’t Be Long” “In Your Hands” and the bulk of the score were misunderstood and massacred, the scaldingly embarrassing snippets of dialog, and “showbiz” restructuring of sequence and scene.

 Anyway…

Here is a copy of the note that I emailed to the young man in Johnstown yesterday.

June, 6, 2011

Dear Michael,                                                             

Here are the Broadway recordings along with the noise reduced L.A. Recordings.

I have just heard the B’way production for the first time in forty years.

As you may know, the director, Robert Greenwald and I were fired and barred from the theatre, and “entertainment” type changes were made to our script against our wishes. I have just been listening to those changes and frankly, I am extremely embarrassed by them. I am also upset by how wrong for our style of music Louis St.Louis (the Musical Director) was, our musical phrasing is very much out of synch,

I would not choose to have the Broadway recordings of SOON represent me and my work to any one any where. I am only sending them to you because they may be contextually helpful as we go forward.

Please do not draw upon Louis St. Louis’s musical phrasing or the cockamamie dialog Martin Duberman inserted as something to emulate or reproduce, as I have absolutely no interest in doing that

Louis St. Louis was wonderful and right for Grease, but very much wrong for SOON.

You and I will, script in hand, talk through SOON some time in the near future and absolutely arrive at the best possible iteration of SOON ever presented.

Michael Meketa’s Johnstown Production of SOON will be the best ever.

It would behoove us to make sure that it is recorded at the best quality available.  

Sincerely,

Scott Fagan

 To be continued…

 

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  1. Steve Horwitz
    June 7, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    Very glad to hear that Soon may be produced again. Best of Luck.

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