Original London Cast - Complete Recording

Metropolis, Original London Cast - Complete Recording
CDJAY2 1248
CD1: 60'21''
CD2: 61'13''

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Music by

Joe Brooks

Book and Lyrics by
Dusty Hughes and Joe Brooks

Additional Material by
David Firman

Orchestrations by
John Cameron and David Firman

Brian Blessed
Judy Kuhn
Graham Bickley
Jonathon Adams
Paul Keown

Conducted by 
David Firman

"Metropolis" was begun in the early summer of 1986. Joe and I worked around the piano in London and then moved on for the Summer to a rented house in East Hampton on Long Island. The first draft was finished in the autumn of that year, but the libretto went through many changes in the following months as we tried a style that combined the haunting qualities of the film with something that was boldly theatrical and our own. Many of the early songs did not survive this process though they may easily find a home elsewhere. When the composer and his co-author were in different countries the work continued by whatever means available; letter, telephone, telex, probably even osmosis. In the time honoured fashion changes went on throughout the rehearsals; one of the best songs "One Of Those Nights" arriving lees than two weeks before we opened to previews. My admiration for Judy Kuhn and the rest of the cast is boundless.

Since Langs’ is a vision of the future seen from the perspective of Europe in the twenties it didn’t seem appropriate to blandly copy either the style or the setting of the film. On the other hand theatrical science fiction has often seemed thin and plastic. The key to finding a theatrical form seemed to be in the character of the original which existed inside the epic. Lang dismissed "Metropolis" as a "fairy story", but fairy stories and fables often have a dark and elemental power which translates easily onto the stage. In this case the hidden story is simple and resonant. The son, growing up without a mother, is repelled by the coldness of his powerful and distant father. The father sees the son only as the inheritor of his empire. When the son rebels, he subconsciously chooses the most damaging way to do it, by falling in love with the girl from "down there" who is herself the spiritual leader of a rebellion against the father. The father creates the robot woman, the girls evil double, both to discredit the girl and taunt the son. The son’s attempt to unite the upper world with the lower world seems clumsy and doomed but the father’s action brings about a revolt which leads to the destruction of the city. So far so good, but here the film and stage versions moved further apart as our work went on. In the Lang film there is a "happy ending" which seems to go against the logic of the story. The father, Jan Frederson, whose actions in the film have been increasingly psychopathic, survives to be reunited with his son and the rebellious girl - and even seems to bless their union.

The stage libretto imagines a city of the future, without mineral or nuclear energy isolated in an endless winter; probably the last city. The core of the original story seems to be about "power", in every sense of the word. The images of power, darkness and light recur throughout the libretto.

Our city of "Metropolis" survives only by harnessing human power to create energy and for this it requires a vast underworld of slaves. In the Lang film they are comatose and subdued. On the stage we try to suggest that the workers have customs and rituals as well as access to small amounts of precious knowledge. Guards and spies are needed to keep them firmly in their place.

As the book developed, I blithely wrote scenes in which lifts glided smoothly up and down, or became secret places from which characters could eavesdrop and spy. I never realised that the designer, Ralph Kotai, would take me at my word, nor that he would be given the resources to create the marvels he did. The machines themselves are not Fritz Lang’s surreal beasts, nor the sci-fi plexiglass tubes of the Pompidou Centre - but old and weighty and three dimensional - as if material from the industrial revolution had been rescued out of necessity from the scrap heap. So in our newly created world of "Metropolis" when the fathers plans are thwarted and most of his worker energy perishes in fire and flood below, it is only logical that he turns what remains of his destructive power on himself and his city. Only the two lover and a few children from the city below survive to start a new life in the ruins of the old.

Dusty Hughes

CD 1
  1. Opening / 101.11 / Look, The Sun, Maria
    Judy Kuhn, Children, Company
  2. Hold Back The Night
    Judy Kuhn, Lindsey Danvers, Robert Fardell, Stifyn Parri, Company
  3. The Machines Are Beautiful
    Brian Blessed
  4. He's Distant From Me Now
    Graham Bickley
  5. Elitists' Dance
  6. Oh My, What A Beautiful City
  7. This Is The Vision We're Forbidden
    Judy Kuhn
  8. Children Of Metropolis
    Judy Kuhn
  9. 50,000 Pounds Of Power / One More Morning
    Graham Bickley, Company
  10. It's Only Love / Bring On The Night
    Judy Kuhn, Graham Bickley
  11. Pressure Chant / Day After Day
  12. When Maria Comes
  13. You Are The Light
    Judy Kuhn, Company
  14. The Girl Is A Witch
    Paul Keown, Judy Kuhn, Company
  15. It's Only Love (Reprise)
    Judy Kuhn
  16. The Sun
    Stifyn Parri
  17. Almost Done
    Jonathan Adams
  18. I Don't Need Help From You / There's A Girl Down Below
    Jonathan Adams, Paul Keown, Brian Blessed
  19. Futura / End Of Act One
    Brian Blessed, Jonathan Adams, Company
CD 2
  1. Nothing Really Matters
  2. I've Seen A Nightmare
    Graham Bickley, Paul Keown
  3. This Is Life
    Graham Bickley, Paul Keown, Company
  4. Look At This Girl Who Stands Before You
    Brian Blessed
  5. Futura's Dance
  6. Where Do You Think She's Gone, Your Precious Maria?
    Paul Keown, Lucy Dixon, Company
  7. It That Was Love
    Graham Bickley
  8. Listen To Me
    Graham Bickley, Stifyn Perri
  9. Learning Song
    Judy Kuhn, Children
  10. Old Friends
    Jonathan Adams
  11. When Maria Wakes
  12. Futura's Promise / Maria's Insane
    Judy Kuhn, Company
  13. Perfect Face
    Jonathan Adams
  14. Haven't You Finished With Me?
    Judy Kuhn, Jonathan Adams
  15. Let's Watch The World Go To The Devil
    Judy Kuhn, Company
  16. One Of Those Nights
    Judy Kuhn
  17. Requiem
  18. Metropolis
    Brian Blessed
  19. Finale
    Graham Bickley, Judy Kuhn, Children, Company