Home By the Years Where Are They Now? More Other Stuff Guest Book Contact
New World Symphony by Antonín Dvořák Yes, this was part of the Brass Union songlist in 1971 ... although the arrangement might have been slightly different.
For the two writers of the Fairytale, Len Blum and Bruce Ley, this would be a preview of things to come for them.  Bruce would go on to writing and producing in Canadian Television, and Len would become a very successful Hollywood screenplay writer, with credits such as:  'Meatballs', with Bill Murray (based on a Brass Union summer camp adventure), ‘Stripes’, ‘Heavy Metal’, ‘Beethoven's 2nd, ‘Private Parts’ with Howard Stern, ‘The Pink Panther’ (co-written with Steve Martin), and the Dreamworks animated hit, ‘Over the Hedge’.  The idea of bringing this stage production to the Brass Union was for the band to perform the entire 60- minute show live, with costume changes, different props, special effects and all done while the musicians played the music.  This was an immense undertaking, just even what music would be played and by whom, and co-ordinating this with who would be acting at the time.  The entire production was all original, all with music written specifically for the Fairytale and performed by the nine band members and the three additional road crew.  The story is as follows ...
The stage is set up so there is a centre ‘acting’ area down the middle, with the drum kit to the left on one side of the stage and the organ to the right.  The three guitars are set up behind the drums and the four horns behind the organ.  The play opens with just the guitars, horns and drummer on stage.  The CAMAL, played by Bruce Ley (who is essentially, the moderator) enters from the wing, walks to centre stage and begins to conduct the band.  He is dressed in a white cowboy hat, brown suit and long western- style coat.  There is an opening piece, with strobe and other lighting effects, done in time to the music, a brief bit by the WILGROVE character, played by Bruce Wilson, who jumps into centre stage dressed as a rock star and plays a brief frenetic piece on his guitar, then jumps back into place with the other guitarists.  Once this opening piece has ended, the stage fades to black and a single spotlight is cued to the CAMAL, who begins to speak. “I am CAMAL, the good spirit and I see the good in a man’s heart” Immediately, John Hannah, dressed in black tights, black cape and bright- blue knee boots, jumps out from behind his drums, into the centre-stage spotlight and interrupts the CAMAL: “Shaddup.  You with your good-in-man’s-heart bullshit.  I am BONAR, the evil spirit, and I see the evil in a man’s soul … and I love it. And let me tell you something, Mr. Good Fairy, your side is going to lose.”  As he lets out a scowling mock-laugh, the good/evil stage is set.
Following this opening scene, the CAMAL continues his story: “Three ships of sacred oak, pursued by the wind, proudly from battle go, return to their king.”   He describes ancient boats, slaves at the oars, chained together in the galley, while BONAR times it with the beat of his drums.  The spotlight dims on CAMAL and goes up over the drums and guitars.  While still playing, the guitarists simulate oarsmen with their guitars as BONAR becomes the slavemaster, saying:  “Row, you bastards!” At the end of the rowing sequence, all motion stops and the CAMAL continues to sing his story.  He tells of three sailors, returning from afar to their families, the townspeople rushing to greet them with praises for their champions of war.  The CAMAL moves over to his organ, out of the spotlight as three sailors enter from the horn section:  Cliff Hunt, John Willett and Don Berryman.  One sailor is drinking from a wineskin, obviously drunk, as the second sailor is kicking him.  The third sailor is wearing brighter clothes than the other two.  He is FLOYDO, played by Cliff Hunt, and the hero of the story.  They all tell stories of war, plundering, their banners flying over each conquest: “Who can retell the things that befell us?  Who can count them? At every turn our warriors earned sweet victory.”
The sailors and the band party and drink to celebrate their return.  Finally, as the song ends, centre stage clears leaving just FLOYDO to sing an emotional song which ends with:  “Why do all eyes seem to turn away? Why do all faces look cold? Where is my wife? God, I’ve missed her so.  Where is she? I’ve got to be told?”  BONAR then gestures to FLOYDO and sings:  “Listen, the lady’s left you.  Where did she go?  She left with the magician, not long ago.”  Soon the entire chorus of singers begins to sing:  “She left with the magician, not long ago, not long ago.”  FLOYDO looks dismayed, walks over to the CAMAL, who confirms that his lady has left with the magician.  As the musicians continue to sing, FLOYDO packs a knapsack with a map and some food.  He is ready to go get his wife back.  As the song winds down, the chorus starts singing: “Go see the king”.  FLOYDO agrees and walks to stage left and exits.  When he re-enters stage again, he is in the king’s castle and awed by it’s size.  Terry Bramhall, as KING ELMO EBO, makes a magnificent entrance, dressed in a purple cape and matching toga and struts proudly around the stage. ELMO:  “I am ELMO!!” – CHORUS:  “He is ELMO!” ELMO:  “I am the king!!” – CHORUS:  “He is the king!” ELMO:  “You are my subjects!!” – CHORUS:  “We are his subjects.” ELMO: “And you shall do as I command!!” – CHORUS: “Right!” ELMO:  “Now, entertain me.” Len Blum jumps to centre stage with his guitar and plays for the king.  But the king is displeased and beats Len, as the guitar notes are obviously sarcastic.  The king continues to beat him and finally tosses him back to his place with the other guitar player.  FLOYDO then takes the microphone and sings his plea to the king:  “ELMO EBO majesty, Harken to a subject’s plea.  Grave injustice done to me, While I served you overseas.  Came a demon, Cast a spell upon my house.  Took my woman.  Took her for his very own.”  Between verses, ELMO continues to strut around as the musicians bow each time he comes near them.  ELMO then eats a banana, files his nails and generally ignores our hero.  FLOYDO finally sings:  “ELMO EBO, king of men, Listen to me once again.  Grant me leave to follow them.  I will find this sorceror’s den.  I will slay him!”, to which the king replies:  “Go!!”, and exits triumphantly.  Floydo then stares at the horizon dramatically, and BONAR and CAMAL sing about the situation from their positions at the drums and organ.  They conclude that FLOYDO needs a friend to go with him.  But who will be his friend?
While FLOYDO scans the horizon for a friend, a spearhead emerges from left wing, followed slowly by a 12-foot spear.  This is carried by a ridiculous-looking court jester in two-tone leotards and a fashionable black turtleneck jersey, played by Don Berryman.  The JESTER sings to FLOYDO that he will help him.  The rest of the stage pokes fun at the JESTER, calling him incredibly useless.  At one point the JESTER drops his lance on his foot and he continues to sing on one foot, continuing with how brave and bold he is.  In another, to prove how brave he is, the JESTER produces his knife, drops it and FLOYDO has to bend over and pick it up for him.  As the chorus sings “Useless”, the JESTER continues with:  “I will help you.  Just you wait and see.”  The two team up and perform a series of comedic acts as they begin their travels, first off the front of the stage into the audience, then back to the stage as FLOYDO climbs on the JESTER to get back on stage.  FLOYDO just walks to the centre of the stage a lets the JESTER climb up himself.  Finally, they are seated in front of the drums to have lunch but FLOYDO doesn’t give the JESTER any food.
While FLOYDO and the JESTER sit by the drums, a MONK, played by Darrell Nameth and dressed in a white cloak, hood and an embroidered cross enters the stage from the wings and begins to sing his song:  “What brings you to these dark moors? What brings you here? Only exiled men or fools would sojourn by these misty pools.” A somewhat ridiculous scene with the MONK, FLOYDO and the JESTER follows: JESTER: “FLOYDO went to fight for the king” – CHORUS & MONK: “Good!” JESTER: “Magician did a foul thing.” – CHORUS & MONK: “Bad!” JESTER: “Burned his house and stole his wife.” – CHORUS & MONK: “Simply awful!” JESTER: “We journey now to take his life.” – CHORUS & MONK: “Good!” JESTER: “And to retrieve FLOYDO’S beautiful house” – CHORUS & MONK: “House?!?” JESTER: “So I draw my deadly lance” (which he drops) – CHORUS & MONK: “Heavy!” JESTER: “To slice apart the magician’s pants.” – CHORUS & MONK: “Groovy!” JESTER: “I”ll carve asunder that villain’s crass!” – CHORUS & MONK: “Right on, man! Far out! Oscar! Bravo!” They all cheer the JESTER’s effort in his speech, then the MONK grabs his saxophone and plays a solo.  The JESTER grabs a cowbell and is so off-beat that the MONK has to stop his solo, grab the cowbell and throw it away.  After a bit of this, FLOYDO stops everything and tells his story in his own words.  He’s recounts a heart-warming story, ending on his knees.  The MONK blesses him and when the JESTER kneels to be blessed as well, everyone ignores him.  The MONK picks up his sax again and plays a marching theme, joined by the JESTER on his trombone, then FLOYDO on his trumpet.  They play a few phrases, then the music stops and the JESTER turns to the MONK:   “Now will you bless me?”, followed by the MONK’s reply: “Bless you? I don’t even know you!” The music starts up again and continues until the Traveling Theme is replaced by the Dragon’s Theme.  As soon as the music changes, the MONK, FLOYDO and the JESTER look toward stage right, cower in fear, then look for a place to hide amongst the drums and vibes.
There’s a period here where the music signals the DRAGON’s entrance – a jumpy passage in 7/4 time, the Traveling Theme, is replaced by a 3/4 time part that is the DRAGON’s Theme.  The music continues to change from one to the other before the DRAGON appears – each time with the MONK, FLOYDO and the JESTER looking stage right, cowering a bit and hiding behind the drums again.  After the third time, the DRAGON, played by John Willett, walks out from off-stage.  He is wearing a green costume with a long stuffed tail.  He is very ferocious-looking and snorts and stomps all over the stage.  He doesn’t see the three hiding behind the drums at first, and as the three huddle together, the MONK and FLOYDO begin to push the JESTER out to confront the DRAGON.  The JESTER is shaking and tries to backpedal.  The two almost succeed, but the DRAGON begins to dance again and they all scurry back behind the drums.  The DRAGON then gives a speech about once being conned by a man that said he’d make him famous.  So he followed him to the city and was put in a cage and people laughed at him.  And to prelude the DRAGON’s song, he says: “But do you know what I did to that man?  I ate him, and now I’m going to eat you!!”
"This was one of my favourite parts", John Willett told me recently.  And it's not hard to see why.  The music was very slapstick, with a vaudeville feel to it – with stage action to match.  The MONK and FLOYDO continue to push the JESTER out to face the DRAGON, and as the DRAGON says: “Going to eat you too!!”, he points at FLOYDO and begins to sing: “ I ... want ... to eat you.  I want to chew you.  I want to munch you.  I want to spew you.  I want to kill you.  I want to beat you.  But most of all, I want to eat you.”  FLOYDO, the MONK and the JESTER pick up their horns and accompany him, and as they play, they also do a corny choreography.  At the end of the song, the DRAGON screams, the JESTER jumps into the MONK’s arms and the organ plays to signal the Chase Scene.  The DRAGON chases FLOYDO as the MONK and the JESTER chase the DRAGON.  At one point, the MONK and the JESTER jump on the DRAGON’s back, but he throws them off into a pile beside the drums.  Just as the DRAGON is about to catch our hero, FLOYDO pulls out a gun and shoots him.  The DRAGON falls.  All lights go to black to see just the pistol flash and as they come up again, FLOYDO is standing over the DRAGON costume, which lays beside the organ in a way that lets John exit the costume and still appear that the dead DRAGON is laying there.
In this part, FLOYDO is standing over the dead DRAGON, one foot up on his stomach.  The MONK and the JESTER are bandaging their wounds and BONAR enters to survey the situation.  Looking like Dracula, BONAR begins to speak: "So FLOYDO killed the DRAGON, eh?  I can tell you exactly what he's thinking right now." He then sings:  "I felt the bloodlust arise in my limbs.  It's good to be home again, Mama.  I laughed as I hacked his head from him. It's good to be home again, Mama.  I slit his tongue, cut his throat, pierced his lung.  Oh it's good, it's so good to be home." At the end of the song, FLOYDO has his arm around BONAR's shoulder and is smiling, nodding agreement.  The CAMAL is standing at the drums, looking over the situation.  In an interesting twist of good and evil, BONAR convinces FLOYDO to leave his injured friends behind.  "They'll only slow you down," to which FLOYDO agrees.  The JESTER and the MONK try to get FLOYDO to take them with him, but to no avail.  BONAR is happy, the CAMAL is sad, the JESTER and the MONK are left behind and FLOYDO continues his quest as the CAMAL and BONAR sing together:  "Men are what they are."
The CAMAL recaps the action:  "Well, FLOYDO's killed the DRAGON, and like a true hero, deserted his companions.  But as he continues his search for the Magician, sleep overtakes him.  And while FLOYDO sleeps in the enchanted forest, strange things happen.  The GEEK and his HELPERS come out and sing their song to the moon." The GEEK, played by Bruce Wilson, is a three-foot tall creature, covered in brown fur.  His three HELPERS are dressed as a policeman, a primitive ape and a drag queen.  Their song is mostly gibberish with organ accompaniment, joined by a cowbell, a woodblock and an out of tune saxophone.  The GEEK and his HELPERS all perform different antics and dances as they sing their song.  As the song ends, FLOYDO enters from the wing and laughs at the GEEK.  The CAMAL frowns at FLOYDO and criticizes him for laughing at the GEEK. CAMAL (sings):  "Oh dammit laugh at a GEEK.  Hmm, go on and laugh at a GEEK." FLOYDO (speaks):  "C'mon, everybody.  Laugh at a GEEK." CAMAL (speaks):  "Sure, and I suppose everyone goes off to war and leaves their wife behind too, huh?" FLOYDO:  "I'd sure like to leave you behind ... face down in a ditch!" CAMAL:  "Well, give me enough wine and maybe I can arrange it." The CAMAL’s song is old-style blues, and as it ends, the lights dim.
The music to this part of the story varies greatly as a ‘magical fantasy’ mood is set.  There are four parts to ‘Magic’.  In the first, BONAR recaps the story – his view of the triumph of evil over good.  The audience hears a bird cheeping overhead; BONAR pulls out a gun, shoots it, and an old running shoe falls from the ceiling to centre stage.  The guitarists are doing the hula, while they play.  The whole thing has an air of lunacy as the last passage involves a musical conversation between the band, a whistle, a balloon and a slide whistle.  Throughout this, BONAR continues with his plot recap:  “… he kills the DRAGON.  What a guy!  And after that, what does my boy FLOYDO do next?  He deserts his companions.  Well, that’s not all as there is more evil to come.  More evil, evil, evil!!  Ah, ha ha ha ha!”  This is followed by one of the guitarists moving to centre stage and performing a beautiful classical- style acoustic guitar solo, while the rest of the musicians count from one to nineteen.  The drums and organ back up the count with bits of dissonance as they hit each note.  The idea is to have two totally dissimilar passages running concurrently. The next section is even more wild, as it gathers and then mutilates all  the musical themes previously played in the show, ending with two very loud notes.  The final part is played to the MAGICIAN’s entrance, the character played by John Willett – who was also previously the DRAGON.  This is a slow organ solo with a minor guitar accompaniment, done while the MAGICIAN performs his magic tricks.  The MAGICIAN’s entrance is about halfway through this section, from the back of stage, walking through a puff of smoke.  He performs a few ‘parlor’ magic tricks – coloured scarves appearing, changing colours, pulling out a bouquet of flowers, etc.  Finally, synchronized with full band accompaniment, the MAGICIAN tosses explosions of flame from his hands.
In this final scene, FLOYDO meets the MAGICIAN.  The music is full, fast-paced and exciting as the whole band except the two characters are playing.  As soon as the music starts – ‘explodes in our ears’ – FLOYDO explodes onto the stage, discovers the MAGICIAN and confronts him. FLOYDO:  “You’re the one who stole my wife and child.” MAGICIAN: “I don’t need you in my life.  Go back to your war, filthy war.” FLOYDO:  “You’ve done evil.  You’ve done me wrong.” MAGICIAN:  “Who are you to judge?” FLOYDO: “Don’t deny you stole her from me.  While I fought for justice and the king, you snatched  her off.” MAGICIAN: “Winning battles overseas, you lost her too me.” FLOYDO:  “You’re a liar.  Stand and fight.  I’ll take back my lady.” MAGICIAN:  “Don’t you see that leaving you was her choice ?? The MAGICIAN then unfolds the truth as he sees it. He is very involved and emotion fills his every gesture. “Oh, you fool!  They needed someone and you left them starving in the cold.  She was lovely.  I was lonely.  Your son needs a father, not a hero with a sword.  You have your sword, you won’t be bored.  Let us live in peace."
“I can’t accept this.  It is not true.”, says FLOYDO, shaking with rage.  “You are an outrage.  I must kill you.  Stand and prepare to … die !!!!”   He then leaps and draws his sword in mid-air, landing in front of the MAGICIAN.  The lights alternate between red and blue until just a strobe light is going.  FLOYDO beats the MAGICIAN with his sword in time with the music, but the MAGICIAN stands unyielding, unmoving, unflinching, as FLOYDO goes wild in his attempt to overcome him.  The music continues to build as FLOYDO increases the energy of this efforts, but finally … in seven mystic gestures, the MAGICIAN levitates, disarms, throws back, paralyzes and beats our hero.  FLOYDO crawls off the stage, shamed, confused and beaten.  The MAGICIAN bends over to pick up FLOYDO’s sword, but looks at it and tosses it to the floor.  BONAR and CAMAL, from their places on the drums and organ, respectively, sing:  “Go back to your war.  You won’t be bored.  You have your sword.”  The lights dim and the MAGICIAN fades back into the band.
In the original script, the Fairytale is called ‘A Sweetened Skin’, and the music in this part is the theme song of the show.  It is slow and majestic, outlined on the vibraphone, with band accompaniment.  The last few chords peak to a tense dominant seventh chord (i.e. suggesting a ‘hanging, unfinished’ feel).  Three voices sing from the blackened stage and as the lights come up, the audience notices that it is BONAR, CAMAL and the MAGICIAN.  They sing:  “So goodnight.  Blessed be your dear ones.  Stay in their sight.  Make them your near ones.  Night’s falling.  I’m calling it a day.” As the song continues, the band begins to chant as a CHORUS with long ‘Aaaahhs’.  The passage is majestic, haunting, and backed up by hypnotic drums and low ominous guitar chords.  After a few verses of this, the chanting stops, the organ holds one tone, and the spotlight cues to the CAMAL, sitting at his organ.  He offers the final prayer to the audience.  His voice is strong and moving, as the band sits motionless and listens:
“Now you will feel no rain.  For each of you will shelter the other. Now you will feel no cold.  For each of you will be warmth to the other. Now there is no loneliness for you.  There is no more loneliness. Now you are many bodies, but there is only one life before you. Go now, to your dwelling places to enter into the days of your togetherness. And may your days be good, and long, upon the earth.” The music builds to a crescendo and resolves to a conclusion as the lights go black.  A few minutes later, two small organ notes leak out and the entire band crashes into the chant again.  Everything builds and builds, louder than it has been before.  The lighting builds with the music, the horns blaring and the organ and guitars building to a peak.  The band bows under full lights.  Then black, and silence.
HOME NEXT BACK