There once was an author known as Scott Freiheit who wrote many, many things. He often wrote very serious stories with much allegory, symbolism and deep social significance. But occasionally, due to sleep depravation, he would go temporarily insane and write outrageous comedies with little or no socially redeeming values. Such was the case in early 1994 when he wrote a musical satire about the "B" movie industry of the 50's and 60's called "Julius Caesar Conquers the Martians". In a span of just over ten sleepless days (and nights) he wrote the book, music, lyrics and complete orchestrations. And then, on February 12, 1994, he went to sleep.
When he woke up he realized what he ahd done, but decided that it was too late to turn back, so he set about the task of making a recording of the score to tantalize and entice prospective investors. Since there was some disapointment in the quality of the recording of their previous musical "Crusade", the powers that be at Freedom Productions decided that this musical would have to be recorded on state-of-the-art, digital multi-track equipment. The only problem was the fact that they didn't own any such equipment and were way too poor to go out and buy it.
The solution was to rent all of the necessary gear for one week. The only drawback was the fact that all of the music and vocals would have to be recorded within seven consecutive days, a scheduling nightmare considering the fact that no one was getting paid for their efforts and some of them actualy had real jobs. Somehow, miraculously, the whole thing went well and on March 21, 1994 Scott Freiheit slept again.
The original cast of that recording featured many of the usual Freedom Productions gang including company founder Scott Freiheit and Kayre Morrison, the "corporate diva," in two of the three leading roles. Joining them was Candlelight Pavilion refugee Carlos Martin. The supporting cast also featured many familiar voices such as Tim Murphy, Randy Thomas, Jeff Viar, George Serena and Russ Franz as well as Freedom Productions newcomers Laura Ware, Michelle Stout and Vivienne Lopez.
Many copies of the tape were promptly mailed to a vast array of musical theatre institutions and impresarios. The result was instant fame and fortune for everyone involved and a lifetime of happiness and artistic freedom for all. Well...it could have happened that way, but it obviously didn't.
A very good question. People seemed to like it, but no one wanted to back it. It was too big, too small, too slapstick, not slapstick enough, too satirical, not satirical enough, etc. The only consensus of opinion was that the show was very funny, but not the right show for them!
Part of the problem was the fact that "Julius Caesar Conquers the Martians" was a musical play that also included filmed sequences which were to be shown during scene changes. This bit of multi-media terrified and confused a great many theatrical traditionalists who were already a little jumpy after reading the title. When a plan to co-produce the work at a local community theatre fell through it was obviously time to move on to other projects. Turning to the lighter side, Scott Freiheit then wrote that all-time, feel-good romp "The Scarlet Letter" (But that's another story and gets a much more serious treatment on its own Web Page!)
So much work goes into a project like this that it's hard to know when to quit. Because the show wasn't being produced anywhere there was no audience reaction to gauge its potential popularity and no critical reviews to provide feedback. Being a creative person with a lot of ideas burning a hole in his pocket (or his pocket book at any rate) it was inevitable that the author would eventually file this one away as a lost cause and try something else. But if zombies have taught us nothing else it's that it's hard to keep the dead down forever.
If Scott Freiheit is known for anything it is for his persistence. (That, and making really good sandwhiches and being the winningest manager in computer baseball history.) So, despite the rejections he forged ahead, completed all of the fictional movie trailers, revamped the show, made a new recording of the score and even changed the title along the way to "Cleopatra and the Slave Girls of Venus." Some shows sort of get tweaked along the way and other ones, like this, get a major revision or two although in this case the story remained largely the same while the music got a major overhaul. Scott Freiheit, Kayre Morrison, Tim Murphy, George Serena and Jeff Viar reprised their roles from the original cast with Randy Thomas taking over the third lead and Mary Ann Graham, Jennifer Wrigley, Ann Myers and Robert Walling rounding out the list of suspects. Astute readers will note that their were 11 names in the original cast recording and only 10 here leading to the great mystery of the unamed performer. Sadly we have no prize for you if you can solve the puzzle but that's life.
After all that recording and filming and revamping the show was "discovered" on the old Undiscovered Musicals web page and is now published for amateur production by Heuer Publishing. It has been a very long journey with a lot of strange twists and turns along the way but somehow the show has survived and even improved with age. (The author hopes the same can be said of him!)
Here is the song "What If?" performed by the original studio cast. The song takes place during a "brain-storming" session at Stupendous Pictures as Karl tries to encourage everyone to come up with ideas while their writers are off on a romantic tryst. It's cut to clips from various actual "B" movies of the period and was created originally as part of a promotional video for "Julius Caesar Conquers the Martians."
"I Wish We Still Were in Love" is another video that was staged for the promotional package. It was shot many years ago and the image quality shows its age but hopefully it's still an entertaining performance by the original cast. Featuring Scott Freiheit as Karl and Kayre Morrison as Jill.
The multi-media aspect of this show has always been something that bedazzled and befuddled people at the same time. On paper it seemed like a good idea. "Wouldn't it be cool if the audience could actually see some film clips from the movies that are talked about during the play instead of looking at a black stage during scene changes?" Yes, it would indeed be cool, but how to make it happen?
The first challenge was to shoot the darn things. When a "real" movie cuts a coming attractions trailer together they simply take footage from the finished film and slap some narration on top of it. These movies were totally fictional and had never existed so various scenes had to be created from scratch. It was like building the sets, costumes and props for an entire feature film that was only going to be used for a couple of minutes of screen time. Another problem was the fact that the story took place in the 1950's and 60's so one couldn't just run out into the street and shoot anywhere with 1990's cars and buildings all around. And then there was the question of just how "bad" to make them. They needed to be somewhat believable as something a low-grade studio might actually have produced at the time while also being overtly crummy enough to be funny. Fortunately some very good actors were able to pretend to be some very bad actors and after many years of slaving away on the thing the film clips were finally completed.
The next challenge was how to present them from a technical standpoint. In 1994 video projection was a relatively new concept and usually involved large, cumbersome and expensive equipment that produced a fairly fuzzy image when blown up too large. Fortunately today most people have a giant big-screen TV in their homes that delivers a crisp picture in high definition and there are even phones that will project video onto a wall or a screen so hopefully that aspect of the challenge is greatly reduced today. It looks like technology has finally caught up to the concept and fictional trailers from crappy movies of a half century ago can now be enjoyed with great clarity! (And in case you were interested in seeing what all the fuss was about without waiting for a production of the play to come to your city we proudly present a sample of some of them here. Don't say we didn't warn you.)