King John: The Musical!

No, don’t worry, no one’s redone Shakespeare’s play and putting it on Broadway (I hope not, anyway). This is simply a personal project of mine, in which I’m slowly mangling well-known and cherished songs for a hypothetical King John musical. Why King John? Well, first of all, because he’s my favorite Plantagenet monarch. The other reason is that of all the English kings, he may be the least appropriate subject for a Broadway-style musical. I mean, yeah, there’s Richard III but at least there’s some debate whether he actually killed his nephews or not. With John, even his supporters acknowledge that Prince Arthur sleeps with the fishes on his uncle’s orders.

So without further ado, I present to you… (what I’ve written so far of)… KING JOHN: THE MUSICIAL!

“I laughed! I cried! And that was just the time I spent in his dungeon!” — Isaac of Norwich

“…” – Arthur of Brittany

“All the wenches agree! King John gets two thumbs up! Way up!” – A motley group of brazen hussies

“You stole my fiancee! John, the scoundrel! John, the damned! May you burn in hell! You’re dead to me!” – Hugh de Lusignan

“I was very proud of him, for awhile.” – Eleanor of Aquitaine

This first show-stopper is based on the song “Mark It Up!” from the rock opera, Repo! The Genetic Opera! Luigi and Pavi are SO Richard and John. I wasn’t sure what to do about Paris Hilton’s part in the intro. I felt sort of bad about putting one of Richard and John’s actual sisters in it, so I used Geoffrey instead. I decided he was skanky enough. Plantacest 'riffic! This is set during all the infighting between Henry II’s sons, shortly before his death.

“Fuck It Up!”,
set to the tune of “Mark It Up!”

SERVING WENCHES: Fuck it up! Fuck it up!

GEOFFREY: [angry] Where the fuck is dad, brothers?

RICHARD: He left me in charge, you blister!

GEOFFREY/RICHARD: I don’t take lip from a slut!

Geoffrey KNEES Richard in the GROIN and LICKS Richard’s EAR.

JOHN: [makes rude movements with hands] My brothers should f–

RICHARD: Shut the fuck up, Johnny!
I’m the smartest, and the toughest!
I will find a hole and fuck it.
If there ain’t one, I will make one.
Dick don’t take shite from no one!

Richard STABS a random WENCH.

RICHARD: One Crusade, fuck it up!
Only I’ve got brains enough!
That’s why pop will leave England to meeeee…

JOHN: Ask a French whore who they prefer,
ten out of nine will say the Johnny!
The most dashing, teeth gnashing,
I will leave my foes limping.
Two wars, fuck them up,
Johnny steals all your whores!

RICHARD: You ain’t got the nuts, brother!

JOHN: All roar but no claws, brother!

RICHARD/JOHN: Dad will leave England to me!
You wait, time will tell/You wait, time will tell,
Dick’s sword will rule them all/Johnny’s charm will woo them all
I’ll inherit pop’s lands/I’ll inherit all dad’s stuff
Take dad’s will and mark you out!/Take dad’s will and mark you out!
Take my kingdom and fuck it up/Take my kingdom and fuck it up!

Next up is “1196 Lockdown”, based on a letter sent by Richard to the Pope in 1196, in which he comes off as a collosal arrogant bastard. In other words, Plantagenet to the bone. Also, Richard was TOTALLY a rap guy. You know it. If he was alive today he’d be driving around in an Escalade with spinning rims and wearing pink fur coats and lots of gold chains around his neck.

“1196 Lockdown”
SPOTLIGHT on RICHARD standing at a MICROPHONE, a HOODIE pulled over to partially obscure his FACE.

RICHARD: Yo, yo, is the mic on?
Check it, emps!
I answer only to God
But this posse got me a showdown.
Sun up to sun down
I’m lockdown’d
'Cuz Philippe wants to front now
He’ll never be as reals as me
Triflings all he’ll ever be.
Sun up to sun down
I’m lockdown’d
'Cuz Isaac wanted a throwdown
He swung at me and I swung back, bitch.
Sun up to sun down
I’m lockdown’d
‘Cuz Leopold wanted a slow down
He got him a holding grudge
I didn’t kill his coz, all lies
I got myself an alibi.
Sun up to sun down
I’m lockdown’d
For tryin’ to hold my block down
Yeah, Saladin sent me some bling
Sweet fruits and things
Woulda taken Jerusalem stronger
If I’d stayed longer.
If these be my crimes
Let me serve my time
Sun up to sun down.

“Everybody Gets Laid Tonight” is by a band called The Hammerheads, the closing number of the cult classic Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter. The title alone just seemed to sum up John’s perspective on becoming king after Richard’s death.

“Everybody Gets Laid Tonight”,
set to the tune of "“Everybody Gets Laid Tonight” from Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter

CHORUS: It’s all good,
It’s all right,
Everybody get laid tonight!

JOHN: Like a bolt from heaven, as though 'twas planned,
Richard’s dead, and England is unmanned.
Time for me to be king, and wear that crown of gold,
and crush my enemies underfoot and in my stranglehold.

CHORUS: It’s all good,
It’s all right,
Everybody get laid tonight!

JOHN: With my scepter and my knights,
and freed at last from my brothers’ blight,
Let’s celebrate, dance, and feast!
Be merry, be glad, for Richard is deceased!

SERVING WENCHES/KNIGHTS: It’s all good,
It’s all right,
Everybody get laid tonight!

JOHN: Everybody gets LAAAAAAID TO-NIIIIIIIIIIGHT.

“John Should Be Scared” was suggested by my friend Leslie, who wanted a song set to “Be Prepared” from Disney’s The Lion King. It seemed like a fantastic choice for Philippe’s villain song. This song is macaronic because I kept a few of the lyrics from the French version in it (hey, Philippe IS the king of France).

“John Should Be Scared”,
set to the tune of “Be Prepared” from The Lion King

PHILIPPE: In this time of war and tension,
brave men have suffered and died.
Merde, you fools, fait attention!
For tonight I’m dangerous and snide.

In this time of war and aggression,
a conflict of kings and heirs.
Let me ask you one question,
do you think Johnny has a prayer?

I’m so excited I’m struggling to rhyme,
for at last there’s an end to my blues.
Nos ennuis sont finis,
nous sortons de la nuit
.

EUDES OF BURGUNDY: And why are we here?

PHILIPPE: I’ll whisper in your ear.
If you stick with me, kid,
of John you’ll be rid,
when he falls for this ruse.
Like a rabbit he’ll be ensnared.
John should be scared!

ROBERT OF DREUX: Scared? Oh, we’ll make him scared! Zut!

ROBERT/EUDES: At last we’re no longer dejected,
We’re ready to sharpen our swords.

PHILIPPE: But let it not be neglected,
to follow my orders, d’accord?
John’s due for many surprises,
but lest any problem arises,
You’re nothing at all without me!
I’m looking forward to this murder spree!

EUDES/ROBERT: Ooooh!

PHILIPPE: John I’ll butcher like a lamb.

EUDES/ROBERT: Oh la la!

PHILIPPE: His hide I’ll be tanning,
Red arse he’ll be fanning,
I can’t believe his guile,
but soon I’ll beguile,
and his reign will be refuted,
uprooted and looted.
Oui, my ambitions are declared,
John should be scared!

EUDES/ROBERT: Oui, our ambitions are declared,
John should be scared!

“Be Our Guest” was actually the first song to be written, inspired by this quote from James Goldman’s novel Myself As Witness:

Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your tastes) this is not in fact the start of an epic John/Hugh de Lusignan slash fic, but instead just Hugh de Lusignan being FRANCSH and abandoning John on the eve of battle. Tragically, the following musical number seems to have been cut from the book:

“Be Our Guest”,
set to the tune of “Be Our Guest” from Beauty and the Beast

SPOTLIGHT on HUGH.

HUGH: Be… our… guest, be our guest, put our service to the test…

Behind him we see French SOLDIERS brutally STABBING a man to DEATH.

HUGH: [to John] Put your helm on your 'ead, cherie, we’ll provide the rest,
Traitorous allure,
Gallic verve,
We love to sever nerves!
Frenchmen are soooo vicious!
Don’t believe me, ask the wenches! They can sing, they can dance, after all, this is France!

A PEASANT WOMAN runs past him, AFIRE, screaming and waving her arms about.

HUGH: And the slaughter 'ere is never second best!
This is our venue,
I’ll bet money you’ll
Be our guest, be our guest, oui our guest!

FRENCH SOLDIERS take formation behind HUGH, dancing with perfect CHOREOGRAPHY.

HUGH: Bruises blue,
Skin to flay,
Eyes and noses en flambe!
We’ll even eat your mare,
whether she’s flea-bitten, black or grey!
You’re alone and you’re scared,
for you know you won’t be spared.
For Philippe won’t be restraining
the ass-kicking you’ll be sustaining!
Force by force,
One by one,
Till you shout and know you’re outdone.

ENTIRE FRENCH ARMY: You’re gonna die
and that’s a threat!

HUGH: It’s not lying or crass,
we’re gonna kick your ass!
Don’t think it’s a jest,
in case you 'aven’t guessed:
You’re our guest, our guest, our guest!
Oui, we’re on a murder spree
and mon Dieu, that’s fine with me.

SPOTLIGHT on JOHN’S horrified look as HUGH punches him in the FACE.

HUGH: Is that one lump or two? Be our guest! Please beeeee ooouuur guuuueeeest! BE. OUR. GUUUUESSST.

I’m also planning to write a solo for Isabelle of Angouleme based on “Belle”, also from B&TB (hey, her name is already Belle!) and I’m playing around with giving John a solo number riffing on Tone Loc’s “Wild Thing”, but this is all I’m come up with so far:

She winked and asked, “Dost thou have plans for to-night?”
I saith, “Hopefully, if things go well I’ll be with thou to-night.”

You could reprise Be Our Guest for his interactions with Maud de Braose, too. He allegedly her and one of her sons imprisoned and starved to death.