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A Talkative Nature: a musical theatre scene

Updated: Jun 27, 2023

So as some of you may know, I have an actual degree in Musical Theatre Writing from Tisch School of the Arts at NYU.


I am proud of my little cohort of 20 graduates, as among our "Cycle 10" group of about 20 people, we have at least as much (more?) success in the musical theatre world as any cycle before or since. [NYU friends, please correct me if I'm wrong.] Among us we have:

  • a Tony for Best Book of a Musical (Rachael Sheinkin, working with William Finn on his The 25th Annual Putnam Country Spelling Bee);

  • several folks with writing or composing credits on Broadway, Off-Broadway and West End musicals (like Nathan Tysen and Chris Miller [Tuck Everlasting, The Burnt Part Boys, others, and including (just Nathan on this one) the multi-award-nominated Amélie]);

  • film lyricist Margie Duffield (Over the Moon);

  • well known Broadway musical director and arranger Ben Cohn;

  • Grammy-nominated and other-award-winning producer Chris Eickmann;

  • multitalented composer-poet Janice Lowe;

  • talented Great White Way drummer Sean McDaniel;

  • and many others from the class still involved in creating their own, sometimes idiosyncratic music or theatre or creative television (not going to list them all here) in NYC, Seoul, Norway, London, Alabama and many points between.

To give you a taste of my own work (from a musical, alas, unfinished) here's a lyric from my adaptation of a play based on the Little Mermaid. I will not name it here because I'd rather it not show up in search results for various reasons.


My collaborator at the time, a terrific composer named Brad Aspel, and I were not able to make much headway on getting the rights to the original work—it's extremely different from Disney's take, but the Mouse's involvement complicated the matter—and when Brad returned to school to study Business, fell into that trunky place that such projects fall.


Here a storm-tossed knight, Hans von Wittenstien zu Wittenstein, appears at the door of a cabin in the woods and is offered warmth and a meal by its inhabitants, one of whom is Auguste. In this song, we learn about Hans's primary love in life, which is to be a social being. I should give credit to the original playwright, some of whose very comedic lines I adapted. Write me if you want the play's title and author so I can give proper credit.

(Note the lyrics SHOULD be in all caps and other things formatted better, but I just can't be bothered.)


From (working title) One Knight in the Garden of Eden


AUGUSTE

We don't get a lot of visitors, as I mentioned, Sir Witten…stein. Didn't I? We're quite a ways out here in the woods, and of course, we are thrilled to prepare any dish for a visitor of your station and stature . . . But here I am starting a conversation, and I’m sure you don’t want to hear all my chatterings.


HANS

My dear fisherman, after all this time alone with my own echo, you have no idea what a sweet relief it is!


A Talkative Nature

Three months crashing through the wood

In search of a quest to be questing,

I don't mind telling you it's good

To be a guest, and resting.


And luckier by far, to dine

With someone who has food and wine,

And time to spend,

And an ear to lend,

To Ritter Hans von Wittenstien zu Wittenstein.


HANS

That’s me.


AUGUSTE

Yes, sir.


HANS

There are times in the pines as I’m slashing at vines

That I wish for war!


AUGUSTE

War?!


HANS

For before battle ends one is bound to make friends—

That’s what war is for!


AUGUSTE

Oh.


HANS

If I feel lonely, never fret

There's someone 'round to tete-a-tete!

But then if your reserves are reserved or your troops

Are too pooped to speak,

Get a pris’ner of war: He’s a thrill to the corps,

‘Cause he’ll talk a streak!

And if you’ve got a tale to tell,

He’ll listen raptly from his cell . . .


As a knight-errant, I’m born with noblesse,

But I adore shooting the breeze nonetheless . . .

I’ve got a talkative nature, I guess!


I’ve been lone as a troll and I’ve not seen a soul

For a month or three,

And I’ve talked to myself till two words with an elf

Would be fine by me!

How I yearn to make a date

To grill the guys who guard the gate . . .


I’m not a man who is subject to stress,

(But) I get unnerved with no one to address . . .

I’ve got a talkative nature, I guess!


AUGUSTE

I thought knights-errant could speak to animals.


HANS

Yes, we understand the animals, but it’s not what you’d think. They . . . speak without speaking . . .


Interlude: Animal Language


The animals commune with us

You might say they’re in tune with us

And in the wild all creatures have their own distinctive parts.


The stag speaks of nobility,

The lowly worm, humility,

Their language is symbolic, and it's written on our hearts.


We errant knights, we understand,

And every time we cross the land

In our ears the voice of all creation . . .


Each beast bestows its point of view ,

It’s very stimulating, true,

But you don’t call that a conversation.


AUGUSTE

But how about the birds?


HANS

I’ve tried, believe me. They just chatter on: “Be true to this, be true to that, Be true! Be true!” Terrible listeners.


AUGUSTE

But I interrupted the story of your quest. Please go on.


A Talkative Nature continues...


HANS

Why I chose to be errant may not be apparent—

It's no spring cruise—

But when I drag a lassie from a dragon that’s gassy

She’ll know the news.

Any princess worth her chalice

will share the scandal from her palace!


I like my job, I am bound to confess

(‘Cause) no one talks more than a lass in distress…

I’ve got a talkative nature, I guess!


[A brief scene ensues in which Hans talks about his betrothed, Bertha. Then...]


You might say that her forte is the sport of the court,

Every rule and code,

And she sent me away for three months and a day,

Saying, “Hit the road,

Go face dangers, keep your head;

Return to me and we'll be wed"


Now I wouldn’t complain if she weren’t so urbane

Or she liked to chat,

Or to sit in the glade eating ogre I slayed,

Just to chew the fat . . .


But Bertha’s perfect, prudent, proud

Tells me I’m uncouth and loud

So I pray, with helm in hand

For the day she'll understand:


[Humbly.]


I’m not a man that it’s good to suppress

How can I help it if I effervesce?

I’ve got a talkative nature, I guess!


Nothing like small talk or good old B.S.

I’m fond of all talk -- but how I digress.

I’ve got a talkative nature, I guess!

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