Archive for the ‘Love in a Time of Tuberculosis’ Category

Musicals and me

I grew up with musicals. Soon after my parents migrated to the sun of Southern Rhodesia in 1958, they were brought into the Gilbert and Sullivan culture of first term productions at Plumtree School. First it was assisting the main producers (Barrett and Turner) and then the baton (literally) was handed to Harold and Felix, and they continued to have a major hand in musical productions until their retirement in the mid-1990s. School boys would come to our house to practise their parts. Trebles learning to be Mabel (beautiful Mabel, I would if I could but I am not able), seniors becoming the dastardly Dead-Eye Dick (silent be, it was the cat!), Curly, Henry Higgins – characters and their music night after night. Watching rehearsals was part of the entertainment for young Westwoods. My mother at full stretch controlling a chorus of boys being girls (20 lovesick maidens we-ee.) and farmers and cowboys or Japanese noblemen (if you want to know who we are…….), while dad would demonstrate to Henry Higgins how to threaten and cajole everyone (why can’t a women be more like a man?), and to Jud Fry how to nauseate Laurie. We saw the scenery go up, we saw the make-up go on. We copied the dances in the quad. We peeped through the doors watching the audience’s reaction to the ‘business’ our parents had devised. Dad would often write new words for the patter songs, full of local allusions, Rhodesian and Prunitian.

Mum and Dad had records of musicals such as The Boyfriend, Oliver! and The Sound of Music. Noel Coward songs were to be found on the piano.

When I was 11, my piano-playing skills were good enough for me to be brought in as second pianist for The Yeomen of the Guard. Nepotism or not, I was IN! Now I saw the making of a musical from within. Every tune and page turn is with me still. The C minor of the march that precedes the (thwarted) execution now appears in Keynotes C minor.

The next year I was a high school pupil and became a love sick maiden myself. The music of Patience is some of the best in all G&S. 1968 was flower power time and somehow, even at a  boy’s school in break-away Rhodesia, it was not completely irrelevant. ‘Exactly so.’

1969 saw a break with tradition as Oklahoma! took the boards and my parents had to change style, and many more sets were required. Again it was the girls’ chorus for me with my unbroken voice. I mugged up all the music and arranged a piano medley for myself to play at the End of Term Concert at the end of the year. My voice lasted one more year and as a sister or a cousin or an aunt in HMS Pinafore with top B flats at the end of Act 1, I appeared for the last time in a musical. After that it was back into the pit on the new-fangled electric piano. This was when the art of arranging and adapting began for me, especially when I took up the clarinet at the time of My Fair Lady in 1972. I listened to the record of the film version and notated the clarinet bits for myself to play. That musical went on tour round the country (anti-clockwise in convoy) so we were all word and note perfect. In 1980 I played the oboe in the pit band in Bulawayo for a professional production of the show. It was my intern year yet I was able to play 9 nights on the trot! So that show is deeply embedded in me, too.

After school, musicals and I have continued to be friends. I listened to every show I could on the radio while at university in Cape Town, recording programmes and notating the songs from the 20s to the (then) 1970s so that I could play them on the piano. When writing skits, this long list of songs comes in useful. A chronic paediatric bed shortage in hospitals in Cape Town takes ‘Words!Words!Words!’ from My Fair Lady and becomes ‘Beds, Beds, Beds!’. Registrars carrying lists of patients for whom they cannot find beds excites a version of “‘I’ve got a little list’ from The Mikado. And I have whole musical on diarrhoea! ‘How do you solve the problem Diarrhoea?’

My family have endured many Sunday lunches eaten to the sounds of musicals on Musical Memories presented by Rick Everett on Fine Music Radio. It is a standing joke that any song from Annie Get Your Gun or the sound of Ethel Merman’s voice cause loud groans and pleas for mercy! Yet my appetite for musicals remains strong. As the children have grown up I’ve watched a younger generation playing those parts, and listened to my own children in the pit orchestra.

The combination of clever or poetic words and excellent tunes that suit them, and the use of music to enhance almost any situation are, for me, what make musicals work. How to do it and who has done it well and why they have succeeded make a most interesting study, that does not diminish the delight I experience when it all works.

And now I have my own magnum opus – 3 Acts of ‘Love in a Time of Tuberculosis’. It has had a long gestation, perhaps starting when the songs from Iolanthe and The Pirates of Penzance sung by untrained young voices first stole into my callow consciousness in Plumtree where i was growing up as one of Rhodes’ many children – but that’s the subject of another musical that is still to be written.

Love in a Time of Tuberculosis – synopsis

Characters are in Bold; song titles are in italics in this synopsis of the plot of LTT

(For samples of the songs, go to Synopsis with Songs page

The writer, Thomas Mann, sends his hero, Hans Castorp, for a three week rest 5000 feet up at a tuberculosis sanatorium in the Swiss resort of Davos.  There is apparently not a lot to this young German from a well-to-do Hamburg business family.  This, at least, is the view of some of those he is to meet on the Magic Mountain.  “ ‘Not very’ much that would distinguish him” is the opinion of the Italian humanist, Ludovico Settembrini. “In matters of love not made a start” states the mysterious Slav, Claudia Chauchat.  His soldier cousin Joachim Ziemssen, who feels trapped on the Mountain, calls him “a pampered child”.  “How will he cope ‘Up here’ where there is no hope?”, he asks.  Leo Naphta, the radical Jewish Jesuit, sees in Hans “a mind that can be moulded”.

On Hans’ arrival at the sanatorium in which Joachim is an impatient patient (Up here), the chief physician, Dr Behrens (‘Doctor’s orders‘), immediately diagnoses his ‘civilian’ approach to life.  “You would make a good patient”, he says.  Hans’ assertion that he is completely healthy interests Dr Krokowski, the psychoanalyst.

But is Hans so simple and straightforward?  What lies beneath his soft, unremarkable surface?  Hans’ discovery that someone recently died in the room in which he is to stay for his 3 weeks triggers memories of two very different deaths he witnessed as a child.  “The Face of Death’s intriguing”, he says to the doomed Joachim.  Settembrini, ever the evangelistic rationalist, is convinced that the Magic Mountain and its indolent (‘Eat, drink and be merry’, ‘Partytime Polka’) and diseased (‘O how I love to cough!’) atmosphere are dangerous to young Hans and urges him to leave immediately (‘The Light of Human Reason’).  But Hans has had strange memories and feelings triggered by the sight of Claudia (‘Chechenya).

While walking in the mountains Hans comes into contact with his past again: Claudia, to whom he feels a paradoxical attraction, is seen again in the eyes of Pribislav Hippe, a boy he worshipped at school.

All these new experiences – the tuberculosis Rest Cure routines, the diseased and the dying (‘My friend and I’), the vagaries of Time, the feelings brought on by Claudia – excite his interest.  He prepares to leave as the end of his three weeks approaches but does he want to go?  The onset of a head cold allows him the illicit pleasure of taking his temperature.  What will ‘Mercurius’ reveal?

He has a fever!  ” ‘Young Hans’, get yourself the test”, urge the excited patients.  “’TB or not TB’- now there’s no question.”  That is the opinion of the burlesque trio of medical staff: Dr Behrens (‘The Medical Sleuth’), the Matron, Adriatica von Mylendonk and Dr Krokowski (Don’t be afraid of Freud).  “Who would believe I don’t want to leave…..” admits Hans, who now, as it turns out, has TB and belongs ‘Up here’.

In Act II, with the freedom granted him by Thomas Mann (‘Disease, deformity, disability and Death’), Hans embarks on a journey of discovery: Anatomy, botany, psychology, the to-and-fro ‘Great Debates’ between Settembrini, the ardent humanist, and Naphta, the religious zealot (‘Deo gratias’), and The Facts of Life (The Selfish Gene, A Brief History of Time). Simultaneously his Eros is burning, kindled constantly by the presence of Claudia with whom, as with Pribislav, he has hardly shared a word.

Liberated by the atmosphere of the Mardi Gras Carnival (‘Don your mask’, ‘The Carnival Punch’), Hans spurns Settembrini’s ‘wholesome advice’ and approaches Claudia (‘Sweet as a Peach’) in “a dream that shapes reality” (‘I believe this dream’).  His love, his newly-acquired learning and his tuberculous fever combine in an incontinent torrent of praise to The Beauty of the Body when he hears that Claudia will be leaving the Magic Mountain the following day.

Towards the end of the seven years covered in Act III (‘The Whirligig of Time’), Hans feels that he has ‘Been there, Done that’ but things still do not hang together (‘The Great God Dumps’, ‘Here I am up a mountain’).  All his experiential learning on the Mountain leaves only the tension of opposites.  Perhaps music can bring resolution.  But in his favourite music (Der Lindenbaum and Valentine’s Aria) is found only an invitation to suicide (a resolution of sorts) and a painful reminder of the loss of Joachim to Kaiser and Country.  To escape, Hans heads into the mountains once more.  Caught in a blizzard he has a vision that promises resolution of the opposing tensions (‘Betwixt and Between’): “It’s not Either/Or but Both/And”.

But all is not resolved for Hans.  Joachim’s death from tuberculosis has him exploring the world beyond the grave (‘Séance’)The Great Debates also end in death.  Seven years after Hans’ arrival the First World War brings an end to life at the sanatorium (‘For Kaiser and Country I go’).  We “say farewell” to Hans on the battlefield.  Seven years of effort on The Magic Mountain: “Where did it get you, we enquire?.

Love in a Time of Tuberculosis – synopsis with songs

Characters are in Bold; song titles are in italics in this synopsis of the plot of Love in a Time of Tuberculosis


The writer, Thomas Mann, sends his hero, Hans Castorp, for a three week rest 5000 feet up at a tuberculosis sanatorium in the Swiss resort of Davos.  There is apparently not a lot to this young German from a well-to-do Hamburg business family.  This, at least, is the view of some of those he is to meet on the Magic Mountain.  “ ‘Not very’ much that would distinguish him” is the opinion of the Italian humanist, Ludovico Settembrini.  “In matters of love not made a start” states the mysterious Slav, Claudia Chauchat.  His soldier cousin Joachim Ziemssen, who feels trapped on the Mountain, calls him “a pampered child”.  “How will he cope ‘Up here’ where there is no hope?”, he asks.  Leo Naphta, the radical Jewish Jesuit, sees in Hans “a mind that can be moulded”.

 

On Hans’ arrival at the sanatorium in which Joachim is an impatient patient (Up here),

the chief physician, Dr Behrens (‘Doctor’s orders‘), immediately diagnoses his ‘civilian’ approach to life.  “You would make a good patient”, he says.  Hans’ assertion that he is completely healthy interests Dr Krokowski, the psychoanalyst.

But is Hans so simple and straightforward?  What lies beneath his soft, unremarkable surface?  Hans’ discovery that someone recently died in the room in which he is to stay for his 3 weeks triggers memories of two very different deaths he witnessed as a child.  “The Face of Death’s intriguing”, he says to the doomed Joachim. 

 

 Settembrini, ever the evangelistic rationalist, is convinced that the Magic Mountain and its indolent (‘Eat, drink and be merry’,

 

 ‘Partytime Polka’) and diseased (‘O how I love to cough!’) atmosphere are dangerous to young Hans and urges him to leave immediately (‘The Light of Human Reason’).

 But Hans has had strange memories and feelings triggered by the sight of Claudia (‘Chechenya).

While walking in the mountains Hans comes into contact with his past again: Claudia, to whom he feels a paradoxical attraction, is seen again in the eyes of Pribislav Hippe, a boy he worshipped at school.

All these new experiences – the tuberculosis Rest Cure routines, the diseased and the dying (‘My friend and I’), the vagaries of Time, the feelings brought on by Claudia – excite his interest.  He prepares to leave as the end of his three weeks approaches but does he want to go?  The onset of a head cold allows him the illicit pleasure of taking his temperature.  What will ‘Mercurius’ reveal?

He has a fever!  ” ‘Young Hans’, get yourself the test”, urge the excited patients.  “’TB or not TB’- now there’s no question.”

That is the opinion of the burlesque trio of medical staff: Dr Behrens (‘The Medical Sleuth’),

the Matron, Adriatica von Mylendonk and Dr Krokowski (Don’t be afraid of Freud).

“Who would believe I don’t want to leave…..” admits Hans, who now, as it turns out, has TB and belongs ‘Up here’.

In Act II, with the freedom granted him by Thomas Mann (‘Disease, deformity, disability and Death’),

Hans embarks on a journey of discovery: Anatomy, botany, psychology, the to-and-fro ‘Great Debates

between Settembrini, the ardent humanist, and Naphta, the religious zealot (‘Deo gratias’), and The Facts of Life (The Selfish Gene,

 A Brief History of Time).  Simultaneously his Eros is burning, kindled constantly by the presence of Claudia with whom, as with Pribislav, he has hardly shared a word.

Liberated by the atmosphere of the Mardi Gras Carnival (‘Don your mask’, ‘The Carnival Punch’), Hans spurns Settembrini’s ‘wholesome advice’ and approaches Claudia (‘Sweet as a Peach’) in “a dream that shapes reality” (‘I believe this dream’). 

 

His love, his newly-acquired learning and his tuberculous fever combine in an incontinent torrent of praise to The Beauty of the Body when he hears that Claudia will be leaving the Magic Mountain the following day.

Towards the end of the seven years covered in Act III (‘The Whirligig of Time’), Hans feels that he has ‘Been there, Done that’ but things still do not hang together (‘The Great God Dumps’, ‘Here I am up a mountain’).  All his experiential learning on the Mountain leaves only the tension of opposites.  Perhaps music can bring resolution.  But in his favourite music (Der Lindenbaum and Valentine’s Aria) is found only an invitation to suicide (a resolution of sorts) and a painful reminder of the loss of Joachim to Kaiser and Country.

To escape, Hans heads into the mountains once more.  Caught in a blizzard he has a vision that promises resolution of the opposing tensions (‘Betwixt and Between’): “It’s not Either/Or but Both/And”.

But all is not resolved for Hans.  Joachim’s death from tuberculosis has him exploring the world beyond the grave (‘Séance’)The Great Debates also end in death.  Seven years after Hans’ arrival the First World War brings an end to life at the sanatorium (‘For Kaiser and Country I go’).  We “say farewell” to Hans on the battlefield.  Seven years of effort on The Magic Mountain: “Where did it get you, we enquire?.

 

 A New Musical

Synopsis of the musical

 

 

Cast list

 

Characters in the musical

Outline of scenes

Characters in ‘Love in a Time of Tuberculosis’

Hans Castorp, the leading man in the musical and the novel, is described in the ‘Synopsis’ post.

His cousin Joachim Ziemssen: Discipline and duty define Joachim. He is ‘old-fashioned’. He is a wounded warrior; beauty destined for tragedy in the St Sebastian mould. He engages the audience’s sympathy, singing ‘silver age of operetta’ music in a lyric tenor range. Even when the audience learns that he is anti-intellectual and anti-Semitic (a proto-Nazi?), they regret his failure to escape the effects of his TB. The iron grip of ‘up here’ is stronger than his fealty towards Kaiser and Country. His brief resurrection at the seance adds to his tragedy.

Claudia Chauchat: Claudia is ‘other': she is East (Chechenya) , she is ‘free from all ties that fetter the soul’, she is woman (Sweet as a peach), and she is darkness (Claudia’s Tango). To Hans, she is ‘The Beauty of the Body‘ enhanced by inflammation. He hoards her chest X-ray, his momento of his ‘night of love’ as he did the shavings from Pribislav’s pencil many years before.

Settembrini: ‘A good man at heart’ is Hans’ summary of this enthusiastic purveyor of ‘The Light of Human Reason‘. Our sympathies are with Settembrini even as his humanism is trashed in ‘The Great Debates‘ by Naphta. Hans’ rejection of his ‘wholesome advice’ feels like a son spurning his father. Settembrini is the only character still in the story as war breaks out, but has he learnt anything?

Naphta: A creature of his ‘chequered history': Jewish refugee, an outcast accepted by the Catholic church but thwarted in his ascent of the ecclesiastic ladder, but not entirely by his TB, Settembrini tells us. His adversarial passion (Deo gratias) is fired by an anger that leads to self-destruction. Having seen him as a threat as his religion-based nihilism apparently wins all the arguments, the audience is not sorry to witness the end result of his choler.

Doctor Behrens, Dr Krokowski and Matron von Mylendonck: ‘the infernal trio’, Settembrini calls them. Ostensibly they rule the Magic Mountain. Indeed in one scene they appear as wizards and a witch (‘Walpurgis Night). But we soon learn that they cannot be taken seriously (‘A woman once came here coughing‘), and indeed no-one does, not even dutiful Joachim. But despite their glaring deficiencies and weird ideas (‘Don’t be afraid of Freud‘), Hans ‘uses their services’ in his quest.

Frau Stohr: Coarse (‘Oh how I like to cough‘), gossipy and full of malapropisms, she is surprisingly alert to what is going on ‘up here’. Despite his repugnance, Hans uses her when he wants to know more about Claudia.

Pribislav Hippe: Hero-worshipped from afar by Hans in his school days, Pribislav is linked by his eyes, his drawing pencil and his effect on ‘Young Hans‘ to Claudia.

The Inmates at the Berghof TB sanatorium: It is quite plain that for them ‘life is to be enjoyed’, as Dr Krokowski enjoins them. The Magic Mountain affords them ample scope for hedonistic enjoyment (‘Eat, drink and be merry‘) while they pay lip service to the rules of life ‘up here‘. The contrast of this with the effect of the Mountain on Hans is one of the main themes of Mann’s story. They are id where he is superego, ego and id combined into a Nietschian superman. [Really?! And you can put that on the stage? Yes!!]

Tuberculosis: Not a character as such, TB provides a constant metaphor for the state of the human condition. TB or not TB? That is the question! You can choose to be destroyed by it (the inmates and most of the characters), or look it squarely in the face and rise above it, as Hans does. Or does he? ‘Where did it get you, we enquire?

Scenes in ‘Love in a Time of Tuberculosis’

Love in a Time of Tuberculosis

A musical in 3 acts

Book, lyrics and music by

Tony Westwood

Based on ‘The Magic Mountain’ by Thomas Mann

 


 
PROLOGUE

Fanfare

In which the hero is introduced

Not very (Settembrini, Claudia, Pribislav, Joachim, Naphta)

 

ACT I

Scene 1 (Davos railway station)

Hans is met at the station by Joachim

Up here (Joachim)

 

Scene 2 (Berghof exterior) A few minutes later

First experiences at the sanatorium. He meets Settembrini

Doctor’s orders (Chorus)

 

Entr’acte

A woman once came here coughing (5 soloists)

 

Scene 3 (Hans’ room) Immediately

Hans starts to settle in. His views on death.

The face of death (Hans)

 

Scene 4 (Dining room) Immediately

Dinner time for the patients. Claudia makes an entrance. Settembrini’s warning.

Eat, drink and be merry (Chorus)

Chechenya (Claudia and chorus)

The light of human Reason (Settembrini, chorus and audience)

 

Scene 5 (Berghof exterior)  A week later

Daily life up here. More new experiences for Hans.

 

Entr’acte

My friend and I (Soprano)

 

Scene 6 Epiphany I (Near a waterfall) Later the same day

The Magic Mountain conjures up scenes from his past. The pencil.

Hippe (Hans and Pribislav)

 

Scene 7 (Dining room transformed into lecture hall) Half an hour later

Dr Krokowski’s views on the cause of tuberculosis.

Don’t be afraid of Freud (Krokowski and chorus)

 

Scene 8 (Hans’ room) Ten days later

While preparing to leave, Hans measures his temperature

Mercurius (Hans)

 

Entr’acte

When health was mine (Soprano)

 

Scene 9 (The dining room) A few minutes later

Hans has a fever! Should he visit the doctor?

Young Hans (Soloists and chorus)

O, how I like to cough (Mrs Stohr)

 

Scene 10 (Doctors’ waiting room and surgery) The next day

A brief brush with Claudia. Joachim’s check-up – ‘just take 6 months’. Hans has TB and must remain on the Magic Mountain.

The medical sleuth (Behrens)

TB or not TB (Behrens, Krokowski, Matron, Hans, Joachim)

Up here – reprise (Principals and chorus)

 

ACT 2

PROLOGUE

Why is Thomas Mann fascinated by disease?

Disease, deformity, disability and death

Little Herr Friedemann

Death in Venice

The Black Swan

 

Scene 1 (Berghof exterior) Sunday, three weeks later

Settembrini advises his pupil. Hans’ love and Joachim’s TB are still active.

 

Entr’acte Milady Malady (Male patients)

 

Scene 2 (Settembrini and Naphta’s rooms) A few days later

A visit to Settembrini introduces an adversary.

The Great Debates (1) (Settembrini, Naphta, Hans, Joachim)

Deo gratias (Naphta)

 

Scene 3 Epiphany II (Balconies) A few months later

The fruit of Hans’ quest for answers is displayed. A vision of the beloved.

Party time (Chorus)

The facts of life: The selfish gene (Hans)

The facts of life: A brief history of time (Hans)

Party time (Reprise)

 

Scene 4 (Berghof exterior) A few months later

The arguments continue. Death. Joachim disobeys orders.

The Great Debates (2) (Settembrini, Naphta, Hans)

For Kaiser and country (Joachim)

 

Scene 5 (In exterior of curtain)

Prepare to witness a wild party

Walpurgis night (Settembrini)

 

Scene 6 (Dining room transformed for Carnival) Seven months after Hans’ arrival

The Mardi Gras Carnival. Hans breaks with Settembrini and approaches the beloved in a ‘dream’. But she will be leaving in the morning. He pours out his unique brand of love.

Don your mask! Get set! Go! (Chorus)

(Dances)

The Carnival Punch (Doctors and chorus)

Sweet as a peach (Claudia and chorus)

I believe this dream (Hans)

Claudia’s tango (Claudia)

The beauty of the body (Hans)

END OF ACT 2

 

ACT 3

PROLOGUE

What is Time?

The Whirligig of Time (Naphta and Chorus)

 

Scene 1 (Berghof exterior) Covering a number of years

Tensions rise; unease is in the air. Hans is dissatisfied. Will music ease the pain?

The great god Dumps (Chorus)

The Great Debates (3) (Settembrini, Naphta)

Here I am up a mountain (Soloists and Hans)

Been there, done that (Hans)

Valentine’s aria (recording using Joachim’s voice)

 

Scene 2 (Hans’ room) Sometime later

A call to suicide.

Valentine’s aria (continued)

Der Lindenbaum (recording)

 

Scene 3 Epiphany III (Mountain scene) Later the same day

Hans takes stock. An enlightening vision.

Betwixt and between (Hans)

Snowstorm and the ‘two-in-one’ vision

 

Scene 4 (Joachim’s room) Sometime later

Death of Joachim

Up here / For Kaiser and Country – reprise (Joachim)

 

Scene 5 (Hans’ room) Sometime later

The Séance

Valentine’s Aria – reprise (Voice of Joachim)

 

Scene 6   Sometime later

The Wheelchair Duel

 

Scene 7 (Berghof exterior) Seven year after Hans’ arrival

Life up here comes to an end

For Kaiser and Country – reprise.

 

Epilogue (A Battle field) Sometime during the 1914-18 war

We say farewell

Not very (Principals and Chorus)

Fanfare and Der Lindenbaum

THE END

 

 

Cast list for ‘Love in a Time of Tuberculosis’

Cast (in order of appearance)

Signor Ludovico Settembrini       An Italian Humanist (baritone)

Thomas Mann                           The Author (non-speaking, non-singing)

Hans Castorp                           The Hero (non-descript baritone)

Claudia Chauchat                     A patient from theCaucasus(sultry contralto)

Pribislav Hippe                         A boy from Hans’ past (German-type treble)

Joachim Ziemssen                    Lieutenant of the Prussian army (lyric tenor with a touch of the heldens)

Dr Behrens                               Chief Doctor at the Berghof (bass baritone)

Dr Krokowski                            His assistant (baritone)

Hermine Kleefeld                      A young patient with a pneumothorax (soprano)

Mrs Stohr                                 An elderly patient (messy soprano)

Miss Robinson                          A patient (soprano)

Fraulein Engelhardt                   A patient (soprano)

Hans Castorp as a child            (treble)

Adriatica von Mylendonck          The Matron (Gilbertian contralto)

Herr Naphta                              A Jewish Jesuit (baritone)

 

Non-speaking parts: Porters, Waiters, Nurses

 

Chorus of Berghof inmates.

 

Prologue to Act 2

1 soprano, 2 mezzo sopranos, 1 tenor, 1 baritone, 1 bass

Mime artists/dancers

Act 2 Scene 3 (The Selfish Gene)

Puppeteers

 

 

 

A New Musical

Love in a Time of Tuberculosis

by Tom Read

 

 

Seriously entertaining musical theatre!

 

‘Love in a Time of Tuberculosis’  is a musical based on German author Thomas Mann’s novel  ‘The Magic Mountain’


THAT GREAT, DEEP GERMAN NOVEL FOR THE MUSICAL THEATRE?! WITH SINGING AND DANCING?!

 

IMPOSSIBLE!

 

Well, it has been done – and it is entertaining! Mann entertained hopes that the novel and its welter of ideas might one day be made visual. Now it has been – using all the possibilities that musical theatre allows.

 

Imagine an evening of musical theatre from which, after two- hours of looking at some of contemporary life’s vexing questions, a satisfied audience leaves humming the tunes…..

 

‘Love in a Time of Tuberculosis’ takes an ordinary young man to a tuberculosis sanatorium in the Swiss Alps for a journey of discovery. Drawn into the sanatorium’s lazy tuberculous atmosphere, he finds his way through dreams, new and clashing ideas, love in confusing forms, and death. Or does he? TB, he finds, is not simply TB – there is no question!

 

Gently ironic throughout, its vivid characters, compelling story line and songs such as ‘Eat, drink and be merry’, ‘Don’t be afraid of Freud’ and the beautiful love song ‘I believe this dream’ make ‘Love in a Time of Tuberculosis’ seriously entertaining. “Analgesia couldn’t be easier!”

 

The composer writes:

 

Thomas Mann said that he had consciously adopted a light style in writing The Magic Mountain. (Some readers may feel that his tongue must have been in his cheek!) In writing for the musical theatre, I have adopted that light tone in dialogue, lyric and music while being true to the welter of ideas. Those ideas presented in Mann’s novel in Nobel-prize winning form in 1924 resonate today. Where Mann had TB, we now have AIDS. His hero’s quest takes him right into our post modern and post rational era. The clash between Religion and Western thought continues.

 

My aim has been to produce a work of musical theatre that is serious in its intent and satisfyingly entertaining in its execution.

 

Tom Read

2011

[A note on copyright: The rights to Mann's novel have lapsed in some countries and not in others, meaning that in some countries (mostly in the southern hemisphere), the musical can be performed without permission to do so (and probable royalties to be paid) from the publishers of the novel.]

Synopsis of the musical

Synopsis with excerpts from the songs

Cast list

Characters in the musical

Outline of scenes

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