Justin Locke Productions
Contact: Phone: 781-330-8143 | email: justinlocke1@gmail.com

Synopsis of

or, the Dark Side of the Symphony
A concert for family audiences with music by Bach, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Massenet, Mozart, et. al.
Story and lyrics by Justin Locke

Read the Complete Script

After an introduction and instructions by the narrator, the orchestra begins the program with the opening of Act II from Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake. As this piece reaches its final climax, the Phantom, a shadowy figure in mask and black cape, appears. In an operatic recitative he explains his problem: the orchestra's constant playing is keeping him from getting any sleep. With his assistant, Gridley (played by a child age 8-11), the Phantom ponders his problem in an aria . . .

(Se Vuol Ballare, from Marriage of Figaro, with new lyrics). He comes up with a diabolical scheme: If he can somehow manage to make the orchestra play wrong notes and/or out of tune, the audience will cancel all their subscriptions; this will of course bankrupt the orchestra, resulting in blessed silence.

Mr. Phipps, the Orchestra's Manager, hires the famous detective, Inspector Shamrock Jones, to figure out why the orchestra is suddenly having so many problems in its performances. The manager explains that the rehearsals sound fine, it's the concerts where everything goes wrong. The orchestra (in "rehearsal") plays the Bach Air for the G String.

Assured by the presence of the great Shamrock Jones, the orchestra then attempts to perform the Air. But the Phantom has written new notes in all the parts, turning the Air into a Dixieland number. The narrator cues the audience to boo and hiss, and the concert is ruined.

In response to the sabotage, Inspector Jones locks up the sheet music. After a perfect rehearsal of Meditation from Thais, the orchestra attempts another performance. But this time, the Phantom has put grease in the scroll of the concertmaster's violin, and he/she plays so out of tune that the concert is ruined yet again, with audience booing and hissing once more.

Inspector Jones stands an all night watch to try to catch the Phantom. But again, the Phantom is too clever for them; he places a suspense novel on the conductor's night stand. The conductor stays up all night reading it, and the next day he/she falls asleep on the podium, ruining the concert once more.

This last disaster results in the orchestra announcing its termination. The Phantom, hearing the news, sings a triumphal aria (Aprite un Po' Quegli Occhi from Marriage of Figaro) in which he revels in both his own cleverness and in how the hated musicians will all have to find new employment. But Inspector Shamrock Jones finally catches up with the Phantom, and a chase ensues during the playing of the Last Movement of Beethoven's 7th Symphony.

Inspector Jones unmasks the Phantom, revealing the mystery to all. The Phantom disappears back into the catacombs, but not before Inspector Jones resolves the Phantom's problem with the aid of some earplugs; they work well enough, but not without causing one more unplanned disaster, and not so well that we shouldn't expect a sequel!

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Read the Complete Script | FAQ's | Some great photos of a production in Poland | More pix from Poland | Photos of the magnificent 2002 production at the Theatro Municipal in Rio de Janeiro | Contact | See also Peter VS the Wolf, another family concert program for orchestra and four actors.