Putting on the musical

Any institution that takes part has the right to stage the final musical free of charge (up to 31st Dec 2020). Any institution that has one of its students submit a winning song will have the right to stage the musical twice (and maybe more subject to permission) up to 31st Dec 2025.

But for 2017 only, the musical is free of charge to perform to any group who wants to.

Because the musical looks like it will be about 3 hours long, we have separated out into two self-contained acts of 90 minutes each so schools can put on just Act 1 or just Act 2 as a complete musical in its own right. The first act of the musical  is 90 minutes and covers the period from 1952 when Fidel Castro first became an activist trying to rid Cuba of the brutal dictator Batista, to 1959 where the final scene shows the revolutionary heroes: Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, Celia Sanchez and others riding victoriously into Havana on a jeep to an ecstatic population who cheer them on for liberating Cuba. This is now ready for any school/college or musical theatre group to put on.

Act 2 covers 1959 when Fidel has to run Cuba to the present day and includes the US embargo, the Bay of Pigs Fiasco, the Cuban missile crisis, the Special period when the Soviet Union collapsed and Cuba’s recovery to an island that now boasts health, education, sport and cultural achievements equivalent to first world countries despite its relative poverty. The draft script can be seen on http://fidelthemusical.org/working-script/ and we are still soliciting songs for Act 2 (see competition tab)

Please get in touch at fidel@soton.ac.uk with your feedback or if you would like more details on staging the musical.

Act One: scene breakdown

We start in 1952 when a coup by the evil dictator Batista is announced which ruins Fidel’s chances of being democratically elected. This leads onto the first musical number ‘Moving like that’ which is a party scene set in a nightclub pre-revolutionary Havana. There is lots of dancing, gambling, music. It starts out looking great fun, but gradually we see the dark undercurrents of corruption, bribery, prostitution. The rich tourists and gangsters running the place are having a great time, but the local Cubans are definitely not.

The next scene shows us why Fidel and the others want to overthrow the Batista government. It sets out the issues of poverty, prostitution, corruption which his encompassed in the musical number ‘You can’t kill our dream.’ We see the impact of revolution on families in a scene where Fidel’s wife Mirta holds their child and sings You only love one woman: La revolucion’.

The next scene shows the first attack by Fidel and his comrades on Moncada barracks. There is fighting and the attack is unsuccessful with many killed. Batista’s soldiers torture and kill all those they find who took part. (This could occur in the dark and I have a soundscape to cover this scene if it is too hard to stage). Haydee witnesses her brother and fiancé being tortured and killed but escapes and reunites with Fidel and some others who escaped. Song by Raul ‘Fidel’ at this point giving an insight into why his older brother Fidel is incapable of backing down. Some of the group want to stop at this point, but Haydee insists they continue or the deaths of her loved ones would have been for nothing. Fidel explains the meaning of Hasta La Victoria siempre, Patria O Muerte which is the Cuban slogan meaning ‘until victory, homeland or death’.

Batista is livid that Fidel has escaped and instructs his men to find him and kill him – ‘Kill him’ number. Soldiers then find Fidel and the group, but are moved to arrest them rather than kill them on the spot. This leads on to the trial scene. The court scene is quite fun and shows Fidel in his element. Nothing gets Fidel down and he uses the opportunity to put the Batista government on trial, his defence is that it is his duty, not treason, to fight against a tyrannical government. This scene has the number ‘Historia me absolvera’ which is based on a real speech given by Fidel called History will absolve me.

The next scene shows Fidel and his gang in prison. Again, Fidel makes the most of the opportunity and recruits the prisoners to form an ideological academy to educate them in revolution – see the number ‘Colonial Cocktail’.   Meanwhile Fidel’s wife Mirta, who we see earlier too, is upset that Fidel is more concerned with the revolution than her or his son and she reprises the song ‘You only love one woman: La revolucion’. She tells him that to make ends meet she has had to get a job with the government – which effectively means she is working for the dictator. Fidel is outraged and this is the end of their marriage.

The Cuban people are clamouring for Fidel, Raul and the others to be released and Batista does so, but only so that he can kill him privately. Fidel and Raul escape to Mexico. There Nico and Raul sing a number to tell everyone what Fidel is like ‘Fidel’. Fidel arrives and meets Che Guevara for the first time and they develop a bit of a bromance as captured in the song ‘revolution by the people for the people’. After spending a year training troops and raising money, Fidel, Che, Raul and others sail on a boat back to Cuba to honour his promise to liberate Cuba.

break

Fidel and the others sail back to Cuba on a wobbly old boat. In the meantime, Celia and Frank prepare diversionary tactics so they can arrive in safety. The song ‘La Paloma’ is sung by the people about Celia as they see how she risks her life to help prepare for Fidel’s return and have supplies ready. In the song ‘Let them be safe’ Celia expresses her indecision whether to pull back the watchers on the coast who are keeping an eye out for them. As she sings this, on the other side of the stage we see the revolutionaries being attacked as they land and most of the group are shot (including Fidel’s good friend Nico) and the rest run off into the mountains.

Fidel finds himself along in the mountains with no idea if he is the only one left alive. He sings ‘Climb to the top of the mountain’ expressing his doubts if he did the right thing and worry that he will never see his closest comrades and brother again. Che, Raul and Camilo reunite at the top of the mountain – but they have lost all their weapons and most of the men. They regroup.

Celia, Haydee and Melba arrive at the soldiers’ base in the mountains with supplies. Celia and Fidel get close. In the next scene Fidel pretends to be one of Batista’s generals and humorously persuades a local sergeant to attack his own barracks pretending it is just a training exercise to keep them on their toes. This enables them to get access to more weapons. They treat the captured soldiers well and some change sides. The ‘campfire song’ after the battle captures their elation at this victory.

Frank arrives at the soldiers’ base in the mountains with 4 young new recruits. Che talks to the new recruits about what to expect. As they march onto the next battle they sing a marching song ‘Fight for our victory’. There is an explosion and all the new recruits are killed immediately. They realise someone has betrayed their position. Celia and Fidel sing ‘Movies’ a duet but sung separately to express how they feel about each other.

We cut back to Batista who is getting frantic as the rebels are winning so many battles despite their few numbers and lack of weaponry due to Che’s guerrilla tactics. Also many men are defecting. Batista mounts a final campaign to defeat the rebel army once and for all. This is captured in the song ‘Fin de Fidel’.

In the next scene we find out who the traitor is and he is shot. Frank Pais, a key rebel and close friend of Fidel, Celia and the others is shot, the battles heat up and everyone starts to despair. Fidel rallies everyone round with the stirring song ‘Hasta La Victoria’. Then for once some good news, the US has stopped supplying Batista with arms. Fidel and the others start planning the final strategy that they hope will defeat Batista. Song ‘How 100 men beat an army of 40,000.’ We hear about the tactics of their success, including Fidel’s interview with US reporter in the mountains, Che Guevara’s secrets of guerilla warfare, and the importance of getting the enemy to change sides.

The plan works and they are victorious. Batista flees Cuba taking most of the money with him. The Cuban people are ecstatic and cheer wildly as Fidel, Che, Raul, Celia, Haydee, Camilo and Melba ride into Havana on a jeep waving their rifles in the air. There is a party atmosphere. The finale song is a party piece ‘Viva Cuba Libre’ and involves people dancing in the streets. We will interweave some of the other key songs from act 1 as well such as ‘Hasta la Victoria’ and ‘you can’t kill our dream’.

Directorial Interpretation:

The plot ranges from high drama and excitement, to tragedy to comedy. This is an epic tale and everything (except for very minor points) is historically accurate – much of the dialogue and lyrics are taken directly from Fidel’s speeches and the incidents covered, happened as portrayed. But the drama of the story is such that it doesn’t need much embellishment. It is a David and Goliath tale where a small group of dedicated revolutionaries with limited weapons overthrow an army of 40,000 backed by US weaponry. There were many losses, but each time it is certain they are defeated, they rise up again and eventually triumph, mostly because of the support of the Cuban people – almost all of whom were counting on Fidel to oust the dictator and get some independence from the US. The musical shows the sacrifice, the bravery, and importantly the core values that enabled the revolutionaries to triumph.

Because this a tale that has not yet been told, the musical tells it straight from the Cuban point of view with a mostly linear timeline so the audience can share in the ups and downs and excitement of the revolutionary struggle against an oppressive regime. The battle scenes could be very exciting with bright lights and sounds of gunfire, helicopters and planes. I am working on providing some multi-media support for staging some of the more ambitious scenes.

Cast list for Act 1

Minimum number of cast is 11 (all except Fidel with multiple roles); male = 7, female = 4.

Optimum number of cast with fewer multiple roles is  19 (12 males, 7 females) but with no doubling up then cast number can be as large as 42 as lots of potential for bit-parts and crowd scenes.

Male Cast Number:

6 Major roles, 7 minor roles plus many bit parts depending on extend of doubling up (e.g. guards, jury, crowd members)

Female Cast Number:

4 major roles plus 3 minor roles + plus many bit parts depending on extend of doubling up  (e.g. dancers, jury, crowd members)

SONGS

Not all of the songs have been recorded in their final state, but you can get an idea of what each one will sound like from the following playlist https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLCMHbvITJYiYHXfJ5u6gN4-MXeLJYOltx

We hope to put together a more updated sound track in the future.

Major characters role No. scenes No. songs (L=lead, C= chorus)
Fidel Confident, optimistic, never admits to being wrong, charismatic, brave, makes long speeches 20 6 L, 8 C
Celia Revolutionary heroine and Fidel’s love interest 9 2 L, 3 C
Raul Fidel’s brother and revolutionary 17 1L 9 C
Batista Brutal dictator 7 2 L
Frank Revolutionary hero, based in city 12 3 C
Haydee Revolutionary fighter (Abels sister). Very brave as she resists torture 12 6 C
Nico Revolutionary, very loyal to Fidel 12 1 L 6 C
Camilo Revolutionary fighter (bit of a joker) 10 5 C
Mirta Fidel’s first wife 4 1 L
Che Revolutionary fighter and noted for his bravery, toughness, principles and tactics of guerrilla warfare, and for being handsome with his black beret! 11 1 L 6 C
Melba Revolutionary fighter 11 6 C