I have been fortunate over the last couple of years to have several of my titles recognized with awards from various RWA groups. With each announcement, I mentioned my “Happy Dance.” To understand my “Happy Dance,” one must have a knowledge of Zero Mostel’s performance as Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof ~ specifically, Mostel’s freestyle dance about the stage when he sang, “If I Were a Rich Man.” Of course, such “freedom” sets my brain to thinking, which is not always a good thing. For example, I wonder what songs would the characters in Pride and Prejudice break into if we were doing P&P as a Broadway musical?
Logo from the 2011 NY Musical
Yes, I know that Lindsay Warren Baker and Amanda Jacobs recently brought to the stage, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, A Musical. In this production, Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy’s romance comes to life with fresh eyes as Jane Austen revisits her unpublished manuscript, First Impressions. As Austen transforms their story into what will ultimately become her masterpiece, Pride and Prejudice, both the author and her characters struggle to learn the joy of second chances.
I am also aware that First Impressions: A Pride and Prejudice Broadway Musical was one of the failures of the 1958-59 Broadway season, despite having Polly Bergen, Hermoine Gingold, and Farley Granger as its stars. Actually, Bergen had replaced Gisele MacKenzie at the last minute. In the role of Elizabeth Bennet, Bergen had but three weeks to learn the score.
In reality, my idea was a mish-mash of my favorite Broadway tunes added to a dramatic format. Let me explain what I had in mind. Let us return to “If I Were a Rich Man.” Could you not see the character of George Wickham breaking into song and belting out the following words:
“Dear God, you made many, many poor people.
I realize, of course, that it’s no shame to be poor.
But it’s no great honor either!
So, what would have been so terrible if I had a small fortune?”
If I were a rich man,
Yubby dibby dibby dibby dibby dibby dibby dum.
All day long I’d biddy biddy bum.
If I were a wealthy man.
I wouldn’t have to work hard.
Ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum.
If I were a biddy biddy rich,
I’d build a big tall house with rooms by the dozen,
Right in the middle of the town.
A fine tin roof with real wooden floors below.
There would be one long staircase just going up,
And one even longer coming down,
And one more leading nowhere, just for show.
How about Charlotte Lucas and Jane Bennet joining together on “People” from Funny Girl?
From Charlotte Collins: People–people who need people
Are the luckiest people in the world,
We’re children, needing other children
And yet letting our grown-up pride
Hide all the need inside,
Acting more like children ~ Than children.
From Jane Bennet: Lovers are very special people,
They’re the luckiest people in the world.
With one person, one very special person
A feeling deep in your soul
Says you were half; now you’re whole.
But first be a person who needs people.
Can you not imagine a segue from Lambton to Pemberley with Elizabeth Bennet sharing her fears of meeting Mr. Darcy with “On the Street Where You Live” from My Fair Lady?”
I have often walked down this street before;
But the pavement always stayed beneath my feet before.
All at once am I, Several stories high.
Knowing I’m on the street where you live.
Are there lilac trees in the heart of town?
Can you hear a lark in any other part of town?
Does enchantment pour Out of ev’ry door?
No, it’s just on the street where you live!
And oh! The towering feeling
Just to know somehow you are near.
The overpowering feeling
That any second you may suddenly appear!
People stop and stare. They don’t bother me.
For there’s nowhere else on earth that I would rather be.
Let the time go by, I won’t care if I
Can be here on the street where you live.
‘Cause there maybe times
When you think you lost your mind
And the steps you’re takin’
Leave you three, four steps behind
But the road you’re walking
Might be long sometimes
You just keep on steppin’
And you’ll just be fine, yeah
Ease on down, ease on down the road
Come on, ease on down
Ease on down the road
Don’t you carry nothing
That might be a load
Come on, ease on down
Ease on down the road
One singular sensation, every little step she takes
One thrilling combination, every move that she makes
One smile and suddenly nobody else will do
You know you’ll never be lonely with you-know-who
One moment in her presence and you can forget the rest
For the girl is second best to none, son
Oooh! Sigh! Give her your attention
Do I really have to mention, she’s the one
The sun’ll come out Tomorrow
Bet your bottom dollar
That tomorrow, There’ll be sun!
Just thinkin’ about Tomorrow
Clears away the cobwebs,
And the sorrow, ‘Til there’s none!
When I’m stuck a day
That’s gray, And lonely,
I just stick out my chin
And Say, Oh!
The sun’ll come out Tomorrow
So ya gotta hang on ‘Til tomorrow
Come what may
I love ya, Tomorrow!
You’re always a day away!
I could also easily see the residents of Meryton, especially the unmarried females, breaking out into “Big Spender” from Sweet Charity when Darcy and Bingley make their entrance.
The minute you walked in the joint,
I could see you were a man of distinction,
A real big spender,
Good looking, so refined.
Say, wouldn’t you like to know
What’s going on in my mind?
So, let me get right to the point,
I don’t pop my cork for ev’ry guy I see.
Hey, big spender, spend…
A little time with me!
Could you also see Darcy looking at Georgiana and wondering when she had grown into a woman? I’m returning to Fiddler on the Roof and the haunting melody of “Sunrise, Sunset.” (I have taken the liberty to change the wording a bit to be only about a young girl.)
Is this the little girl I carried?
Is this the little child at play?
I don’t remember growing older
When did she?
When did she get to be a beauty?
When did she grow to be so tall?
Wasn’t it yesterday when she was small?
Swiftly flow the days
Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers
Blossoming even as we gaze
Swiftly fly the years
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears
I’ve heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return
Well, I don’t know if I believe that’s true
But I know I’m who I am today
Because I knew you
Like a comet pulled from orbit
As it passes a sun
Like a stream that meets a boulder
Halfway through the wood
Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?
But because I knew you
I have been changed for good
So, tell me what you think? Could my version of P&P, the Musical make it? What other songs might we add? Is there a future for other Austen productions?
The Phantom of Pemberley – SOLA’s Fifth Annual Dixie Kane Memorial Awards – 3rd Place – Romantic Suspense
Darcy’s Temptation – 2009 Booksellers’ Best Award Finalist – Long Historical
The Scandal of Lady Eleanor – Write Touch Readers’ Award – 2nd Place – Historical Romance
A Touch of Grace – SOLA’s Seventh Annual Dixie Kane Memorial Awards – 3rd Place – Historical Romance
The First Wives’ Club – SOLA’s Seventh Annual Dixie Kane Memorial Awards – Honorable Mention – Historical Romance
Christmas at Pemberley – 2011 Booksellers’ Best Award Finalist – Inspirational Romance; Second Place, General Fiction, New England Book Festival
The Mysterious Death of Mr. Darcy – SOLA’s Eighth Annual Dixie Kane Awards – Honorable Mention, Romantic Suspense; Finalist for the Frank Yerby Award for Fiction; 2nd Place, Romantic Suspense, Winter Rose Award for Fiction
Angel and the Devil Duke – SOLA’s Eighth Annual Dixie Kane Awards – 3rd Place- Historical Romance
The Prosecution of Mr. Darcy’s Cousin – Finalist for Romantic Suspense, 2014 Write Stuff Award