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SCRIPT

BOOK & LYRICS BY
EDEN PHILLIPS

MUSIC BY
RICHARD LINK

 

 


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REPRESENTATION:
JEAN DIAMOND
www.diamondmanagement.co.uk

Richard's plays

SIX NIGHTS IN NAPLES

 

Synopsis

 

A musical comedy in the style of a comic opera, Six Nights in Naples deals with the culture clashes between British soldiers and Italian opera people and between operatic and musical theatre conventions. Characters fall in and out of love and back again in deliberately improbable ways. There is eventually a mystical explanation for everything that happens.

 

The action takes place on a bare stage representing the stage of the San Carlo opera house Naples in 1943. Scenes in a dressing room and a rehearsal room are denoted by a few simple items of furniture.

 

Salvatore is alone on the stage of the San Carlo. As he plays his violin he sees in his mind’s eye an opera of many years before – Sei Notte a Napoli (Overture and Salvatore’s Dream).  We see and hear what he sees – a scene from the opera, sung by the actors playing Deborah and Wilks, while Fabio, in another life, dances attendance.

 

British soldiers force their way into the auditorium and confront Salvatore. His dream fades. The senior officer, Mander, and his second-in-command, Brown, question Salvatore and learn that German troops have recently left. While Salvatore sings of the history of the theatre (Io Parlo Inglese) Brown admires its beauty and Privates Brightwell and Owen, the radio operator, wonder ‘What the hell are we doing here?’ Private Wilks arrives with a basket of food he has been given by Mariangela, the theatre’s wardrobe mistress and dresser.

 

As the Italians and British start to get to know one another they are interrupted by the arrival of Lucia, the opera’s prima donna (Lucia’s Aria). She is horrified by the ‘invasion’ of the San Carlo. The soldiers consolidate their position (I Could Be At Home), Brown and Wilks becoming enthusiastic about living in a theatre.

 

Owen brings in a cable that says that the victorious American troops will expect entertainment when they arrive shortly. Panic ensues, and the Brits try to enlist the help of the Italians (Six Nights In Naples). Mariangela drops a charm bracelet; Brown retrieves it for her.

 

The following day, in the dressing room where they are now billeted, Brown, Brightwell and Owen discuss their ambitions for peacetime (After The War).

 

Lucia is furious that the other Italians are prepared to help the invading soldiers (How Dare You) but decides to open negotiations with Mander. As they talk, Mander reads, but doesn’t share, a cable saying his wife has left him. Lucia flirts, letting Mander know she can only love a man who can sing. She tells him of her past life and the hardships of the war (Threads), Salvatore and Mariangela joining in.

 

Wilks sees Lucia’s daughter Deborah dancing with Fabio and falls in love with her on the spot. Unfortunately for Wilks, she can only love a man who can dance (Beautiful To Dance).

 

As if from nowhere, an American officer, Major O’Leary, arrives. In the brash tones of a Broadway producer he informs the assembled company that he has been sent to check the progress of the forthcoming show (Do It My Way). He encourages Salvatore to play his violin and Owen to play the piano. During the song an invisible force propels Mander into singing and makes Wilks dance. Lucia and Deborah instantly declare their love for each of the two soldiers.

 

At the start of act two, two more nights have passed. Wilks, walking on crutches, talks with Mariangela, telling her that he has injured himself dancing with Deborah and that she no longer loves him. Mariangela commiserates, saying that she too has endured heartache, having been forced to give away her newborn baby (Threads reprise).

 

O’Leary spots a large leather-bound volume that Mariangela has left on the piano and leafs through it. Brown has taken a platonic shine to Fabio. Mander, torn between his wife and Lucia, is confused about his sentiments (What’s That Feeling). O’Leary reminds everyone that romance has to take a back seat to rehearsals for the show, and instructs the soldiers in theatrical superstitions (Good Luck). With time running out, he tells them to turn an opera into a musical. The Italians suggest Sei Notte a Napoli (It Goes Like This).

 

As another night passes, the couples (Mander and Lucia, Salvatore and Mariangela, Wilks and Deborah, Brown and Fabio) regret their lack of communication (Talk To Me).

 

The following day, Brightwell and Owen tease Wilks about his failed romance with Deborah (I Could Be At Home reprise). O’Leary starts rehearsals. It appears that thanks to him Brightwell has learned overnight how to write a script, and Owen’s piano playing has improved. What’s more, the invisible force descends and suddenly, hey presto, Wilks can dance again.

 

As the company rehearses, Fabio drops a charm, clearly from Mariangela’s bracelet. Fabio reveals himself to be a girl, and Salvatore and Mariangela realize that ‘she’ is their long-lost daughter. The two women explain everything (Serafina). Brown is delighted that the boy he got along with so well can now be a conventional object of his affections.

 

O’Leary has disappeared. Mander tries to take control of the show, which is due to open any moment. He begs Lucia to perform, if only because she loves him. She warns him her love is not unconditional (I Love As I Love). Mander’s voice suddenly deserts him, and he leaves the theatre desolate, hoping perhaps he may fall prey to a German sniper.

 

O’Leary reappears, hovering on a cloud, and the company realizes that he is the spirit of the San Carlo, Carlo Liri, as referenced in the leather-bound volume he holds. (Feel The Magic).

 

The show starts (Welcome To Naples). Mander reappears, holding O’Leary’s tam o’shanter that he has found in the street. It empowers him to sing again, and the show within the show continues and ends with the four couples together (I Love As I Love reprise). From his cloud, O’Leary gestures to Brightwell and Owen to become a fifth.

 


SIX NIGHTS IN NAPLES

 

The San Carlo Opera House, Naples, was founded in 1737 – the oldest opera house in Europe. It is next to the Royal Palace, overlooking the Bay of Naples, and has always been a gathering point for the social elite.  The French writer Stendhal observed in 1817 that the San Carlo ‘dazzles the eye and enraptures the soul’. It was rescued from ruin in 1943 by British troops, who staged over 30 variety shows and operatic performances.

 

That much is true. However, Six Nights In Naples’s story and characters are pure invention and no attempt is made to portray real people or incidents. In fact, quite the reverse: the tone of the musical is as fantastical as the most improbable comic opera.

 

Characters
Salvatore
50-ish, a violinist (who plays).


Fabio/Fabia
17, apparently a mute, actually a girl masquerading as a boy.


Captain Brian Mander
Early 30s, the senior British officer.


Lieutenant Michael Brown
Late 30s, Mander’s deputy.


Private Tom Wilks
About 18, a handsome, naïve cockney dreamer. Also plays a Singer.


Private Donald Brightwell
Early 20s, cheeky and confident, a Scot.


Corporal Fred Owen
Early 20s, willing but stubborn and not very bright, a Yorkshireman. Plays thepiano.


Lucia Tivolini
Mid 40s, a former star of the San Carlo.


Deborah
18, Lucia’s daughter. Also plays a Singer.


Mariangela
40-ish, wardrobe mistress and dresser to Lucia.


Major Carl O’Leary
Mid-30s, an American soldier.

 


ACT ONE  

Overture and ‘Salvatore’s Dream’ – Orchestra, violin, Deborah, The Singer, Fabio (mute)

 

The music starts as we see SALVATORE on the dusty, bare stage of the San Carlo Opera House, Naples. The theatre hasn’t been used since before the start of the war. We can see the back wall and a few tattered curtains hanging from the flys. A battered upright piano and stool sit neglected on either side of the stage. There are some rickety wooden steps from the stage to the auditorium. The proscenium is decorated to look as much as possible like the actual proscenium of the San Carlo. We hear the sound of bombs falling some distance away and, closer but only occasionally, gunfire.

 

SALVATORE is playing his violin as if in a dream. He is slender and ascetic looking, his thinning hair immaculately brilliantined. He plays a solo version of the theme from ‘I Love As I Love’. The orchestra takes up the theme. Behind SALVATORE, as if in his mind, we see FABIO, in a previous life, DEBORAH and the actor playing WILKS as THE SINGER acting out a scene from the San Carlo’s original production of Sei Notte a Napoli. They are dressed in 19th century costumes and move – though not dance – in time to the music. Then, accompanied by SALVATORE, they sing, in Italian…

 

DEBORAH

Si canta presto e lo saprai

SINGER

Noi sappiamo oggi

L’amore e di piu bello

DEBORAH, SINGER

E domani lo stesso qui

SINGER

Sappremo si di piu

DEBORAH

Sappremo si di piu

DEBORAH, SINGER

Molto, si, di piu!

 

DEBORAH, SINGER

Amo e amo

Secondo me, secondo me

SINGER

Sensa dubbio

Come sono

Sono vero

A me stesso

 

DEBORAH, SINGER

La domanda per tutti

E lo stesso per me -

[The dream is interrupted by a loud banging from the back of the auditorium. The orchestra stops. DEBORAH, THE SINGER and FABIO disappear. SALVATORE plays on, oblivious. Soldiers burst in from the back of the stalls. One of them shines a powerful flashlight on SALVATORE. The soldiers are British troops, led by Captain Brian MANDER. With him are Lieutenant Michael BROWN, Private Donald BRIGHTWELL and Corporal Fred OWEN. OWEN carries radio equipment. They advance towards the stage. All but MANDER, who has a pistol, have rifles at the ready]

 

Mander

[Shouts] Stay where you are! [SALVATORE plays on]  Stop!

 

Brightwell

What a bloody racket. Shut up!

 

Mander

Be quiet Brightwell. I’ll deal with this. [From the bottom of the steps leading to the stage, loudly and slowly] Do...you…speak…English?

 

Salvatore

[Coming out of his trance and taking the violin from beneath his chin] Mi dispiace. I no hear you.

 

Owen

Bloody ’ell. We just kicked the doors in. [He dumps his radio down with a bang]

 

Brown

Be careful, Owen.

 

Salvatore

[Holding his hands to his ears] The bombs.

Always the bombs.

 

Mander

[To SALVATORE] So you do speak English?

 

Salvatore

Si.

 

‘Io Parlo Inglese’ - Salvatore, Soldiers

 

SALVATORE

Parlo Inglese, un po

English, a little bit

Only a little bit

Learnt long ago

All I can tell you is welcome to Napoli

Benvenuti and ciao

Here in San Carlo the spirit of opera

Lives in the walls

On the stage, in the air

How you say? Everywhere…

Forever and now

 

[speaks] Are you going to shoot me?

 

Brown

No, of course not. I’m not a savage.

 

SALVATORE

No, you not a savage, I know

Germans break into here

Make noise and interfere

Suddenly go

They have no time for the making of opera

Only the making of war

Marching around like they own-a da place

Heads in the air

With the step of the goose

How you say? It’s vamoose…

It is true, io so

 

[Private WILKS, in 1943 uniform, enters at a rush from the back of the auditorium, his rifle slung across his back. He carries a basket of bread and other food]

 

Wilks

[To MANDER] Sorry sir. [He hands him the basket] Grub.

 

Mander

You idiot. You could have been killed. [He hands the basket to BROWN]

 

Wilks

A lady gave it me.

 

Mander

You can’t just go wandering the streets.

 

Wilks

I didn’t, honest sir. She was hiding in a little Punch and Judy thing at the front.

 

Brown

[To MANDER] Probably the box office, sir.

 

Wilks

She gave me a big smile. [Taking the basket back from BROWN] And this.

 

Brown

Fall in, Wilks.

 

Brightwell

[Taking the basket from WILKS] I’m starving.

 

Owen

Me too.

 

Wilks

[Taking the basket from BRIGHTWELL] I ain’t eaten since we got off the landing craft.

 

Mander

All in good time.

 

Brown

[Taking the basket from WILKS and setting it down, to MANDER] Could I have a word please sir?

 

[MANDER goes over to BROWN. During the following, SALVATORE reacts with puzzlement to the words addressed to him]

 

Owen

[To BRIGHTWELL and WILKS] Well lads, I’ve one thing to say…

 

OWEN

What…the hell are we doing here?

WILKS  

Never been far from home, no never before

BRIGHTWELL

[To SALVATORE] They shoved us off on a beach

Told us we gotta reach

Naples

SALVATORE

 It’s Napoli

OWEN, WILKS, BRIGHTWELL

So we unhappily

Marched on…

On and on and on and on

OWEN

[To SALVATORE] Three days of it

 OWEN, WILKS, BRIGHTWELL

On and on and on

BRIGHTWELL

[To SALVATORE] Three nights of it

 

WILKS, BRIGHTWELL. OWEN

What the hell are we doing here?

OWEN

[To SALVATORE] My feet got wet the minute I waded ashore

Now they’re starting to rot

BRIGHTWELL

      What the hell have we got?

Can’t stand no more of this

OWEN

[To SALVATORE]

Sand in each orifice

BRIGHTWELL, LINKS, OWEN

[To SALVATORE] Sod it!

 

SALVATORE

Che?

 

OWEN, WILKS, BRIGHTWELL

March and march and march

WILKS 

[To SALVATORE] Three days of it

OWEN, WILKS, BRIGHTWELL

March and march and march

BRIGHTWELL

[To SALVATORE] Three nights of it

 

[The focus switches to BROWN and MANDER]

 

MANDER

[To the other SOLDIERS] Take care what you say

We must not give away what we’re doing here

BROWN

He may have the ear of the enemy here

Who can tell?

BROWN, MANDER

Maybe he’ll run to the Hun and expose us

MANDER

And we’ll lose all we’ve won

And before we’ve begun

We will have to withdraw

Or be prisoners of war

 

BROWN

I think he’s okay

But I hear what you say, Captain Mander, sir

We must be discreet with whomever we meet

Hereabouts

MANDER, BROWN

Maybe it’s pie in the sky to feel safe here

BROWN

But the men need a rest

So perhaps it is best

At least for tonight

To dig in and sit tight

 

Mander

Very well.

 

Brown

I say, this really is a beautiful theatre. [He spots WILKS’S basket] Golly! There’s a sort of sausage here. Come along men, we can eat. [WILKS, BRIGHTWELL and OWEN gather round and pick out bread and salami. BROWN to SALVATORE] And how about you…er…?

 

Salvatore

Salvatore. [He gestures to the basket]  Antipasti. Mariangela has friends on the black market. [Gesturing again] Prego.

 

SALVATORE

Nothing of the world outside

San Carlo I can see

Now you’re here

I no fear

It is meant to be

Now you stay here

Find a way here

Keep the world away

From me

 

BRIGHTWELL, WILKS, OWEN

What…the hell are we doing here?

Never been far from home, no never before

Must have something to eat

When you’re dead on yer feet

WILKS

[TO SALVATORE, brandishing his food] Scoff all this stuff

But it isn’t enough

For a sandwich…

 

BRIGHTWELL, WILKS, OWEN

On and on and on and on

We’re slogging it

On and on and on

We’re flogging it

 

Brown

You know, boys, we could make history here.

 

SALVATORE

I will never leave San Carlo

Only when I die

When you go

You will know

All the reasons why

I will stay here

Live each day here

Every day until

I die

 

Wilks

[To BRIGHTWELL]  Till he dies, Scotty?

 

Brightwell

He’s got it cushy all right.

 

Salvatore

Kushi?

 

Owen

Aye. Better to be fiddling about in ’ere than yomping from Salerno with a radio on yer back.

 

Mander

[To OWEN] Do I have to remind you again? There’s a war on.

 

MANDER

[To SALVATORE, talk/sing] Are you here all on your own?

We must find a billet –

Headquarters – until it

Is definitely known

Whether it’s safe to dig in and consolidate –

SALVATORE

Scusi, no understand…

 

Brown

[Talking over music] Bisogna scoprire dove il nemico.

 

Salvatore

Ah, capisco. Non lo so. I don’t know.

 

Mander

[To BROWN] I didn’t know you spoke Italian, Brown.

 

Brown

Only a little. I didn’t want anyone to think I was fraternizing with the enemy.

 

Mander

Fraternize away.

 

Brown

I was asking where the German troops are. He says he doesn’t know.

 

[The musical themes combine, singing simultaneously *]

 

* SALVATORE

I will never leave San Carlo

Only when I die

When you go

You will know

All the reasons why

I will stay here

Live each day here

Every day until

I die

Every day until I die!

 

* BRIGHTWELL, WILKS, OWEN

What…the hell are we doing here?

Never been far from home, no never before

They shoved us off on a beach

Told us we gotta reach

Naples or Napoli so we unhappily

Marched on…

 

On and on and on and on

Three days of it

On and on and on

Three nights of it

 

* MANDER

Take care what you say

We must not give away what we’re doing here

BROWN

Better keep mum

MANDER

Easy for some

What the hell’s this fellow doing?

BROWN, MANDER

Here we stand alone

ALL

Every day until we die

BRIGHTWELL, OWEN, WILKS

[Shout] Three nights of it!

 

[WILKS detaches himself from the group and wanders in and out of the wings, fascinated by all he sees]

 

Brown

[TO SALVATORE] Mi chiamo Michael Brown. [Pointing to MANDER] Ecco Captain Mander. Are you alone here in this glorious building?

 

Salvatore

Certo.

 

Mander

No one else?

 

Salvatore

Nessuno. No one.

 

Brightwell

It’s brutal outside.

 

Owen

I could hear shots.

 

Brown

German snipers probably.

 

Mander

[To SALVATORE] You’re sure there’s no one else in the theatre?

 

Salvatore

Si si. I am sure.

 

Mander

[To the others] All right, I think it’s safe. Brightwell, Owen…?

 

Brightwell, Owen

Sir!

 

Mander

Wilks?…Where’s Wilks?

 

Wilks

[Emerging from the wings] Here sir.

 

Mander

Come on, pay attention. Go…erm…behind the scenes…er…

 

Brown

Backstage.

 

Mander

Thank you. Go backstage and do a recce.

 

Brightwell, Owen, Wilks

Yes sir.

 

Mander

And watch out. This chappie may not be telling the truth.

 

Salvatore

I tell the truth, Inglese. Many years before…I play your Covent Garden. I learn the English. E la mia lingua seconda.

 

Mander

What?

 

Brown

He says it’s his second language sir.

 

Salvatore

Come, please.

 

[He ushers BRIGHTWELL, OWEN and WILKS into the wings. A bomb explodes in the distance]

 

Brown

[To MANDER] Are we going to dig in here?

 

Mander

Why not? Good strong walls and no windows. It’s ideal.

 

Brown

It’s the most beautiful building I’ve ever seen.

 

Mander

So you keep saying. That’s not the point, Brown. We’ve got to keep ourselves out of

trouble and wait for orders from Brigade Headquarters. We need to get the radio set up. Owen! Where the bloody hell’s Owen?

 

[‘Lucia’s Aria’. There is a piercing, long, high note from the back of the auditorium. LUCIA has entered. Dressed in elegant street clothes of the 1930s, she is the very model of a diva only just past her best. Head held high, she stalks down the aisle like a panther and comes up the steps to the stage. Walking respectfully behind her is FABIO]

 

LUCIA

Ah! Aspetti!

[Glissando]

Aspetti!

[Glissando]

Qui, resti qui

Resti qui, insisto

Cara figlia

Aspetti!

Aspetti!

Ma figlia

Perche tu…

 

Mander

Jolly good!

 

Lucia

Wait! I ’aven’t finished!  [Beat] Adesso, in Inglese!

 

[BRIGHTWELL, OWEN and WILKS re-appear from the wings open-mouthed. SALVATORE steps forward and accompanies LUCIA on the violin]

 

LUCIA

[Music] Ah, my daughter

[Music] Ah, beloved

Don’t leave me

Believe me

You must be

Close by my side

Ah, by my side

Never stray

Stay!

 

[She finishes the aria.  FABIO steps forward and shows her off with mock curtain calls. SALVATORE joins in. The SOLDIERS applaud]

 

Mander

Madam, who are you?

 

Lucia

[Horrified] You don’t know? I am Lucia Tivolini.

 

Brown

[To FABIO] And who are you?

 

Lucia

[To BROWN and MANDER, with an imperious beckoning finger] Please, please. Talk to me. [MANDER opens his mouth to speak. Before he can utter…] Fabio told me there are soldiers in the opera house. [MANDER tries again, but LUCIA will not be interrupted] Inglese? [MANDER and BROWN nod] The enemy. I will tell you only I am the prima donna of the San Carlo. You may torture me but I will say nothing more. Capisce?

 

Mander

Dear lady, I am the commanding officer of –

 

Lucia

Please leave. Fabio, I go to my dressing room. Come and tell me when these ‘gentlemen’ have departed. [She sweeps out]

 

Salvatore

Signora Tivolini! Aspetti, un momento! [He follows her out]

 

[OWEN and BRIGHTWELL approach FABIO]

 

Owen

‘Allo lad, are you part of this opera mob?

 

[FABIO backs away]

 

Brightwell

Cat got yer tongue?

 

Wilks

Speak up, mate.

 

Owen

We won’t bite.

 

[FABIO turns on his heels and runs after LUCIA and SALVATORE. During the following dialogue two areas appear upstage: one representing a dressing room, with a make-up table and mirror, before which LUCIA is seated; the other area shows the corner of a rehearsal room with a table]

 

Brown

Bit of a shy boy.

 

Brightwell

Bit of a nancy boy if you ask me.

 

Wilks

Well you’d know.

 

Owen

I think he’s –

 

Mander

That will do. All of you. Owen, get the radio set up. Send a message to HQ. Request orders.

 

Owen

[Reluctantly] Yes sir. [He picks up the radio and exits]

 

Mander

Brightwell, go…er…

 

Brown

…backstage…

 

Mander

…and see if you can put the kettle on, there’s a good chap.

 

[Intro to Music 4: ‘I Could Be At Home’]

 

Brightwell

Nothing like a cup of tea to cheer us up, eh sir?

 

Mander

Precisely. After all we’ve been through.

 

Wilks

We’re safe now. [MANDER and BROWN exchange glances] Aren’t we sir?

 

[WILKS and BRIGHTWELL exit. During MANDER and BROWN’s section of the song that follows, WILKS, BRIGHTWELL and OWEN re-appear in the designated areas: OWEN in the rehearsal room, BRIGHTWELL and WILKS in the dressing room. In between adjusting her make-up, LUCIA stares at them as they unpack their kit]

 

Brown

I must say, I could really make myself at home here.

 

‘I Could Be At Home’ – Mander, Brown, Wilks, Brightwell, Owen

 

MANDER

In the streets outside there’s a war on

It’s not the time to think or talk of home

We have responsibilities

For billeting, so stand at ease

And only concentrate on reaching Rome…

 

Brown

Rome?

 

MANDER

It’s where the Allies have to be

Before we go home

 

BROWN

I could be at home here

Standing on the stage

Makes me realize

Okay, fantasize

My dancing’s all the rage

See me do the soft-shoe

Though I’ll never play King Lear

I’ve seen what stars can do

Dancing in revue

And I can do it too

Right here

 

[Speaks] You know sir, like Jack Buchanan. [He tries a few inept steps]

 

Mander

Have you taken leave of your senses, man? [He watches BROWN dance] And who’s Jack Buchanan?

 

Brown

Oh sir! Didn’t you see This’ll Make You Whistle?

 

BROWN

[Sings] This’ll make you whistle

Doo-doo dee-dee-dee!

Bound to make you whistle

Doo-doo dee-dee-dee!

 

Mander

Pull yourself together.

 

Brown

But don’t you feel at home here sir?

 

MANDER

I could be at home if

Berkshire flew out here

In the Rose & Crown

Slowly swilling down

A pint of English beer

Sitting in the garden

Susan never far away

Gentle as a breeze

Wafting through the trees

Doing what we please

All day

 

Brown

Who’s Susan, sir?

 

Mander

My wife, you idiot.

 

Brown

I didn’t know you were such a romantic.

 

 Mander

I’m not. I’m English. Now come on, I want to check the men are settled in.

 

[As MANDER and BROWN exit, the focus switches to the dressing room - BRIGHTWELL and WILKS - and the rehearsal room where OWEN is setting up the radio]

 

WILKS

I could be at home here

Better here than Bow

Sod the city bells

All the City smells

Glad I had to go

I could be at home here

No need to share a bed

Is that a powder puff?

People say I’m tough

I like this theatre stuff

Instead

 

Lucia

Basta! Get out! You have invaded my home.

 

Brightwell

Och, sorry m’lady.

 

[They stand to attention, but stay in the dressing room. OWEN moves from the rehearsal room to the piano on the main stage]

 

ALL [except LUCIA]

Home…

They say there’s no place to compare it with

Home…

That’s where the heart is so they say

Home…

Depends on who you have to share it with

But I’ll find my home one day

 

OWEN [fiddling with the piano keys]

I could be at home if

I could play and sing

Every lass in Leeds

Knows just what she needs

A Yorkshire pearly king

The women will come flocking

When I’m tickling the keys

Every little miss

Queuing for a kiss

Cos I can play like this  [running his fingers up the keys ineptly]

With ease

 

BRIGHTWELL

I could be at home if

Mother came to stay

Brought my old tin bath

Put it in the hearth

Let me soak all day

Took me to the pictures

[To LUCIA] Were you ever in a flick? [LUCIA stares at him]

Lucia

[Speaks] Flick?

BRIGHTWELL

Sitting in the dark

Watching Lassie bark

Hoots mon, what a lark

WILKS

You’re sick

 

[The radio bleeps. OWEN goes to it and puts on headphones]

 

ALL [except LUCIA and OWEN]

Home…

They say there’s no place to compare it with

Home…

That’s where the heart is so they say

Home…

[OWEN tears off his headphones, leaves the rehearsal room and rushes to the stage]

Depends on who you have to share it with

But I’ll find my home one day

I’ll find my home…

BRIGHTWELL

…one…

ALL [except LUCIA and OWEN]

… day

 

Owen

[To MANDER] Sir, sir! There’s a message from HQ!

 

Mander

They know we’re in Naples?

 

Owen

Yes sir. I told them we’re in a theatre.

 

Brightwell

Hope the Germans aren’t listening in.

 

Brown

They’re too busy getting out of the city. [Disgusted] Nazis. Give it here. [He takes the cable from OWEN]

 

Mander

Give it here. [He snatches it from BROWN, thinks better of it and hands it back to OWEN. To OWEN] Read it.

 

Brown

Read it, Owen.

 

Owen

“Stay where you are. Naples almost secure. Americans due in six days.”

 

Mander

Saturday. [Sigh of relief] Home and dry.

 

Owen

There’s more, sir. [He reads] “They will expect entertainment.”

 

Mander

[Horrified] What?!

 

Owen

[Reading more] “Organise a show. Boost morale.”

 

Brown

[Smiling] I say.

 

Mander

[To OWEN] Why the hell did you tell them we’re in a theatre?  This is all your fault.

 

Owen

Sorry sir.

 

Mander

And now we’re supposed to put on a show.

 

Brown

[Enthused] A show!

 

Mander

[Unenthused] And in six days.

 

Owen

Aye, in six days.

 

Brown

I hear Noel Coward can write a play in three.

 

Mander

[Sarcastically] Well perhaps you could ask him to parachute into Naples this evening and get his pen out.

 

Brown

I believe he’s attached to the Navy.

 

Mander

I bet he is. See sense, man. Wilks! Brightwell! Where are they?

 

Brown

Backstage.

 

[WILKS and BRIGHTWELL hear the command and leave the dressing room. LUCIA tuts and attends once more to her make-up as the focus switches away from the dressing room]

 

Brown

I do see what you mean, sir. With the best will in the world I don’t think those two and Owen are going to be able to put on a show.

 

Mander

[Panicking] Now let’s keep calm. Today is Sunday. We need to be ready by next Saturday. But…

 

Six Nights In Naples - Company

 

MANDER

We’ve only got six nights in Naples

BROWN

Six nights to go

OWEN

Six nights in Naples

MANDER

We’ve got to put on a show

BROWN

[Pointing his toes] Six days to master

The way to point a toe

OWEN

I’ll play along

[To MANDER] If you sing a song

MANDER

[Looking at them aghast] Suppose we just say no?

 

Owen

Orders is orders, sir.

 

Mander

I’m well aware of that, thank you.

 

Owen

You’ve told us often enough.

 

[MANDER gives OWEN a testy look. BRIGHTWELL and WILKS enter the main stage]

 

Brightwell

You called, sir?

 

MANDER, BROWN

We’ve only got six nights in Naples

MANDER

And five British troops

To make entertainment –

OWEN

Five nincompoops

Where are the showgirls?

[To WILKS] Put on a dress                      Wilks: What?!

BROWN

Then maybe Lucia

Would like to appear

And help us out of this mess

 

ALL

Six nights in Naples

Six nights to go

Six nights in Naples

To put on a show

BROWN

Who’s got the talent?

The get-up-and-go?

BRIGHTWELL, WILKS

A wing and a prayer

Might just get us there

OWEN

Suppose we just say no?

 

Mander

As you so rightly say, Owen, orders are orders.

 

BROWN

We must show the world

There’s more to us

Than meets the eye

BRIGHTWELL

No

OWEN

No

WILKS

No

I’d rather

Curl up and die

 

[Music continues. From the stalls FABIO comes in, followed by DEBORAH and MARIANGELA. They run up the stairs on to the stage]

 

Mander

Women! Thank God!

 

Owen

Aye, thank God.

 

Mariangela

[Breathless] Scusi, signore. I believe Signora Tivolini is in the theatre.

 

Mander

Signora who?

 

Deborah

My mother, Lucia Tivolini. Fabio says she is here.

 

Brown

Ah yes. She is in her dressing room. [To MARIANGELA] I don’t believe I’ve had the pleasure.

 

Mariangela

Pleasure?

 

Brown

Please introduce yourself.

 

Mariangela

[Looking puzzled] What is this ‘pleasure’?

 

Mander

Oh, for God’s sake. WHO ARE YOU?!

 

Mariangela

I am Mariangela Simeoni. I am the…how you say…?

 

Deborah

Mariangela is the dresser to my mother. And when my mother comes to the theatre, she comes too. For the costumes, you understand.

 

Wilks

[To DEBORAH, fascinated] Are you an actress?

 

Deborah

In the chorus.

 

Owen

Chorus girl eh?

 

Brightwell

Will you be in our show?

 

Deborah

What show?

 

MANDER, BROWN, BRIGHTWELL, OWEN, WILKS

We’ve only got six nights in Naples

BROWN

Six days in fact

MANDER

Six days to learn how

To sing and dance and act

MANDER, BROWN, BRIGHTWELL, OWEN, WILKS

Please will you help us?

The show must go on

BROWN

We haven’t a clue

‘Bout what we should do -

MARIANGELA, DEBORAH

Suppose we just say ‘non’?

 

BROWN

Six nights in Naples

[To FABIO] Raising our hopes

You’re young and handsome

Just show me the ropes

Teach me some dances

I’d love to tap

We’d make a great team

‘Cos you always seem

To be a reliable chap

 

[BROWN slaps FABIO on the back, nearly knocking him over.

SALVATORE enters]

 

Salvatore

Ah, Mariangela. Signora Tivolini wishes to see you.

 

Mander

Ask her if she will appear in our show.

 

Salvatore

What show?

 

Brown

We’re trying to organize an ‘entertainment’. We need help.

 

SALVATORE, MARIANGELA

[Looking despairingly at one another]

Has the world gone crazy?

What are we meant to do?

SALVATORE

We only know the opera’s ways

MARIANGELA

We’re opera people through and through

SALVATORE

I don’t know what they call ‘show’

MARIANGELA

I couldn’t start to guess

SALVATORE

What are these people telling us?

MARIANGELA

I think they mean they’re in a mess

MANDER

We must show the world

There’s more to us

Than meets the eye

MARIANGELA, DEBORAH, SALVATORE

I don’t know

How to help

But I will surely try

ALL

We will surely try

 

ALL

Six nights in Naples

Six nights to go

Six nights in Naples

To put on a show

In desperation

I turn to YOU!                                               [They point at one another. Pause]

OWEN

A wing and a prayer

BRIGHTWELL

Might just get us there                          

BROWN

A buck and a wing

WILKS

I think is the thing

ALL

We haven’t a clue

‘Bout what we should do                      [Pointing again]

With you and you and you

And you and you and you

And you and you

You

[shout] And YOU!

 

[A ping from the orchestra. MARIANGELA has dropped something. She goes quickly to pick it up, but BROWN gets there first]

 

Brown

[Holding up a charm bracelet] How pretty. Oh dear, there’s a piece missing.

 

Mariangela

Give it to me please. [BROWN is still examining it] It’s meant to be like that. [Holding out her hand] Please?

 

[BROWN hands her the bracelet]

 

Mander

Jolly good.  I’m sure the costumes are in safe hands.

 

[A chord from the orchestra. LUCIA appears on stage. She bears down on SALVATORE, DEBORAH, MARIANGELA and FABIO. FABIO, caught between BROWN and LUCIA, ducks and exits at a rush. SALVATORE follows]

 

[Music: intro to Music 6, ‘How Dare You’, fast, impatient]

 

Lucia

[Thunderous, to MARIANGELA and DEBORAH] How dare you!

 

Owen

[Winking at BRIGHTWELL and WILKS]  Here comes the star of the show. Come on lads, we know our place.

 

[They withdraw to the side of the stage and observe the scene with amusement]

‘How Dare You’ – Lucia, Mariangela, Deborah, Mander, Brown

 

LUCIA

[To MARIANGELA and DEBORAH How dare you leave me all alone

I’ve been unseated from my throne

By rough Inglese

You must be crazy

To welcome wild invaders

They’ll ravish and degrade us

My virtue’s hanging by a thread

You might as well leave me for dead!

 

DEBORAH

How dare you throw another drama

Can’t you see

MARIANGELA

Oh can’t you see

DEBORAH

Your diva days are over, mama

Let it be

MARIANGELA, DEBORAH

Oh let it be

DEBORAH

Forget your virtue, mama

No-one will hurt you, mama

Unless they tell you what is true

MARIANGELA

That your retirement’s overdue

MARIANGELA, DEBORAH

That your career at last is through

 

LUCIA

Oh how dare you

Show me disrespect

DEBORAH

Oh how dare you

What did you expect?

MARIANGELA, DEBORAH

There’s nothing for us

DEBORAH

Stuck in the chorus

MARIANGELA, DEBORAH

You’ve shown us nothing but neglect

 

LUCIA

[To MARIANGELA] It’s true you’re nothing without me

So bow and scrape and bend the knee

How dare you leave a

San Carlo diva

A mess in threads and tatters

Get me a frock that flatters

[To DEBORAH] And as for you, ungrateful swine

This time you’ve really crossed the line

 

MANDER

Dear ladies be a little calmer

If you please

BROWN

Yes, calmer please

MANDER

This really is no time for dramas

Such as these

BROWN

No dramas please

LUCIA, MARIANGELA, DEBORAH

[To MANDER, and BROWN]  Who asked you to butt in here?

LUCIA

Since you have us shut in here

Free speech is all we have that’s free

DEBORAH

And if we choose to disagree

BROWN

Oh please don’t disagree

LUCIA, MARIANGELA, DEBORAH

We keep it in the family

 

LUCIA

[To BROWN and MANDER] Oh how dare you

Come and interfere

DEBORAH

[To LUCIA] Oh how dare you

Try and rule by fear

MARIANGELA, DEBORAH

There’s nothing for us

DEBORAH

Stuck in the chorus

MANDER, BROWN

[They’ve heard DEBORAH’s complaint too often]

I think it’s time to disappear

 

Lucia

[To MANDER and BROWN] Stay where you are!

 

Deborah

[To LUCIA, furious] What do you mean “leave you”? I didn’t even know you were here.

 

Mariangela

[Imitating FABIO’s mime] Fabio said you’d sent for us.

 

Lucia

You know very well I cannot be in the theatre without my dresser and my…[looking contemptuously at DEBORAH]…supporting cast.

 

Deborah

I’m your daughter. Or had you forgotten?

 

Lucia

I forget nothing.

 

Deborah

Except perhaps that you haven’t sung here for years.

 

Lucia

I am not here to sing. I am here to protect the San Carlo from foreign invasion.

 

Mariangela

But what can you do, signora?

 

LUCIA

Oh how dare you

Have so little fight?

I’m a fighter

I know what is right

The war’s not over

Until it’s over

And the Inglese put to flight

 

[Dialogue over music]

 

Mander

There are a quite a lot of us, dear lady.

 

Lucia

I count cinque.

 

Brown

[In MANDER’S ear] Five.

 

Mander

We are merely an advance party.

 

Brown

There are Americans in Naples too.

 

 

Lucia

Pah! [To BRIGHTWELL, WILKS and OWEN] Get out!

 

[They go at a rush]

 

DEBORAH

Mama you’re crazy, can’t you see

There’s nothing left for you and me

MARIANGELA

Please don’t depress her

She needs her dresser

DEBORAH

She needs a mental doctor

The one who first unlocked her

From mad delusions years ago

Or she’ll be floating down the Po

 

Lucia

[Screaming with rage] Traitors!

 

MANDER

Dear ladies please be gentle

And polite

BROWN

Yes, be polite

MANDER

No need to talk of matters mental

BROWN

Or to fight

MANDER

No, please don’t fight

MARIANGELA, DEBORAH 

You don’t know what we’ve been through

The tantrums we have seen through

LUCIA, MARIANGELA, DEBORAH 

Oh, all the stories we could tell

Now we’ve got you as well

BROWN, MANDER

And we’ve got you as well

ALL

This war’s a living hell!

 

[Music break as everyone shouts at everyone else. Having heard the noise, SALVATORE and FABIO enter and observe the scene. Then…]

 

MANDER, BROWN, LUCIA, MARIANGELA, DEBORAH [wagging fingers at each other]

How dare you

Tell me what to do

How dare you

I know more than you

The way you treat me

You’ll never beat me

You’ll never stop me

LUCIA

You’ll never top me!

ALL

How dare you say the things you do!

 

 [The light on the radio starts flashing. The orchestra plays a message in Morse Code. The rehearsal room comes into focus. BRIGHTWELL and OWEN have made makeshift beds out of old curtains and costumes and are fast asleep. There is an unused ‘bed’ where WILKS should be. Music: ‘Six Nights’ melody. BROWN enters]

 

After The War’ – Brown, Brightwell, Owen

 

BROWN

[Slowly] Sleepless in Naples

Five nights to go

Five nights of nightmares

Until we put on a show…

 

Brown

Wakey wakey. Come along… [BRIGHTWELL and OWEN stir]

 

BROWN

Time for parade, lads

Stand by your beds

One thing’s for sure

We’re fighting a war…

 

Owen

[Yawning] I’ve got that Monday morning feeling.

 

[BROWN falters as he notices an empty bed]

 

Brown

Where’s Wilks?

 

Brightwell

Good morning, sir.

 

Owen

[Starting to get up] Dunno sir. He was here last night.

 

Brown

He’d better not have gone AWOL. He’ll be in serious trouble.

 

Brightwell

Och he won’t have left the theatre, sir. He keeps going on about how much he likes it.

 

Owen

It’s only ’cos he’s got his eye on that Italian girl.

 

Brown

Well she is very pretty.

 

Brightwell

Have you got a girlfriend, sir? I mean back home.

 

Brown

Well…

 

Brightwell

Excuse me for asking, sir.

 

Brown

That’all right. No, no one steady. The war’s rather interrupted that sort of thing, hasn’t it?

 

Owen

Aye.

 

Brightwell

When I get home – if I get home – I’m going to…

 

Owen

What?

 

BRIGHTWELL

I’m going to be a farmer

And I’ll find a farmer’s wife

 

Owen

Find your own.

 

Brightwell

Shut up.

 

BRIGHTWELL

A lassie who will marry me

And we’ll live the country life

With sheep and goats and chickens

In the hills of Wester Ross

We’ll bring up bairns as farmers too

They’ll know that I’m the boss

 

That’s my plan, it’s not a dream

That never will come true

I’ll find my farm and a farmer’s wife

That’s what I’m going to do

 

BRIGHTWELL, OWEN, BROWN

Forget the life we’re living

Forget what went before

We’ll change the world to suit ourselves

As soon as we’ve won this war

 

OWEN

I’ll take my chance and buy a pub to run

Just like my dad’s but yet a better one

A host I’ll be to each and everyone

Who calls

Owen’s Bar will be the place to be

Welcome on the mat

Suddenly the girls are making eyes

At the landlord who they realize

Isn’t just the man behind the bar

He drives a great big shiny motorcar

And smokes a great big fat cigar

All day

 

That’s my plan, it’s not a dream at all

That never will come true

Like a Yank I’ll be a millionaire

When I can get myself away from here

 

BRIGHTWELL, OWEN, BROWN

Forget the life we’re living

Forget what went before

We’ll change the world to suit ourselves

As soon as we’ve won this war

 

BROWN

I don’t make plans

That’s not my way

I take what comes to me

Day by day

But I must admit

I have often thought

Not to teach at the school

Where I’ve always taught

Would make a nice change

From the old routine

In fact let me say

That I’m rather keen

To be my own boss

Though I’m not the brightest

Need to be helped by a shorthand typist

 

[The three of them sing sections of their verses in counterpoint, finishing with…]

 

BRIGHTWELL, OWEN, BROWN

[Singing in harmony]

Forget the life we’re living

Forget what went before

We’ll change the world to suit ourselves

As soon as we’ve won this war

We’ll change the world to suit ourselves

As soon as we’ve won this war

 

[BROWN and BRIGHTWELL leave OWEN. He attends to the radio, eventually taking down another message. The focus switches to the main stage, where MANDER is pacing nervously. There is a stool at one side of the stage. Music: ‘Lucia’s Aria’ theme, played slowly and with martial insistence. LUCIA enters]

 

Lucia

Allora. I have decided to talk.

 

Mander

Jolly good.

 

[OWEN enters slowly]

 

Mander

Hurry up, man. What is it?

 

Owen

Another cable sir. [Eyeing LUCIA] Is it all right to…?

 

Mander

Yes yes. Read it.

 

Owen

“Entertainment for troops. Advise re preparations. Stop.”

 

Mander

[Frantic] Preparations. Now, preparations.  We have five days. Are we…um…prepared?

 

[MANDER looks at OWEN, who shrugs. He looks beseechingly at LUCIA. She stares back, cold as ice]

 

Lucia

[To MANDER] So. You have an old fiddle player, a dancing boy and some soldiers. Can you make a…how do you say it…’performance’ out of these people? Without a ‘star’?

 

Owen

Sir? There’s another cable. [He pauses]

 

Mander

Well read it out.

 

Owen

I think you’d better read this one yourself, sir.

 

[He hands the cable to MANDER, who reads it, then crumples it and turns away]

 

Mander

[Stiff upper lip] I see. Thank you, Owen. You may go.

 

Owen

Yes sir. [He starts to go, then turns back] Sir?

 

Mander

What?

 

Owen

You do know we’ve only get five days till this show thing?

 

Mander

[Testily] Yes yes, I’m well aware of that, thank you very much. Now please leave us.

 

Owen

Yes sir. [Exits]

 

Mander

[To LUCIA] You wanted to talk?

 

Lucia

You have persuaded my dresser, my daughter, my musical director to appear in this ‘show’. You seem to have Fabio on your side. And yet…and yet you have not asked me. Why is this? Do you not need a prima donna?

 

Mander

Well, yes but –

 

Lucia

In opera there is always a prima donna.

 

Mander

A prima…er?

 

Lucia

[Forcefully] Donna. I am such a one. [Pause] And the only one in Napoli.

 

Mander

I see.

 

Lucia

In all of Italy.  Do you know what it is like for me – for me – to walk through broken streets to a house with no windows?  When once I had a chauffeur and a balcony overlooking the bay? To walk past beggars where everything that was molto bello has been destroyed by this war?

 

Mander

Don’t you think Mussolini has –

 

Lucia

Enough! I will say only this: to perform again I must have my dressing room redecorated…

 

Mander

Gosh.

 

 

Lucia

…and I must have fiore – bouquets and bouquets – on the first night.

 

Mander

Well, of course I’ll do my best.

 

Lucia

Are you frightened of me?

 

Mander

No of course not.

 

Lucia

I think you are. Maybe we should get to know each other. What is your name?

 

Mander

Mander. Er…Brian.

 

Lucia

And how do you come to be in the British Army, [making a point of it] Brian?

 

Mander

It’s the only thing I know. My father was a soldier. He sent me to a public school –  in England that’s a private school actually – and then to Sandhurst – that’s where officers are trained and…[lamely] here I am.

 

Lucia

I see. Your turn for a question.

 

[There is an awkward pause. MARIANGELA comes in with a large leather-bound volume and a dress. She places the volume on the stool and covers it with the dress]

 

Mariangela

Scusi signora.

 

[LUCIA nods in thanks. MARIANGELA leaves]

 

Mander

[To LUCIA] Er…are you married?

 

Lucia

Yes. But I sent my husband away many years ago.

 

Mander

You sent him away? Why?

 

Lucia

He was no use to me. He provided me with a daughter, yes. But when his singing voice failed, there was nothing left in the marriage.

 

Mander

But surely you didn’t marry him just for his voice?

 

Lucia

Is that so strange? I loved him madly, hopelessly. I loved him for his beautiful tenor singing. Together we were the golden couple of the San Carlo. Lucia and Giuseppe. When his voice failed, so did my love for him. Simple. I didn’t need a man, as many women do. My voice was my independence.

 

Mander

So you sent him away?

 

Lucia

Immediately. You see, I can only love a man who can sing. [MANDER looks at her in amazement] How about you?

 

Mander

What? Oh no, I’m afraid I can’t sing.

 

Lucia

I mean tell me about yourself. Are you married?

 

Mander

[Sombre] Yes. My wife is called Susan.

 

Lucia

And do you love this ‘Susan’?

 

Mander

[Quickly] Yes of course.

 

Lucia

You love her without even thinking about it?

 

Mander

Isn’t that a definition of love? [He is on the brink of tears]

 

Lucia

I wouldn’t know. [She looks at him quizzically]  What’s the matter?

 

Mander

It’s all right. It’s just…well, I’ve had some bad news.

 

Lucia

Are you going to tell me?

 

Mander

I’d rather not.

 

Lucia

[Flirtatiously] Come on…you can tell me. Is Mr Churchill being nasty to you?

 

Mander

No no, it’s nothing like that. The prime minister doesn’t even know who I am.

 

Lucia

Then it must be a problem of the heart. Tell me. [MANDER looks away] You British have the hard upper lip. I have heard this.

 

Mander

Stiff.

 

Lucia

Scusi?

 

Mander

Stiff upper lip. It means we…well, you know…

 

Lucia

I know something.

 

Mander

Yes?

 

Lucia

You are a very attractive man.

 

Mander

[In an agony of embarrassment] Oh please.

 

[LUCIA stares at him with an amused smile as he writhes. Then…]

 

Lucia

Allora. You want a prima donna. A star. You want me to sing for you. [He nods] You want me to sing for the hordes of soldiers who have invaded my country? [She picks up the costume from the chair but doesn’t see the leather-bound book] In this perhaps?

 

Mander

It looks very nice.

 

Lucia

Hah! It is old. It doesn’t fit. It is…how you say… threadbare. It makes me look like an ancient courtesan. [She laughs gently] Maybe it is suitable after all.

 

‘Threads’, Lucia, Mander, Salvatore, Mariangela

 

LUCIA

There are women on the streets who have to sell themselves

It’s hell on earth but nothing new to me

I’ve always been a seller, and I tell you now

I never give myself away for free

No, my friend, don’t take away what made me

You can’t trade me or parade me to your men

You must know experience is bitter

And it’s better if you turn and think again…

 

Mander

Lucia, please.

 

Lucia

You must understand…

 

LUCIA

Threads

All that I’ve had

All of my life

Took them where I found them

Threads

Weaving a life

Thread after thread

Weaving others round them

A costume that will always fit

Is sewn together bit by bit

It hides the heart

It hides the soul

Just threads

 

I found my voice too young, too bright

Too smart, too soon

I didn’t know what lay ahead

When every note was still in tune

 

Hope

Soon disappears

Take it from me

Knowing what I know now

Stars quickly burn out

That’s what I learnt

All too long ago now

I made my armor thread by thread

Then couldn’t cast it off, instead

I died inside

Behind the smile

No hope

 

Mander

No hope? What about your marriage?

 

Lucia

It died with my husband’s voice. [Pause] So, big soldier, why should I save you? Why should I sing for you?

 

MANDER

[Talk/sing] I’m lost

Let me confess

Out of my depth

Slowly going under

Please, don’t make me beg

Return to the stage

Fill it full of wonder

My armor’s weak, the threads I spin

Aren’t tough enough, I’ll never win

Without you here

Without your voice

I’m lost

 

I’ve never had ambitions

Far beyond my reach

If you will meet me halfway there

Then I can learn what you can teach

 

[The ORCHESTRA plays a verse, music swelling. MANDER goes towards LUCIA and reaches out a hand. She extends one of hers, then decides not to touch him. SALVATORE and MARIANGELA come into focus in another area of the stage]

 

MARIANGELA

[To SALVATORE] Remember when our best days

Lay ahead, my dear

SALVATORE

When light and music filled the air

SALVATORE, MARIANGELA

With magic in the atmosphere

 

LUCIA, SALVATORE, MARIANGELA, MANDER

Threads

All that I’ve had

All of my life

Took them where I found them

Threads

Weaving a life

Thread after thread

Weaving others round them

LUCIA

A costume that will always fit

Is sewn together bit by bit

MARIANGELA

It hides the heart

Dispels the fear

SALVATORE                                   

While music keeps

The spirit here

LUCIA, SALVATORE, MARIANGELA, MANDER

A thread emerges every year

Just threads

 

[The lights change, the radio flashes, we hear the Morse Code message from the orchestra. Another night has passed.  SALVATORE starts to play ‘Six Nights in Naples’ slowly on his violin. As he does so, MARIANGELA goes to talk to him. He puts the violin down and the orchestra takes up the melody]

 

Salvatore

So…we are going to help the British soldiers?

 

Mariangela

They seem to be good people. Strange, but good. Besides, what choice do we have?

 

Salvatore

We should follow Signora Tivolini. She will always have the best interests of the San Carlo at heart.

 

Mariangela

As we do. [She goes to the stool and picks up the volume] I have been hiding this since the start of the war. I was going to show it to Lucia.

 

Salvatore

[Taking the volume] Let me see. Ah, the Archive! I had forgotten about it.

 

Mariangela

How could you? A record of every performance ever given at the San Carlo. Every opera, every singer, every conductor, every director.

 

[The focus switches to MANDER and LUCIA]

 

Mander

I really meant what I asked of you yesterday. When I asked you to sing for us.

 

Lucia

I will sing for anyone. [Pause] If the price is right.

 

Mander

Well perhaps you could give me some idea of your… expectations?

 

Lucia

I could. But they have nothing to do with money.

 

Mander

What then?

 

[DEBORAH enters with FABIO. The others freeze]

 

Deborah

Good morning. Oh, have I interrupted something?

 

Mander

No, not at all.  We have only four days before the performance. I was trying to persuade your mother –

 

Lucia

Deborah will do as she is told. I will not. Not without compensation.

 

Deborah

Oh mama!

[WILKS enters. He wears a soldier’s uniform, bright scarlet, clearly from the opera’s costume department. He spots DEBORAH on the other side of the stage. With a ping from the orchestra the lights change. DEBORAH looks back at WILKS]

 

Beautiful To Dance – Wilks, Deborah

 

Lucia

[Eyeing WILKS, to DEBORAH] And I am telling you: NO MORE UNSUITABLE MEN!  [To MANDER] Come with me. [Gesturing to SALVATORE and MARIANGELA] You too.

 

Mander

[To WILKS] Wilks, that is not regulation uniform.

 

Lucia

Come! [Looking back at DEBORAH] I’m warning you.

 

[LUCIA sweeps out in her customary manner, followed by MANDER, SALVATORE and MARIANGELA. FABIO starts to dance to the melody. After a while DEBORAH joins in. WILKS watches, following DEBORAH’s every move. FABIO and DEBORAH continue to dance. Then, as if he is in a trance…]

 

WILKS

Fish out of water

And birds that can’t fly

Feel more at home

In a whirlwind than I

Here on the outside I’m scared looking in

Music and dancing make my head spin

 

And yet I

Can’t shake the feeling

It’s all going to change

No use concealing

I feel very strange

If fish and the birds know how it should be

I only wish they could tell me what’s happening to me

 

[The melody continues to the end of first time through. WILKS watches and then steps forward as FABIO and DEBORAH’s dance ends. The melody starts again]

 

Wilks

[To FABIO, awkwardly] Excuse me.

 

[FABIO bows low to WILKS, then kisses DEBORAH on the cheek and exits with a flourish]

 

Wilks

I’m sorry. I shouldn’t be pushing in.

 

Deborah

Why not? You have the costume.

 

Wilks

What? [Suddenly aware of what he’s wearing] Oh. The nice lady gave it me.

 

Deborah

It’s from a famous San Carlo opera. Sei Notte A Napoli. The soldier who wears it would certainly be…how you say…pushing in.

 

Wilks

The lady…

 

Deborah

Mariangela.

 

Wilks

Mariangela. She said I should put it on. She said I was…er… ‘teatrale’.

 

Deborah

[Pronouncing it properly] Teatrale. Ah. ‘Theatrical’. And are you?

 

Wilks

[Slowly] I don’t know. I don’t really know what it means. [He looks intently at her] I only know that…that when you dance, it’s beautiful.

 

Deborah

My mother loves to sing. I love to dance.

 

DEBORAH

Almost like flying

The freedom of birds

Comes to the dancer

Too simple for words

Dancing comes easy when living is tough

Better than dreaming – one step is enough

 

To take you

Out of a nightmare

And into the day

Into the light where

The demons can’t play

Dance and you’ll share what’s there in your heart

Your every wish will be granted the moment you start…

 

For it’s…

Beautiful to dance

So beautiful to dance

Dance and you’ll see

So follow my lead

The beat sets you free

Come fly through the air

With music as wings

Come dancing with me

 

Deborah

Since you are ‘theatrical’, let me tell you a secret.

 

Wilks

Yes?

 

Deborah

[Like a child giving away a secret, almost a whisper] I could only ever love a man who can dance.

 

Wilks

Does that mean you love…er…

 

Deborah

[Laughing] Fabio? No. I love to dance with him. That’s different. I don’t love every man who can dance. But the man I will love forever will be a beautiful dancer. You see?

 

Wilks

[Disappointed] Yes.

 

Deborah

Will you dance with me?

 

Wilks

I can’t.

 

Deborah

You can try. [DEBORAH dances as WILKS sings]

 

WILKS

You tell me…

Out of the darkness

And into the light

Wish and your wishes

Will come true tonight

You make it sound easy for those who can dance

But if I can’t move a muscle I don’t stand a chance

 

DEBORAH

It’s so

Beautiful to dance

Your wish will come true

Dance and you’ll see

WILKS

I love when you dance

DEBORAH

The dance lets me fly

With music as wings

 

DEBORAH, WILKS

It’s beautiful to dance

 DEBORAH

Come dancing with me

 

[She holds out her hands. WILKS comes to her and holds her hands awkwardly. They start to dance]

 

DEBORAH

Come hold me close

Dance and you’ll see

It’s beautiful to dance

So beautiful to dance

Come dancing with me

 

Wilks

[Turning away, desperately] I can’t!

 

[WILKS runs off, bumping into MANDER as he comes on stage]

 

Mander

Wilks! Wilks, come back here! I’ve told you before. That is not regulation uniform. Wilks! I could have you court martialled!

 

Mander

[To DEBORAH] I have a problem.

 

Deborah

He is a good man. In his heart.

 

Mander

I wouldn’t know. I suppose you must think of me as the enemy. As your mother does.

 

Deborah

I am not like my mother. But you must understand…the war has been very bad for her. [MANDER looks at her enquiringly] No, I don’t think of you as the enemy.

 

[A skirl of bagpipes. A door at the back of the stage opens and, as though impelled by an invisible force, O’LEARY enters. He is dressed in a kilt of the tartan of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and is playing the bagpipes. He wears an extravagant tam o’shanter and carries a kit bag on his back. The others come rushing out on to the main stage. OWEN goes to sit at the piano. O’LEARY throws down his kit bag and without waiting for acknowledgement of his playing speaks in the brash tones of a typical Broadway producer]

 

O’Leary

[Handing his bagpipes to OWEN] Who’s in charge here?

 

Lucia, Mander

[Together] I am. [The two look frostily at one another]

 

Mander

I didn’t know the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders were in Italy.

 

O’Leary

The Argyll and what?! I’m Major Carl O’Leary, American Fifth Army. Brigade HQ say you’re under orders to put on a show. In four days time. I’m here to check progress.

 

Lucia

I like your dress.

 

O’Leary

[Briskly] Thank you, mam.

 

Lucia

It’s like the one I wore in Lucia Di Lammermoor.

 

Mander

[To O’LEARY] Why are you wearing a tartan to which you are patently not entitled?

 

O’Leary

Let’s call it ‘cos-tume’.

 

Brown

Costume?

 

O’Leary

OK, research then. I’ve got an idea for Lerner & Loewe. It’s about a Scottish village that comes alive once every hundred years.

 

Brightwell

Doesn’t sound up to much.

 

O’Leary

Yeah, you’re prob’ly right. [To WILKS] Say, are you in show business?

 

Wilks

I’d like to be.

 

Mander

I hate to interrupt all this theatre talk, but may I remind you there’s a war on?

 

O’Leary

The war can look after itself. Your orders are to put on a show. [Silence all round] Well? [To MANDER] You said you were in charge.

 

Mander

[Gesturing to LUCIA] So did she.

 

O’Leary

Democracy is all fine and dandy  

 

Mander

– It’s what we’re fighting for –

 

 O’Leary

– but it doesn’t work in the army and it doesn’t work in show business.  Somebody’s got to be top banana. So? [Without pausing for an answer] OK, you’ve twisted my arm.

 

Lucia

You are this ‘banana’?

 

O’Leary

Yes ma’am. King of the hill, top of the heap, numero uno.

 

Lucia

I see. What did you say your name was?

 

O’Leary

O’Leary. Carl. Major. But you can call me maestro.

 

Lucia

And I must do what you say?

 

O’Leary

You got it. [Looking around] Say, this place seems kinda cosy. But then again I’m at home in any theatre.

 

Lucia

This is an opera house. And I am its prima donna.

 

Deborah

Its former prima donna.

 

Lucia

[To O’LEARY looking him up and down] And what are your…credentials…to be our maestro?

 

‘Do It My Way’ -  O’Leary, Company

 

O’LEARY

Who plays the piano?

OWEN

I do

O’LEARY

Can you play it this way?

[He goes to the piano, pushes OWEN aside and plays a fantastic piece of ragtime]

Anyone else play an instrument?

 

Salvatore

[Proffering his violin] Signor.

 

O’LEARY

Okay, take it away

[SALVATORE starts to play his theme]

O’LEARY

I said take it away!

[SALVATORE fits in with the ragtime O’LEARY is playing]

 

O’Leary

Good man!

 

O’LEARY

[Leaving OWEN to play the piano]

Singers over here please

Dancers over there…

 

[As O’LEARY sings, DEBORAH drags LUCIA to one side – ‘singers’ and then pulls FABIO to the ‘dancers’ side where they are joined by BROWN. DEBORAH gestures to WILKS to go to ‘dancers’ and he takes BRIGHTWELL with him. MANDER and MARIANGELA remain on the sidelines. ALL gawp in amazement at what follows…]

 

O’LEARY

Don’t hang back guys, strut your stuff for me

Show your feet are neat enough to be

Tapping out that vau-di-o-doh

Terpsichorean style                                                   Brightwell: Terpsi-what?

Singers go for harmony

Make sure you don’t sing off-key

Steps and voices both together now

Run your number through and take a bow

 

[The music continues. Nobody moves]

 

O’Leary

Well?

 

Lucia

I don’t know what you are talking about.

 

O’Leary

I heard you were planning a show. Where is it?

 

Mander

I think we need a little guidance.

 

O’LEARY

There’s only one rule: do as I say

That’s the way to the top

Back on Broadway every star

Follows this strict formula

“Let O’Leary show you what to do

 Wow, kerchink, here comes a rave review!”

 
Yeah, when it comes to showbiz

Believe me, I wrote the book

You’re in the need-to-know biz

Trust me and I can get you offa the hook

 

Do it my way, ballet or tap

Acting tragic or droll

If you’re desperate to succeed

I am all you’ll ever need

Let O’Leary point the way ahead

Wow, kerchink, and boy you’ll knock ‘em dead

 

Lucia

I don’t understand a word you’re saying.

 

O’Leary

Then listen up, lady, listen up. [To everyone] Come on! Come on!

 

Mander

I’m sorry, I can’t dance. [Beat] Don’t ask me.

 

Wilks

I can’t dance either.

 

Deborah

Please try.

 

Mander

And neither can I sing.

 

O’Leary

[To WILKS and MANDER] Stand aside please. Both of you. No room for shirkers in this company.

 

Mander

Accusing a fellow officer of shirking is a very serious 

 

O’Leary

Now – the rest of you. Do something! Anything! [MANDER and WILKS go to either side of the stage. The others still hang back] Okay, get in a line. Quick – a nice straight line.

 

[He pulls them into position across the front of the stage and goes to the centre of the line]

 

O’LEARY

Singers on my left side

Dancers on my right

Give those eyes and teeth a chance to shine

That’s the way to make a chorus line

 

O’Leary

[To BRIGHTWELL, WILKS]  Singer? Dancer?

 

Brightwell

Well, if I had to choose, I’d say…neither.

 

O’Leary

Not good enough! Get with the singers. [To WILKS] How about you?

 

Deborah

Dancer!

 

Wilks

I’m not! Honest, maestro, I’m not.

 

O’Leary

You will be!

 

[Music continues. The COMPANY puts on fixed smiles and pop eyes, but they don’t move]

 

O’LEARY

Do it my way

Do it my way

Do it my, my, my, my

My way

 

O’LEARY

You can do it, you can do it, do as I say

Cos you only have to let yourself go

You can do it, you can do it any old way

And it’s the only way to put on a show

 

You can do it, you can do it, where there’s a will

If you wanna find it you’ll find a way

You can do it, you can do it, all that you need

Is the confidence to do it

Now just take it away…

 

O’Leary

Where’s the guy who can’t dance?

 

Wilks

Here.

 

O’Leary

[Removing his tam o’shanter and opening his arms wide with the cap in one hand] Believe!

 

[There is a shimmer from the orchestra and a blue light picks out WILKS. He dances]

 

WILKS

Look at my feet

My old plates of meat

They’re working a treat

My life is complete!

 

[Another shimmer and blue light – this time on MANDER, He steps forward]

 

Mander

[Apologetic] Excuse me.

 

[Suddenly he emits glorious sounds]

 

MANDER

Tra-la-la-la-lah

Tra-la-la-la-la-la

[Speaks] Good heavens!

Tra-la-la-la-lah

Tra-la-la-la-la-la

 [Speaks] I beg your pardon.

Tra-la-la-la-lah

Tra-la-la-la-la-la

 

Lucia

[To MANDER] You said you cannot sing.

 

Mander

[Apologetic and horrified] I’m so sorry. I don’t know what came over me.

 

[LUCIA, MANDER sing together, she singing ‘Ah ah’ to his ‘Tra-las’]

 

MANDER/LUCIA

Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-lah/Ah ah ah ah ah

LUCIA

Beloved

MANDER/LUCIA

Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-lah/ Ah ah ah ah ah

LUCIA

Don’t leave me

 

Lucia

[To MANDER] Meraviglioso.

 

Mander

Thank you.

 

Deborah

[To WILKS] You said you cannot dance.

 

Wilks

I couldn’t. But now – wow! [He does a perfect bit of tap]

 

Lucia, Deborah

[Together, lustily] Come here big soldier.

 

Lucia

You can sing, so now…

 

Deborah

You can dance, so now…

 

[A big swell of music: ‘You Can Do It’ theme. LUCIA takes MANDER into her arms. DEBORAH does the same to WILKS. The others freeze into a tableau focusing on the couples]

 

Lucia

Deborah, you do not have my permission to love an enemy soldier.

 

Deborah

[Cheekily] I’m only following your example, mama!

 

O’LEARY

You can do it, you can do it, do as I say

Cos you only have to let yourself go

COMPANY

Let yourself go

O’LEARY

You can do it, you can do it any old way

And now we’re going to put on a show

COMPANY

Put on a show?

O’LEARY

You can do it, you can do it, where there’s a will

If you wanna find it you’ll find a way

COMPANY

We’ll find a way

O’LEARY

You can do it, you can do it, all that you need

Is the confidence to do it

COMPANY

The confidence to do it

O’LEARY

Now just take it away…

COMPANY

Take it away

We’ll take it and take it

And take it away

 

[Music slows to high kicking style]

 

O’LEARY

There’s only…

COMPANY

Only one rule: do as he says

That’s the way to the top

Back on Broadway every star

Follows this strict formula,

“Let O’Leary show you what to do

O’LEARY

Wow, kerchink, here comes a rave review!”

 

[END OF ACT ONE]

 

 

 

 

ACT TWO

 

[Two nights have passed. The stage is bare and empty except for the piano. On top of the piano is the leather-bound volume, the Archive. The radio flashes, the orchestra plays the Morse Code message. Then, Music: ‘Threads’ theme. MARIANGELA enters pushing a wardrobe rail, on which are old-fashioned male and female opera costumes, including the red tunic WILKS wore in act one. The dressing room area appears upstage. BRIGHTWELL and OWEN are getting dressed. WILKS enters the main stage, walking with the aid of crutches. The focus switches from main stage to dressing room and back again]

 

Wilks

[Disconsolate] Good morning.

 

Mariangela

What’s happened to you?

 

Wilks

I fell didn’t I? Day before yesterday. Dancing with Deborah.

 

Mariangela

[Laughs] You’ll soon be better.

 

Wilks

You think so? She won’t look at me now I can’t dance.

 

Owen

[To BRIGHTWELL] Where’s Wilks gone?

 

Brightwell

Looking for his Italian lassie I shouldn’t wonder.

 

Owen

Doesn’t he know we only have two days before this show thing?

 

Wilks

My head’s all over the place. I don’t know what I’m doing here.

 

Mariangela

The American seems to know.

 

Wilks

I thought I was coming to Naples to fight a war. But now…[He touches the red tunic on the rail]

 

Owen

Good luck to the Yank. Captain Mander needs a bit of luck too.

 

Brightwell

Putting a show on?

 

Owen

No. His wife’s left him.

 

Brightwell

How do you know?

 

Owen

I get the cables don’t I?

 

[OWEN and BRIGHTWELL continue dressing as the dressing room area fades]

 

Mariangela

You really do love her, don’t you?

 

Wilks

How do you know?

 

Mariangela

I too have been in love. [Gesturing to the crutches] Here, put those things down. [WILKS throws the crutches to the floor in frustration. She takes the tunic from the rail and offers it to him] Go on. [With her help WILKS starts to put on the tunic] Now you are an operatic hero.  A great warlord. Anything you want to be. [She buttons the tunic for him. He stands there helpless]

 

Threads’ reprise, Mariangela

 

MARIANGELA

Boy

Look at you now

Blood red and bold

History’s greatest lover

Threads

Put them to work

Make them your own

Then you will discover

You can be what others see

So none can doubt your bravery

A costume is a tapestry

Of threads

 

Wilks

I don’t understand.

 

Mariangela

I mean you can be whoever you want. For me, it’s different.

 

MARIANGELA

I hid myself behind the scenes

Too long ago

So I could only be myself

A person no one wants to know

 

Wilks

That’s not true. I want to know you.

 

Mariangela

You are a sweet boy.  But I’m old enough to be your mother.

 

Wilks

I didn’t mean –

 

Mariangela

[Putting her fingers to his lips] Sssh.

 

MARIANGELA

Once

I had a choice

Which road to take?

Scared to death of choosing

What could have been mine

[She plays with her charm bracelet]

I gave away

When life became confusing

I only did what I was told

How could I know what would unfold?

And ever since

A lifetime

Of regret

 

Wilks

What did you give away?

 

Mariangela

My baby.

 

Wilks

[Horrified] What?!

 

[O’LEARY, now wearing an American army uniform, enters carrying a bugle. He plays a rousing reveille]

 

O’Leary

OK everybody. On stage! Places please! [He spots MARIANGELA and WILKS. To MARIANGELA] It’s a little early for a wardrobe call, but good thinking, signora. [To WILKS] And who have you come as – Nelson Eddy? [He spots the crutches and picks them up] Nice touch. Play lame  – gets you sympathy.

 

Wilks

I’m not playing. I can’t walk.

 

O’Leary

[Handing him the crutches] That’s it. Then you make a miracle recovery in the last act.

 

Wilks

You don’t understand.

 

 O’Leary

Trust me.  [He spots the Archive on the piano, picks it up and starts to leaf through it] Excuse me a moment.

 

[DEBORAH enters. She turns a pirouette and rushes to WILKS’s side. Then, remembering his injury…]

 

Deborah

Ah, Tom. I thought it was a terrible dream.

 

Wilks

[Pleading] Please.

 

O’Leary

[Snapping the Archive shut and putting it inside the piano] A-ha! Jeanette McDonald! Did no one tell you Nelson Eddy doesn’t dance?

 

Deborah

That is exactly the problem. Now I cannot love.

 

[WILKS turns away and limps towards the wings. LUCIA enters, almost brushing him aside, pulling MANDER by the arm]

 

O’Leary

Wardrobe calls? Backstage romances? Boy, you don’t waste time here.

 

Lucia

Signor Americano, I never understand a word you say.

 

O’Leary

On Broadway we wait till rehearsals – at least until rehearsals – before this sort of thing.

 

Mander

What sort of thing?

 

O’Leary

Making whoopee.

 

Mander

I can assure you –

 

Lucia

I am in love.

 

Mander

What?

 

Lucia

With your voice. [She takes MANDER in her arms and kisses him passionately. He pulls away and then thinks better of it. He returns to LUCIA and responds with equal passion. The others ooh and aah in amazement]

 

O’Leary

Come on everybody. Let’s leave the lovebirds to love.  [He ushers all but LUCIA and MANDER upstage] We have work to do.

 

Lucia

I am no lovebird. I am a worker. Of sorts. I come with you. [She lets MANDER free of her clutches with a push. He is catapulted downstage. LUCIA goes to join the others. They go into a huddle, O’LEARY clearly in charge. As a sign of his authority, he dons his tam o’shanter. The lights fade. MANDER is left alone with his thoughts]

 

‘What’s That Feeling’ – Mander

 

MANDER

What’s that feeling?

What am I revealing?

Am I a better man or am I worse?

Something deep inside me

Moved and mystified me

Is it a gift or nature’s curse?

 

It’s not like me to

To show my deeper feelings

Must admit my nerves are all but shot

I was trained

To always be restrained

I can’t be the man I’m really not

 

Trying so hard to be discreet

Trembling knees and aching feet

Feverish brain and burning brow

Panic attacks are starting now

What can I do – my head’s

Exploding!

 

Am I glad enough

Or sad or mad enough

To take confusion in my stride?

Staring through the mists –

Hey, psychiatrists!

Tell me what does it mean

Tell me what does it mean?

Tell me what

This feeling means…

 

Here comes a voice

My voice

Not just this noise

Making demands

Rough commands

Merely being in charge

 

Does a song

Come with a voice

Out of the blue

So I don’t have a choice?

What’s in a song?

More than just words

More than just sounds

Sing a song

With something to say

Every day

Of my life from now on

 

If this voice

Comes from inside

Is it for showing

Or something to hide?

 

Mander

No more hiding.

 

MANDER

Tra-la-la-la-lah

Tra-la-la-la-la-lah

 

Here comes a singer

And he’s got his own voice

Here comes a singer

Now it’s time to rejoice

Singers sing love songs

So I’ll find the room

To sing a new love song

But sing it to whom?

 

There must be a lover

And she’ll listen to me

A singer and lover

But where can she be?

Goodbye to the old love

Hello to the new

Now I can sing songs

[To LUCIA] I’ll sing them to you

To you!

 

[He goes over to the group around O’LEARY]

 

 [MANDER and LUCIA go in to a clinch. SALVATORE enters in a rush]

 

Salvatore

Mariangela? [He sees what is going on] Ah. Scusi.

 

O’Leary

Good morning, fiddle player.

 

Salvatore

Buongiorno.

 

O’Leary

Your timing is perfect.

 

Salvatore

Che?

 

O’Leary

[Sing song] It’s re-hearsal time! Now where’s the rest of the company? [Another blast on the bugle] We have the principals, we need a chorus.

 

[BRIGHTWELL, OWEN and WILKS detach themselves from the group upstage]

 

O’Leary

[Dismayed at the sight of them] Oh my God.

 

Brightwell

What’s that racket?

 

O’Leary

That, my boy, is the authentic All-American bugle call. [Another blast] And you are about to become the boogie-woogie bugle boy.

 

Brightwell

Over my dead body.

 

O’Leary

It may come to that. Try it.

 

[He hands the bugle to BRIGHTWELL, who tries and fails to get any sound out it]

 

O’Leary

Never mind. You can only improve.  [To OWEN] Any better on the ivories?

 

Owen

Ivories?

 

O’Leary

Piano for Chrissake.

 

Owen

What, since last night?

 

[BROWN and FABIO enter]

 

O’Leary

And where the hell have you two been?

 

Brown

This young man was showing me the ropes.

 

O’Leary

Sounds like fun.

 

Brown

I mean for the scenery.

 

O’Leary

No more romances till we’ve got the show on the road.

 

Brown

I hope you’re not insinuating –

 

O’Leary

It’s OK, I’m broad-minded. But we have work to do. So what’s our show to be? [Silence]  Ideas please.  [Still nothing] When deadlines are short I often go for a revival.

 

Lucia

What does that mean?

 

O’Leary

A show I’ve done before. What was your biggest hit?

 

Lucia

‘Hit’?

 

Deborah

Mama…Sei Notte A Napoli. [To O’LEARY] Six Nights In Naples.

 

O’Leary

Sounds familiar. Tell me more.

‘It Goes Like This’ – Deborah, Mariangela,

Salvatore, Lucia, Soldiers

 

DEBORAH

It goes like this

LUCIA

No, it goes like this

MARIANGELA

It goes like this

DEBORAH

No, it goes like this

SALVATORE

[Starting to play his violin]

It goes like this…

 

MARIANGELA

here are heroes bold

DEBORAH

There are heroines

MARIANGELA, DEBORAH

And a war going on

 SALVATORE

There are violins

DEBORAH

And a britches part

MARIANGELA

And forgiven sins

DEBORAH, MARIANGELA, SALVATORE

It’s an opera

It’s an opera

 

Owen

What’s a britches part?

 

DEBORAH, MARIANGELA, SALVATORE

And the soldiers come

And invade at will

LUCIA

And the heroines

Must resist until

There’s a sacred task

That they must fulfill

SOLDIERS

It’s ridiculous

It’s ridiculous

 

[FABIO starts to dance]

 

DEBORAH, MARIANGELA, LUCIA, SALVATORE

Boys love girls and girls love boys

A god descends, a god who toys

With everyone else ’cos he enjoys

The mischief

Yes, the mischief

 

DEBORAH, MARIANGELA, LUCIA, SALVATORE

An opera

An opera

The sound is more important than the word

An opera

An opera

It is essential that the plot is quite absurd

 

DEBORAH

It goes like this

LUCIA

No, it goes like this

MARIANGELA

It goes like this

DEBORAH

No, it goes like this

SALVATORE

It goes like this…

MARIANGELA

There’s a pantaloon

LUCIA

That’s an older man

And his loyal friend

But they never can

DEBORAH

Make the others see

ALL

That they have a plan

That’s fantastical

SOLDIERS

That’s fantastical

 

DEBORAH

There’s a younger boy

And an ingénue

DEBORAH, MARIANGELA

And they fall in love

As they’re bound to do

MARIANGELA

And a foundling child

Who we always knew

Comes home at last

ALL

Comes home at last

 

DEBORAH, MARIANGELA, LUCIA, SALVATORE

Girls love boys and boys love girls

A god appears and strews his pearls

Wherever he goes as he unfurls

His magic

ALL

Yes, his magic

 

DEBORAH, MARIANGELA, LUCIA, SALVATORE, SOLDIERS

An opera

An opera

Six Nights In Naples never fails to please

An opera

An opera

With a plot that’s bound to tease and tease and tease

LUCIA

And tease

DEBORAH, MARIANGELA, LUCIA, SALVATORE, SOLDIERS

Six Nights In Naples never fails to please

 

O’Leary

[To BRIGHTWELL] Well, that’s clear enough, eh bugle boy?

 

Brightwell

Not to me.

 

O’Leary

You’re going to write the book.

 

Brightwell

Book?

 

O’Leary

Turn that opera into a musical. Those American doughboys aren’t gonna sit through an opera.

 

Brightwell

Write the ‘book’? I thought you wanted me to play the bugle.

 

O’Leary

That too. [To OWEN] And you’ll play piano and act a part. [To BRIGHTWELL] When you’ve written it. [To DEBORAH and WILKS] You’re on dancing duty.

 

Deborah

I have no partner any more.

 

Wilks

Deborah, please…

 

O’Leary

[To DEBORAH] You’ll have to be chorus then.

 

Deborah

The story of my life.

 

O’Leary

Don’t worry about it. Pavlova started in the chorus. [To LUCIA and MANDER] Leading lady, leading man.  [TO SALVATORE and MARIANGELA] Orchestrations please. And as for the costumes, nice threads, lady, nice threads. [To BROWN and FABIO] Now what about you two?

 

Brown

Well, I’m happy to offer my soft shoe shuffle.

 

O’Leary

With your partner? Good man!

 

Brown

He’s not exactly –

 

O’Leary

It’s OK! What happens in the dressing room stays in the dressing room.

 

Brown

Please let me assure you 

 

O’Leary

Never mind, never mind! Soft shoe shuffle and what else?

 

Brown

Well…

 

O’Leary

I’m looking for versatility.

 

Mander

[To O’LEARY] I say, excuse me. But aren’t you asking rather a lot of us. After all, we’re not professionals.

 

Lucia

Me? Not a professional?

 

Mander

I mean my men. [To O’LEARY] You seem to expect us to write, dance, sing, act and…er…all the other things, when even to do one of them is beyond us.

 

O’Leary

What do you mean?! You can sing. Two days ago you couldn’t.

 

Mander

But that was a sort of magic.

 

O’Leary

Magic? Phooey. Now – we haven’t got much time. When’s this show gotta go on?

 

Mander

The day after tomorrow.

 

Lucia

Impossible.  [She says it in Italian – im-poss-ee-be-lay]

 

Brightwell, Wilks, Owen

Impossible.

 

O’Leary

Nonsense dammit! Of course it’s possible – with me around.

 

Mander

[To O’LEARY] Well, all I can say is good luck to you.

 

[O’LEARY reacts as if he’s been shot. With quiet menace…]

 

O’Leary

What did you say?

 

Mander

I said “good luck”.

 

[A chord from the orchestra… O’LEARY starts to sing…]

 

‘Good Luck’ – O’Leary, Company

 

O’LEARY

Never say that

I said never say that

In the theatre it’s a curse

The kiss of death

 

Mander

What – good luck?

 

O’LEARY

Never say, never say, never say that

It’s worse than Shakespeare’s Scottish play

 

Brown

What, Macbeth?

 

[Again, O’LEARY reacts as if he’s been shot]

 

O’Leary

Aagh! Do I have to teach you everything?!

 

[He walks around the assembled company as he sings, addressing each of them with lines relevant to what they’re going to do: Brightwell, script; Owen, piano; Mander and Lucia singing; Salvatore, violin; Mariangela, costumes; Deborah, Brown and Fabio, dancing. WILKS looks on disconsolately]

 

O’Leary

Now, as we prepare for opening night…

 

O’LEARY

You can play better chords

You can write better plays

You can sing like Caruso

And dance roundelays

You can play that old fiddle

Like young Menuhin

Bask in my compliments

Which would be genuine

Design haute couture

Like Coco Chanel

But I won’t say ‘good luck’ [he mouths but doesn’t sing the two words every time they occur]

That’s the trapdoor to hell

You can say…

 

O’LEARY

“Here’s a rabbit’s foot, it’s your lucky charm

That’s the kind of wish keeps us safe from harm

I found a penny, here take it from me

It’ll bring you ‘good luck’ as the gods decree”

It’s a cert that fate will always screw you over

Unless of course you find a four-leaf clover

 

“Here’s a ladybird, may it land on you”

That’s the kind of wish makes your dream come true

“A sprig of heather will not go amiss

It’ll bring you ‘good luck’ like an angel’s kiss”

So scared to go onstage I’d have to force you

Unless you can produce a silver horseshoe

 

O’Leary

Go on, try it!

 

Lucia

You are a madman!

 

Mander

Steady on, old girl.

 

O’Leary

[To the others] It’s your last chance!

 

MARIANGELA [to SALVATORE]

Here’s a rabbit’s foot, it’s your lucky charm

ALL

That’s the kind of wish keeps us safe from harm

BROWN [to FABIO]

I picked up a penny, here take it from me

ALL

It’ll bring you ‘good luck’ as the gods decree

O’LEARY

It’s a cert that fate will always screw you over

Unless of course you find a four-leaf clover

 

DEBORAH [to BRIGHTWELL]

Here’s a ladybird, may it land on you

ALL

That’s the kind of wish makes your dream come true

SALVATORE [to OWEN]

A sprig of white heather will not go amiss

ALL

It’ll bring you ‘good luck’ like an angel’s kiss

ALL [except O’LEARY]

Hey let me take the stage, I think I’m ready

My nerves were shot to hell but now they’re steady

 

ALL

Only two more nights but we’re good enough

Here up on the stage we can strut our stuff

Like sisters and brothers, no, closer than that

The words and the music, we’ll get ’em off pat

 

And if there comes a time when the show gets stuck

The one thing we won’t say

We won’t say

We won’t say

The one wish we won’t wish

Is “wish you…

[They mouth it but don’t sing it]

Good luck”!

 

[At the end of the number, O’LEARY exits. The radio flashes, we hear the Morse Code sound. We segue into four scenes happening simultaneously in abstract space, in dialogue and song. The focus moves from scene to scene, united by the music and the repeating chorus. The four scenes involve, in pairs, MARIANGELA and SALVATORE, LUCIA and MANDER, BROWN and FABIO, WILKS and DEBORAH]

 

‘Talk To Me’ – Company

 

Mariangela

The San Carlo is coming alive again.

 

Salvatore

I see only ghosts.

 

Mariangela

Better to have ghosts than empty space. That’s all the Germans left us.

 

Salvatore

And now we have the British. And a performance tomorrow. But still no opera. Do you remember 1924?

 

Mariangela

Of course.

 

Salvatore

Why have you never mentioned that night? It’s nearly twenty years.

 

Mariangela

I chose to forget.

 

Salvatore

It was passion!

 

Mariangela

It was a first night. A premiere. Over-excitement.

 

Salvatore

And then you went away for a year. Without a word to me.

 

Mariangela

You know why.

 

Salvatore

How could I know? I was desolate. I thought maybe I had been too ardent.

 

Mariangela

Oh no.

 

Salvatore

Or maybe not ardent enough?

 

Mariangela

Oh you silly man.

 

Salvatore

Well?

 

SALVATORE

Talk to me

MARIANGELA

You never listen to a word I say

SALVATORE

Talk to me

All WOMEN

Maybe tomorrow you’ll find a way

 

[The focus switches to LUCIA and MANDER]

 

Mander

Of course you know the war will soon be over?

 

Lucia

Yes, Inglese, I know.

 

Mander

And what then?

 

Lucia

I shall be in pensione. Retired.

 

Mander

Would you sing with me?  You say you like my voice.

 

Lucia

You would take me back to England? What about your wife?

 

Mander

Susan?  She doesn’t want me to go home. She doesn’t want…Anyway, I could stay here.

 

Lucia

In Napoli? Don’t be ridiculous.

 

Mander

I don’t quite know how to say this, but I have become very…

Lucia

Well?

 

Mander

Fond…

 

LUCIA

Talk to me

ALL MEN

You never listen to a word I say

Talk to me

All WOMEN

Maybe tomorrow you’ll find a way

 

ALL

Words and words and words and words

Who is true and who pretends?

Round and round and round and round

A pirouette

That never ends

 

[We see LUCIA and MANDER continuing to talk as they exit. The focus switches to BROWN and FABIO]

 

Brown

I say, old chap. Dovremmo parlare in italiano?  [FABIO stares at him] Do you think we could be a double act? [Pause] You and me? [Nothing] I don’t mean like Nervo and Knox, no, of course not. Maybe Flanagan and Allen? [Pause] Of course you’ve no idea what I’m talking about, have you?

 

BROWN

Talk to me

ALL WOMEN

You never listen to a word I say

ALL MEN

Talk to me

ALL WOMEN

Maybe tomorrow you’ll find a way

 

[The focus switches back to MARIANGELA and SALVATORE]

 

[We see FABIO starting to dance. BROWN looks on, puzzled. WILKS and DEBORAH come into focus, WILKS still on crutches]

 

Wilks

It’s stupid.

 

Deborah

I can’t help it.

 

Wilks

Love is love. What’s it got to do with dancing?

Deborah

That’s just the way I am.

 

Wilks

But why?

 

WILKS

Talk to me

You never listen to a word I say

Talk to me

Maybe tomorrow you’ll find a way

 

ALL

Words and words and words and words

Who is true and who pretends?

Round and round and round and round

A pirouette

That never ends

 

[Everyone except WILKS disappears from view. WILKS looks around]

 

Wilks

Where is everyone? [He shouts] Hello?! [His voice echoes back from the wings] It’s spooky here. Hello?! [Another echo] I’m cold.

 

[BRIGHTWELL and OWEN poke their heads round either side of the proscenium. They make mock spooky calls across the stage]

 

Brightwell, Owen

Halloo! Halloo!

 

Wilks

[Startled] You! Bugger off.

 

[BRIGHTWELL and OWEN enter and come over to WILKS]

 

Brightwell

Where’s your wee lassie?

 

Wilks

Gone. She doesn’t want to know me.

 

Owen

Why not?

 

Wilks

[Waving one of his crutches] I’m a cripple ain’t I?

 

Brightwell

Och, you poor thing.

 

 Owen

And just when you thought you were part of the furniture.

 

Brightwell

At home in the theatre.

 

Owen

[Swirling round]  “Yes maestro, no maestro”. All that sort of thing.

 

Brightwell, Owen

La-di-dah.

 

Wilks

Stop taking the piss.

 

‘I Could Be At Home reprise - Wilks, Brightwell, Owen

 

WILKS

I’ll never be at home here

I never stood a chance

A soldier, nothing more

Came to win a war

Not to sing and dance

To find a girl was dreaming

OWEN

But dreams can still come true

BRIGHTWELL

Go back to her and try

To show the reason why

The apple of her eye

BRIGHTWELL, OWEN

Is you

 

OWEN

I’ve got to be at home here

Nowhere else to go

Came to fight a war

Drew the shortest straw

And now I’m in a show!

BRIGHTWELL

You already know your music

Don’t look so woebegone

I came here to fight

Now they’ve made me write

And what I write is shite

BRIGHTWELL, OWEN, WILKS

Dream on…

 

BRIGHTWELL, OWEN, WILKS

Home…

They say there’s no place to compare it with

Home…

That’s where the heart is so they say

Home…

Depends on who you have to share it with

But I’ll find my home one day

One day

I’ll find my home one day

 

[The radio flashes, we hear the Morse Code sounds. Another night has passed. O’LEARY enters and plays a blast on the bugle. BRIGHTWELL picks up his script (a roll of paper) and comes forward. OWEN moves to the piano. WILKS, wearing his scarlet uniform, and DEBORAH enter from opposite sides of the stage. They look at each other tentatively. O’LEARY goes to WILKS and seizes the crutches]

 

O’Leary

OK lover boy, today’s the day, tonight’s the night. A world premiere! Time for the miracle cure!

 

Wilks

Give them back! Please, maestro.

 

O’Leary

[Throwing the crutches into the orchestra pit] Go on – dance!

 

Wilks

I can’t!

 

O’Leary

[Taking off his tam o’shanter and throwing it to WILKS] Here! Catch!

 

[WILKS takes it and puts it on, takes some tentative steps, at first walking and then going into a dance. He gets better and better…]

 

Deborah

Oh Tom!

 

[DEBORAH rushes towards him. WILKS sidesteps her to shake O’LEARY’s hand. DEBORAH misses WILKS, turns and prepares to return]

 

Wilks

Thank you very much, maestro sir.

 

O’Leary

My cap please.

 

[WILKS hands it back. Then, to DEBORAH as she finally

embraces him]

 

Wilks

I love you!

 

‘Beautiful To’ Dance themeOrchestra

 

[WILKS and DEBORAH dance. As they finish…]

 

O’Leary

[To BRIGHTWELL] Now how about you? [Cod Scottish accent] My fine young laddie. [Ordinary voice] The book. The script. [Relishing the phrase] The words.

 

Brightwell

I’m not quite sure, sir. I sat down, took out my pen, and next thing I knew…[He unrolls the script with a flourish. It goes to the floor] The words.

 

O’Leary

[Handing it to him] Try the bugle.  [BRIGHTWELL sounds a perfect reveille] I knew it! Okay, everyone on stage please! The dress rehearsal!

 

[LUCIA, MANDER, SALVATORE and MARIANGELA enter]

 

Lucia

Do I finally get to sing?

 

O’Leary

If the script says sing, you sing.  Now Scotty…from the top.

 

Brightwell

Eh?

 

O’Leary

Start from the beginning. Read it out, laddie.

 

Brightwell

[Reading from the top of the roll]  “Six Nights In Naples. An opera.”

 

Lucia

My masterpiece.

 

O’Leary

Stop! “A musical”.

 

Lucia

It’s an opera.

 

Brightwell  

“Six Nights In Naples. A musical.”

 

Lucia

Pah!

 

Brightwell

[Continues reading out loud] “Our scene is set outside the Royal Palace, overlooking the Bay of Naples. It is a glorious summer morning.” [Nodding to OWEN] Music.

 

‘Salvatore’s theme’ - piano and orchestra

 

[OWEN starts to play the theme, slow and measured]

 

Brightwell

“The dramatis…er…dramatis person…”

 

O’Leary

Dramatis personae. The cast.

 

Brightwell

“The dramatis personae…” I don’t know how I wrote this stuff.

 

O’Leary

As the great showman Phineas T Barnum said to me, “Talent will out.”

 

Brightwell

Out what?

 

O’Leary

Don’t know. I never let him finish the sentence. But what he meant was that talent is like cream: in the end it rises to the top.

 

Brightwell

But I don’t have any talent.

 

O’Leary

Oh you of little faith. Carry on!

 

Brightwell

As you wish. [Mock respect] Sir. “The dramatis personae are promenading in front of the San Carlo. They dance.”

 

[The orchestra comes in over OWEN’s playing. SALVATORE joins in with his violin. As O’LEARY and MARIANGELA look on, the rest of the COMPANY, including FABIO, start to dance. It is a slow, stately, dreamlike dance. After a little while, there is a ‘ping’ in the music. Everyone stands back, to see that FABIO has dropped something. It is a rabbit charm, such as might have once been part of a charm bracelet. Then a chord from the orchestra]

 

Mariangela

[Screams] Where did you get that?!

 

Fabio

[Picking up the rabbit charm] I have had it all my life.

 

[General consternation]

 

All

He speaks!

 

Mariangela

Impostor! [She pulls up her sleeve to reveal the charm bracelet] Look! There is one piece missing. A rabbit charm. I left it with my baby. [To FABIO] Show me!

 

[FABIO comes over to MARIANGELA and holds out the rabbit charm. MARIANGELA takes the bracelet from her wrist]

 

Mariangela
[Taking the charm] A golden rabbit! Look, it fits together  [She is about to embrace FABIO. Then…] You have stolen my baby’s birthright!

 

Fabio

No!

 

Mariangela

My baby was a girl!

 

All

A girl?

Fabio
[Pulling off his wig and garb and letting down ‘her’ hair] Then you must be… my Mother!

 

[She throws the wig to the floor. A chord from the orchestra, a gasp of amazement from the COMPANY]

Salvatore
Then I must be… your Father! Fabia!

Fabia
Papa!

 

[FABIA, MARIANGELA and SALVATORE rush to embrace one another]

Brown
I say!

 

O’Leary

[To BROWN] Disappointed?

 

Brown

Delighted.

 

O’Leary

I thought you liked boys.

 

Brown

Certainly not.

 

Mariangela

[To FABIO] But what of Serafina?

 

All

[Exaggerated] Who?

 

‘Serafina’ – Mariangela, Fabio, Company

 

MARIANGELA

In the camp at Ercolano

Where fires were burning bright

I found food and warmth and welcome

On a lost and lonely night

Serafina and the gypsies

They could understand

With no one else to turn to

Serafina held my hand

 

Serafina took my baby

To keep her safe from harm

From the bracelet that she gave me

She plucked a lucky charm

And put it with the baby

In the crib beside her bed

Told me go back to the opera

And remember all she said

Serafina, Serafina

Is the mistress of the charms

Serafina, Serafina

La bambina in her arms

 

FABIA

So I grew up with the gypsies

As we were passing by

I saw this very theatre

And all at once knew why

I was born to be a dancer

There was nothing else for me

So I begged for an audition

To show what I could be

 

The director saw the talent

In my pirouettes and twirls

But he made me leave the opera

Said he wanted boys not girls

So I quickly found disguises

Serafina showed me how

To be a boy - but with surprises

And not the girl that you see now

 

ALL

Serafina, Serafina

MARIANGELA, FABIA

All my life a guiding hand

ALL

Serafina, Serafina

FABIA

Only she could understand

MARIANGELA, FABIA

Serafina, Serafina, Serafina

All our lives a guiding hand

ALL

Serafina, Serafina

FABIA

Only she could understand

ALL

Serafina, Serafina, Serafina!

 

[During the number O’LEARY has departed without anyone noticing. OWEN has also disappeared]

 

Brightwell

[Clearing his throat] As I was saying: Six Nights In Naples, a musical.”

 

Lucia

An opera.

 

Brightwell

A musical. 

 

Lucia

An opera.

 

Brightwell

A musical. 

 

Mander

[Stepping forward] Whatever it is, it’s got to be ready tonight.

 

Brightwell

“The cast is promenading in front of the San Carlo opera house. They dance”.

 

‘The Rehearsal’  – Company

 

[The melody ofWelcome to Naples’ starts in a stately fashion. WILKS and DEBORAH dance a courtly roundelay]

 

Brown

Well…er...Fabio.

 

Fabia

Fabia.

 

Brown

Fabia – of course. Perhaps you and I could 

 

Fabia

Dance?  Now I can say this: I have always been attracted to an older man.

 

Brown

Not too much older I hope.

 

Fabia

You are just right for me.

 

[They kiss. The dance music stops]

 

Brown

[To MANDER] What do you think, sir?

 

Mander

Don’t ask me, ask O’Leary. [Looking around] Where is he? [OWEN enters from backstage] Owen, have you seen Major O’Leary?

 

Owen

No sir. All his stuff’s gone too.

 

Mander

What about his kit bag?

 

Owen

Nothing. Even his bagpipes have disappeared.  And there’s another thing, sir. A message from HQ. [He holds out a piece of paper]

 

Mander

[Irritated] What?

 

Owen

“Naples in Allied hands. Beware German snipers. American troops due 19.00 hours. [Beat] Expecting a show to celebrate victory.”

 

Mander

Oh my God. Owen, send a cable to American High Command. Er… “Please advise whereabouts of Major Carl O’Leary. His presence required urgently – “

 

Owen

[Scribbling on a message pad]  You’re going too fast for me.

 

Mander

For heaven’s sake! “Major Carl O’Leary. Stop. His presence required urgently. Stop.  Mander, British Eighth Army Corps.”

 

Owen

Stop. Yes sir. As soon as I can sir.

 

Mander

Do it now!  [OWEN exits] Right…everybody ready?

 

All

Yessir!

 

[WILKS and DEBORAH approach]

 

Wilks

But what about Major O’Leary?

 

Mander

[Almost hysterical] He’s gone, he’s gone! Don’t you understand? If London can survive the Blitz, I’m sure we can manage a song and dance show.

 

Wilks

[Striking a pose with DEBORAH] It’s a musical sir. Major O’Leary insisted.

 

Mander

Well he would, wouldn’t he? With his ‘Broadway this’ and ‘Broadway that’ and ‘do it my way’, ‘showbiz, showbiz’. Makes me sick. Well he’s not here. [Beat] American bastard. Now go and get ready. And remember – thank God we’re British.

 

[As the others leave, to change into their 19th century costumes for the show, LUCIA comes to MANDER]

 

Lucia

I am not British, Inglese.

 

Mander
[Calming down] Please, please, Lucia…just this once, no Latin temperament. Do the show?

 

Lucia

I recall you promised that my dressing room would be redecorated.

 

Mander

Later? Please?

 

Lucia

And that I would have flowers.

Mander