The Going Rogue Musical: Opening Scene

Thanks, Pedo.


The streets of Juneau, Summer 2007. In the background we see a capitol building, snow-capped mountains, and anything else suggestive of place. A group of ASSISTANTS runs around the stage, calling out for the governor — apparently she’s late for a meeting. As they disperse, SARAH enters, alone.

She’s bored. She’s frustrated. Being governor isn’t fun — not like being a beauty queen. Nobody notices her. Nobody cares. She can do better than that. Much better.

Song: “When Will My Ship Come In?” We learn her past, hear her aspirations, feel her ambition. She knows what she wants. She just doesn’t know how to make it happen.

Midway through the song, a STRANGER joins in, although the two remain unaware of each other. He has his own aspirations, his own ambition, but he can’t do it himself — he needs someone to do it for him.

As the song ends, Sarah and the Stranger see each other, recognize their mutual needs. He is BILL KRISTOL, a visitor from Back East, serving as cruise director on a passing ship. As they talk, we seem him getting increasingly excited, suddenly breaking into—

Song: “I’m Always Wrong, But This Time I’m Right (Kristol Ball)”. Kristol laments that he’s never lived up to his father’s expectations — but this time, with Sarah’s help, he can do it. He pleads for Sarah to come away with him right now, but she can’t — she has duties, she has family. It’ll never work.

We hear a ship horn blow. It’s time for Kristol to leave. But before he goes, another—

Song: “Someday, Sarah.” Kristol promises her the moon, whenever she’s ready. The crowd reemerges, swallowing Kristol inside. “You betcha I’ll be ready,” she says as Kristol disappears. “Just not today.”

“Oh, there you are,” says an assistant, running onstage. “C’mon, you’re late for a meeting with the director of sanitation. And then we have to prepare for your speech to the Chamber of Salmon. And then…”

“Someday, Bill,” sings Sarah as they walk off. “Someday.”


We really want to open in Wasilla, but the Cruise is what sets the plot in motion, and Bill Kristol is the inept Svengali who has a small but crucial role as events unfold — Sarah Palin is his creation, and her success is his fleeting triumph. We see him as the Prime Mover, taking on duties assigned to Steve Schmidt in real life. (Don’t know who Steve Schmidt is? There you go.)

How important is Kristol? He prompts McCain to choose Palin. At any turn, he’s offering the best possible bad advice. And in the structure of our musical, we can strongly suggest a powerful if unconsummated attraction between him and Palin — so powerful that Todd grows suspicious.

Perhaps at the very end, it’s Kristol who prompts Palin to deliver her thwarted concession speech — to an audience that’s already left. Everyone else has gone home, leaving just Kristol and Palin on an empty stage. “Go ahead, Sarah,” he says. “Show me.”

And as she sings, the crowd slowly regroups, pointing us towards the future events we know will come, but are beyond our story. The spotlight narrows to her outstretched hand holding a teabag, then goes dark.

Or something like that.

Although we have the advantage of leading the discussion, all ideas remain in play. We’re just preoccupied with Act One right now, which we see as the challenge: If it opens as proposed, and ends with the Friday announcement of her nomination, what fills it? (Act Two is the Convention, which takes care of itself; Act Three the campaign.) We need to get all our major characters introduced, and set their stories in motion. And if we can get our scenes flowing one to the next, more’s the better.

Second scene: John McCain introduced? Perhaps during Summer 2008, before he’s made the selection? He’s not doing well in the polls (that celebrity gets all the attention — song cue!), but he doesn’t yet know what to do about it. This gives us dramatic direction: It’s just a matter of time before McCain and Palin meet.

This is gonna happen, people. It has to.


After we wrote this Friday afternoon, Benedick insisted that we adopt a two-act structure, under threat of being laughed out of town by raging queens. Since he actually knows what he’s doing, we’re forced to take him seriously. So we modify the above to suggest the first act end with Palin’s Convention speech, with the second act beginning as the campaign unfolds. (The Essential Act-Opening Hubbub, per RomeGirl’s also-knowledgeable advice, can be preparation for the TV interviews — or Pedo’s marvelous late-Friday suggestion, the shopping spree.)

This may help satisfy our Act One concerns, since the audience really wants to get to the Fun Stuff as quickly as possible. We still need to wind up all our characters, but we don’t need to pad the plot — it should be an inexorable march to the top, and a thrilling descent back to the bottom.

Going Rogue: The Musical [Stinque]

Going Rogue: The Inspiration [Stinque]


Well, well, well, weren’t we busy little drama queens last night.

I think we’re not taking advantage of the interpretive opportunities of a musical. We can start in Wasilla, where young Sarah is haunted by dreams of Nuremberg rallies that she finds intoxicatingly erotic. Think “Springtime for Hitler” meets “Rosemary’s Baby”.

Why not have Act I end on election night (closing number, “The Speech I Never Gave”) and have Act II explore her increasingly weird behavior since, including something like “The Future Belongs To Us” with teabags, and concluding with “The Speech I’ll Give Today” — a complete psychotic break in which she thinks she’s being inaugurated as President.

Goodness, but this has proved popular.

A love story. There you go. Sarah and Bill. They long for each other but it can never be. Their love is doomed. It can only be expressed through politics. And song. We can have a duet in Act 2 where they almost confess to each other. (think Marrying for Love from Call me Madam) And of course, our finale is Sarah alone (as we all are in this life and thus a certain irony is introduced without having to go full-bore Company on anyone’s ass) having learned that the glittering lights of DC are a chimera and that the truth lies in Todd’s trawler. I’m thinking Sarah’s Turn!. It will be compared of course with Rose’s Turn from Gypsy but that can only be to our advantage as it could easily lead to Tony awards all round being handed out at a ceremony no one watches all across America.

I suggest we open on the cruise ship itself where an aerobics class is underway. It’s always good to get the chorus in spandex as early as possible. This will help to keep the Japanese tourists awake. However, and I cannot stress this enough, there must be no hint of ‘Happy Villagers’ about the number. That might do for operetta but will be greeted with derision at the 42nd street studios.

I applaud the hook for Bill’s 1st song but let’s think more direct and call it This Time!. Exclamation points are always good in a musical as it conveys a sense of excitement to the ushers. This idea can then be restated in different terms by Sarah for her 1st number which can then grow organically into a duet. Ography can be involved and can be used to intro the entire Palin clan. All 19 of them. (There will be a certain amount of doubling involved).

I think it might be time to get Hal Prince on board. And maybe Susan Stroman (I see the men tap-dancing on the tin roof of Alaska’s premiere mackerel cannery). They’re doing a new show in London in the new year but we could get lined up as their next project. Marc Shaiman is stuck with that Addam’s Family tripe but maybe, maybe we could interest Frank Wildhorn. I’ll put out feelers. Unless, of course, noje is going to insist on Lord You-Know-Who.

@Benedick: There seem to me more than a few parallels to ‘Souvenir’. Woman with limited talent rises to ‘great’ heights while remaining blissfully unaware of her own shortcomings or the fact that she is mostly considered a laughingstock. Bill could be the Cosme character.

Either way, as long as there is a song called ‘I Love My Retard Baby (Did I Convince You He Is Mine?)’, I am cool.

@Benedick: Oh. Hal Prince. I thought you meant Hal Foster the “Prince Valiant” guy and I was thinking WTF?

/off to hit Home Depot and buy Powerball ticket. I’m installing a dog door at Mrs RML’s mother’s place, getting my Christmas trees tomorrow.

@redmanlaw: Darling, let’s try to keep up.

@homofascist: Except that Palin is a repulsive narcissist and Kristol is a lickspittle, toadying hack I’d agree.

In other world news – It’s snowing!!!!!!!!!! WTF!!!

I could see Kristol in some sort of Captain Stubing getup … maybe have Irving Kristol come in as il Commendatore and destroy everything at the end, like in Don Giovanni.

I’m flying off to Columbus, OH where it’s colder than Cheney’s heart. Carry on.

@FlyingChainSaw: Specifically, we’re not taking advantage of the surreal opportunities a musical offers. So to contrast with the relatively realistic action of the story, we need a fantasy sequence where we cut loose.

Second act, somewhere in the middle. Palin dreams of what the world would be like if she was in charge.

Song: “A Heartbeat Away.”

Call me old fashioned, but I was hoping for Kristol and Palin meeting to “Some Enchanted Evening”.

@Dodgerblue: I think we lose our structure if we do that — there’s a natural arc to the story, peaking with the nomination speech and ending with the election.


I’m closely tracking the movie version of Chicago with the ending — in particular, a concession speech modeled after Nowadays. (The solo, not the finale.) But that’s a down note, and you want to send the audience out singing and buying t-shirts. Plus, while the story ends on election night, we need to acknowledge events that follow. (I really want to get the turkey beheading in there…)


If the Ghost Audience regroups at the end of Sarah’s Concession Song, they can break out into a huge closing production number celebrating her future. (“Sarah, Sarah, Sarah, look what you’ve done for us…”) And that’s where, in the lyrics, we catch up with post-election events: “You’ll quit — and soar!”

@nojo: I’m liking “A Heartbeat Away” but easy on the surreal stuff. One is not German after all.

I see the nomination speech growing into a production number along the lines of Mame from show of same name. Pity ‘Sarah’ isn’t better to rhyme to. Oh well, you go into production with the heroine you’ve got. And I’m wondering, could we perhaps be thinking of luring Kevin Kline back to the musical stage as Bill? James Naughton is probably a bit long in the tooth for Todd. Pity.

Can we combine the Gibson & Couric interviews into one number? Each sits at one side of the stage, as Sarah alternates between them. Then we get a trio out of it.

@Benedick: German? I was thinking Oklahoma.

@nojo: You guys have lurched off in the wrong direction – this story cries out for the Gilbert & Sullivan treatment.

@nojo: Of course but let’s preface the Heartbeat Away sequence with Talibunny actually sending Todd off to murder McCain with a spear gun. She shrieks operatically about her epic trials and cruel lack of fashion choices in Wasilla, pounding her chest and hurling her arms to god entreating him to deliver her from her torment while Todd, stage right in the Oval Office, pretends to show McCain his new spear gun until – GROONCH! – the fucker ‘accidentally’ fires and lodges a spiked hunting arrow straight through McCain’s sternum at the climax of Talibunny’s raging aria. Talibunny twirls stage right to the Oval Office set and bursts into ‘This Land is My Land’ while kneeling next to McCain’s convulsing body, pressing her face inches from his and twisting the hunting arrow buried in his chest while Todd fishes McCain’s wallet out of his pants, finally holding it up victoriously to show Talibunny.

@nojo: Interesting. But perhaps something a little less on-the-nose. Perhaps a big dance number incorporating all the interviews – perhaps as many as 5? Get the whole company involved. I’m thinking along the lines of It Isn’t Working from ‘Woman of the Year’. Sarah at the centre, of course, with all the major characters having solos.

German? I was thinking Oklahoma. Same thing.

@blogenfreude: We’re talking musical theatre. I’m afraid there is no room for dissent.

@FlyingChainSaw: You’ve never actually seen a musical, have you?

I think we need a dance number featuring birthers/tea-baggers led by Orly Taitz.

@Benedick: FCS is thinking ahead to the movie version, when we have an effects budget.

But five interviews? There are only two that count. If you want to involve the company, however, we can have the Advisors and Kristol swirling around the stage, giving her advice between questions. Katie & Charlie are the poles at either side.

As a build-up (or opening) to the Interviews, we need a Rain in Spain number. So it starts with frustrating debate prep, then expands into the Interviews themselves.

@SanFranLefty: Strictly speaking, Orly would have to wait until the finale, when we Look to the Future. Dramatically speaking, she can be a figure in the crowd during the Palling Around number.

What’s unmusicalesque about the sequence I described?

@Benedick: @FlyingChainSaw: You’ve never actually seen a musical, have you?

@nojo: I LOVE the A Heartbeat Away idea. Also Chainsaw’s elaboration upon it.

@blogenfreude: It’s a pity one must choose a style and stick to it. As I said before, a patter song is surely called for here.

@Benedick: I’m glad you weren’t my dorm RA, wouldn’t have got away with anything.

@Benedick: But it is about the Talibunny. I mean, place it in another context, if you made a musical about the Mansons or Jeffrey Dahmer, would you really expect it to be lighthearted and uplifting?

@blogenfreude: We need the romanticism of a proper stage musical — Sarah is our heroine, and must be treated with faux respect.

However, musicals these days can be very eclectic yet remain internally coherent. The trick is not to turn the whole thing into G&S, but to find a number where G&S is exactly the right approach. The style of the song becomes a comment on the content.

@FlyingChainSaw: A romantic musical about Charles Manson would be very subversive.

@nojo: If we need to cover the romance angle in the Heartbeat Away and This Land is My Land sequence, we can script Talibunny and Todd to fuck on the Oval Office desk while McCain gasps his last.

@FlyingChainSaw: I suppose there is Sweeny Todd.

And I suppose Sondheim did parody G&S to amusing effect in Pacific Overtures. So I suppose you can claim authorites here. Perhaps Bill could channel G&S. It has the pompous self-conscious wit of a pundit. Perhaps a musical duel between him and Peggy Noonan?

@Pedonator: I can be very strict. Very strict.

@blogenfreude: Actually, since you mention it, one of the examples in the back of my mind is “On the Twentieth Century,” a late-’70s Broadway musical with Madeline Kahn, Imogene Coca — and Kevin Kline, whose name has come up here. (And directed by Prince, for the theater geeks.)

It has very witty operetta-style songs, including a number called “Sextet” — kind of a model for a multi-vocal Interview number.

@nojo: Maybe, after McCain is dead and Talibunny is sworn in, she can pardon Manson and appoint him secretary of the faith-based initiatives ministry. She falls in love with him when she discovers he is using FBI money to set up crystal meth labs and using impoverished black kids to mule the drugs and proceeds.

@FlyingChainSaw: I definitely see Heartbeat Away as an over-the-top fantasy sequence — it’s as if we’ve been holding back the entire show, so we finally cut loose.

@FlyingChainSaw: Instead of Sarah and Todd fucking, shouldn’t they be molesting McCain’s corpse, tag-team-style?

@Pedonator: Sure. Or maybe Talibunny can sit on his face while he’s dying and she’s singing This Land is My Land and Todd is stealing his shoes.

@nojo: Yes, and in that moment we stare into the monstrous maw of barking madness and face-chewing evil.

Oh, here we go: Sarah is debating Plugz, and Queen Latifah (damn, SNL got there first) is asking the “heartbeat away” question. The stage dims as Sarah answers it in her head, and our Grand Guignol begins.

@FlyingChainSaw: “Just you wait, John McCain, just you wait…”

Yup. That’s the moment where we lay it bare.

I’m starting to see the Chorus of Advisors as a running motif through the second act. They’re smothering her, and Bill is powerless to stop them. Her growing frustration is our dramatic excuse to launch into Heartbeat Away — it’s not just what she wants, it’s what her supporters want.

The “story by” credits on the poster are going to be an utter mess.

Trombones, we need trombones. And trumpets.

And in Act I we need to include a flashback to Sarah’s college years, including a time when she was in Hawaii and scared of Asian people. Good time for Mario Lopez in a jockstrap.

And just to restate intention, I’d like to nudge this to a full treatment that could be written and produced. Anything beyond that is serendipity — but luck comes to those who create the conditions.

@nojo: Who’s playing Plugz again? I can’t find TommCatt’s inspired idea now. (Or was it Pedonator? I just remember a perfect suggestion and a blowjob offer to the person who thought of it).

Add: Perhaps for your latest WP plug-in on the side, we can have a running tally of the cast of Talibunny!

Song suggestions:
“I am woman, hear me Roar”

@SanFranLefty: Christopher Plummer has accepted the role of VP Biden.

@SanFranLefty: Asian, Pacific Islander, Latino — Sarah just lumps them into the unglamorous minority type group “not-white”.

Yeah, all of us with almond eyes and yellowish skin are really scary.

What a dimwit.

BTW, it’s Hawaii for fuck’s sake. If she even saw an episode of Magnum P.I. or Hawaii 5-0, she’d figure that lots of Asian types live on the islands.

@SanFranLefty: Yearning, yearning, yearning — she was a beauty queen! She was an ESPN-bound sportscaster! And what is she now? Just a podunk governor saddled with five kids and a husband who finds his equipment more attractive. There must be something better.

(And note, while you’re flashing back, she thought Ivana Trump was a glamorous role model.)

Is this going to be original music or song parodies?

@SanFranLefty: My suggestion was Bob Barker.

@FlyingChainSaw: But that definitely works, too.

@FlyingChainSaw: Plummer will have to fight for the role with Pedo-fave Bob Barker.

@ManchuCandidate: The subject matter deserves original music and lyrics, but song parodies are certainly useful for inspiration.

@ManchuCandidate: As conceived, original music. But we’re using actual songs for tracking purposes.

@Pedonator: Get your filthy fingers off my face, you damn dirty Vulcan!

@SanFranLefty: Yes, a sidebar seems called for. I’ll have to give it some thought.



If you need a non-musical lyricist, I’m willing to help.

Have we not come up with a hunting-wolves-from-helicopters scene yet? It seems like we should work that in somehow.

@Pedonator: Yeah, I need to collate what we’ve got and create a provisional story structure from it. But even prior to that organization, I need to make a list of all the Iconic Moments everyone’s mentioning, just so we don’t miss anything.

Every moment can’t get its own song, but I’ll be looking for thematic similarities where elements can be merged.

@ManchuCandidate: Dive in if you’re inspired — some suggested lyrics have turned up already. Or if you wanna play it safe, wait until we’ve boiled everything down to the songs we need.

Plus, fair warning: I’m treating this phase of the Untitled Talibunny Project as something that could be handed to someone else. So any book and lyrics we provide (and anything else, really) is just a roadmap for actual rendering. Movies and musicals are vicious creative processes.

@nojo: Remember, if she kills McCain, he has to come back as a Zombie!

@nojo: Barker was an inspired pick. Plummer brings a little too much class, whereas Barker is just enough over the hill and Past His Prime to pull a Travolta and breathe new life not only into the role but his waning career.

But why did Kevin Bacon as Todd just occur to me?

And can we find a place for Kitty Harris to ride through on horseback for old times’ sake? Maybe as a kind of ghost of the old guard cameo? She’d probably even play herself.

@FlyingChainSaw: Yes, it’s just not a Stinque Musical without a zombie. Hearbeat Away’s gonna be an excuse for all sorts of shit.

@Nabisco: Kitty might be stretching it. We can’t do an off-off-off Broadway show with a 50-member cast. (And we have to leave room for Joe T. Plumber somewhere.)

But as we start digging in, we’ll need references for various lyrics. So as McCain laments his desperate situation during “Celebrity,” he could mention how easy Bush had it in Florida. We’ll need to provide him motivation for the Hail Mary we know is coming.

@Pedonator: Hmmm… We’ve got a lot of plot to set in motion in Act One (Sarah & Bill, McCain, Todd and the kids, Bristol & Levi), so using the wolves early may be a distraction.

It would be a very handy metaphor for when we cut loose during Heartbeat Away (maybe that’s even how Sarah offs McCain) — or maybe we get a mention in earlier, during the flurry of revelations between her Friday debut and Wednesday speech. Or, heck, the Interviews.

@ManchuCandidate: Come to think of it, Pedo & I were discussing last night what we’ll call the Coffeehouse Edition — a version of the treatment that could be performed live. That’s a step beyond my focus right now, but unless we were able to rook a composer early, we would need sample lyrics set to existing songs.

And, as such things go, the Coffeehouse Edition may be the only version that actually gets done.

So we’ll see where that leads. I’d like to get something out of this we all can take pride in.

Sigh. And once again I miss all the fun.

@Pedonator: I’m sure there’s the helicopter left over from Miss Saigon lying around somewhere.

@FlyingChainSaw: No zombies! And go see a show on a stage, for heaven’s sake. LOL

@SanFranLefty: I think Orly Taitz should be a comic relief. She comes in, says one line, gets a huge laugh, boom. Every third scene or so. Some kind of running gag. I wonder if we could think of something…ha.

@homofascist: I couldn’t stop thinking of the first two-thirds of Evita.

@blogenfreude: It would be an insult to have Gilbert & Sullivan within ten feet of anything about these whackjobs. Although Benedick was right about a Kristol nod to G&S, come to think of it.

@Benedick: Honey, let’s dust off those leg warmers and put on a show!

@RomeGirl: I’m gonna have to watch Evita (which, contrary to Benedick’s presumptions, I’ve never seen). I know, I know — Madonna — and it’s the movie, not the stage. But Sarah’s the American Eva, and we can’t do this without the proper nods.

And while we’re rescuing the helicopter from storage, can we get a deal on cat costumes? We’ll just call them wolves.

@Dodgerblue: i is in agreeance with Dodgerblue, if its 2 acts, one is pre election, and one is post-election.

But Nojo, I have to very very respectfully disagree with the idea of a sad panda Palin wishing she had respect, as the opening scene.

Like I said, it is with much respect that I disagree, but I have to say why, and if I say why forcefully, its just because, well, I want to give the best case for why, and not because I think you are wrong, just to give the case.

I think that la Palin is a diva, and has always been a diva, and she has always had an inflated, massively inflated ego. The thing that allows a small town diva to then go on the national stage with such a huge ego, is not because she was pining for more ego gratification and attention, to the contrary, its because she was surrounded with adulation from the rubes around her all along, her thing is, she cannot perceive any difference, she thinks the rube adulation is proof that she deserves wider adulation. The way I said this sounds like it supports your idea that the tone should be that she is pining for wider recognition, but I think the opening tone should be of triumphant small town diva-hood. Seriously, the thing is, this is a person who has never felt self-doubt, ever.

If there is a song from her before the Kristol scene, where he recognizes her in the same way that John the Baptist recognized Jesus and said “One will come after me, and I will not be fit to tie his shoes,” her tone should be pure smug satisfaction at being governor of Alaska. The tone of this song, if there is to be one, should be of someone who over-estimates the importance of being governor of a state the population of which is less than many large cities, not someone who thinks it is beneath her. It should be a character study in the mindset of someone who is already above her head as governor of alaska, already grifting and grafting and supporting, then not supporting, the bridge to nowhere, already corruptly using government power to fuck over people because of small town personal fueds (the trooper-firing incident).

Just saying, the first song, if it is to be from Sarah, pre-Kristol annointment, should be of a smug, dumb, bueaty queen, using her office and power to settle petty personal scores, and to grift, travelling around with the kids and staying in first class suites on the government dime, a song that would set right from the start the hypocracy, of someone who worships reagan and low taxes, yet abuses her expense accounts and power.

I would think it would serve better to set the overall theme , with a song which develops the ideas of of un-deserved success, over-reaching ambition, and petty corruption.

That would be a hard song to write, but I think her published quotes in response to the scandals she had before she was nominated would supply most of the lyrics.

or as an alternative, the first song should be about salmon-fishing, snow-machines, make the first song put forward the myth she wanted to create, hockey-mom, salmon fisher, reindeer hunter (caribbou are reindeer).

Just saying.

@nojo: Damn you Vulcan! I was thinking remnants from Cats could substitute for wolves as well!

@Promnight: I don’t see her opening number as sad. Rather, frustrated, her huge ego too big for the small town of Juneau. Or Wasilla. But as, for the rest of us, she comes out of nowhere and leaps upon the national stage as a total surprise, I think her opening song should introduce her to the audience as a potentially perky, down-home girl who just happens to have lifted herself to prominence as governor of a small (population-wise) state. The overreaching ambition should be revealed subtly and as creepily as possible. But that’s just my take on it, yours is just as valid.

@Promnight: think that la Palin is a diva, and has always been a diva, and she has always had an inflated, massively inflated ego.

I think you’re right about the person — look what she did as mayor — but as a character, we have some formalities to observe. She needs to develop, evolve. If she just plows through everything and everyone, she’s the cardboard cutout we see in real life. Dramatically, she can’t truly find herself until the night of the Convention speech, when all is displayed before her.

However: the fun of formality is playing with the rules. We can present her as a bog-standard musical-comedy heroine, yet in what she sings, reveal something else entirely. The frisson (burp) between appearance and reality is one of our tools.

And thus, the opening tone of wistfulness. We’re making up our own Origin Story.

If there is a song from her before the Kristol scene

Like I say, I’d love to open in Wasilla. But that doesn’t go anywhere. If you’ve seen the Star Trek movie (turn away, Benedick), you’ll see that it opens with a battle. That wasn’t what they planned — they thought Spock’s birth (he’s older than Kirk) would be the opener. But that made for a real dud of a start — it wasn’t until they moved the battle up and trimmed some childhood scenes that it made sense.

So here, we want to start our story in motion — Sarah and Bill meet cute during the opening song. Elsewhere, I’m looking for ways for songs to move the story, and not just announce moments. A musical, in other words, and not just a revue.

i is in agreeance with Dodgerblue, if its 2 acts, one is pre election, and one is post-election.

I won’t close that discussion arbitrarily, but the dramatic case for pre/post Convention is very strong — there’s a natural arc to the story, ending with the Evita moment election night. There’s certainly lots of fun stuff post-election, but it doesn’t have form — Palin is only in our lives because she was a veep candidate. For one chilling season, it was conceivable that she truly would be a 72-year-old heartbeat away from the presidency. Quitting as governor doesn’t have the same impact.

All that said, the challenge is to stuff what we know into what the dramatic form requires. She’s definitely not just a small-town girl from Alaska, but if we play her that way, we provide ourselves some opportunities for amusement.

(Note to self: Where does the exorcism go?)

@Pedonator: I just don’t think she should ever be portrayed as having any doubts, she should always be portrayed as having excessive, over-the-top, pathologically overconfident belief in her wonderfulness.

She bears resemblance to the heroine in Benedick’s much-admired play. Someone completely blind to her weaknesses, always, someone who should be portrayed always as giving embarrasingly bad performances, yet totally convinced she hit a home run.

@nojo: (Note to self: Where does the exorcism go?)

What exorcism? We have not been exorcised of her presence. And she still has a demon inside her, gathering venom to spit in our faces just before she strikes for the kill.

I agree about the wistfulness aspect, and the need to introduce her in a manner that leaves some room for speculation about her character. The big reveal comes at her convention speech/song.

Please do carry on.

@Benedick: Perhaps Bill could sing “I am the Very Model of a Modern Asshole Neo-con.”

@Pedonator: Or was it witchcraft? Whatever the hell they were doing at her church.

@nojo: Cooking meth?

But yes, I vaguely remember that episode now. The reason she had to send the hit-squad of arsonists after the church…too lazy to research right now, gotta get some dinner together.

@Promnight: Mama Rose — the classic stage mother. Wikipedia:

Patti LuPone describes Rose as follows: “She has tunnel vision, she’s driven, and she loves her kids…. And she is a survivor. I do not see her as a monster at all — she may do monstrous things, but that does not make a monster.”

Sondheim has said of the character: “The fact that she’s monstrous to her daughters and the world is secondary…. She’s a very American character, a gallant figure and a life force.”

That is Palin (except she’s really a monster), but that doesn’t work for us — part of our game is that Palin presents herself as a small-town girl, but we know better. We have to show her becoming a diva.

@Mistress Cynica: I love that, but Bill has to be something of a romantic lead — he and Sarah share a love that can’t be consummated. So we can’t make him too silly on the face of it.

On the other hand, if there’s ever a G&S crew of neocons in our story, it’s McCain’s Advisors, who are always hovering around him. (And, later, Sarah.) They can be as silly and officious as we’d like.

@nojo: Wistfulness sort of like “I Believe in You” from How to Succeed . . ., which the hero sings while looking into a mirror?

@Pedonator: In our formal context, your suggestion of a second-act shopping-spree opener is really coming into focus. Sarah triumphs during her nomination speech at the close of the first act — that’s when her divahood is fully realized.

And thus, as the curtain opens for the second act, we see the diva in her element — buying shit, ordering people around, loving it. It’s “I Think I’m Gonna Like it Here,” except Annie is a fucking bitch.

@Mistress Cynica: Yup. She’s not just wishing on a star — she knows she can do better. The wistfulness of raw ambition.

@Mistress Cynica: Spot on, I say.

@nojo: I see racks of elegant dresses and suits flying back and forth above the stage on wires, while piles of neatly folded underwear, sweaters, and accessories are tossed into the air by Sarah, Todd, Norm Coleman, etc. as they dash around the stage, incredulous–yet smugly entitled–at their good fortune.

Goodness, we seem to be moving ahead by leaps and bounds!

A couple of observations: Ms LuPone is not Mama Rose (forgive them Ethel). She was, however, Evita. I did see it on stage and thought it a crashing bore. Endless recit and laughable Big Tunes. The only interesting moment was when she got cancer. Good, I said to myself, may it be painful and lingering.

As I said earlier: You open with a bang – Paint Your Wagon! Tradition! Comedy Tonight! Beautiful Girls! I Really Need This Job, etc – it should set the tone and lay out what they show is about. After that you can introduce characters and backfill the plot.

And you need to ask: what’s the story. Not what’s the plot. It’s not the same. And not what’s it about in a lit crit way. What’s the story. An orphan finds a home; a widow, against all expectations but her own, finds a husband; a mother lets go of her children when she learns she cannot relive her life through theirs; you can’t live someone else’s life, for better or worse you have to live your own; etc. I shall now retire to bed to read more of the libretto for Don Giovanni.

But most of all, remember, a musical is not an opera. Nor is it an operetta. It is its own thing.

@Mistress Cynica: I think you’ve just solved a problem for me…

In the Proposed Opener, we have solo/duet, solo, duet. To keep the story moving, I think the second sequence should be McCain fretting about Obama a year later. I don’t want Bill to tell him about Sarah yet, just set that plot in motion.

I’m seeing McCain’s song as “Celebrity,” where he details what he’s up against with Obama (and brings in more backstory). But that’s another solo, even if backed by the Advisors.

But if we instead usher in the Advisors first, we can give them a G&S song to show them as our comic chorus — and something like “Modern Asshole Neocon” fits perfectly there. As their song concludes, then McCain walks into the room, his stage already set.

@Benedick: “Small-town girl achieves greatness but loses her fight through no fault of her own.”

@nojo: Never open a musical with what is known as a Happy Villagers number from operetta. You cannot have random people randomly enter and randomly sing a song that anyone could sing.

@Benedick: I agree. Not that I am by any means an expert, or even much experienced, with stage musicals. In fact I have much more time put in with opera and operetta (as an audience member). Guess it shows.

Anyway, introduce the character, solo, in the cabbage/pot patch or standing at the prow of the cruise liner. Bring the Advisors on after the duet with Bill; that’s when things start moving along.

Sometimes we have to kill our babies.

@Benedick: It sound like I need to open up the Opener a bit — a broad scene-setting song by the Residents of Juneau celebrating Alaska, which leads into what’s there.

Maybe the ship has arrived, and they’re all excited to introduce the visitors to their wonderful town and state. There we can go very broad, as the residents quickly scurry during a moose stampede. (And stuff in mentions of methlabs and whatever else we need.) As the song ends, that’s when Sarah’s staff runs around looking for her, and she walks on. And then we know that Bill has just disembarked when he enters.

@Benedick: Oops — did I just commit the Happy Villager Fallacy?

Although I must admit, I really like a refrain of “Alaska? I’ll tell ya!”

OR: “Alaska? You betcha!” Gets that out of the way early.

O Pioneers thy home is Alaska
You betcha!
From Inside Passage
To Bristol Bay
You betcha!
O Pioneers thy destiny calls
You betcha!
From Juneau town
To campaign trail

I don’t think I’ve seen this mentioned yet (?), but we should probably have a song called Drill Baby, Drill!. If it works, of course.

@Pedonator: If I’m not mistaken, do you know who was behind “Drill, Baby, Drill”?


So what we have is a late second-act double-entrende song that pays off the opening: It’s as close as Sarah and Bill come to getting nasty.

OK, so it was called an exorcism. I’m still not clear about what they thought they were smiting out of her. Certainly not pride, nor greed, nor a smug sense of entitlement.

Or maybe it just didn’t work. There’s a first time for everything.

Anyway, I think it is inaccurate to characterize this as an exorcism. Seems more like charm-casting to protect her from the effects of other witches’ spells against her.

@nojo: The language sounds crude for Kristol, but I’ll defer to your superior judgment of history. Anyway, it is perfect for our purposes. Poetic license and all that.

Anyway, I will be in the hot tub for a while. My Saturday massage left me inexplicably weary today.


Just a small town girl, living in a frozen world
Going to college taking anything
A beauty queen, born and bred in Alaska
Going to college taking anything

There she is in a smokey room, a smell of wine and cheap perfume
For a while she just goes to school

I agree with our colleagues who said an anvil is the perfect thing for a Sam Raimi movie.


@Pedonator: Huge poetic license — print the legend, and all that. But if we suggest that the Wicked Advisors did a terrible job prepping her for the Interviews (never mind she just ignored them), we can set up Bill being her only trusted advisor for the Debate.

They’re locked in a room, she’s looking at her briefing materials, and throwing her hands up. “This isn’t me,” she says. “That’s right,” says Bill. “That isn’t you. You need to let Sarah be Sarah.”

We see the flirtation finally coming to a head, in “Drill, Baby, Drill.” (A waltz?) At some point in the song, Sarah winks at Bill.

“That’s it,” he says. “When you’re on that stage, give me a wink just like that.”

And so on. That’s why the Neocon Men of America were getting all tingly up their legs. We play the debate as this huge come-on.

Which puts Sarah in a very good mood for the heartbeat-away question. She knows she has it.

Is someone shooting a “making of” or will the doc be post hoc with interviews?

@RomeGirl: What? Why do you need to oppress my artistic sensibilities. Imagine the possibilities of a McCain zombie – eating Todd’s brains, busting in on Bristol and Levi while they’re pestorking their brains out and epic battle scenes with Talibunny strafing him from a helicopter with a Gatling gun.

Our boy Chain is shooting for the midnight movie crowd.

@nojo: Do we have space for Hillary Clinton as a thematic nemesis? Dare we try for Bernadette Peters? It would have to be a minor but meaningful role, from the perspective of our heroine.

@redmanlaw: I think this is the doc.

@FlyingChainSaw: I’m sure we can find a place for at least one zombie. RomeGirl and Benedick just don’t fully appreciate Nojo’s artistic vision. But they will. Oh, they will.

@redmanlaw: I seek only art and in our musical the apotheosis of apocalyptic vulgarity. In a word: truth.

@Pedonator: I think Peters would be perfect and there should be a Hilary and Zombie-McCain love scene.

@FlyingChainSaw: Tha Japanese tourists can’t handle the truth!

ADD: You and I should work on the avant garde dark opera. Don Giovanni at the Santa Fe Opera a couple of years ago comes to mind. That shit was crazy. People jumping across crevasses . ..

@ManchuCandidate: I’m gonna have that fucking Journey song in my head all night now, even when I sleep. And I blame you, Manchu.

[Helicopter flies in from stage right, blades shredding the cocktail dresses and tuxedos left over from the shopping spree number. Sarah hangs out of the bird in a camouflage pantsuit, shotgun machine gun perched perkily against her heaving bosom, aimed randomly at the ground.]

Song: You Betcha There’s Gonna Be Good Huntin’ Here.


This method of flying is awful
But some things have got to be done
I see through my night-vision goggles
A candidate on the run

You betcha there’s gonna be good good huntin’ here
The scent of a killing is drawing me near
You betcha there’s gonna be good huntin’ here
I’ve gotta do something to make my career

[She sights McCain, running scared in a wolf (or Cats) costume on the ground. Sarah takes aim.]

@FlyingChainSaw: there should be a Hilary and Zombie-McCain love scene

That wouldn’t be redundant?

@FlyingChainSaw: Here’s how it works…

When asked the Heartbeat Away question during the debate, Sarah starts her Grand Guignol daydream, starting with shooting McCain from a helicopter. Apocalyptic vulgarity ensues. When it’s time to end the dream, we bring McCain back onstage — as a zombie! — who wrests the presidency back from Sarah. And the debate continues.

More or less. I’ll kill my babies right and left, but it wouldn’t be a Stinque Musical without a zombie.

@redmanlaw: The making-of doc consists of close-ups of everyone typing, concluding with Orson Welles in Citzen Kane.

Or Jack Nicholson, come to think of it. How could I miss that?

@Pedonator: Alas, Swampsow doesn’t really play in Sarah’s story. There’s the Palin reference to whining in spring 2008, long before she was nominated, and of course McCain chose Palin in part to steal the PUMAs.

Hmmm… PUMAs…

Okay: There remains a strong possibility that she’ll be cut like Costner in Big Chill, but we may have a minor place for her. Maybe we learn that, like John Edwards, Hillary was selling her services to the highest bidder.

I’m thinking we’re gonna have to shred history and follow the Debate with the Election Day/Concession/Finale sequence. Once we’ve unleashed the Grand Guignol, how can you follow it with anything but the end of the show?

Thus, where Palling Around (and maybe even Mr. Plumber) follows the Veep Debate in real life, we’ll just have to deal with them beforehand. Continuity is for pussies.

@nojo: So you’re saying you have access to caffine?

@nojo: Yeah, I know Hillary is tangential at best to the arc of Sara’s story, but the PUMAs could be useful for filling out those used Cats costumes.

And maybe, just maybe, instead of and/or in addition to a chorus of Advisors, we might consider a Candidate Gaggle. Jack McBrayer (Kenneth on 30-Rock) might make a good Johnny Mill.

Black Metal to show link of bad guys to ancient evil?

I could go more hard core than this, f you want

@redmanlaw: Huh?

Are you suggesting that Sarah should, at some point, appear as a Minotaur With Bewbies? Singing (to be generous), “Fast melting steel, fortune on wheels / Brain haemorrhage is the cure”?

Well ok, that might work.

Having second thoughts about opening this at La Jolla Playhouse.

What about Vegas? I’m so entranced with the idea of lots of shit flying about above stage. I’m sure the effects budget would be better in Vegas.

@Pedonator: Reviewing the history of these threads, I discover Nojo himself first proposed the Drill Baby Drill song. He was just too modest to point it out.

So many have contributed to this effort, it will really be impossible to thank everyone when some sample of us scratches its way up to the stage at the Dorothy Chandler Pavillion to claim the EGOTA award.

(I plan to be on permanent vacation in the Maldives at the time of the ceremony.)

@Pedonator: I did? Must be the caffeine.

I think the credit will need to be “Story by The Stinque Drama Guild*”, with two dozen names in fine print at the bottom.

Oh, and we can always go guerilla: Perform it outside the La Jolla Playhouse.

Looking ahead, I think I’m going to let this settle a bit before the next update. We’ve had three solid threads of brainfarting, and I need to review all our notes and conjure some kind of outline.

I don’t know what it’s called in the theatuh, but in Hollywood this is “breaking the story.” Excellent work, everyone!

@redmanlaw: Santa Fe has an enormous advantage in staging with the theatre. I can imagine how productions are placed their specifically to take advantage of the space. Never been but it looks like a spaceship in the photographs.

@nojo: Excellent. Any chance that we could have time-traveling Nazis loaning Sarah an ME262 fighter jet for the purpose of strafing McCain? It would bring in the science fiction crowd.

@nojo: A few observations.

First: Sleep is good.

Second: Tone. I’ll come back to that.

Third: Scale. How many people are in this thing? Easy to say Advisors but how many? Who are they? When they’re not in that scene what are they doing? Playing poker backstage? Might I suggest you shoot for no more than 9 actors. This will allow you to be produced off-Broadway or in a small B’way house. Right now, 9 is the magic cut-off point, don’t ask me why. I’m in the middle of writing the book for a show about authenticity and forgery which, after a certain amount of struggle, can be done by 9 actors with doubling. But the doubling tells story, it’s not random. But the scale of the piece will seriously affect its tone.

This kind of raffish political satire does not have much of a history here in the States – though it has been done. Perhaps the better model might be the Brecht/Weill of Happy End. A cabaret musical with a very stripped-down, bare-bones feel. Noje is right about her being the American Evita but how to place such a repellant character at the heart of a musical? In the ALW thing we were asked to feel for her and to admire the way she clawed her way to the top. To which I say, Phooey! Also, we can’t use the real names (all right, settle down. You at the back, stop playing with the zombies) because they will sue your ass and stop anyone wanting to do it. If the story is fictionalized you can take the ‘truth’, as understood here on the board, further.

The problem with the show, as I see it, is that the central character is a worthless, fame-whoring, narcissist. For a traditional musical we’d need to find an emotional anchor to counterbalance her; eg, in Gypsy, Mama Rose is the problem, not the solution. It’s Louise who provides the heart of the story till everything gets turned upside down for the 11 o’clock number in the coup de theatre of ‘Rose’s Turn’. But the resolution of the story is Louise’s understanding of her mother not Rose’s revelation. However, with the cabaret as the model the worse she is the more opportunity it provides. The orchestra can be small and electronic. There can be rock. To my ear ‘Drill, Baby, Drill’ suggests a pretty hard-pounding rock anthem that reeks of first act finale.

And now I must get to work, you bastards.

ADD. As I understand it, the musical is about feeling, emotion should soar. Sondheim learned to write from O Hammerstein. His shows always contain the classic Rogers and Hammerstein Climb Ev’ry Mountain, soaring of emotion number placed in the 11 o’clock spot. Eg. No One is Alone from ‘Into the Woods’. Musicals don’t develop arguments well, opera does that better. The cabaret musical with its roots in street theatre and back-rooms, can be much more hard-hitting. Big scenery only limits production. Plus, it’s boring. Stage spectacle should be just that: something that happens on a stage. The ‘helicopter’ is done with a fork-lift, smoke, sound, a cut-out, and lights.

Sleep is good:

Rewrite for the “road” show version…

Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing

Just a small town girl, living in a frozen world
Going to college flunking anything
A beauty queen, born and bred in cold Juneau
Going to college flunking anything

There she is in a smokey room, reeks of cheap wine and ambition
For a while she just goes to school

She goes on and on and on and on

Ambition, waiting… wantin’ something bigger
Its shadow casting in her mind
Talent… lacking
Still wants just to find a chance
Hiding somewhere in the world

Using looks to get her fill
everybody wants a thrill
Betting anything to roll the dice just one more time
Some will win, some will lose
Some are born to cry the blues
oh ambition never ends

It goes on and on and on and on

Ambition, waiting… wantin’ something bigger
Its shadow casting in her mind
Talent… lacking
Still wants just to find a chance
Hiding somewhere in the world

Don’t stop… believin’
hold on to that feeling
Talent… lacking

Don’t stop… believin’
hold On to that feeling
Talent… lacking

Don’t stop… believin’
hold on to that feeling
Talent… lacking
don’t stop

@Benedick: I think you’re taking our suggestions too literally. The helicopter sequence needs only our Talibunny up in the rafters with a machine gun and spotlight and wind machine on her with a sound track of a helicopter running, maybe one blade of a helicopter rotor stretched out over her as she shrieks through her rendition of ‘This Is My Country’ and loads the gun, finally takes aim and fires off round after round shouting, ‘suck some cock in hell, old man! I’m sure your family could use the help! hahahahahahahahaha.’

@Benedick: How many people are in this thing? Easy to say Advisors but how many?

Four seems the magic number. They also have to double for crowds, of course. Lots of costume changes.

All told, with principal doubling, I think we can keep the total down to nine. But I don’t want to deal with that kind of practicality prematurely — first we get the show that should be produced, then we beat the crap out of it.

@nojo: I don’t see why we will need nine staged characters. Even McCain doesn’t have to actually appear if all we hear in the fantasy revenge sequence is Talibunny cursing him and the sound of McCain crying out in agony when the bullets rip through his back. Couric and Gibson could be replaced by an anonymous character with a TV camera head dress over his head and shoulders. The ‘media’ character would not even need lines. Just a menacing mambo drum beat to which he could dance an insanely pornographic step around the Talibunny replete with savage hip thrusts to Talibunny’s face while she recites the actual responses she gave during those interviews.

@FlyingChainSaw: Too early to do the math, but basically we’ll have principals and chorus, and chorus can double as cameo characters like Katie & Charlie. McCain needs to be a Warm Body, since he has at least one number in the first act.

But yes, when it comes time to do a head count, we can look at tricks to boil down the payroll — particularly using sound and rear projection. There’s room for a Peanuts wah-wah-wah gag somewhere…

@Benedick: The problem with the show, as I see it, is that the central character is a worthless, fame-whoring, narcissist.

That’s Prommie’s issue, but the joke is that we’re treating her as a traditional musical heroine — Annie, Maria, Eliza. It’s no fun if she’s the asshole we know from the start. I want the audience cheering for her. We all know the musical-comedy tropes, and we all know she doesn’t fit — but playing her as if she does is part of the entertainment.

And thus, tone: Happy happy joy joy. If we’re looking down our noses at her throughout the show, we’re just celebrating ourselves, missing the fun, and boring the audience. Instead, the satire is inherent in our approach: We’re letting musical comedy do our work for us.

@nojo: That may also be our meta-excuse for a Happy Villager opening: We know it’s Not Done, but we’re going to do it anyway. We’re mavericks!

(Has anyone suggested a Maverick song yet? Seems that’s one of the essentials.)

@nojo: Possibility: “Mavericks” is the duet where McCain announces Palin to the world (aka the Friday Debut).

“I’m a Maverick, he’s a Maverick, she’s a Maverick, we’re a Maverick, wouldn’t you like to be a Maverick too?”

(Clearance note: Research indicates the Dr Pepper jingle was written by Garth Brooks. The world is always stranger than satire can express.)

@nojo: I see the song “Mavericks” of being more in line with the ’70s song “Feelings”


Mavericks, nothing more than mavericks,
trying to forget my old principles.
Teardrops rolling down on my face,
trying to forget my Lieberman.

Mavericks, for all my life I’ll feel it.
I wish I’ve never met you, girl; you’ll never shovel snow again.

Mavericks, wo-o-o mavericks,
wo-o-o, if only I could lift my arms.

Mavericks, mavericks wishing Kristol had never met you
and mavericks like I’ve never been pro-choice.

Mavericks, for all my life I’ll feel it.
I wish I’ve never met you, girl; you’ll never shop at Wal-Mart again.

Mavericks, mavericks wishing Kristol had never met you
and mavericks like I’ve never been anti-war.

Mavericks, wo-o-o mavericks,
wo-o-o, if only I could lift my arms.
Mavericks…(repeat & fade)

@SanFranLefty: The Friday Debut happens before an audience, however, so I think we’re going to need something jaunty there — closer to Herod’s Song or Trouble in River City.

Or maybe a slow-paced “Mavericks” goes somewhere else.

Structurally, we’re somewhere past the middle or two-thirds into the first act. It’s a peak — Sarah’s been chosen! — but there’s also a “who’s that girl” vibe, since nobody knows the hell who she is.

And that’s when we get into the helicopter hunting, moose skinning, family dramas — so much that there’s serious concern she may be dropped from the ticket before the convention ends. (Wasn’t that a fun week?) Her act-closing Nomination Speech is the triumph, putting all those concerns to rest. That night, she’s bigger than Jesus.

Benedick, I think the story is similar to your play, with one difference, the way she finds herself in the spotlight.

The story is she is a wretchedly bad performer, who has absolutely no clue of her limitations, and perceives every piece of bad press, every negative story, every misstep, as the result of the mistakes of others, its never her fault. She is convinced of her worthiness and greatness, and though she stumbles and commits faux pas, she has an explanation for everything, a self-pitying, almost paranoid explanation. She is such a narcissist she can rationalize the worst behavior and show it the way she sees it, as an example of noble, admimrable behavior.

My version, would have a lot of word for word re-enactments of her screw-ups, particularly, the Couric interview, in which we have her singing her rationalizations for why everyone got it wrong, why she is a victim, and misunderstood, why nothing is her fault.

In the Couric interview scene, which I think is an important, but not the most important scene, I see a back and forth, we have Couric and Palin re-enacting the actual questions and responses, then, after each answer from Palin, the lights go down, except for a spot on Palin, and Couric just stays still in the darkness, while Palin stands up and sings, in the spotlight, her narcissistic explanation for why everyone got it wrong, Couric was so dumb, the media was out to get her, it was not the embarrassing scene everyone just witnessed, no, it was a triumph, and would have been perceived as such if not for the lying media making stuff up, and the elites don’t know what a real amurrican is like, with the emphasis on delusion, she is deluded, her sung explanations for her missteps showing the extent to which her narcissism blinds her to reality.

I would want to see a play in which there is a constant contrast presented, between how everyone else in the world perceives her actions, and how she perceives what happened, and thats where the music comes in, her view of the world is portrayed through her singing songs presenting her deluded view of the world. Her songs, and the songs sung by her idiot followers (just imagine, the song of a Palin follower) contrasted with the non-singing parts, which present actual, verbatim incidents, reality. And every time a reality is portrayed in which she is seen as dumb, backward, racist, rabble-rousing, grafting, diva-like, there follows, in song, her perception of the event, songs carefully crafted to show the delusion and rationalization and narcissism, how its always everyone else’s fault.

Thats where I see a central theme, the disparity between the reality, and her perception of it.

@nojo: “Maverick” begat “Rick” begat “Rick Astley” begat one of my favorite Nick Lowe namechecks (“All Men Are Liars”), suited for a final act denoument number from the SarahPac Grrls. I defer to Manchu for the wordtweaking voodoo he do so well:

All Men, All Men are liars their words ain’t worth no more than worn out tires.
Hey Girls, bring rusty pliers to pull this tooth, all men are liars and that’s the truth.

Do you remember Bill Kristol?
He had a big fat hit that was all dud, no missile.
He said I’m never gonna give you up or let you down.
Well I’m here to tell ya that Bill’s a clown
Though he was just a boy when he made that vow.
I’d bet it all that he knows by now.


Among god’s creatures man must be.
The most slimy and slippery now.
There stands the naked ape in a monkey suit.
Behind a little mustache he grew, the shifty brute.
All the ones not choking on the words they ate are
Sweating on getting their stories straight.

@Promnight: Prommie, you’re missing the whole point of musicals. You don’t have to shove the audience’s face in a giant stinking pile of poo to make your point. If they are average IQ or higher, they will get it. And if they don’t get it, then sticking their faces in it would make them dig their heels in more and alienate the smarter fans.

@SanFranLefty: This is why I think a number of the characters should be abstracted into anonymous dancers or huge stuffed animals – kinda the way Talibunny sees the world, especially the evil, Christ-hating monsters that oppose her glorious ascent to the presidency she deserves.

@FlyingChainSaw: Thats why I see a scene of a press conference, with Sarah at the podium, taking questions from the “liberal media,” a crowd of reporters looking like a gay pride parade, every conservative stereotype of the evils of homo-hippie-intellectual-elite evil liberals. Over-the top.

She should have at least one scene dressed as Joan of Arc, also.

@Promnight: The crowd costs money. Better to have one anonymous media creature with a TV camera for a head dancing to an obscene mambo tattoo and grinding its hips into Talibunny’s face to animate the role of evil, crazed media making lurid sport of interviewing Her Majesty. Likewise, when she responds to its interrogatories, the pit orchestra (or guy with the boom box off stage, more likely) plays quotations from ‘Appalachian Spring.’

@SanFranLefty: I am not talking about sticking their faces in anything, these juxtapositions, I think of, as necessary to explore the theme of conservative rejection of reality.

Hmm, maybe I am wrong here, OK, its more “Springtime For Hitler,” from what you are saying, make it genuinely show her as a hero, and the audience, as in Springtime For Hitler, percives it as hilarious spoof.

See, the thing is, that worked as a play within a play, can you do that with the play itself?

I think an entire play that is tongue in cheek all the way through does not work, there has to be some way, as in The Producers,” where there is a

HOLY SHIT, thats it, its The Producers, play into Palin’s belief that the McCain Campaign was out to get her.

HERE, how is this:

McCain’s backers have decided for some reason we have to come up with a plausible explanation for, that they want to lose the race, and thats why they choose Palin.

In choosing her, there will be a “Thats my Hitler” moment, when they decide based on her dumbness, her shrill voice, her scandals, pregnant daughter, they decide, “This is the perfect candidate to torpedo McCain’s run.”

But then, they are shocked and horrified, like the Producers were, when what they thought was the worst candidate they could come up with, suddenly gains traction, gains a following, the people eat her up, and they are devastated.

In some way, this is a true portrayal of the GOP old guard to her rise, is it not, “holy shit, we thought we’d nominate a dumb broad, to get chicks to vote for us, but she has turned into this monster, and has brought the crazies out of the woodwork, and destroyed us.”

Benedick said we need a story, thats the story, GOP power brokers look for a female potted plant, a symbol, just to play a “get the womens’ vote” thing, and it blows up in their faces, she becomes an improbably, unstoppable force.

By the way, the closest thing in tone to what I have in mind is Chayefsky’s Network, which hit people pretty hard on the head, and still worked, and is a similar story.

@Promnight: these juxtapositions, I think of, as necessary to explore the theme of conservative rejection of reality.

I’m not a fan of didactic drama — which puts you in good company, since I’m not a fan of Shaw. (Musicals based on Shaw are another matter.)


But then, they are shocked and horrified, like the Producers were, when what they thought was the worst candidate they could come up with, suddenly gains traction, gains a following, the people eat her up, and they are devastated.

There’s a show there — not our show, but a show nonetheless. (Are musical rights to The Candidate available?) The premise of our show is that you can pour The Sarah Palin Story into a classic musical comedy, stir, and make it work. The uncanny resemblance is part of the underlying humor. But the lyrics are the tell.

That said, I think you’ve just given character — purpose — to our Chorus of Advisors. In the context of our show, Bill Kristol buys his own shit — he believes in Sarah. But McCain, he’s just desperate for a game-changer.

And his Advisors? They’re the cynical political operatives — they see Kristol for the dimwit he is, but are willing to go along because the best they can come up with is Pawlenty. They’re also the ones, following your notes, who see Sarah getting out of hand, try to stifle her, and ultimately fail. (McCain’s just a doddering fool — Phil Hartman’s Reagan, more or less.)

I think an entire play that is tongue in cheek all the way through does not work

Tongue in cheek? We’re diving a lot deeper than that. If we end up just winking at the audience curtain to curtain, we haven’t done our job.

@Promnight: Thats why I see a scene of a press conference

Has Sarah Palin ever done a press conference post-nomination?

@FlyingChainSaw: I think a number of the characters should be abstracted into anonymous dancers or huge stuffed animals

I think we have to save most of that for Grand Guignol — the moment we finally step into Sarah’s mind. We’ve been presenting a conventional musical up to that moment, so that the contrast jumps at you.

Grand Guignol is itself a major musical number — perhaps also in a musical style that contrasts with everything else. (I keep having visions of Dali interrupting Hitchcock, set to Gotta Dance.) If we do it right, we’ve been laying the groundwork for this moment from the start — hints in the lyrics and such that finally bear fruit.

Think Straw Dogs, if you’re familiar with it. Peckinpah holds back for ninety minutes as Dustin Hoffman does a slow burn, and then Shit Hits Fan.

Goodness, we’ve all been busy while I was watching Spirited Away.

@nojo: I’m not a fan of didactic drama — which puts you in good company, since I’m not a fan of Shaw. So I have to wake my computer before I’ve even downed a cup of coffee and read this? Thank you very much.

I would still say that it is very difficult to build a musical around a character that the audience is not supposed to love. Music demands that. Even if you love to hate you still need to love. Let us look at Candide. These days one can’t see the show without the putrid Hal Prince production being put on top of it. A prime example of the philistinism inherent in Broadway (another example that makes me want to beat people with dead fish is the way the contemporary artist is ridiculed in Sunday in the Park. In exactly the same way that the show mocks the Parisians of Seurat’s day). At its best, the show is a pretty lively account of Voltaire with some brilliantly witty music and lyrics. However, it is structured so that it becomes an account of Candide learning a lesson, about himself and the world. The musical substitutes pastiche for satire because that suits music better. It all comes together, for example in Glitter and Be Gay which, in the hands of Barbara Cook, tore the house down. A musical has got to give the performer opportunities. And those opportunities should arrive in the songs. However, and this is my point such as it is, at the end of the night, after Candide has loved and lost and won a little bit back, everything stops, the orchestra winds itself up and the stage is flooded with gorgeousness in the shape of Make Our Garden Grow a melody that rises with a kind of catch in its throat till at last it goes into a choral a capela which allows one to understand why God made tenors, it suspends itself and then everything comes crashing in as it resolves itself into a grand major chord. The music earns the emotion but the story has got to allow that emotion to be there. Now, granted that is a show of huge scale and musical ambition but it’s one of the few satirical musicals I can think of. It was also a failure. There’s also Urinetown but again, satire is softened into fable.

Which is why I repeat, think cabaret style. Or opera, which has much more freedom.

did you like spirited away?
its one of my favorite animated films.

@Benedick: I would still say that it is very difficult to build a musical around a character that the audience is not supposed to love.

But we are supposed to love her. Sarah’s our plucky heroine who overcomes adversity and dreams of her perfect world.

@Benedick: So I have to wake my computer before I’ve even downed a cup of coffee and read this?

If it makes you feel any better, I do like Shaw’s prefaces.

@Capt Howdy: I did. Kind wished I’d been able to see it with original soundtrack. The translation was very American.

@nojo: I sense a confusion.

@Benedick: None whatsoever. Our musical is a hagiography that picked the wrong heroine.

@Benedick: Another way of looking at tone, courtesy of (I think) Pauline Kael: Steve Martin pretended to be a bad comedian, and we pretended to be his audience.

Your mileage may vary.

were you not able to watch it with subtitles? I thougt the DVD came with that option.

@Capt Howdy: I didn’t think to look. I assumed that Disney had redone it for America. It wasn’t a major problem but there was a overlay of cute I’m not sure was in the original.

@nojo: Another way of looking at tone, courtesy of (I think) Pauline Kael: Steve Martin pretended to be a bad comedian, and we pretended to be his audience. I don’t understand what that means.

The other basic question that needs to be asked is: why are these people singing? To say, it’s a musical is not enough. What is it the music is doing that can’t be done by speech? What do they sing about?

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