Justin Locke Productions

News! Midi versions of five of the arrangements are now available on Itunes. Search Itunes for "Bach Superstar Locke" to see the five arrangements. You can also buy hear samples and buy thru CDBaby.



The Complete Script of

An "art meets commerce" musical fairy tale based on the life and music of Johann Sebastian Bach

Music by Johann Sebastian Bach

Story and Pops Arrangements by Justin Locke

Copyright 1984, 2002




Note: For easier reading, you may want to adjust your default screen text size. In EXPLORER, on the top of your browser window, click on VIEW, then TEXT SIZE, then choose your preference. In NETSCAPE, Click VIEW, then INCREASE/DECREASE FONT.)

See also The Phantom of the Orchestra and Peter VS the Wolf, 2 other family concert programs for orchestra and actors.

Questions? Send me


Notes About the Story

Before giving the synopsis, I just want to explain something about the overall "form" of this program. It starts off as a very staid, simple, sweet, sentimental story about a famous composer who lives in a little house in Germany. The characters don't speak; rather, they pantomime on top of narration. So far, this looks and feels very much like your typical garden variety ho-hum narrated family concert program. But then, in very stark contrast, the Promotional Agent enters and starts speaking dialogue, and the whole program takes a sharp turn into the surreal. Telling you this gives away a lot of the shock and surprise of his entrance, but I felt I had to mention this up front for fear, dear reader, that you might read a few sentences and from that presume that I had written a standard dull family concert! On with the Synopsis: -- jl

Synopsis of the Story

After the overture, we find ourselves in the home of Johann Sebastian Bach and his 22 children. Johann loves writing his music but alas, success has eluded him. As dinner guest Georg Friederich Handel points out, this is because Bach's music is "too old fashioned." Feeling a financial pinch with so many young mouths to feed, Johann decides he need to do something to further his musical career. But what? His children gather round and suggest that their father get a promotional agent. Bach scoffs at this idea, but it's too late. His children have already hired one.

The newly hired agent appears, but this is no ordinary agent. He is right out of modern day Los Angeles. None of the characters ever notice the time schism.

After listening to Bach's music, the agent also points out that Johann's music is, in fact, "too old fashioned," but the agent decides Johann may have "some talent" and signs him to a limited contract, hoping to make a quick buck off his new client.

The scene then changes to a soundstage in Los Angeles (or New York) where the agent plans to record Bach's music and make promotional dance videos at the same time. Much to Bach's horror, the Agent has hired an arranger to "fix up" the music to make it more appealing to a mass audience; and we hear various famous famous Bach pieces played in modern pop idioms, including latin, disco, country, and even rap. The music/dance numbers are interspersed with the Agent making excited presentations of various "tie-in's" and other marketing schemes that will maximize profits by exploiting children.

After hearing all the new arrangements, Johann suggests that he write his own "modern" arrangement of his music, and the agent reluctantly agrees. However, Bach's "modern" arrangement is in "Swing" style -- which, according to the agent, is, again, hopelessly old fashioned.

So the CD is released. All of the Agent's sleazy marketing schemes come to naught, but Bach's own "swing" arrangement becomes a sleeper hit and goes to the top of the charts. Much to the Agent's amazement, Johann becomes . . . a Superstar.

Note: This show is intended to be a grand production, with sets, costumes, and choreography, although it could be done in a simpler "concert" version with a few actors. The musical selections (both the original Bach music and the pops arrangements) are extremely challenging and are not recommended for non-professional ensembles. Note, the arrangements may be rented separately.


J.S. BACH, SUPERSTAR

by Justin Locke

Overture: Sinfonia from Cantata 29

--NARRATOR
Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen, Boy and Girls. Welcome to J. S. Bach, Superstar. This is the story of how Johann Sebastian Bach became so famous.

[Music ONE begins: Sheep May Safely Graze (first section only, string arrrangement)]

Our story begins a long time ago, when Johann Sebastian Bach, or "Johann," as his friends called him, was living in a little town in Germany with his wife and -- would you believe it?-- his twenty children.

(Just think of how many brothers and sisters that is!)

Johann loved to compose music. All day long he would think up melodies in his head, and then he would write them all down.

He composed pieces called cantatas, and fugues, and partitas, and, well, just all sorts of things.

There was only one problem. Even though Johann loved to write music, and he worked very hard at it, no one else seemed to think his music was any good. Sometimes this made him very sad, but Johann loved his music so much he couldn't think of doing anything else. So he kept trying and trying, and composing and composing . . . and failing and failing.

[End Music ONE]

[Music TWO begins : Badinerie from Orch Suite #2]

On this particular evening, the entire Bach household was abuzz with activity. Johann, his wife, and his many children were preparing for the arrival of a distinguished guest, the great George Friedrich Handel. [Narr pauses here, Dance fills time. In concert version, dialogue will be added]

Mr. Handel was also a composer of music, just like Johann. But there was one big difference: Mr. Handel was a very famous composer, while Johann was not famous at all.

[Handel Enters, greeted by Bach's Wife and Children]

[End Music 2]

Mr. Handel applauded and said, "Ah, Bravo, Bravissimo, Johann, that was wonderful. I love contemporary music. What else have you composed recently?"

Delighted to be noticed by such a famous composer, Johann quickly rummaged through the music on his harpsichord, and started to play another one of his compositions.

[Music 3-- Piano/ Harpsichord solo: C# Maj Fugue from Well Tempered Clavier]

As he played, Johann leaned over to Handel and quietly asked him a question.

"Listen, George," said Johann, "I think the pieces I write are very good, but no one else seems to think so. I can't figure it out. You're a famous composer, and I'm not. What's your secret?"

And Handel looked at Johann and said, "It's all very simple, Johann. Let me give it to you straight. Your music is old-fashioned." [suggested: wrong/dissonant note to punctuate preceding]

"What do you mean, old-fashioned?" said Johann.

"Don't be offended, Johann," said Handel. "Personally, I think your music is marvelous. Your melodies are lilting, your harmonies are spectacular, your counterpoint is genius, but . . . "

"But what?" said Johann.

"Well," said Handel, "the fact is, no one is writing cantatas, or fugues, or partitas any more. They're outdated! You need to be more progressive!"

"How do I do that?" said Johann.

"Well," said Handel, "why don't you write a symphony? They're very fashionable right now. Or even better, why not compose an opera? They're the latest thing! They're new and exciting! They have lots of action and costumes and drama! People love them! You see, Johann," said Handel, "there is a simple reason why all the other composers-- like Vivaldi, and Telemann, and me-- are so much more famous than you: because we give the public what it wants.

You should think about this, Johann, because you have a lot of mouths to feed."

[Music Ends]

Just then, the bells in the local church tower began to chime. [Perc or synth plays] "Oh," said Handel, "it's getting late. It's almost time for the royal fireworks, and I don't want to miss them." And so Mr. Handel got up to leave. But as he ran out the door and down the street, he shouted back, "Gute Nacht, Johann, and remember what I told you: DON'T WRITE STUFF THAT'S OLD-FASHIONED!"

Johann smiled and waved goodbye, but in his heart he was very sad. Even if his music was a little old fashioned, he loved his music so much he couldn't bear the thought of changing it. It was at this moment that his wife, Anna Magdalena, presented him with that week's grocery bill.

"I've got to do SOMETHING," said Johann. "But what?"

[Music FOUR: Allegro from Sonata for Flute and Figured Bass. This covers following narration:]

Just then, one of Johann's sons, Carl Phillip Emmanuel Bach, jumped up and said, "Hey, Dad, I have a great idea! Why don't you hire an agent you know, a Manager to promote you and your music?!" But Johann was very hesitant about such an idea.

"Harrumph," said Johann. "Where would I find the time? You know I have to write a cantata for the church services every Sunday. And besides, even if people actually wanted to come and hear my music," he said, "where are you going to find this . . . this . . . this Manager or whatever it is you called him?"

There was a long pause as Johann's children looked at each other very sheepishly. "Well, Dad," said Johann's oldest daughter, Catherina Dorothea Bach, "the fact is, well, uh, we sort of already found one, and he's . . . "

"And HE'S WHAT?" said Johann.

"And he's coming over tonight!" said Johann's youngest son, Johann Christian Bach.

"Well, this time you kids have gone too far," said Johann.

But before he could say any more, there was a knock at the door. [SFX knocking-ominous]

And into the room walked one of the most remarkable men Johann or his children had ever seen.

[Music-- cool jazz to cover entrance, fade as appropriate]

[Enter MANAGER. One of Bach's kids stands frozen in terror.]

--MANAGER
Get away from me kid, ya bother me. [Looks around] Man, I didn't know people lived like this. [to Johann:] Oh, sorry. Allow me to introduce myself. Rudolph la Paix's the name. My card. My friends call me Rudy. I manage talent when I can find it. Hey, maybe you can help me out here. I'm looking for . . . Lessee I got it written down here someplace . . . someone named . . . [pulls out a palm pilot] . . . BATCH."

--BACH
Uh . . . That's Bach.

--MANAGER
Huh?

--BACH
That's Bach. Johann Sebastian Bach.

--MANAGER
Johann Sebastian? (sniggers) We can fix that. So Johann, what do you do? Stand up? Impersonations? Motivational speaking?

--BACH
Uh . . . I play the organ . . .

--MANAGER
The organ? I used to manage a guy who played the organ.

--BACH
Really?

--MANAGER
His monkey died. He was no good as a solo act, so I had to dump him. All right. You play the organ. You do anything else?

--BACH
Uh . . . I also play the harpsichord, but mostly I am a composer.

--MANAGER
A composer? What kind of composer are you?

--BACH
Well I guess you could say I'm a Baroque composer.

--MANAGER
Yeah, well, life is tough all over. I mean, what kind of stuff do you write?

--BACH
Um . . . many kinds of things. I write cantatas, sonatas, fugues, dances . . .

--MANAGER
Dance music. Fabulous. What is it? Disco? Salsa? Merengue?

--BACH
Well actually it's more like courantes, sarabands, allemandes, gigues . . .

--MANAGER
Whoa, Johann, I'm usually pretty hip to the latest street jargon but you're way ahead of me. Look-- let's not bother talking about it. I do this by instinct. I can smell a hit tune a mile away. Just lay it on me, Jack.

--BACH
That's Johann.

--MANAGER
Whatever.

[MUSIC: Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring in standard style]

[MUSIC ENDS]

--MANAGER
That's it? . . .
Well, it's . . . different.
It needs work.

You got anything else? You know, maybe a few steps above a funeral march?

--BACH
Well, how about this, I call it "Prelude in C major from the Well-Tempered Clavier." [Plays 3-5 bars]

--MANAGER
No, that's not it. Got anything else?

[Bach plays opening of another piece, perhaps beginning of Dona Nobis Pacem from B Minor Mass]

Naw, that's no good. Johann, baby, I'm hungry for a BEAT.

--BACH
Well, we have some carrots and potatoes in the root cellar . . .

--MANAGER
Don't change the subject. What else have you got?

--BACH
Hmmm . .. Oh, I know, how about this? It's my first piano concerto. [Music]

--MANAGER
Whatever.

[Bach plays brief excerpt.]

--MANAGER
Wait a minute, wait a minute, cut the music, cut the music. We keep playin' in the same ballpark here, Jack. Look, Johann, I love you, I mean that honestly and sincerely, but this music . . . how can I put this? It's . . . It's . . . It's TOO OLD FASHIONED.

--BACH
That's what everybody tells me.

--MANAGER
Look, Johann, led me shed a little light on your dim little world, okay? You composers, you all have the same problem-- You get too emotionally involved in your work. You get all hung up on "content,"and everything bogs down! Take a good look, Johann! You're in a rut, up to your axle! Johann, baby, I love you, and I respect you and your work, I mean that honestly, I mean that sincerely, but Johann -- It's time to wake up and face the cold hard facts of the modern marketplace! You see this?
[picks up sheet music]
Today it's a nice little fugue. Tomorrow . . .
[wads it up . . . ]
they'll wrap a fish in it!
[ . . . and tosses it away. Bach moves to retrieve wad of music, MANAGER restrains him.]

--MANAGER
[Pointing at all of Bach's manuscripts:]Wait a minute. Johann, did you write ALL of this music?

--BACH
Well, yes, that's what I wrote THIS week . . . And I have something else here I call the art of the fugue . . . it's here somewhere . . .

--MANAGER
Never mind about that . . . Ya know, this slush pile of yours has me thinking . . . QUANTITY is, by itself, a quality . . . . and when you think about the modern music market, digital cable TV has 750 channels, all of them needing music 24 hours a day . . . And all this music you wrote, I mean, a million monkeys, a million harpsichords, there must be something in here we can salvage . . . Call me a wild eyed optimist, Johann, but your music, I mean, ya know, it's . . . rough . . . we'll have to refine it a little, but if we massage it the right way . . . we could create a whole brand-- put heavy focus on the packaging, create our own network of distribution, and sell to every market demographic at varying price points. If we promote it the right way, the sky's the limit. I can see it now-- what a vision! Ancillaries, tie-ins, cross-promotions, the works. You'll be on the talk show circuit-- Larry, Cristina, Montel, Dave, Jay -- OPRAH! You'll have your own exercise video! Your own diet books! You'll be on Hollywood Squares--the center square, too, not off to one side! Johann-- I am about to give you the greatest gift anyone can ever give to another human being. I'm going to make you . . . A CELEBRITY. Just sign here.

--BACH
[Signs] But I don't see any of this.

--MANAGER
You don't ? Well, here . . . let me lay these on you--

[Puts a pair of fashionable dark glasses on Bach. Music: open of Toccata and Fugue in D minor, play then fade as needed for underscore leading to next scene. EXIT ALL]

[ENTER MANAGER, speaking on Cell Phone]

Rocco? Rudy. So we're all set for the session today, I've got a new boy I'm putting in the mix . . . We're gonna do our usual, you know, crank out some generic pop stuff, do a big media blitz, hype it up, make a few bucks on the novelty and move on to the next. His name? Uh . . . his name. . . Gee whiz, I forgot. Manny, Moe, Jack . . . [Pulls out palm pilot.] Here it is. Get this. Johann . . . Sebastian . . . Bach. No, I'm not kidding. I had some great stage names for him but he wouldn't go for it. Yeah-- you said it-- one more sternum-clenching arteest, coming right up. But this one would win a prize. You wouldn't believe it! He's so out of touch-- Like today, he gets in my car, and he says "Where are the horses?" So I says to him, "well, there's 400 of 'em under the hood" -- From the look on his face you'd think he never rode in a Ferrari before. Yeah . . . yeah . . . So anyway, I need you to set me up with the usual treatment we always do, only we might have to be careful with this one. I dunno, it just seems like he's seen "The Fountainhead" one time too many. [Pause] Really? It was a book too? Huh. Well anyway, he's turning into a real headache. Always yammering about artistic this and quality that . . . He really doesn't understand his relatively minor role in the proceeding, but he's about to get an education. Oh here he is-- gotta go--

[Bach wanders out lost, MANAGER takes off Bach's sunglasses, Bach winces at the bright lights.]

Johann, baby, you're late. Time is money. Let's get started. Have a seat, here's your keyboard.

--BACH
Is it well tempered?

--MANAGER
Nah. It's digital.

--BACH
[holds his fingers up fingers in front of his face quizzically]

Isn't every keyboard digital?

--MANAGER
Well, nowadays, yeah, I guess so. Okay, you guys ready in the band? Ready in the booth? Take one. Hit it.

[Bach and Orch play 2-4 bars of original version of "Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring"]

--MANAGER
Whoa, whoa, cut the music, cut the music.

--BACH
What's the matter? I thought it sounded pretty good.

--MANAGER
Yeah, yeah, Johann, it's good, we all think it's good, and I mean that honestly, I mean that sincerely, but Johann . . . It NEEDS something, ya know? Now Johann, I guess I should have told you sooner, but anyway, we had an arranger come in today, and he kind of sort of fixed things up . . .

--BACH
You did what??

--MANAGER
Now Johann, hear me out, hear me out, we didn't do that much to it, your music just needed a little nip here and a tuck there . . . And by the way, your kids were just taking up space so we decided to put them into the promotional video- you know, play up the kid angle. So come on up into the booth, Johann, and listen to your future in the entertainment industry! Hit it!

[Music: Jesu Joy of Saturday Night]

[Music ends. Note, if possible, MANAGER should say condescending things, insincere compliments, etc., to the performers after each piece, especially if "name" acts are appearing.]

--MANAGER
So, Johann, how's that grab ya?

--BACH
Mr. La Paix . . .

--MANAGER
Rudy.

--BACH
Excuse me?

--MANAGER
Rudy. Call me Rudy.

--BACH
Rudy . . . I don't mean to be difficult, but I am concerned about the changes you made to the music.

--MANAGER
What changes?

--BACH
Well, you added several instruments . . . I'm not even sure what they're called.

--MANAGER
Oh, well, there's the drum set, [Musicians demo as cued:] Bass guitar, a rhythm guitar, Electric Piano, and saxophones [etc.].

--BACH
But that's not how I wrote it! You changed my music!

--MANAGER
Johann, "change" is such a harsh word. We didn't "change" your music-- We would never do that. We just took out the boring parts. Believe me, NO ONE will miss them. And then we added a little "zip" to it. That's not a "change."

--BACH
But these instruments aren't in the original piece!

--MANAGER
Johann, Johann, I see your point, and I want to tell you how happy I am that we have a relationship where you can come to me and express your concerns openly and honestly. That touches me Johann, I mean that honestly and sincerely. But Johann, I want you to know, this isn't a problem at all.

--BACH
It isn't??

--MANAGER
No. And I'll tell you why, Johann. Because all those extra instruments were added at absolutely NO COST TO YOU. That's just the kind of guy I am.

--BACH
But . . .

--MANAGER
Johann, Johann, not another word, your gratitude is embarrassing me. Besides, we need to move on here! Time is money. [Optional ad libs to orch and dancers: "Get ready for the next number. (etc.)"] So Johann, last night I was looking at your "chorale" music. Now don't take this personally, Johann. I love you, you know that I mean that honestly and sincerely, but gee whiz, these chorales of yours are the worst cowboy music I've ever heard. And by the way, that's not how you spell "corral." But Johann, you inspired me. Country music is a huge market -- and we asked some gold ol' boys to come in here and see what they could do with one of your slow pieces. Wait 'til you hear this!

[Music: "Corral Prelude" (Bluegrass version of Du Bist bei Mir)]

--BACH
Mr. La Paix . . .

--MANAGER
Rudy. Call me Rudy.

--BACH
Rudy, you have taken an enormous amount of artistic license here.

--MANAGER
Johann, I'm impressed. A lot of musicians don't realize that the music itself never makes any money-- it's all in the licensing! For example, let me show you . . . . TA DAAA!

--BACH
What is that?

--MANAGER
It's your very own . . . snack food. This is the first of many cross-promotional tie-ins. We call them "Cantatos." (Points: "Bet you can't write just one.") They come in three flavors-- Cheese, Barbecue, and Extra Cheese.

--BACH
[Looks at the box quizzically] What exactly are they? I mean, are they corn, rice, wheat?

--MANAGER
There you go again Johann, with that old fashioned thinking. I learned an interesting fact the other day, Johann. Did you know that to grow an ear of corn, or just one kernel of wheat, it takes months? MONTHS, Johann. I mean, who has that kind of time any more? How these people stay in business I'll never know. We didn't want to make ourselves dependent on a supplier with those kind of delays built into the pipeline, so we developed a process that works overnight. We can go from raw materials to finished product in less than an hour.

--BACH
I'm not sure I understand. What does food have to do with my music?

--MANAGER
Uhhh . . . Johann, actually, a small point, but the legal department says we can't call it "food." It's more like a "food product."

--BACH
So what IS it made of?

--MANAGER
Well, I won't bore you with a lot of technical jargon. Suffice to say, it's a simulated protein based on polystyrene. It's 100% pure. Just think! We've completely eliminated the possibility of getting any dirt from a farm into your food. Instead, it's all made in a sterile laboratory. It's a great marketing angle. Plus, we added the four basic kid food groups: Sugar, salt, lard, and preservatives, with a double shot of caffeine. Look at this-- it has a shelf life of 37 years! And the beautiful thing about them, Johann, is no matter how many of them you eat, you're still hungry! From a marketing perspective, it's the perfect food! Uh . . . I mean, food product! Here, try one!

--BACH
Oh, that tastes awful!

--MANAGER
Really? (pulls out voice recorder:) "Memo to the snack division -- add more sugar."

--BACH
Mr. La Paix . .

--MANAGER
Rudy. Call me Rudy.

--BACH
Rudy, I wanted to talk about the music with you . . .

--MANAGER
Oh right, the music. I keep forgetting. So Johann, I was thinking, we should definitely do some LATIN music.

--BACH
Latin music? Oh, that would be wonderful. My B Minor Mass is all in Latin.

--MANAGER
Really? We must have missed that one. Oh well, no matter. We already took another one of your tunes and did it up. I think you're gonna like it a whole lot. [To orchestra:] Whenever you're ready, let's run through it.

[MUSIC: The Hot Tempered Clavier (Cha-Cha)]

[End Music]

--BACH
[Enters alone]
I'm sorry, but I didn't hear any Latin in that piece. Mr. La Paix ?

[MANAGER runs in with a box]

--MANAGER
Hey hey hey! Guess what just arrived . . .

--BACH
Mr la Paix, I need to speak to you about the . . . What are those?

--MANAGER
What do you think, Johann-- your very own set of ACTION FIGURES! Check it out! [Begins to play with them like a very destructive child] Here comes Telemann with his figured bass howitzer! BLAM BLAM BLAM !!!! And George Friedrich Handel attacks you with an oratorio torpedo!! Blam! POW! Bang! Bang! [Makes gun SFX] ack-ack-ack-ack-ack-ack-ack! Then the Evil Dr. Vivaldi destroys everything in sight! KABLOOEY!!! But you strike back with the Baroque laser death ray!!! [Makes explosion sounds, crushing the dolls in a fury. Pauses to catch breath, then:] And Johann . . . they're going to come out just in time for Christmas!

--BACH
Mr. La Paix . . .

--MANAGER
Rudy. Call me Rudy.

--BACH
Rudy, do you really think this sort of toy is good for small children?

--MANAGER
Absolutely. Johann, it's very important to teach kids how to manage and focus their anger. This is an important life skill, and the younger they learn, the easier it is for them when they become mature adults. [ goes back in to battle SFX play mode]

--BACH
Well, did you ever think of giving them something to do besides expressing anger?

--MANAGER
What else is there? [Boom, boom, etc]

--BACH
Well, there's the music.

--MANAGER
Funny you should say that Johann. Speaking of anger in music, allow me to introduce [name]. He's our hip hop soloist.

[Enter Rap soloist(s)]

--BACH
Hip hop? What's that? I've never heard of it.

--MANAGER
That's because you're over 25. [Name] is going to do his version of one of your songs. [Drum track begins under] Wait 'til you hear this!

[Music: Chakaconne/ "Nobody Likes My Music"]

[ Numbers relate to bars in the music:
MM 96 BPM]


Yeh yeh yeh yeh c'mon c'mon come and

5
listen to a story 'bout a man named Johann
that the music world couldn't understand
7
he was just a homeboy down on his luck
when he came to the city to make a buck
9
He said I got stuff here I thought was good
but nuthin's turning out here like I thought it would
11
I think my music must have something missin'
cause no one ever wants to listen
13
all day long from every direction
I get nothin' but total rejection
15
I lie in my bed and I stare up at the ceiling
I'm so confused my head is reeling
17
seems like the entire human race
is slamming its door right in my face
19
nobody likes my music
nobody likes my music

21
I went to Sony, EMI, BMG
I said hey, won't you just listen to me?
23
they said play us something we want to hear
I said how about a well tempered clavier?
25
they sat there silent, like a sphinx
then one of them said "your music stinks!"
27
We don't like your music
We don't like your music

29
Wait just a minute I said I got a
Little thing here I call it a cantata
31
They looked at me with an icy stare
It was clear that THAT idea wasn't gettin' anywhere
33
I can do this any number of ways
I've got a minuet or a polonaise
35
Johann they said you're wasting our time
Forget about the fugues and bust a rhyme
37
Johann, you got to understand what it is
before you can make it in the music biz -
39
You really need to fix your clothes
fix your hair -- fix your nose
41
That's it, Johann, I think we're through.
Don't call us, we'll call you.
43
The thing is Johann, and you really can't blame us
we can't sell your music cuz you're not famous
45
The door's over there -- thanks a bunch
check's in the mail . . . we must have lunch
47
they didn't like my music
nobody likes my music
49
[In this section the rapper should work with the dancers in the gaps:]
I don't understand what's happ'nin to me
It must be some sort of conspiracy
51
nobody likes my music
53
people on the street look at me so strange
they turn their heads and throw spare change
55
nobody likes my music
57
They toss me quarters nickels and dimes
but they never look up from their New York Times
59
nobody likes my music
61
I threw their money it all in a wishing well
hopin' someday my tunes will sell
63
nobody likes my music
65
I could have had a life so sweet
instead I'm out here scufflin' in the street
67
Nobody like my music
69
My girlfriend left me but that's okay
she never really liked me all that much anyway
71
She didn't like my music
Nobody likes my music


73 [ MAJOR KEY]
One of these days I'll learn this biz
figure out the ins and out and what it is
75
I'll get myself to Harvard get an MBA
Make some music that'll pay and pay
77
No more arias no more sonatas
no allemandes, sarabandes or toccatas
79
I'm gonna hock my harpsichord and then I'll make the scene
I'll be a hot celebrity in People Magazine
81
I'll get really famous and I'll win some big awards
by writing inane melodies that only have two chords
83
When that big day comes I'm gonna have the last laugh
I'm gonna charge you twenty bucks to get my autograph
85
[senza misura:] really . . . you just watch . . .
87
big bucks -- limousines -- groupies - everything . . .



89 [minor key]
Everyone I know tells me that I'm crazy
or that I'm stupid or just plain lazy
91
Johann you're just an out-of-work slob
give up the music, get yourself a job
93
So I'm up all night slinging burgers and hash
I bus all the tables and take out the trash
95
I should be writing a magnificat
instead I'm asking "do you want fries with that?
97
hard to believe a man my age
is swinging a mop for the minimum wage
99
My whole life is a big disgrace
gotta find a way to get out of this place
101
forget about my St. Matthew passion
Never again will I be too old fashioned
103
forget about writing a symphony
I'll do something like Nsync or Britt-ney
105
Then I can quit this lousy job
and make a million bucks as a teen heart throb
107
Everything I write is gonna be a smash
'Cuz I won't write fugues, I'll just write trash
109
I'll be the host of my own talk show
I'll live in L.A. and spend lots of dough
111
I'll have an entourage to do my bidding
ah what am I saying - who am I kidding?
113
Nobody likes my music.
Nobody likes my music.

[Music Ends]

--MANAGER
So, whaddya think, Johann?

--BACH
That was really negative and depressing.

--MANAGER
Well it ought to be, at these prices! I like the way it captures the angst of your disadvantaged urban youth.

--BACH
But I wasn't a disadvantaged urban youth. I grew up in a little town . . .

--MANAGER
Johann . . . Work with me, huh?

--BACH
Mr. La Paix . . . Rudy . . . I don't mean to step into your area of expertise, but I admit to being somewhat confused-- all these things you're adding in -- the snack food, . . .

--MANAGER
You mean the "food product."

--BACH
Yes, well, the food "product," the action figures, the angry lyrics--

--MANAGER
And that's just the beginning!

--BACH
Yes, but . . . well, have you ever asked yourself . . . is this ethical? Is this moral? Is this right?

--MANAGER
[He completely fails to comprehend the depth of the question, shrugs:]

It's legal.

--BACH
But . . . but . . . [Johann's body language expresses complete defeated frustration]

--MANAGER
Johann, baby, you're getting yourself twisted up over nothing. Why torture yourself over these little details? The music itself doesn't really matter. It's all about perceived value, Johann. We're not selling music, Johann, we're selling an experience. All that matters is if people buy. The music itself doesn't have to be fabulous, it doesn't even have to be good. It just has to be . . . good enough.

--BACH
Mr. La Paix, . . .

--MANAGER
Rudy. Call me Rudy.

--BACH
Rudy, you have to understand when people listen to my music, I just want them to be HAPPY.

--MANAGER
HUH??? Johann, C'mere to me. [looks around to see no one is watching] Let me explain a basic tenet of modern marketing to you, Johann. Happiness is BAD for business. Look. A happy person doesn't buy a new car. Why? Because he's happy with the one he's got. A happy person doesn't buy a new CD. Why? Because she's happy with the ones she's got! It's all those unhappy people out there, blindly buying anything and everything in a pathetic effort to become happy, that drives the economy! Johann, if people ever actually became happy, the entire monetary system would fall apart in a matter of minutes!

--BACH
I can't believe this is happening.

--MANAGER
Okay Johann, now that I think about it, maybe this isn't the ideal situation. I admit, I am using the enormous power of the media to make everyone in the world feel miserable, ashamed, alienated, inadequate, stressed out, and socially inferior. But believe me, Johann-- It's all for their own good!

--BACH
But we're talking about human beings!

--MANAGER
Johann, Johann, Johann . . . Again with the old fashioned thinking. We're not talking about human beings, Johann. We're talking about consumers. And it's our job to make them consume as much as possible!

--BACH
But Mr. La Paix . . .

--MANAGER
Rudy. Call me Rudy.

--BACH
But Rudy, when people . . . I mean consumers . . . hear my music, I want them to feel a greater connection to their spirit. I want them to be elevated to higher level of consciousness.

--MANAGER
Oh, is that what this is all about? Why didn't you say so in the first place? Not to worry-- Believe me Johann, when people hear this music they'll be elevated! I've got a two year deal with Otis and Beckwith already signed! With escalator clauses included! Now Johann, this has been fun, but enough with the soul searching. Time is money. I want you to hear another one of your tunes that we jazzed up-- A little south of the border salsa for you! I think you're gonna like it a whole lot.

[Music: Toccata and fugue in Guadalajara (Salsa)]

[End Music]

--MANAGER
Well Johann, those are the charts. One of them is going to make the top 40, or my name isn't Rudy la Paix.

--BACH
The top what?

--MANAGER
Oh, all right, top ten. Hey, I love that positive thinking.

--BACH
Mr. La Paix,

--MANAGER
Rudy. Call me Rudy.

--BACH
Rudy, I know you've been working very hard, and I want you to know I appreciate all you've done for me and my music and during that last piece I think I finally got the idea of what you're trying to do, and I . . . I wrote a new arrangement of one of pieces. [Pulls out a rather pathetic pile of orchestra parts] Could we give it a try?

--MANAGER
Johann, baby, I love you, you know that, I mean that honestly, I mean that sincerely, but this is serious stuff, and you should leave this arranging to the trained professionals.

--BACH
Who exactly did all of these other arrangements?

--MANAGER
Oh I dunno. Some guy I found in the yellow pages.

--BACH
But isn't there any room left on the CD? Couldn't we at least try it?

--MANAGER
Well . . . the polka band DID get deported, but I don't think . . .

--BACH
Please?

--MANAGER
All right, all right, we'll give it try, but no promises. [To ORCH] You guys got the parts on the stands? For our friend Johann, we're going to read it through once. And only once. Time is money. Whenever you're ready.

[Music: Sheep May Safely Swing]

[After about 60 bars:]

--MANAGER
Johann, this is old lindy hop swing style! It's old time! It's old hat! It's worn out! It'll never work! It'll never sell ! Johann, how many times do I have to tell you? Your music . . . IT'S TOO . . . OLD . . . FASHIONED! [exits]

--NARR
And so, the Compact Disc was released.

At first, it didn't sell very well at all. No one seemed to like it or even take much notice of it.

--MANAGER
I knew I never should have signed this guy. He obviously has no talent. [Optional:] Looks like I'll have to go back to my telemarketing job. [alt: Looks like I'll have to go back to working for (name of a company recently involved in ethical/financial scandal)].

--NARR
But then, something very strange began to happen. None of the pieces the Manager had put together received any notice at all. But the tune Johann had arranged himself, the last cut on the CD, the 50-years behind the times "swing" music that everyone said was "too old- fashioned"-- started to be played on the radio more and more.

--MANAGER
[Reading Variety or Billboard Magazine]This has to be a misprint-- who would want to listen to this? Some people have no sense of fashion.

--NARR
Gradually, Johann had a small but loyal following of fans. Then there were more and more fans all over the country-- and all over the world! As people heard about the CD from their friends, more and more of them bought a copy. As if by magic, Johann's arrangement slowly made it onto the pop charts. Up, up it climbed-- number 98, number 47, number 9, until lo and behold, it hit number 1 on the charts and stayed there.

--MANAGER
This is incredible! Say-- [takes out calculator] I wonder what my commission is?

--NARR
Much to everyone's surprise, and even though all the critics and experts said it was "old fashioned," Johann's little arrangement took the entertainment industry by storm. It sparked a worldwide revival of swing music and swing dancing. The CD went double platinum. Time Magazine named Johann "Man of the Year." Johann won an Emmy, a Tony, a Grammy, an Oscar, a Pulitzer, and the Nobel Peace Prize. And then he received the ultimate honor--

His picture was on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine.

At last, Johann was famous, just like all his composer friends. But Johann was more than just famous. He was . . .

a Superstar.

[Like a PA in an arena:] Ladies and gentlemen, will you please welcome the man, the king, the genius-- the one, the only, J. S. Bach, Superstar!! [Fanfare, enter BACH, Bows]

[Applause SFX fade]

[Lighting/ Staging implies movement to Backstage]

--NARR
Backstage, the Manager paced about, totally confounded.

[This is spoken by NARRATOR as MANAGER pantomimes, similar to the opening of the show:]

"I just don't understand it, Johann," said the Manager. "We had up to the minute market research. We tested with focus groups representing every major demographic. We had state-of-the-art financial projections. And it all went nowhere. The only piece that worked was incredibly old-fashioned. Who would have thought that those simple, little, old-fashioned tunes you were cranking out would have such universal appeal? It's amazing!"

(--NARRATOR)
"Not so amazing," said Johann's youngest daughter, Regine Suzannah Bach.

[She pantomimes punching MANAGER 3-4 times, and finally stomping on his foot. BACH pulls her away like an indulgent parent not quite in control of a badly behaving child]

"My father's music can never be modern or old-fashioned or anything else. It just IS."

(--NARRATOR)
The agent just shook his head and said, "I guess you're right, Regine. I guess you're right."

(--NARRATOR)
"The end."

BLACKOUT

BOWS MUSIC

END

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