The recent success of Les Miserables, both the musical and the movie, indicates that the death of the musical has been greatly exaggerated. As a matter of fact, musicals have been developed out of topics as diverse as South American dictator's notorious wives (Evita), homicidal barbers (Sweeney Todd), mothers who let their daughters grow up to be strippers (Gypsy), and other risky ventures. Well, the old ones, Oklahoma, South Pacific, The Sound of Music, and The King and I had their moments, too
Never mind the opprobrium associated with "show tunes." Some may be a few of some peoples' favorite things.
Anyway, Sidney Fulton, dynamic Broadway producer and would-be movie mogul, was looking over a scenario with hyperenthusiasm while talking with Byron Muffley, a casting agent. Here is a little of the dialogue:
"I tell you, By, this scenario is totally hit material, in its core. It has to be re-worked, however. I don't think it would be boffo box office in its present form . . . . too serious. We need to tinker with it some -- add a more humorous twist to it."
"Ah, Siddy.....Siddy........whatchou got for me, goombah?"
"It sounds like an unconventional boy-girl love story, but with a twist that she's the strong and dominant one and he's dependent on her. That could go over well with a modern feminist audience, but we may need to tone her down into being less of a ball-breaker as we go for what can play in flyover country. You know anything about some Austrian named Leo Sacher-Masoch? He wrote this thing."
"No, I heard a little, but don't know him personally. Not in Tinseltown or The Big Apple, as far as I know; but I'll ask Arnie, I heard he's a former Austrian. He might know him and help with the intro. I think you might have to schmooze this guy and work out the rights. But what you have in mind?"
"I'm thinking an adaptation of his novella Venus in Furs into a romantic musical comedy. we need some liberetto, some catchy songs, a really winsome heroine, and a sensitive guy who also has a great voice. The old Velvet Underground did a song entitled 'Venus in Furs'; I'm thinking theme song for this one! I'm thinking Katy could play Wanda. . . . she ever did a musical? And could we use some heartthrob like Justin or one of the old Backstreet Boys to play this dude Severin? Some name star material ought to make it go."
"Siddy . . . . I just remembered; do you know that Venus in Furs is about masochism?"
"Byron, my friend, I wondered about that. We'll re-write it and make them Democrats. But let's face it: masochism is as mainstream as apple pie now, as Americans have gotten used to the mistreatment from businesses and elected officials. And those who are cable subscribers are totally hooked with mistreatment.
And think of the spin-off accessories we could market. Wanda's Wondrous Whips! Severin's Chains! Leo's Luv Lubricant! Dominant Seductress Pas Ce Soir Perfume!"
"Sid, you might have some problems with PETA, the animal rights people. Do you want some half-naked women protesting your play because it advocates wearing fur?"
"Well, By, part of me says 'bring them nekkid chicks on, Babyee! That's publicity city. But what you say? The Tinseltown liberals might object? Maybe we could tweak the title a little. How about Venus in Faux Furs?
Poetry as a platform
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