Zooks! An Olympian Musical

July 24th, 2009

Requirements:  ?F, ?M

Setting:  Various locations on Mount Olympus, and occasionally in the world inhabited by mortals.

Plot:  We are privy to the caprices and the excesses of the gods (in all possible sexual combinations) on Mount Olympus of yore.  And then, in the wink of an eye, it’s the 18th Century, the Age of Enlightenment.  The very existence of the gods are in jeopardy because, thanks to Men of Science, Humankind no longer believes in in such “religious nonsense.”

Theme:  Is it better to have a world ruled by gods, however unruly these gods might be, or is it better to have a world with no gods whatsoever?

Notes:  Although I’ve always enjoyed musicals, I’m not sure what actually moved me to attempt to write the book and lyrics for one in the Spring of 1979.  All I remember is that I had an idea for this one, and a young student composer in the School of Music at the University of Kansas had been highly recommended.  His name was Steve Rice, and together we wrote 13 or 14 songs for the show.  He told me that he liked the music of Stephen Sondheim.  I did, too.  So I set out to write lyrics which I thought Sondheim might write, and Steve Rice set them to music he thought Sondheim might compose.  In what might be pure naivete and/or hubris, we thought we could convince the Theatre Department and the School of Music jointly to produce our musical.  With the help of Maribeth Crawford (nee Kirchoff), a faculty member who taught Voice in the School of Music at that time, we gathered a group of very fine singers, went into a recording studio, and recorded all the songs in the show.  Then we arranged for a special presentation of the material to members of the faculty who were in charge of selecting the upcoming season.  My recollection is that the folks in the School of Music were fairly enthusiastic, but that the people in the Theatre Department were non-commital.  Weeks went by and I never heard from them.  When the upcoming season was finally announced, ZOOKS! was not among the shows listed, and that was the end of that.  Steve Rice graduated shortly after that.  I heard that he got married and moved to New York City.  I’ve lost all contact with him.

ZOOKS!, the title of the show, is my own shortened version of GADZOOKS, an archaic oath or interjection which, in turn, stood for GOD’S HOOKS, said to be a  reference to the nails of the Crucifixion.  The exclamation point is, of course, de rigeur for musicals.

History:  Oddly enough, although ZOOKS! was not among the shows listed for the upcoming season, the Theatre Department announced that it was producing an original script by the wife of one of their own faculty members, a woman whom I’ve known for many years and whom I’ve always liked, but whose interest in playwriting came as a total surprise to me.  What she wrote was a harmless children’s play about the gods frolicking on Mount Olympus.  The only one who felt harmed was me.

Availability:  I still have copies of audio tapes of the studio recording of the songs in ZOOKS!, so the lyrics for all the songs can be reconstructed.  However, I cannot seem to find a copy of the script and/or book.  I’m certain I still have one somewhere among the boxes or in the bookshelves in my house, and I will update this entry as soon as I find one.

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