Your Own Thing – Original Off-Broadway Cast Recording 1968
Your Own Thing plunges us right into the confusion of a shipwreck. Everyone bails out but the rock duo of Sebastian and Viola who, even in the mayhem, find time to bicker as twins do (“No One’s Perfect, Dear”). They are separated, and Viola is saved by a friendly mariner in a scene straight from Shakespeare, which leads her to ask a thoughtful young person’s question when making one’s way in the world, “And what should I do in Illyria?” This being a contemporary comedy, New York City Mayor John Lindsay materializes in a projection to tell her that “Illyria is a fun city” – before he coughs from the smog. Bereft in this brave new world, Viola sings plaintively about life in a big, impersonal city (“The Flowers”). Orson, the manager of a group called the Four Apocalypse, is hot for Olivia, the soignée owner of a discothèque (her character was deliberately based on Sybil Burton, Richard Burton’s first wife). Suddenly Your Own Thing turns into a backstage musical, à la 42nd Street. We meet the nutty members of The Apocalypse, who sing an unabashed credo for the time, “I’m Not Afraid/I’m Me.” Orson has to find a replacement for the guy who played Disease in the group, who was drafted. Through the intervention of a projection of the Buddha (a plot device not found in Shakespeare), Viola learns of the group’s opening and pretends to be a guy in order to audition. Though initially gawky, she wins a spot in the quartet (“Somethin’s Happ’nin’ (Baby, Baby!)”). Orson finds himself strangely drawn to “Charlie” (“Cesario” in Shakespeare), and Viola finds herself attracted to the stolid, square Orson. Meanwhile, Sebastian, mistaken for a girl, is recovering in a hospital, and sings of his woe in words that belonged to Feste in Twelfth Night, “Come Away, Death.” A busy Buddha intervenes with news about the casting needs for The Apocalypse and Sebastian perks up with “I’m on My Way to the Top.” Sebastian bumps into Orson, who thinks Sebastian is “Charlie,” who is really Viola. Sebastian is a bit confused but decides to do what Orson asks of him and just go with the flow. After lots of running back and forth, during which everyone thinks Sebastian is Viola and Viola is Sebastian and both of them are Charlie, Viola realizes that she is falling for Orson in “She Never Told Her Love,” the show’s other Shakespearean lyric. Viola/Charlie instructs Orson in the ways of wooing Olivia (“Be Gentle”). Viola and The Apocalypse sing of how great it is to be young (“The Now Generation”), but Olivia puts a different spin on things when she sings ruefully of how quickly time flies when one turns thirty (“The Middle Years”) – scary stuff, in an era when you weren’t supposed to trust anyone over thirty. She’s attracted to Sebastian/Charlie, who is twenty, but they gamely decide to try to bridge that yawning gap of ten years of age. Inept with women but drawn to Charlie, Orson delves into psychology books about latent homosexuality as images of Freud and historical homosexuals swirl around him. He’s glad his mom isn’t around to see this weird new development, but decides to stick with it (“When You’re Young and in Love”). Accompanied by a kaleidoscope of gyrating colors, The Apocalypse sing “Hunca Munca” at Olivia’s disco, in a scene capturing the fervor of 1960’s “Happenings.” In a quiet moment, Olivia and Sebastian understand each other better with “Don’t Leave Me.” After a series of zany misunderstandings, Viola reveals that she’s a real girl, Olivia realizes that “Charlie” is Sebastian, the twins are reunited, and we hear dialogue along the lines of: Olivia: You don’t mind me being older? Sebastian: It’s where I’m at. You don’t mind me being younger? Olivia: Listen, it’s my bag. Happy ending all around (“Your Own Thing”).
Danny: Danny Apolinar John: John Kuhner Michael: Michael Valenti Orson: Tom Ligon Olivia: Marcia Rodd Viola: Leland Palmer Sebastian: Rusty Thacker Purser: Igors Gavon Nurse: Imogene Bliss Stage Manager: Igors Gavon