Thursday, February 10, 2005

"Storybook" from The Scarlett Pimpernell

"Storybook" from The Scarlett Pimpernell. Music by Frank Wildhorn. Performed by Rachel York as Marguerite, Encore album.

Paris, May of 1794. At the bloody peak of the French Revolution, the beautiful actress, Marguerite St. Just, falls in love with an Englishman, Sir Pericival Blakeney. After a whirwind courtship, she announces her engagement to Percy during her farewell performance at the Comedie Francaise. (Storybook)
Technically, not a whole heck of a lot happens in this piece, but I wanted to write about it because I love the feel of the music. This is a fast waltz, and like many vocal pieces, it is in strophic form. It begins very slowly, with arpeggiated chords being played in a high register on the piano. Something about this sound always makes me think of a fun house or something at a carnival. When Marguerite begins to sing, the accompaniment turns in to more of an oom-pah-pah feel, and the tempo picks up slightly. The verses are really nothing other than different inversions of a I chord.
When the refrain begins, the tempo picks up again, and we now have a fast waltz. The chord progression becomes much more interesting, and the texture becomes much fuller when all of the instruments in the orchestra begin to play. You can really hear the drum keeping the 3/4 time. The rest of the piece reminds me so much of something you would hear while riding a carousel, which the lyrics actually refer to a few times: "Close your eyes and we'll ride my carousel." I get so swept up in the dance feeling; it is so majestic and sounds like something straight out of a ball scene from a movie. I always have the urge to get up and waltz.
When the refrain occurs the second time, it has modulated to a higher major key. The third time we hear the refrain, it isn't varied musically at all, but it is slightly more interesting because it is sung in French. You don't see the use of other languages very frequently in the musical theatre world.
Really, this is all there is to this song. The reason it sticks with you is because of the very strong 3/4 dance like feeling. The melody is also very memorable, I can remember leaving the theatre after the show singing this tune in my head. It is memorable because it is very simple, and goes right along with the accompaniment.

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