The latest, and long over due, European Mega-Musical will finally open on Broadway in October after a string of unfortunate events; but will its popularity be lost in translation?
By David Davila (playwright / song-writer)
Last year a friend of mine returned from his European vacation exclaiming the wonders of a German musical he'd seen called REBECCA.
"Oh... yeah... I think I've heard of that. Based on that mystery/suspense novel? It's supposed to come to Broadway right?"
Right... and then wrong... and then right again.... but more on that later.
He insisted that I watch a bootleg of the German cast that was on youtube (there's a link at the bottom of this page, but who knows how long it'll be up), so I gave in and watched the darn thing. Chingow! That shiz was off the hook. The German bootleg was pretty spectacular! Sure, I didn't understand a word they were singing, but the subtitles helped out quite a bit, and the title song was stuck in my head for weeks!
(The German version of the title song.... song starts at :51)
I was an instant fan, and I started counting down the days till this exciting pop-opera would open starring one of my favorite singers, Sierra Boggess, in the lead role of "I." But something, or many things, happened and the the Marquee at the Broadhurst theatre came down as quickly as it went up. Rebecca was delayed.
Press releases exclaimed that producer's needed more time to raise money for a bigger production in the fall (which time has proven to be true), but the theatre district was buzzing with other rumors and as producer's assured the public that REBECCA was only being delayed by a few months, their star annoucned that she was leaving the production team.
At first I really didn't understand why she would jump ship on REBECCA to move to a low-profile supporting role in the musical review PRINCE OF BROADWAY, which has still not announced a theatre or dates. (Bad move Sierra) But soon word leaked that the entire cast had been having problems with the production team who per rumor fired the entire ensemble from the Broadway workshop then lost their funding. Yikes!
Note to self: Never fire the entire cast of my Broadway workshop who are working for pennies in hopes your show will go to Broadway. I mean that's just plain mean.
Also... these are just rumors told by neighborhood actors who all know other actors who work in the neighborhood. None of these rumors would hold up in the court of law, but that doesn't keep people from talking...
You really can't blame Sierra for jumping ship if she was really working under those conditions, but you can't help but feel like she made a terrible choice. As a Broadway darling for the last few years, this could have been her chance at a Tony award. But enough about that...
This week REBECCA announced another delay in their production after a key investor, responsible for 4.5 million dollars, passed away suddenly. The production had no choice but to delay rehearsals as the investor's estate tries to honor the original committment. Now... I don't want to start throwing around the "C" word, so instead I'll just say that maybe there's something out there that doesn't want Rebecca's ghost haunting Broadway... almost as if the Broadhurst has a Phantom lurking in the wings... or next door... but Rebecca won't go away without a fight!
REBECCA, based on the classic Daphne du Maurier novel, with music by famous German composer, Sylvester Levay, has all the determination needed to open at the Broadhurst Theatre in just a few weeks, and I'm stoked. As haunted as it's pre-production has been, this musical master-piece will not give up. There is only one thing that can ruin this show now: the English translations.
If the translations are terrible, REBECCA will be a big joke, instead of the instant classic it became in Europe. Everything is depending on the translations by Christopher Hampton and Michael Kunze. Whether this musical becomes the next LES MISERABLES or the next A TAIL OF TWO CITIES depends on how good the lyrics are at NOT sounding corny.
If it succeeds, we may see a new era of European Mega musicals hit Broadway over the next decade. I'm not gonna lie, I like mega-musicals with legit-singing, and I welcome any musical to New York that will give jobs to my very talented opera/cross-over friends.
It just all depends on those English lyrics which I may or may not have a copy of... that may or may not have been given to me by a fired member of the REBECCA team.
(Here's the English version of the title song. Not exactly a home run, but they've got time to work on the translations before opening night.)
Based on the alleged lyrics which I may or may not have from the workshop, I hope to the theatre Gods that the lyrics to the title song are changed before opening night. The lyrics, as they stand, are a mouthful. There's no way anyone in the audience would be able to sing them as they leave the theatre:
REBECCA, WHEREVER YOU MAY BE
YOUR HEART IS RESTLESS LIKE A WILD AND RAGING SEA
WHEN THE EVENING MIST FALLS THE WIND CALLS:
REBECCA, COME BACK, REBECCA!
FROM THE TWILIGHT WORLD
COME BACK TO MANDERLEY!
My main concern is the specific lyric "When the evening mist falls the wind calls." It's a tongue twister. In the demo version on Youtube, the lyric reads "With society air everywhere." That lyric is a little easier to say, but not as effective to the song. There's got to be a better lyric out there, and they have a few more weeks to find it.
Meanwhile, I'll keep listening to the tracks on youtube, and watching the German bootleg in my free time, which doesn't come often these days. If you don't beleive me when I tell you that REBECCA rocks, please check it out yourself! But hurry, who knows how long this bootleg will stay on youtube. Producers might think it will hurt their show when in actuality its helping them gain fans like me.
(Here's the opening of the show... the entire German bootleg is on there... just keep clicking.)
Will I see you guys at the first preview? Hope so! I'm hoping Rebecca has a long and lucrative life! :)
.... and now for the 90's jam of the week. This week's song takes me back to middle school where we'd jam out to this girl group all afternoon. RIP Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes. :/
DAVID DAVILA is half of the song-writing duo Havrilla & Davila, author of the Tex-Mex plays ADAN Y JULIO, MEN OF GOD, CREDO, REQUERDOS OF MY LIFE, and AZTEC PIRATES AND THE INSIGNIFICANCE OF LIFE ON MARS. He is a self proclaimed Voxist, a Diva enthusiast, and founder of Lone Star Theatre Co. Wanna talk about it? www.daviddavila.net
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