Transcript: Leslie Arden | Nov 02, 1997

(Rhythmic string and wind music plays)

In animation, a word in pink slides by against a gray background as hands paint strokes using paintbrushes, play a piano, and touch as in a ballet performance.

The title of the show reads “Dialogue.”

Richard Ouzounian appears facing the screen. He's in his late forties, clean-shaven, with short side-parted blond hair. He's wearing rounded glasses, a dark blue suit, and a mandarin-collared gray shirt.

He says WELCOME TO
DIALOGUE.
I'M RICHARD OUZOUNIAN.
THE REVOLUTION IN MUSICAL
THEATRE IN TORONTO HAS
PROVIDED A LOT OF WORK
FOR A LOT OF PEOPLE.
HUNDREDS OF ACTORS, MUSICIANS,
NOT TO MENTION ALL THOSE
THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE WHO
BUILD THOSE ENORMOUS SETS.
YOU KNOW WHO WE'VE FORGOTTEN?
THE PEOPLE WHO WRITE THE
SONGS, THE COMPOSER LYRICISTS.
WELL, THAT IS BEING
RIGHTED LATELY.
THIS FALL SAW A VERY
SPECIAL PRODUCTION OF
THE HOUSE OF MARTIN GUERRE.
YOU'RE ABOUT TO UNDERSTAND
WHAT MADE THAT WORK TICK.
THIS
DIALOGUE
IS
WITH LESLIE ARDEN.

Leslie is in her thirties, with short curly blond hair. She’s wearing a washed grey and aqua sweatshirt.

Richard faces Leslie and continues
LESLIE, COMPOSER LYRICIST
FOR THE MUSICAL THEATRE.
HONOURABLE PROFESSION, BUT NOT
EXACTLY A LUCRATIVE ONE FOR
PEOPLE IN CANADA
THESE DAYS, SO FAR.

Leslie says SO FAR, NO, IT'S NOT.
AND IT'S UNDERSTANDABLE
BECAUSE IT'S SO EXPENSIVE
AND SO DIFFICULT TO GET
A MAJOR MUSICAL UP.
AND IN CANADA, WE DON'T HAVE
A LOT OF SPACES TO DO IT YET.
SO NOTHING TO BE BITTER ABOUT,
JUST KEEP WORKING AWAY AT IT.

Richard says NOW, I WANT TO TALK YOU AND
ALL OF WHAT'S LED TO YOUR WORK
TO THIS DATE, BUT MARTIN
GUERRE HAS HAD THE LONGEST
HISTORY GETTING IN AND
ON AND AROUND IN TORONTO.
IT BEGAN WITH A NOW DEFUNCT
COMPANY THEATRE PLUS, RIGHT?

A different view shows Leslie sitting in front of an uncovered grand piano, against which Richard is leaning.

A caption appears on screen. It reads "Leslie Arden. Composer, Lyricist."

Leslie says YES.
DUNCAN MACKINTOSH COMMISSIONED
ME TO WRITE A MUSICAL
FOR HIS COMPANY.
IT WAS A REP COMPANY, WITH
SOME OF THE FINEST PERFORMERS
IN THE COUNTRY.
I DID, BUT UNFORTUNATELY --
I WROTE A DRAFT OF IT,
THEY WERE GOING TO PUT IT ON.
FRIDAY BEFORE THE MONDAY THAT
IT WAS SUPPOSED TO GO INTO
REHEARSAL, THEY RAN OUT
OF MONEY, THEY HAD TO
CANCEL IT THAT SEASON.
THEY RESCHEDULED IT FOR THE
FOLLOWING SEASON AND TRIED
AGAIN, BUT THEY RAN OUT OF
MONEY AGAIN THAT SUMMER.
THEY DID GET THE SHOW UP, BUT
IT WAS A REALLY ROUGH SUMMER
FOR THEM, AND THE THEATRE
COMPANY ACTUALLY WENT UNDER.

Richard says AND IT WOUND UP, I GUESS,
DOING A SHOW IN THOSE
CIRCUMSTANCES, YOU DIDN'T GET
TO SEE THE PLAY YOU WROTE IN
MANY WAYS, RIGHT?

Leslie says THAT'S RIGHT.
BUT IT WAS CIRCUMSTANCE.
IT WAS UNDERSTANDABLE.
AND IT ALSO GAVE ME A CHANCE
TO -- AND YOU KNOW, DUNCAN
MACKINTOSH EVEN SAID THAT.
HE SAID WE WOULD TREAT IT LIKE
A WORKSHOP, AND IT WOULD BE A
WONDERFUL OPPORTUNITY TO
WORKSHOP A SHOW BECAUSE IT
WOULDN'T JUST BE OUR FAMILY
AND FRIENDS COMING TO ONE
PERFORMANCE AND LEAPING TO
THEIR FEET AT THE END AND
CHEERING, IT WOULD BE A
DIFFERENT AUDIENCE EVERY
NIGHT, AND WE WOULD REALLY BE
ABLE TO GET A GOOD IDEA OF
WHAT'S MISSING IN THE SHOW.
AND I DID.
AND I REWROTE ACCORDING TO --
BECAUSE OF WHAT I SAW IN THE
PRODUCTION, I DID
MASSIVE REWRITES.
AND THEN THE LIVENT
CORPORATION PICKED IT UP.
DID A WONDERFUL
WORKSHOP OF IT.

Richard says THIS IS INTERESTING BECAUSE
IN PAST YEARS, WHAT WOULD HAVE
HAPPENED, CANADIAN MUSICAL
LANDSCAPE IS LITTERED WITH
THESE CORPSES OF SHOWS THAT
GOT ONE PRODUCTION THAT DIDN'T
WORK AND THEY DIED.
IT WAS LIVENT AND GARTH
DRABINSKY CAME ALONG
AND MARTY BELL.

Leslie says IT WAS MARTY BELL.
I HADN'T MET GARTH.
I DON'T THINK GARTH KNEW WHO
I WAS, OR I DON'T THINK HE'D
HEARD A NOTE OF MINE.
MARTY BELL AND BETH RUSSELL,
AND ALL THE PEOPLE THAT WERE
ARNOLD AND MICHAEL, THE PEOPLE
THAT WERE ON THE CREATIVE
DEVELOPMENT TEAM AT LIVENT,
THEY ASKED ME TO COME IN AND
PLAY FOR THEM.
AND I SERENADED THEM WITH
THE HELP OF GLYNIS RANNEY
AND CHARLOTTE MOORE AND
PEOPLE I LOVE TO WORK WITH,
AND I PLAYED FOR
HOURS FOR THEM.
AND THEY SAID, LET'S
WORKSHOP ONE OF YOUR SHOWS.
AND THEY CHOSE ANOTHER SHOW.
THEY CHOSE
THE LAST RESORT.
AND BETH RUSSELL HAD SEEN THE
THEATRE PLUS VERSION, AND
ASKED ME IF THAT WAS ALL
I WANTED TO DO TO THAT.
AND I SAID, NO I REALLY WANTED
DO MAJOR REWRITES, AND SHE
SAID, HERE'S YOUR CHANCE,
WE'LL DO THAT ONE.

Richard says AND THEY STACKED YOUR SHOW
UP AGAINST WORKS, I REMEMBER
THAT SUMMER, BY THREE OTHER
MAJOR AMERICAN WRITING TEAMS.
AND YOU ALL GOT
THE SAME TREATMENT.

Leslie says ACTUALLY, I THINK THERE
WERE, SIX OF US ALTOGETHER.
SIX TEAMS.
IT WAS ONE OF THE MOST
WONDERFUL SUMMERS.
MARTY BELL IS FABULOUS.
HE WAS A HUGE HELP.
EVERYONE WAS.
I HAD 23 TOP
PERFORMERS DOING IT.
BOKO SUZUKI MUSIC DIRECTED.

Richard says WE KEEP USING THIS TERM
WORKSHOP, AND PEOPLE IN SHOW
BUSINESS KNOW WHAT IT MEANS,
BUT A LOT OF OTHER PEOPLE
THINK IT'S A PLACE IN THE
BASEMENT WHERE YOU KEEP
YOUR SKILL SAW.
SO WHAT IS A MUSICAL
THEATRE WORKSHOP?

Leslie says YOU KNOW, EVEN PEOPLE IN
THE BUSINESS ARE CONFUSED
ABOUT WHAT IT MEANS.

Richard says IT IS A PLACE WHERE
WE KEEP OUR SKILL SAW.

Leslie says IT MEANS DIFFERENT THINGS
TO DIFFERENT PEOPLE.
I THINK SOME PEOPLE THINK
IT'S A BACKER'S AUDITION.
I THINK SOME PEOPLE THINK
IT'S AN OPPORTUNITY
TO IMPRESS PEOPLE.
FOR ME, WHAT IT IS, IS A
CHANCE TO JUST SEE THE WORK,
SEE THE WRITING, AND FIGURE
OUT WHAT'S WRONG WITH IT,
AS MUCH AS YOU CAN.
GET SOME AUDIENCE FEEDBACK, IF
THERE'S AN INVITED AUDIENCE.
SOMETIMES THERE ISN'T.
IT'S NOT A TIME TO TEST
OUT THE ORCHESTRATIONS.
AT LEAST NOT IN A PRIMARY
WORKSHOP IT'S NOT.
IT'S NOT A TIME FOR ME TO
SEE ANYTHING ON ITS FEET.
THE TYPE OF WORKSHOP I LIKE IS
WHERE THE ACTORS ARE JUST
AT MUSIC STANDS.
NOBODY'S MEMORIZED ANYTHING.
THERE'S JUST A NICE IN-TUNE
PIANO OFF IN THE CORNER, AND
IT'S JUST ME AND THE WORK,
AND I GET TO HEAR IT BACK.

Richard says SO THIS TIME OUT, WHAT DID
YOU LEARN DIFFERENTLY ABOUT
YOUR SHOW?

Leslie says LOTS OF THINGS.
YOU KNOW, THE DIFFICULT THING
WITH A MUSICAL IS PACING.
AND THERE IS NO WAY YOU CAN
SIT ALL BY YOURSELF AT THE
PIANO, AND KNOW WHAT
THE PACING IS LIKE.
SOMETIMES I THINK, WITH A
PLAY, YOU CAN INVITE YOUR
FRIENDS OVER, ESPECIALLY IF
ALL YOUR FRIENDS ARE ACTORS,
AND YOU CAN ALL READ A
PART, YOU CAN GET AN IDEA.
BUT WHEN IT'S A MUSICAL
WRITTEN FOR 23 PEOPLE, YOU
REALLY DON'T KNOW HOW THE BIG
GROUP NUMBERS ARE GOING TO
HAPPEN, AND WHETHER THE
BALANCE IS RIGHT OR NOT.
AND YOU DON'T KNOW WHETHER
YOU'VE GOT TOO MANY UP TEMPOS,
OR TOO MANY BALLAD, OR WHETHER
THE PLOT IS CLEAR ENOUGH, OR
WHETHER IT'S CLEAR ENOUGH IN
LYRICS, OR WHAT'S HARD TO
HEAR, WHAT ISN'T.
THAT'S WHAT IT IS FOR ME.
AND A MUSICAL IS ONE THING
WITH ME SITTING AT A PIANO
AT HOME.
IT'S QUITE ANOTHER THING WITH
23 PEOPLE UP THERE SINGING.
IT'S QUITE MOVING.

Richard says SO WHAT DID YOU LEARN?
DID YOU DECIDE TO MAKE THE
WORK LIGHTER, HEAVIER, MORE
COMPLEX, LESS COMPLEX?

Leslie says ACTUALLY, IT HASN'T CHANGED
ALL THAT MUCH FROM THE
LIVENT WORKSHOP.
DAVID PERTRARKA AND I DECIDED
TO BRING IN A CO-BOOK WRITER
SO I WOULD BE FREE TO
WORK ON THE SCORE.
OH, AND THIS WAS AFTER THE
GOODMAN THEATRE IN CHICAGO
DECIDED TO PRODUCE IT.
IT'S VERY DIFFICULT FOR ONE
PERSON TO DO EVERYTHING
BECAUSE IF I'M BUSY REWRITING
SOMETHING IN THE SCORE, THEN
I'M NOT AVAILABLE TO TALK TO
ANYBODY ABOUT THE SCRIPT SO
IT'S ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE.
SO ANNA T. CASCIO, WHO IS
WONDERFUL, WAS BROUGHT IN.
SHE, AT THE TIME,
WAS LIVING IN L.A.
NOW SHE'S LIVING IN NEW YORK.
AND SHE AND I CONTINUED
TO WORK ON THE BOOK,
AND I CONTINUED TO
WORK ON THE SCORE.
THEN WE TOOK IT TO THE GOODMAN
THEATRE IN CHICAGO, AND THEY
GAVE IT A FABULOUS PRODUCTION.

Richard says NOW, THE OTHER THING THAT
COMPLICATES ALL OF THIS IS, WE
KEEP TALKING BATTING AROUND
YOUR VERSION IS CALLED
THE HOUSE OF MARTIN GUERRE.
IT'S BASED ON, NOT BASED ON,
WELL THE STORY THAT INSPIRED
IT IS THE FRENCH FILM,
THE

Leslie says YEAH, WHICH IS
ACTUALLY A TRUE STORY.
IT HAPPENED IN
THE 16th CENTURY.

Richard says THE PLOT FOR PEOPLE
WHO HAVEN'T SEEN IT.

Leslie plays a few chords on the piano.

Richard says EASIER TO SING THE PLOT.

Leslie says YES.
THE PLOT WAS, A GIRL OF 11
AND A BOY OF 14, MARTIN AND
BERTRAND, ARE FORCED TO
MARRY FOR ECONOMIC REASONS.
THEIR PARENTS FORCE
THEM TO MARRY.
IT'S IN THE SOUTH OF FRANCE,
IN A LITTLE TOWN CALLED ARTIGAT.
HE IS JUST A LITTLE BASTARD.
HE'S HORRIBLE TO HER.
HE'S HORRIBLE TO EVERYBODY.
THEY LIVE EIGHT
YEARS TOGETHER.
HE DOESN'T CONSUMMATE THE
MARRIAGE UNTIL THE LAST YEAR,
AND EVERYBODY IS
UPSET ABOUT THAT.
FINALLY, THE LAST YEAR HE
CONSUMMATES THE MARRIAGE,
SHE BECOMES PREGNANT,
AND HE LEAVES.
HE'S JUST HAD IT,
AND HE RUNS OUT.
EIGHT YEARS LATER,
HE SHOWS UP AGAIN.
HE COMES BACK TO ARTIGAT.
SHE HAS HER 8-YEAR-OLD
SON, AND SHE'S BEEN LIVING
THERE, AT THE LOW END OF
THE SOCIAL TOTEM POLE.
AND HE SHOWS UP.
HE'S BEEN TO THE WARS.
HE'S BEEN OFF WHALING,
AND HE'S A CHANGED MAN.
NOW, HE'S WONDERFUL.
HE'S MATURED, AND HE'S LEARNED A
LOT, AND HE WANTS TO COME HOME.
AND HE WANTS TO BE A GOOD
HUSBAND AND A GOOD FATHER.
THEY FALL MADLY IN LOVE, AND
IT'S JUST THE PERFECT MARRIAGE
LIFE, AND THE PERFECT FAMILY,
AND EVERYTHING LOOKS UP.

Richard says BUT AS MY DAUGHTER WOULD
SAY, 'THE PROBLEM IS...'

Leslie says YEAH.
UNFORTUNATELY, IT
DOESN'T END THERE.
WELL, FORTUNATELY FOR US, IT
WOULDN'T MAKE A GOOD MUSICAL
IF IT DID END THERE.
A SOLDIER COMES THROUGH TOWN
AND SAYS THAT IT'S NOT THE
REAL MARTIN GUERRE.
SO HE'S BROUGHT UP ON CHARGES BY
MARTIN GUERRE'S UNCLE PIERRE.
AND HE'S TAKEN TO COURT.
AND MAYBE THAT'S AS
FAR AS I SHOULD GO.

Richard says THAT'S IT.
DON'T GIVE IT AWAY.

Leslie says YEAH.

Richard says NOW, AS I SAID, THERE WAS
THE FRENCH MOVIE MADE OF THIS
WITH GERARD DEPARDIEU, THERE
WAS ALSO THE AMERICAN VERSION
WITH RICHARD GERE,
SOMMERSBY.
BUT MORE TO THE POINT, AND I
WONDER WHAT THIS DID TO YOU,
BOUBLIL AND SCHONBERG,
WHO WROTE
LES MISERABLE
AND
MISS SAIGON, HAD BEEN
WORKING ON THEIR OWN VERSION.
I'M CURIOUS, AND I'VE NEVER
ASKED YOU THIS, WHEN DID YOU
FIND OUT THEY WERE DOING ONE?

Leslie says THEATRE PLUS HAD CANCELLED
THE FIRST PRODUCTION, AND THEY
WERE IN THE MIDST OF DECIDED
WHETHER OR NOT TO RESCHEDULE
IT FOR THE FOLLOWING SEASON,
AND I WAS HOME ONE NIGHT, AND
A FRIEND OF MINE, THE MUSIC
DIRECTOR, NOREEN WAIBEL
PHONED ME AND SAID,
DID YOU HEAR THIS?
AND I REMEMBER, I REMEMBER
THINKING, WHEN I WAS WRITING
THE SHOW, THAT I WAS SAFE.
I THOUGHT THE ONLY PEOPLE WHO
WILL REALLY STAND IN MY WAY
TO THE EXTENT THAT MY SHOW
WILL NOT GET ON, WOULD BE IF
ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER OR
STEPHEN SONDHEIM, OR BOUBLIL
AND SCHONBERG WROTE
THE SAME THING.
BUT I THOUGHT, THOSE REALLY
ARE THE ONLY PEOPLE THAT WILL
MEAN THAT MINE
WILL NOT GET UP.
AND DARNED IF THEY DIDN'T!
SO WHEN I HEARD, I HUNG UP
THE PHONE, AND I WENT FOR A
REALLY, REALLY LONG WALK.
AND I WAS SORT OF NUMB FOR
A WHILE, AND THEN I JUST
THOUGHT, OKAY, WELL, I'VE
LEARNED A LOT FROM THIS,
I'LL MOVE ON TO
THE NEXT PROJECT.

Richard says SO YOU THOUGHT IT WAS DEAD?

Leslie says YEAH.

Richard says AND NOW OTHER PEOPLE
HAVE BEEN PUTTING IT ON.
IT HAS BEEN SUGGESTED, WHEN IT
PLAYED AT THE GOODMAN THEATRE
IN CHICAGO, IT GOT GREAT
NOTICES AND EVERYONE LOVED IT.
AND IF IT WEREN'T FOR
THE SHADOW OF THE OTHER
PRODUCTION, PEOPLE FEEL IT
WOULD BE IN NEW YORK CITY
RIGHT NOW.
DO YOU FEEL THAT'S TRUE?

Leslie says IT'S ONE OF THOSE THINGS,
THERE'S NO CONTROL
TO THAT EXPERIMENT.
YOU'D HAVE TO DO THE
EXPERIMENT WITHOUT THE
SCHONBERG BOUBLIL MUSICAL
THERE TO KNOW IF THAT'S TRUE
OR NOT.
I DON'T KNOW.
IT'S A BIG EXPENSIVE MUSICAL,
AND NOBODY KNOWS WHO I AM.
SO...

Richard says BUT THEIRS WENT THROUGH
A LOT OF TROUBLE.
IT OPENED TO MIXED REVIEWS.
CAMERON MACKINTOSH SHUT
IT DOWN, REWROTE IT.
IT IS STRUGGLING ALONG, BUT
YET HE HAS ANNOUNCED NO PLANS
TO BRING IT TO AMERICA.
WE ALL LIKE TO THINK WE'RE
NOBLE PEOPLE, LESLIE, BUT DO
YOU GET ANY KIND OF
SCHADENFREUDE OUT OF, YOU
KNOW, PLEASURE AND THE PAIN OF
OTHERS SAYING, GOOD, THEY HAD
TROUBLE DOING IT, AND IT'S
NOT WORKING ALL THAT WELL?

Leslie says ONLY IF IT GETS
MINE TO NEW YORK.
I ACTUALLY MET SCHONBERG
AND BOUBLIL IN ENGLAND.
THEY WON'T REMEMBER THIS.
I WAS STUDYING WITH STEPHEN
SONDHEIM OVER AT OXFORD, AND
THEY CAME TO GIVE A LECTURE.
AND I WENT TO DINNER AFTER,
WHEN THERE WERE A LOT OF US AT
THE TABLE, BUT I HAPPENED TO
BE SITTING ACROSS THE TABLE
FROM CLAUDE MICHEL
SCHONBERG, AND HE WAS SO
DELIGHTFUL, AND SO CHARMING,
AND SO WONDERFUL, I WAS SO
MOVED BY EVERYTHING HE SAID
ABOUT THE WRITING PROCESS,
THAT, NO, I DON'T WISH ILL.
AND YOU KNOW WHAT?
THEY WERE WORKING ON
MARTIN GUERRE THEN.
BECAUSE EVERYBODY AT THE TABLE
SAID, WHAT ARE YOU WORKING
ON NOW?
AND THEY SAID, WE KNEW WHAT
WE WERE WRITING NEXT BEFORE
MISS SAIGON
OPENED,
AND WE'RE IN THE MIDST
OF WRITING IT NOW.
BUT THEY WOULDN'T TELL ANYBODY
WHAT THEY WERE WORKING ON.
SO THAT MEANS THEY WERE
WORKING ON IT THEN,
AND THAT WAS 1990.
SO THEY PROBABLY
STARTED IN '88-'89.
THAT'S A LONG TIME TO WORK ON
SOMETHING THAT JUST FLOPS.

Richard says SO THEY WANT TO
KEEP IT GOING.

Leslie says IT'S HARD TO WISH
THAT ON ANYONE.

Richard says NOW, YOURS IS IN TORONTO, AT
CANADIAN STAGE, WHICH IS THE
BIG REPUTABLE REGIONAL
THEATRE FOR TONIGHT.
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO HAVE A
MAJOR SHOW IN YOUR HOMETOWN?
OR YOUR ADOPTED HOMETOWN?

Leslie says FABULOUS.
IT'S SO NICE TO WORK AT HOME.
ALTHOUGH, YOU KNOW WHAT'S
REALLY DIFFICULT, WE'VE JUST
FINISHED THE AUDITION PROCESS,
AND I KNOW MOST OF THE PEOPLE
WHO ARE COMING IN AND
AUDITIONING, AND SO MANY OF
THEM I'D LIKE TO WORK WITH,
AND I CAN'T HIRE EVERYBODY.
AND A LOT OF THEM ARE PEOPLE
WHO HAVE DONE FAVOURS FOR ME
OVER THE YEARS, SOME OF
THEM ARE MY VERY FAVOURITE
PERFORMERS, BUT THERE'S NO
ROLE IN IT FOR THEM, OR
SOMEBODY ELSE IS MORE RIGHT
FOR THAT PARTICULAR CHARACTER.
AND I'M FINDING
THAT DIFFICULT.
IT WASN'T DIFFICULT IN CHICAGO
BECAUSE I DIDN'T KNOW A SOUL,
SO I JUST CHOSE THE PERSON
THAT WAS RIGHT FOR THE ROLE.
IT'S NOT MY CHOICE, IT'S THE
DIRECTOR'S CHOICE, BUT I'M
REALLY HAVING TROUBLE NOT
HIRING EVERYBODY WHO COMES IN
THROUGH THE DOOR
BECAUSE I KNOW THEM ALL.

Richard says NOW, AS IF THIS WERE A
MUSICAL, WE'VE BEGUN WITH THE
BIG OPENING NUMBER THAT TALKS
ALL ABOUT MARTIN GUERRE,
NOW WE CAN GO BACK AND SEE
HOW THE STORY GOT THERE.
I AM CURIOUS.
THERE WAS MUSIC IN YOUR
FAMILY, RIGHT, GROWING UP?
TELL ME ABOUT IT.

Leslie says ALL THREE OF MY
PARENTS WERE IN MUSIC.
MY DAD WAS IN TV, AND HE WAS
A TENOR, AND HE AND MY MOTHER
HAD A CLUB ACT, AND THEY
ACTUALLY PLAYED VEGAS.
THEY MET DOWN IN CALIFORNIA,
THEY WERE DOING AN OPERA.
THEY WERE MEMBERS OF THE
OPERA LAB DOWN IN L.A.

Richard says WAS IT LIKE AN
OPERATIC STEVE AND EDDY?

Leslie says NO, THEY BOTH ENDED
UP IN MUSICAL THEATRE,
MORE THAN OPERA.
I THINK THEY ARE BOTH TRAINED
OPERA SINGERS, BUT THEY
PREFERRED MUSICAL THEATRE
BECAUSE THEY LIKED TO SINK
THEIR TEETH INTO SOMETHING
THEY HAD TO DO A LITTLE
MORE ACTING IN.
THAT WAS THEN, NOT NOW.
THERE'S A LOT MORE ACTING
DONE TODAY IN OPERA.
MY MUM IS A SOPRANO, AND HER
NAME IS CLEONE DUNCAN, AND
SHE'S TAUGHT A LOT OF THE
PEOPLE, SHE ALSO TEACHES, AND
HAS TAUGHT A LOT OF THE
PEOPLE YOU SEE ON THE MUSICAL
THEATRE STAGES THESE DAYS.
AND MY STEPFATHER, WITH WHOM
I GREW UP, MY PARENTS SPLIT
WHEN I WAS THREE, HE WAS
DON PARRISH, WHO WAS --

Richard says CANDLELIGHT and WINE.

Leslie says YEAH, PRESIDENT
OF ACTRA FOR YEARS.

Richard says ABSOLUTELY.

Leslie says AND PROBABLY THE VOICE YOU
HEARD MORE THAN ANY OTHER VOICE
FOR YEARS.

Richard says SO YOU OBVIOUSLY GREW UP WITH
A CERTAIN KIND OF MUSIC ALL
THIS SURROUNDING YOU.

Leslie says YES AND NO.
MUM WAS IN MUSICAL THEATRE,
BUT DON DIDN'T LIKE
ANYBODY SINGING.
HE DIDN'T LIKE
MUSICAL THEATRE.
SO THE MUSIC THAT WAS PLAYED
AROUND THE HOME WAS ALWAYS
JAZZ AND CLASSICAL.

Richard says THAT'S INTERESTING.
DO YOU REMEMBER LA PETITE
LESLIE HAVING A FAVOURITE
SONG, OR THE FIRST THING SHE
EVER SANG ALONG WITH OR LIKED?

Leslie says THAT'S GOING WAY BACK.

Richard says THINK BACK, MISS ARDEN.

Leslie says OH, BOY.
LIKE WHEN I WAS REALLY LITTLE?

Richard says WELL, OLD ENOUGH
TO HAVE IT COUNT.
WAS THERE A MUSICAL
YOU REMEMBER?

Leslie says YEAH,
MAN OF
LAMANCHA
AND
OLIVER.
I REMEMBER MY MUM TOOK ME
TO SEE
OLIVER, WHEN I WAS
THREE, I THINK THE STORY GOES.
AND I STARTED TO SING ALONG
WITH THE SONGS, EVIDENTLY.
AND THE LADY IN FRONT OF ME
TURNED AROUND, AND MY MUM
THOUGHT THAT I WAS BOTHERING
HER, AND WAS RUINING THE SHOW
FOR HER, BUT INSTEAD, SHE
WHISPERED, WOULD I LIKE TO
LOOK THROUGH HER OPERA
GLASSES, SO I GOT TO LOOK
THROUGH HER OPERA GLASSES
AND WATCH THE SHOW.
AND MY DAD TOOK ME TO SEE
MAN OF LAMANCHA
WHEN I WAS
REALLY, REALLY YOUNG.
SO THERE'S A COUPLE.
OH,
WEST SIDE STORY.

Richard says THOSE ARE GOOD ONES TO
HAVE HANGING AROUND
IN THE BEGINNING.

Leslie says
WEST SIDE STORY,
I REMEMBER
I LEARNED ALL OF THAT
WHEN I WAS REALLY LITTLE.

Richard says THE OTHER THING I CAN'T HELP
BUT THINK ABOUT IS YOUR MUM
SPENT ALMOST EVERY SUMMER WHEN
YOU WERE WITH HER AT THE
CHARLOTTETOWN FESTIVAL,
WHICH WAS DEVOTED THEN
AND IS COMING BACK TO BEING
DEVOTED NOW TO DEVELOPING
NEW CANADIAN MUSICALS.
YOU WERE THERE EVERY YEAR WHEN
NEW SHOWS WERE BEING WRITTEN
AND PEOPLE BY CANADIANS.
DID THAT MAKE AN
IMPRESSION ON YOU?

Leslie says YES.
IT'S FUNNY, WHEN YOU WERE
JUST SAYING WHAT WERE YOUR
FAVOURITE MUSICALS, THE ONES
I REALLY REMEMBER ARE THE
CANADIAN ONES.
I REALLY REMEMBER
ANNE OF GREEN GABLES.
THAT WAS A FAVOURITE.
I SAW THAT FOR THE FIRST TIME
WHEN I WAS ABOUT SEVEN OR EIGHT.
THAT'S A NICE INTRODUCTION TO
MUSICAL THEATRE FOR A SEVEN
OR EIGHT-YEAR-OLD.

Richard says IT STILL WORKS, TOO.

Leslie says IT DOES.
IT'S A WELL CONSTRUCTED SHOW.
PEOPLE OCCASIONALLY THINK,
OH, ANNE OF GREEN GABLES, OH,
THAT'S FROTHY.
IT'S A REALLY FUNNY,
WELL-CONSTRUCTED SHOW WITH
LIGHT AND DARK AND
EVERYTHING ELSE GOING ON.
IT'S A TERRIFIC SHOW.
AND
MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS
WITH
A SCORE BY HOWARD CABLE.
IT WAS JUST WONDERFUL.
AND THEY DID
FEUX FOLLETS,
WHICH WAS A
FABULOUS DANCE PIECE.

Richard says DANCE PORTRAIT OF CANADA.
ALAN LUND WAS IN CHARGE OF
THE FESTIVAL AT THIS POINT.
DID IT EVER OCCUR TO YOU
THAT YOU WOULD WRITE?

Leslie says WE DIDN'T GET A PIANO -- I
PLAYED CLARINET IN SCHOOL.
AND I DIDN'T GET A PIANO
UNTIL I WAS IN GRADE EIGHT,
I THINK.
AND I STARTED WRITING
ON IT RIGHT AWAY.
I WAS NEVER INTERESTED
IN PERFORMING.
AND I DIDN'T SING UNTIL I WAS
ABOUT 19 OR 20 BECAUSE MY MUM
SANG SO BEAUTIFULLY, I JUST
DIDN'T WANT THE COMPETITION.
AND I DIDN'T TAKE PIANO
LESSONS, EITHER.
I WAS TAKING CLARINET.
AND I WAS HEADING
TOWARDS CLARINET.
AND I ALWAYS WROTE FOR FUN.
I CAN'T REMEMBER A TIME
WHEN I DIDN'T WRITE.
BUT I WENT TO UNIVERSITY FOR
SCIENCES BECAUSE MY STEPFATHER
WAS THE PRESIDENT OF ACTRA
FOR YEARS, AND HE WOULD BRING
HOME THE STATISTICS FROM
ACTRA AND SAY, THIS IS
THE PERCENTAGE OF OUR
MEMBERSHIP THAT LIVES
BELOW THE POVERTY LINE.
GO INTO MEDICINE.

Richard says IS IT TRUE YOU WENT TO
GENETICS FOR A WHILE?

Leslie says YEAH, PHYSICS AND GENETICS.

Richard says NOW, THAT'S AWFULLY SPECIFIC.
I SEE IN THE WORK OF LESLIE
ARDEN, WHERE YOU OFTEN WRITE
THIS VERY MATHEMATICAL, VERY
CAREFULLY WORKED OUT THINGS.
IS LESLIE ARDEN THE
SCIENTIST GOING ON THERE?

Leslie says YUP, YUP.

Richard says AND YOU STILL THINK THAT WAY.

Leslie says YUP.

Richard says BUT YOU DON'T THINK HUMAN
EMOTIONS CAN BE REDUCED TO
SCIENTIFIC DOTS ON
A BLURB, DO YOU?

Leslie says NO.
IT'S BOTH SIDES GOING
AT THE SAME TIME.
AND THAT'S WHAT I LOVE ABOUT
MUSIC, IN PARTICULAR, IS THAT
IT'S MATH AND EMOTION.
AND I GUESS YOU HAVE TO KEEP
SWITCHING BACK AND FORTH FROM
ONE SIDE OF THE
BRAIN TO THE OTHER.
AND CERTAINLY, THE IDEA COMES
FROM SOME INSPIRATION, SOME
EMOTIONAL INSPIRATION.
BUT WHAT YOU DO WITH IT AFTER,
I HATE TO SAY MATHEMATICAL
BECAUSE IT SOUNDS SO COLD, BUT
YOU DEVELOP IT IN A CERTAIN
DIRECTION, THEN YOU HAVE TO
FIGURE OUT HOW TO GET BACK TO
WHERE YOU HAVE TO GET BACK
TO, AND THAT'S... I HAVE
A LOVE OF FORM.
WE'VE BEEN TALKING ABOUT THAT.
AND CRAFT.
AND I THINK REALLY GOOD
ART, OH, HERE I GO, WAXING
PHILOSOPHICAL.

Richard says GO AHEAD.

Leslie says REALLY GOOD ART IS A
COMBINATION OF CRAFT AND FORM,
AND FREEDOM AND INSPIRATION
AND EMOTION, BUT ALWAYS
KEEPING THOSE REINS ON.
AND IT'S GOOD TO LEARN THE
RULES, YOU CAN ALWAYS BREAK
THEM, AND I DO ALL THE
TIME, BUT I KNOW THEM.

Richard says THERE'S A LYRIC BY SOMEONE
WE BOTH LIKE, IT SAYS,
“IT'S ALL SO SIMPLE,
RELAX, LET GO, LET FLY,
SO SOMEONE TELL ME
WHY CAN'T I?”
IT'S STEPHEN SONDHEIM.
AND HE WAS A GREAT
FAVOURITE OF YOURS.
I REMEMBER AN ANECDOTE ABOUT
YOU RATHER YOUNG PLAYING
CLARINET IN THE ORCHESTRA
OF
A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC.

Leslie says YEAH, I DID FOR -- OH,
I CAN'T REMEMBER
THE NAME OF THE COMPANY.
WELL, ANYWAY, I PLAYED
THE CLARINET PART.
WHICH IS A TERRIFIC PART.
IT'S GOT THAT SOLO.

She plays a few chords and continues
IN THIS PARTICULAR ONE, HE'S
GOT THE SOLO AT THE BEGINNING.

Richard says BUT YEARS LATER, YOU WOUND
UP WITH STEPHEN SONDHEIM
STUDYING IN ENGLAND.
AND IT HAPPENED IN ONE OF
THOSE FAIRY TALE WAYS.
YOU WERE WORKING IN TORONTO
HERE, RIGHT, AS A VOCAL COACH,
I BELIEVE?

Leslie says YES.

Richard says ON
LES MISERABLES.
AND CAMERON MACKINTOSH
CAME TO VISIT.
NOW, ONE THING I'M MISSING IN
THE STORY, DID YOU GIVE HIM A
TAPE, OR DID SOMEONE ELSE?
SOMEONE ELSE DID.

Leslie says YEAH, DAVID MALICK WAS
PLAYING MARIUS AT THE TIME,
AND DAVID WAS COACHING WITH
ME, AND ONE DAY HE CAME IN AND
HE SAID, GEE, PEOPLE ARE
TALKING ABOUT THE STUFF THAT
YOU'RE WRITING, AND I'VE
NEVER HEARD A NOTE
THAT YOU'VE WRITTEN.
ALL I'VE DONE IS
COACH WITH YOU.
AND I HAPPENED TO HAVE A TAPE
JUST SITTING ON THE TOP OF
THE PIANO.
AND I SAID, OH, WELL, HERE'S
SOME STUFF I'VE WRITTEN,
AND I HANDED IT TO HIM.
AND THAT NIGHT, HE WENT BACK
TO
LES MIS, TO DO
LES MIS,
AND THERE WAS A RECEPTION
AFTER BECAUSE CAMERON JUST
HAPPENED TO BE AT
THE SHOW THAT NIGHT.
AND DAVID GAVE HIM A TAPE AND
SAID, THIS IS WHAT CANADIANS
ARE WRITING, YOU MIGHT BE
INTERESTED IN HEARING THIS.

Richard says AND THE NEXT MORNING,
THE STORY HAS IT --

Leslie says HE PHONED MY AGENT AND SAID,
CAN SHE GET ON A PLANE
TO ENGLAND.

Richard says WHAT WAS HAPPENING
IN ENGLAND?

Leslie says HE HAD ESTABLISHED A CHAIR AT
OXFORD AND HAD ASKED STEPHEN
SONDHEIM TO TEACH A
MUSICAL THEATRE COURSE.
AND THERE WERE TWELVE
PEOPLE IN THE COURSE.
AND THEN AT THE LAST
MOMENT HE SQUEEZED ME IN,
WHICH MADE 13.
WE WERE ALL
PROFESSIONAL WRITERS.

Richard says BUT YOU WERE LUCKY.

Leslie says I THINK PERHAPS THAT WAS
THE
LUCKIEST I HAVE BEEN EVER.

Richard says HOW DID YOU FEEL?
I KNOW YOU LIKE STEPHEN
SONDHEIM'S WORK, BUT TO BE
TOLD YOU'RE GOING TO GO STUDY
WITH HIM, WHAT WAS IT LIKE?

Leslie says WELL, I DON'T WANT TO OFFEND
ANYBODY, BUT THE ANALOGY I
USE IS IT'S LIKE TELLING A
CHRISTIAN HE'S GOING TO STUDY
WITH JESUS CHRIST.
STEPHEN SONDHEIM IS
MUSICAL THEATRE TODAY.
THERE ARE OTHER PEOPLE I
THINK THE WORLD OF, TOO.
I LIKE MENKIN AND ASHMAN
AND STEPHEN SCHWARTZ.
THERE ARE A LOT OF
WONDERFUL WRITERS.
BUT STEPHEN SONDHEIM,
TO ME, IS JUST IT.
AND IT WAS JUST AMAZING.
THERE WERE TWO PEOPLE I ALWAYS
WANTED TO MEET, OR GET, I
DON'T KNOW, TWO HEROES, ONE
WAS JONI MITCHELL, ONE WAS
STEPHEN SONDHEIM.

Richard says TO A LOT OF PEOPLE, THAT
WOULD SEEM VERY DISPARATE.
BECAUSE MITCHELL SEEMS TO BE
ALL ABOUT EMOTION AND POETRY
AND EXPRESSING IT, YOU KNOW,
MORE LIKE THE ID, AND SONDHEIM
IS ABOUT, LET'S DO THIS IN A
CAREFULLY CONTROLLED WAY,
AND IT'S ALL THE EGO.
DO YOU WANT TO
MARRY THOSE TWO?
I DON'T MEAN SONDHEIM AND
MITCHELL, THAT WOULD BE
IMPOSSIBLE, BUT I
MEAN, THEIR WORK.

Leslie says YEAH, I SUPPOSE I'VE NEVER
THOUGHT OF IT THAT WAY.
THAT'S A GOOD POINT.
JONI MITCHELL ALSO PLEASES
ME ON A MATHEMATICAL LEVEL.
NOT MATHEMATICAL SO MUCH, BUT
WHEN SHE CHOOSES A METAPHOR
OR A SYMBOL, SHE CARRIES
IT RIGHT THROUGH.
WHAT SHE DOES WITH A TURN OF A
PHRASE JUST MOVES ME SO MUCH.

Richard says FAVOURITE MITCHELL SONG?

Leslie says YOU KNOW WHAT, I CAN'T.
I CAN'T SAY.
I'VE GOT SO MANY OF HER CDs, I
JUST LOVE SO MANY OF THEM FOR
DIFFERENT -- NO, I COULDN'T.

Richard says I ALWAYS THINK BACK TO, THEY
PAVED PARADISE AND PUT IN A
PARKING LOT.
WHICH SEEMS LIKE SUCH
A BEAUTIFUL IMAGE.

Leslie says THERE IS SOME STUFF IN
NIGHT
RIDE HOME
THAT I JUST LOVE.
I'M UP IN THE SYCAMORE, A
SINNER OF SOME POSITION.
OH.
I JUST LOVE TO JUST
READ HER LYRICS.
AND STEPHEN SONDHEIM, THERE
ARE A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO THINK
HE'S VERY MATHEMATICAL,
AND VERY...
I'M EMOTIONALLY MOVED BY
THE THINGS THAT HE WRITES.
I THINK ONE OF THE REASONS
THAT I'M MOVED IS THAT HE CAN
DO SO MUCH WITH SO LITTLE.
EVERYBODY TALKS ABOUT HOW
WORDY HE IS, THERE ARE TIMES
HE USES THREE WORDS TO CONVEY
SOMETHING THAT SOMEBODY ELSE
WOULD USE AN ENTIRE SONG FOR.
I CAN GIVE YOU JUST ONE
EXAMPLE, BUT HE DOES THIS
ALL THE TIME.
IN
INTO THE WOODS, ONE OF MY
FAVOURITE MOMENTS OF ALL TIME
IS FROM THE VERY BEGINNING
YOU HEAR, “I WISH,” AND THEY
KEEP SINGING ABOUT WHAT
THEY WISH, I WISH, I WISH.
AND CINDERELLA STARTS US OFF.
“I WISH,” AND IT'S
CINDERELLA'S CHARACTER.
AND THEN, AT THE END, WHEN
EVERYTHING HAS GONE HORRIBLY
WRONG, LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD,
WHO HAS LOST HER PARENTS AND
EVERYTHING, TURNS TO
CINDERELLA AND GOES, “I WISH.”
AND CINDERELLA GOES, “I KNOW.”
AND IT'S JUST, SOMEBODY ELSE
WOULD WRITE A WHOLE SONG,
SOMEBODY ELSE WOULD
FILL AN ACT WITH THAT.
IT'S SO FRAUGHT WITH MEANING.

Richard says OR I THINK BACK, YOU STARTED
TO PLAY
SEND IN THE CLOWNS,
THE SIMPLICITY OF ISN'T
IT RICH, ARE WE A PAIR?
ME HERE AT LAST ON THE
GROUND, YOU IN MIDAIR.
BOOM.
THAT IT'S IT.
IT SAYS EVERYTHING.

Leslie says THERE IS JUST SOMETHING ABOUT
A PASSION, IMPLACABLE AS STONE.
JUST SOMETHING ABOUT
THE WAY HE USES LYRICS
THAT MOVES ME EMOTIONALLY.

Richard says NOW, WHAT DID HE DO WITH YOU
PRACTICALLY WORKING WITH YOU?
WHAT PART OF LESLIE ARDEN
DID HE ADDRESS AS A WRITER?

Leslie says HE PUSHED ME
REALLY, REALLY HARD.
HE TOLD ME, 'COS I ACTUALLY
TALKED TO HIM ABOUT THAT
BECAUSE HE WAS JUST BRUTAL.
AND I ASKED HIM WHY HE WAS
BEING SO BRUTAL, AND HE SAID
BECAUSE IT IS OBVIOUS YOU
HAVE ALREADY DECIDED TO BE A
WRITER, YOU'VE HAD LOTS OF
STUFF PRODUCED, THERE IS
NOTHING I CAN SAY THAT IS
GOING TO MAKE YOU DECIDE NOT
TO BE A WRITER, SO I
DON'T HAVE TO WASTE TIME.
I CAN JUST GET TO THE POINT.
THAT WAS NICE.
AND FROM THEN ON, IT WAS FINE.
WHEN HE WAS BRUTAL, HE WAS
BRUTAL AND I KNEW WHY.
HE TALKED A LOT ABOUT --

Richard says NOW I'M CURIOUS.
YOU SAID BRUTAL.
WAS HE BRUTAL ABOUT
SHODDINESS OF FORM
OR IMPRECISION OF THOUGHT?
WHAT MADE HIM BRUTAL?

Leslie says HE NEVER ALLOWED ME TO
GET AWAY WITH ANYTHING.
AND WHAT I MEAN BY THAT IS I
WOULD SPEND TWO WEEKS WRITING
SOME SONG I THOUGHT WAS
BRILLIANT, BUT IT REALLY
WASN'T THE RIGHT TONE FOR THAT
MOMENT, OR SOMETHING OR OTHER.
I'D PLAY IT FOR HIM, HE'D GO,
WELL, IT'S FINE, BUT IT'S NOT
THE RIGHT TONE.
AND IT WAS JUST DISMISSED TWO
WEEKS OF MY LIFE THERE GONE.
HE DIDN'T SAY, I REALLY LIKE
THIS LYRIC, OR I LIKE THAT
SECTION, OR I LIKE THE WAY YOU
MODULATED HERE AND GOT BACK
TO THIS, OR I LOVE THAT
DISSONANCE AND THE WAY YOU
RESOLVED IT OVER HERE.
NONE OF THAT.
JUST WRONG TONE.
WRONG.

Richard says GET RID OF IT.
MOVE ON.
MOVE ON, ONE OF
HIS BEST SONGS.

Leslie says EXACTLY.
AND FOR A WHILE I FOUND THAT
HARD BECAUSE I THINK WE'RE ALL
USED TO TEACHERS WHO SPEND TEN
MINUTES FLATTERING YOU AND
THEN SPEND THE LAST MINUTE
GOING, BUT THERE'S THIS LITTLE
PROBLEM HERE.
HE WOULD JUST GET
RIGHT TO THE PROBLEM.
IT WAS INVALUABLE.

Richard says DO YOU FEEL HE'S STANDING ON
YOUR SHOULDER SOMETIMES STILL?

Leslie says I GUESS SO.

Richard says OR HAVE YOU MOVED ON?

Leslie says A LOT OF PEOPLE SAY
MY STYLE RESEMBLES HIS.
I LIKE THAT TYPE
OF MUSICAL THEATRE.
I LIKE RHYMING PERFECTLY.
I LIKE THE THINGS THAT ARE
COMPLICATED MUSICALLY.
I DON'T LIKE
STAYING TOO SIMPLE.
NOT THAT I MEAN
SOPHISTICATED MEANS GOOD.
I DON'T MEAN THAT AT ALL.
BUT I THINK, I DON'T THINK WE
WRITE ABOUT THE SAME THINGS.
HE'S A CITY GUY, AND I'M MORE
OF A PEOPLE PERSON, AND HE'S
MORE CYNICAL, AND I'M LESS
CYNICAL, I THINK, ALTHOUGH I
HAVE MY CYNICAL MOMENTS.
I DON'T KNOW.
IF I HAVE TO HAVE SOMEBODY
SITTING ON MY SHOULDER,
I'M GLAD IT IS HE.

Richard says YOU SAID YOU'RE
NOT A CYNICAL GIRL.
WHAT MOVES YOU?
WHAT MOVES YOU TO WRITE?
SOME PEOPLE WRITE OUT OF
FRUSTRATION, SOME PEOPLE WRITE
OUT OF ANGER, SOME PEOPLE
WRITE OUT OF PAIN.
WHAT MAKES YOU WRITE?

Leslie says ANGER IS A BIG ONE FOR ME.
ONE DAY I WAS PLAYING AN
ANGRY SONG WHERE SOMEBODY WAS
FURIOUS IN THE SANG, AND
BERATING HER SON HORRIBLY,
AND I FINISHED THE SONG.
I PLAYED IT FOR MY MUM, RIGHT
AS SOON AS I HAD FINISHED.
I PLAYED IT FOR MUM.
THERE WAS A LONG PAUSE, AND
I SAID, WELL, WHAT DO YOU THINK?
THERE'S ANOTHER LONG PAUSE,
AND SHE SAID, YOU WRITE ANGRY
SONGS REALLY WELL.
AND SHE WAS TRYING TO FIGURE
OUT WHAT HAD GONE WRONG IN MY
CHILDHOOD TO CAUSE THIS?
NOTHING WENT WRONG.
YOU KNOW WHAT, IT'S JUST
SIMPLY A PASSIONATE EMOTION.
THAT'S WHAT MOVES ME.
ANY KIND OF
PASSIONATE EMOTION.
I HAVE TROUBLE WRITING SONGS
ABOUT, GEE, THE FLOWERS SMELL
NICE TODAY.
AND OH, LOOK, THE SUN'S
OUT AND THE SKY IS BLUE.
THAT DOESN'T MOVE ME TO WRITE.
BUT PASSIONATE GOOD THINGS,
PASSIONATE BAD THINGS, ANGER,
JEALOUSY, ALL THOSE
THINGS MOVE ME TO WRITE.
AND I DON'T THINK IT'S ANY
ONE MORE THAN ANY OTHERS.

Richard says WHEN YOU ARE WRITING, DO
THE CHARACTERS TAKE OVER,
OR IS LESLIE THE PUPPETEER?
I DIDN'T MEAN THAT
AS A NEGATIVE PHRASE.
ARE YOU STILL IN CONTROL OF
WHAT THEY ARE FEELING OR
SAYING, OR DOES BERTRAND
OF MARTIN EVER RISE UP AND
POSSESS YOU?

Leslie says DEPENDS ON THE CHARACTER.
IN MARTIN GUERRE, THERE'S A
PIECE OF ME IN ALMOST EVERY
ONE OF THEM.
I DON'T HAVE ANY BAD GUYS,
FOR ME, IN MARTIN GUERRE.
I UNDERSTAND PIERRE'S
POINT OF VIEW.
I UNDERSTAND BERTRAND'S.
I KNOW WHY ARNEAU IS
DOING WHAT HE'S DOING,
BUT I ALSO KNOW WHY
PIERRE IS FIGHTING HIM.
AND I WOULD, TOO.
I WOULD DO WHAT
PIERRE IS DOING.
I WOULD ALSO DO WHAT
ARNEAU IS DOING.
SO I UNDERSTAND THEM ALL.
IF I'M WRITING A SHOW
THAT'S MORE PASTICHE,
LIKE
THE LAST RESORT.

Richard says HUMOROUS WITH NORM FOSTER, KIND
OF A MUSICAL MURDER MYSTERY.

Leslie says YES.
AND THERE'S NOT MUCH OF ME
IN ANY OF THOSE CHARACTERS.
IT'S SPOOFING SOMETHING.
IT'S COMEDY NUMBERS
BASED ON A CIRCUMSTANCE.

Richard says WHAT I'M CURIOUS ABOUT ALSO,
THERE'S ONE OF THE THINGS IN
MARTIN GUERRE THAT STAYED WITH
ME SINCE THE FIRST TIME I SAW
IT YEARS AGO, IS ONE OF THE KEY
SONGS,
THE WORLD IS CHANGING.
AND WHAT THEY WOULD SAY IN
POP MUSIC TERMS, THE HOOK.
THE LYRIC AND THE MUSIC.
CAN YOU PLAY THE LITTLE
TITLE PHRASE THERE?

Leslie plays a soft tune and sings
THE WORLD IS
CHANGING, BERTRAND
I'VE SEEN IT...

She grins and says ENOUGH?

Richard says THAT IS SO WEDDED IN MY
MIND, THE WORDS AND THE MUSIC
TOGETHER, THAT YOU HAVE TO
SAY THAT CLICHE QUESTION,
WHICH CAME FIRST?

Leslie says UM, IT WAS ALMOST TOGETHER.
IT MAY HAVE BEEN TOGETHER.
I WAS TRYING TO FIGURE OUT
HOW WOULD HE WIN HER WHEN
HE COULDN'T ACTUALLY EXPLAIN
WHY HE DID THE THINGS HE DID
BECAUSE HE'S NOT
THE RIGHT GUY.
SO HOW COULD HE WIN HER WHEN
SHE'S SAYING, I CAN'T DO THIS.
AND I THOUGHT, IT TAKES PLACE
DURING THE 16th CENTURY,
WHICH IS THE TIME OF THE
REFORMATION AND HUGE
UPHEAVALS IN THE WORLD.
AND THIS IS A BACKDROP I
COULD SEE HIM SAYING
THE WORLD IS
CHANGING, SO CAN WE.
WE CAN CHOOSE SOMETHING NEW
BECAUSE THERE ARE THESE NEW
OPTIONS NOW.
SO THAT BECAME THE
THEME FOR THE SHOW.
THAT'S THE THEME
FOR THE SHOW FOR ME.

Richard says AND WHEN THE WORDS CAME, THE
MUSIC CAME PRETTY MUCH RIGHT
WITH IT.

Leslie says I WAS WALKING DOWN THE
STREET, AND I THOUGHT, I THINK
WE'D TRY AND TELL HER, THAT
THE WORLD IS CHANGING, BERTRAND.
AND THERE IT WAS.

Richard says WHICH IS MAYBE WHY IT SEEMED SO
MARRIED IN MY MIND HEARING IT.

Leslie says YEAH.
SOMETIMES I GET MUSICAL IDEAS
AND THEY'RE NOT VERY CONCRETE.
THERE'S ONE THING
THAT HAPPENS --
THIS IS THE MARTIN
GUERRE THEME.

She plays a few dramatic, low-pitched chords.

She continues IT'S A VERY DARK
16th CENTURY THING.
THEN YOU GET...
OVER THE TOP OF IT.
AND I JUST HAD THIS FEELING
FOR A KIND OF THROBBING, DARK,
THREE CHORD THING
AND THREE TWO.
AND I DIDN'T KNOW EXACTLY
WHAT THE CHORDS WERE.
AND IT KIND OF CAME TOGETHER
OVER A PERIOD OF WEEKS.
BUT IT WAS ALREADY HERE.
I JUST HAD TO SOMEHOW FIND IT.

Richard says THAT'S THE KEY, ISN'T IT?
THESE THINGS ARE COOKING
AROUND IN YOUR HEAD, IN YOUR
EMOTIONS, IN YOUR FEELING, BUT
YOU HAVE TO ZERO IN ON THEM.

Leslie says YEAH.
IT'S ALMOST LIKE
THEY ARE OUT THERE.
THIS SOUNDS SO ARTSY FARTSY.
IT'S KIND OF LIKE IT'S OUT
THERE, AND YOU HAVE TO PICK
THEM OUT OF THE
AIR AND GET THEM.
THEY'RE ALL THERE,
JUST FINDING THE KEY.

Richard says DO YOU KNOW WHERE
YOU WANT TO GO?
WHAT YOU WANT TO DO NEXT?

Leslie says WELL, THE LAST SHOW I WROTE
WAS THE MURDER MYSTERY
MUSICAL COMEDY.
I WOULD REALLY LIKE TO
WRITE ANOTHER MUSICAL.
I'M HOOKED ON
LARGE MUSICALS NOW.
ONCE YOU'VE HEARD 26
PEOPLE SINGING YOUR MUSIC,
THERE'S NOTHING LIKE IT.
THERE'S JUST
NOTHING AS STIRRING.
SO I'D LIKE TO WRITE
ANOTHER LARGE MUSICAL.
AND I'D LIKE IT TO BE SOMETHING
WITH HIGH STAKES AGAIN.
I DO ENJOY WRITING COMEDY VERY
MUCH, BUT EVEN IF THERE'S
COMEDY IN THE PIECE, I'D LIKE
THERE SOMETHING HUGE AT STAKE
AT THE SAME TIME.

Richard says LESLIE, THE STAKES ARE HIGH.
I AM GOING TO COUNT ON
YOU TO WIN THIS BET.
AND I HOPE YOU KEEP WRITING
FOR THE MUSICAL THEATRE
FOR QUITE A WHILE.

Leslie says THANK YOU.
AND YOU, TOO.

Richard says LESLIE ARDEN,
THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Leslie says YOU'RE VERY WELCOME.

Richard faces the screen and says
FOR
DIALOGUE,
I'M
RICHARD OUZOUNIAN.
GOOD-BYE FOR NOW.

Music plays as the end slate reads “Dialogue.”

A production of TVOntario. Copyright 1997, The Ontario Educational Communications Authority.

Watch: Leslie Arden