TIMBERG ALLEY: Proposed Broadway Show
TIMBERG ALLEY is a musical based on the songs and life of Sammy Timberg, a classically trained star composer whose music illumined the second half of the Twentieth Century. Timberg’s hits span the era from Vaudeville to Broadway and are the epitome of the budding era of early animation. Betty Boop, Popeye, Superman, Raggedy Ann, Little Lulu and Casper the Friendly Ghost were just a few of the cartoon celebrities for whom he wrote theme songs and feature length scores. His works also include purely classical music arranged for full symphonies, in addition to compositions with such notables as Sammy Cahn and Buddy Kaye. TIMBERG ALLEY (the proposed show) is a glimpse of musical history where the worlds of Broadway, vaudeville and classic cartoons converge.
Character Descriptions, Stage Requirements, Costumes & Props for a Proposed Broadway Show
CHARACTER DESCRIPTIONS (Based mostly on fact mixed with some fantasy):
Sammy Timberg –. Approximately 28 years old. A trained classical composer who finds himself performing in the vaudeville shows of the 1920s and 30s with his famous brother Herman. Although Sammy idolizes his brother and thoroughly enjoys working with him, his success is marred by the fact that he feels he is not using his classical talents. As musical director and composer for the early Fleischer cartoons of Betty Boop, Popeye, Superman, Casper , Little Lulu, Raggedy Ann, Sammy is again joyously thrown into writing popular music of the times but still feels his happiness flawed because he is not living up to youthful expectations. Nevertheless he is an enthusiastic co-performer in the vaudeville act and enjoys his life on the stage with his brother even though he is trying to prove his self worth - especially to himself.
Herman Timberg – The older brother of Sammy by approximately ten years. Herman Timberg was a star on Broadway and vaudeville as well as being a great humorist and satirist, who wrote and produced shows for such headliners as The Four Marx Brothers, Fred and Adele Astaire, Milton Berle, Ed Wynn and many others. Much of the dialogue for this play has been excerpted from these original scripts.
When Sammy joins him in his vaudeville act, Herman has been performing for approximately fifteen years. At the opening of the play, he has to his credit several Broadway shows where he has written the book, music and lyrics. He is a fast talking, slap stick kind of comedian, who is also master of the comedic look and the dramatic pause. Herman is confident of himself and loves performing, writing and making the audience laugh. He has never been married to date and is enjoying his life as an entertainer, when the show opens.
Betsy – A young flapper character of the 1930s and 40s. Speaks like Mae Questel and Helen Kane, both voice-over actresses for Betty Boop. Betsy is not of this realm but not necessarily a spirit either. She finds herself on the Palace Theater stage answering a supposed call for help and discovers her own need to break free from the drudgery of her current position on a lower plateau in another dimension. Filled with a loving, and exhuberant personality, she attempts to achieve her goals, while bringing the other character’s realized or unrealized dreams to fruition. She does this by eliciting the aid of the chorus (The Follys), by becoming various supporting characters in the play and letting the audience know where they are in the story by changing the pages of the on stage story book ( see “Props” below). After her initial entrance, she is always on stage somewhere either just watching or facilitating the story.
Rosemarie Sinnott – A youthful Ziegfeld leading dancer and singer, modeled after Sammy’s first wife of the same name. As an elegant, classy performer and cover girl, she enjoys her stage career even though she is primarily a family person, who wants true love with a man she admires and respects. To this end, she is willing to be supportive and encouraging, while retaining her own dignity and style
The Follys – This is the Chorus. Initially they are the chorus for the vaudeville show of Herman and Sammy. However after Betsy’s intervention, they become her pawns doing the dancing, singing and other stage business she requires of them to achieve her aims. After their initial entrance, they primarily hang out with the onstage orchestra and with Betty for the remainder of the show.
The set can be as simple or as elaborate as the theatre and financial abilities permit. The basic requirements would follow, although some scenes have specific requirements that are mentioned as they occur in the script.
One large film screen to show film clips from the Fleischer cartoons where indicated. A place to display other stage pictures and business, where the use of film enhances the performance.
Onstage orchestra consisting of a minimum of five players to as big as the stage can hold. Music can be backed up with pre-existing new recordings, if necessary, and enhanced by a few live players. The show would succeed well with an eleven piece band. They would most likely be placed beneath the film screen, occasionally playing live and often in sync with the film action. Within the orchestra would be pedestals of varying heights and fashion for the Follys and Betsy to light when they are not part of the stage action.
Sammy and Herman are usually dressed in the garb of the 1920s and 30s and can change their outfits as required by the scene. They are the only characters who should be perceived by the audience as existing in real time. All the other characters need to be perceived as being the same persona taking on varying illusions.
Betsy is basically always dressed in the same flapper costume. She wears wigs and other accoutrements to suggest other characters she plays. However, she never changes her basic outfit. It can be pulled up, down, changed or added to in order to facilitate any new character she is pretending to be.
Rosemarie wears glamorous and flowing gowns of the era.
The Follies are dressed in a basic body suit of muted bright colors. Jackets, skirts, flowers etc can be added to change the look.