Demigod of E. 78th St. / O.C.R.
MUSIC: Michael Bitterman BOOK & LYRICS: Dennis Drogseth The Demigod of East 78th Street is a musical inspired by conventions in classical, 19th Century drawing room comedy. However in The Demigod, Victorian mentality is replaced by Upper Eastside mercantilism, and the Demigod is a short, pudgy and prone to allergies. Here he is trying to get New Yorkers - not just to loosen up, but to find the authentic human spark within them. In plot and tone, "The Demigod" is a modern "Mid Summer's Night's Dream," in which enchantment becomes a profound, though comical, factor in rectifying real-world misalignments. The look and feel of the show should combine nostalgia for the 50's, "good-hearted" comedies, with a touch of early 20th Century British sophistication (a mix of "I Love Lucy" and Noel Coward) - even as the story itself unfolds in a contemporary, New York setting. It is a drawing room comedy, with a single, jewel-box-like set. The show opens with an aging Cyril Bright - trying to teach a class in art history about (How to Separate the Real from the Fake.) As he sings, the overwhelming events in his past exhaust him and he falls asleep on the podium. As dream and memory take over, the Demigod appears to a beleaguered and suicidal Thomas (Isn't There a Better Way to Die?). Tasked with reporting on "human progress" every hundred years, the Demigod tries to revive Tom (Where I Come From) with a more natural enthusiasm for life. But Tom, who has squandered an opportunity to build an investment career by playing the horses - faces other problems. His would-be fiancée, Vivian Chesimar, is rich, spoiled (It's All the Same to Me) and secretly in love with the painter, Cyril Bright (now about 20 years younger). In return for help repaying his debts, Tom agrees to let the Demigod assume the role of an Italian fashion designer. But the Demigod preaches a fashion of nudity (The Passion of the Flesh) that perplexes his assembled Upper Eastside hosts. Alex, a female lawyer devoted to lost causes and an old friend of Tom, satirizes his obsession with Vivian (Upper Eastside Lover). Tom's situation becomes precarious once again when Lance Morris, a cynical Harvard Law grad who has drifted towards the Underworld, suddenly appears to threaten Tom on defaulted debts (Kill'em With the Fine Print). But the unlikely Demigod proves to be virtually heroic, levitating two hit men over Park Avenue and dropping them into the East River - much to the astonished admiration of Tom's friends (I Remembered Him Before). Act II begins with Tom accepting his indecisiveness and immaturity (Thomas), while Lance Morris blames his criminality on body chemistry (They Say it's Biochemical), and Alex worries about her too-consuming career (Alex Woman). Under the pretense of trying to get Alex more in touch with her "natural roots," the Demigod takes her into Central Park, which causes Tom to wake up to his real affection for Alex (Out in Central Park). After Vivian finally decides to run off with Cyril, Vivian's mother, Martha, laments a life in which she bartered passion for money (Fat and Wrinkled). Faunus tries to persuade Alex to join him in his pastoral eternity (Where I Come From) but Tom holds Alex back as the Demigod disappears. Alex and Tom are finally able to express their real love of each other (It's Time) - when suddenly, the Demigod's unshakable presence is once again revealed through a sneeze.