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From Chandler in California:
Well I just finished a very good run as Chauvelin in Scarlet Pimpernel a couple of months ago (it's an amazing show). I always felt however that You Are My Home was short changed. Instead of it being a nice long song between a brother and sister, it was cut into 2 pretty short songs (the wedding, and the garden reprise). I pondered that, something wasn't right, then I found these lyrics:

Percy 
So many years I wandered through this world 
Never quite sure where I should be 
I was alone, but I came home 
The moment you looked up at me 

Marguerite 
You met my eyes and understood my heart 
I never spoke and still you heard 
Home is the one place in the world 
Where love takes hold without a word 

Both 
You are my home 
You make me strong 
And in this world of strangers 
I belong to someone 
You are all I know 
You're all I have 
I won't let go 

Percy 
If there is pain, you'll heal within my touch 

Marguerite 
Your hands will ease away the fear 

Percy 
Deep in the cold I'll keep you warm 

Marguerite 
When darkness falls, I'll hold you near 

Both 
You are my home 
You make me strong 
And in this world of strangers 
I belong to someone 
You are all I know 
You're all I have 
I won't let go 

Percy 
I will not walk away from you 

Marguerite 
I will not let you go 

Both 
You're the only home I've ever known 
You are my home 
You make me strong 
And in this world of strangers 
I belong to someone 
You are all I know 
You're all I have 
I need you so 
I won't let go 
You are my home

They were apparantly written for SP 2.0, but I never heard them, nor have I seen them. I like them alot, they seem more romantic and the length seems to make the song more meaningful (and gives our ensemble more time to change from Guillotine to Wedding costumes). So if our company revives Pimpernel in a couple of years (which seems to be the popular wish from our audiences) is it legal to make so minor a change as adding another verse?

And also we had some weird improvs and pranks (Percy in the rose garden scene ran back on with a black bell and put it over me. and at the end instead of a gag, a gym sock was stuffed in my mouth) Do you remember any particular Douglas Sills or Rex smith improvs or jokes that you were fond of?

We sold out every night and were begged to allow the show to run another week, but the owners of our location wouldn't permit it.



Wednesday, 2 May 2007

Dear Chandler,

First, I need to ask you- Where did you come upon these lyrics? They definitely are lyrics I wrote, but in an earlier stage of SP 2. I no longer remember why we opted to go with the current wedding version of the song- probably it was changed to make it shorter and more like wedding vows. But it slightly disturbs me that these old unused lyrics are just floating around somewhere. I'd really appreciate knowing where you saw them.

Secondly, I agree with you that the old lyric (which you cite) is more romantic and in some ways even better than what is currently being used. However, musical theatre is an art form of collaboration, and compromises are made all the time. In particular, discussions about artistic choice are made between the director, composer, bookwriter and lyricist, and on occasion the producer will be involved. Sometimes a star also has influence on a decision. If the majority is swinging one way, it is often not worth it to keep fighting your point. As I say, I honestly don't remember the particular discussion about which "Home" lyric to go with, so I don't know who wanted what and why. I only know how we ended up. What I do remember is why "You are My Home" was changed at all. As you know, it was initially (S.P. 1) sung between Marguerite and Armand in prison. I felt it belonged there. However, when Rachel York was cast as Marguerite for S.P. 2, she let us know that she passionately wanted to sing "I'll Forget You," a song Frank and I had written long ago for S.P., and which can be found sung by Linda Eder on the original concept album from 1992. We agreed that Rachel could sing the song, but then we had to find a place to put it, and after lengthy discussions we felt that the only place it could go was into the prison scene, and there was no way we could get away with Marguerite singing 2 ballads back to back in that scene ("I'll Forget You" and the "Home" duet with Armand). It ultimately meant "Home" either had to be cut or go elsewhere in the show. And the only other place we could find for "Home" was in the wedding scene. That meant changing the "Home" lyric and what you found was one of my first attempts at that change. What upset me most about the whole thing was having to cut "Believe," which was the original wedding song and which is still one of my favorite songs in the show. At least "Believe" is on the original Broadway cast album for S.P. ("I'll Forget You," sung by Rachel, is on the S.P. "Encore" album).

You ask me if it's legal to make a change in the lyrics your company would perform. I think this is an issue you would have to discuss with Tams-Witmark, the licensing publisher. Legality aside, I don't really want anyone veering from what's in the final script. That kind of thing easily gets out of hand. The best rule is to perform exactly what's on the page. I also feel this way about additional Percy gags. Percy is given plenty of silly stuff to do in the book as it stands. If it gets taken too far, then it upsets the balance. We have to at all times keep the story credible, not farcical, and Percy's clowning has been modulated precisely. Too much clowning and you throw his whole character off. So, please- no more bells and gym socks. Don't risk the harmony of the whole show just to get a few more laughs. Not worth it, you know? Thanks for writing, Chandler, and I hope you guys do the show again.

Best,
Nan


 
 
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