Steal away with me tonight
Photo by Mark Sadowski
Pale Young Gentleman: Notes For A Production
Act One. Scene One. "Fraulein." The pinot-colored curtain parts. The players--full cast--sweep across the stage, emerging from all directions. Jazz hands! Every hand a firecracker of energy as the orchestra launches into the opening number. Wait for the thrilling piano stomp and then... High kicks from the ladies, their lips slathered sloppily, their thighs encased in torn fishnets. Flips from the men, full-throttle acrobatics, each movement a show-stopper. Lights should be the red of the red velvet in Camaros--plush, sleazy, lustful, blatant. One last pirouette to the can-can piano tinkle, and then let the audience's raucous applause fade with the lights.
Scene Three. "Saturday Night." The lovers have just made plans for their next secret meeting. With one last kiss, MARIA rushes off, afraid she'll be missed by her Pentecostal mother. MICHAEL watches her go, steps downstage and begins to sing. He's cautious at first, like the opening measures, that it'll all go awry and their scheme will be discovered. But by the chorus, he can't contain himself. His voice is flush with love and optimism that they'll get to reunite. That joy is only a weekend away. A follow spot stalks him everywhere he steps, his arms flung open, his voice full-throated and accumulating confidence. The music should match his arc, swelling and growing jubilant as it goes on. Think Randy Newman as performed by Rufus Wainwright; Mancino with a Drama degree.
Scene Five. "Clap Your Hands." Another big number designed to get every heel in the house tapping. We find ourselves at the cabaret where MARIA moonlights, watching theater-within-a-theater grandeur. Women in neon feathered boas and sequined leotards. Men in vests, bowlers and Fred Astaire batons. They're here to please, dancing for dollars, peddling their sex appeal while they still can. The energy is huge and seductive; the choreography is breathless and gasp-inducing. The orchestration should be spry and rhythmic, aerobic, tireless, a callback to fin de siècle Europe. Dresden Dolls cross-pollinated with Beirut. Berlin by way of the Bowery.
Act Two. Scene Five. "Single Days." MICHAEL has just learned that MRS. HASTINGS has sent MARIA away to a nunnery. He's distraught, verging on devastation, knowing that he'll never get to see her again. He looks lost without her, and when he begins the final song, he sounds that way too. It's a moment suffused with sadness and self-pity. The understanding that the closing curtain is near is weighing down on him. But as his friends collect on either side, as the club's dancers ring around him, he finds some solace in their presence. Then MARIA emerges from the wings. She's hidden in full habit though we know it must be her. She and MICHAEL dance one last dance, as he confesses his pain in song. The melody picks up midway; his momentary happiness bursts though over a still-mourning cello. It's somber but celebratory, resigned but hopeful. Before number's end, MARIA disappears from MICHAEL's arms, leaving him to dance through the last verse alone. The light lingers on him before finally dimming. As the players exit the stage, expect the audience to surge to their feet in satisfied ovation.
* MP3: "Saturday Night" - Pale Young Gentlemen from Pale Young Gentlemen
* MP3: "Clap Your Hands" - Pale Young Gentlemen from Pale Young Gentlemen [Buy it]
* MySpace: Pale Young Gentlemen