Storyboards and Sketches for The Libretto for Christen - An American Rock Opera
December 29 2017 0225 GMT © Robert J Koenig 2018
Christen - An American Rock Opera
Storyboards and Sketches for The Libretto
copyright Robert J Koenig 2018
Sunday July 1 1984
Act 1 opens on a working class summer lake in Central Southern Wisconsin. The small house on a modest lakeside plot with a metal winter-removable dock leads out onto the lake. This is the Shannon family year-round home. A small waterside paradise; but a troubled paradise.
Jim is a school book salsman and essentially lives out of his GM Suburban during the work-week; traveling from school district to school district selling school books. Rachel is an RN. They are physically attractive people. They are comfortable. They are physically attractive people. The three children are healthy and alert.: Kate [ ]; Christen [ 2 ½] and Cailan [an infant]. Carie - [age]; Kate ; Christen and Cailan [an infant]. Not exactly Lake Wobegon - but close
On stage, here are two families, a young to middle-aged group, happily and jocularly congregating and mingling on a pontoon boat at dock: drinking beers and snacking on potato chips and dips. The two families know each other well - and are clearly on very intimate terms. The pontoon boat has actually been lifted out of the water on its docking lifts. So the friendly lazy lollygagging brew fest is actually taking place “in dry dock”.
(far stage left - dimmed out - quiet) A third adjoining family, the Schultz’, are an older couple, dressed in the accoutrements of older recently-wealthy summer cottage owners who have worked their way out of the middle class. In fact, Steve Schultz, age 70, is a successful Chicago Slumlord. They are elegantly entertaining two other couples, the Lannons and the Stevens, for mid-afternoon cocktails.and fine snacks on their veranda which does not look out on the lake. The Schultz’ summer home is not their year-round residence - as they live in a upscale Chicago suburb. The Schultz’ lakeside summer house, while also originally a unheated summer cottage as was the Shannons, has been turned into a very upscale home with modern fixtures and refined gardens. Unbeknownst to the Shannons, the Schultz’ have a $4,000,000 umbrella policy with USAA. The Schultz’ do not know that the Shannons are also insured with a $1,000,000 USAA umbrella policy.
Robert F McDermott, the trustee for both the Shannon’s and the Schultz’ knows that both families are insured by USAA. Robert F McDermott also knows that identity of every officer of the court (Judges, Lawyers, Clerks, Law Secretaries, etc) who are USAA members,
Back to the Shannon’s . . . :
In entertaining their neighbors, the Shannon’s are very happily joined by their three daughters - who over the course of the beginning of this act - are back and forth to the boat - up and down the dock - darting back into the house for cheese dips.
The Shannon’s and the Smith’s break out into a stage-filling song of joy and pleasure for life in Wisconsin on a bright sunny Saturday mid afternoon.
[Jim Shannon is a heroic figure. But this story is an American Tragedy. Jim Shannon, in the classical sense of all heroes all great tragedy, is the only person in that theater ( family member characters, his neighbors, and the audience) who does not understand that this is all going to end nastily. There are sinister forces that Jim will have to deal with that he doesn’t even know exist.]
[I need a lot of help to describe the sort of song that is sung by both families at this point. But I am looking for a richness and range of melody much like the happier and more optimistic scenes in Jesus Christ Superstar or the Age of Aquarius.]
As the singing progresses - there are duets between Jim Shannon and first his wife (Rachel) and then with each of his four daughters. The eldest daughter (tall striking blond) is actually the product of a teenage pregnancy with (get this) the daughter of the Principal of Jim’s Ohio High School. The 2nd [ Kate], the 3rd [Christen] and the 4th [Cailan] are Jim’s natural children by Rachel.
[nb: there is a fourth child not yet born [ ]. In fact, Rachel may even be pregnant as this scene unfolds.]
The duet between Jim Shannon and the youngest Christen will leave no doubt in any member of the audience’s mind that Christen is the apple of her father’s eye. All fathers love all their daughters equally - but there is always one daughter who is special in a way that maybe only the Bard has ever successfully dealt with.
As the Shannon’s and the Smith’s occupy the stage in song, their third 2 ½ year old daughter, Christen, in a deliberate and over-self assured way, leaves the group and heads to the left [North] down the concrete-walled water-front in the direction of the Schultz’ somewhat more elegant late-afternoon cocktail party. Nobody notices Christen’s departure - especially her father Jim. The audience, however, sees it very clearly. And the audience knows it is not good..
I don’t know if I can accomplish this. But I want to introduce a third element of the stage set. Hovering above all, the audience can see the God-like figure of Robert F McDermott. It would not be theatrically productive to portray him as the evil man he is. Banality and triteness are the qualities I seek. This is a criminal who’d steal from his mother (and probably did). He is jond on either side by his quasi-modo assistants Generals Cooney and Bishop and his personal lawyer and general counsel Bradford Rich.
As she walks North towards the Schulz’, Christen removes (by sliding them down her arms) her inflatable water wings and then fairly conspicuously disgards them on the concrete water-front wall..
The merriment at the Shannon beer fest fades, and stage-left brightens and the Schultz late-afternoon cocktail party comes into focus.
[The set designer and music director is instructed here to inject a sense of foreboding: c.f. the first scene of The Sum of All Fears]. After all, the Shannon’s have just seen Christen as a whole vibrant child for the last time.
The Schultz’ and their guests (who have visited there many times before) are actually talking about Christen: and the chat is very affectionate.
The Schultz’ and their guests break into song - elaborating their admiration for the highly precocious 2 ½ year old Christen Shannon.
Steve Schultz really cares for 2 ½ year old Christen Shannon. It is clear that though only 2 ½, Christen is very precocious and able to maintain the attention and affections of older men. There is a relationship between the elder Mr Schultz and Christen - and Christen’s arrival interrupts the song..
The singing continues
Christen prances around the Schultz’ veranda entertaining the Schultz’ and their guests. Suddenly Jim Shannon’s distant and removed yet clarion-clear voice from the house next door intrudes: he is shouting to the Schultz’ and asking if they have seen Christen. Mr Schultz shouts back: “she is her - with us”. Mr Schultz dandles Christen on is knee. And then Mr Schultz pats Christen on the fanny and with complementary and affectionate language sends her on her way back towards her family’s home.
The Schultz are not bad people.
[stage-left dims - as the Schultz’ continue in animated conversation with their guests]
The Shannons and their neighbors are showing signs of winding down the dry-dock party on the hauled-out pontoon boat. Nobody is particularly drunk or misbehaving. There has been no excessive drinking. In fact - there is an effort to make the pontoon boat shipshape and to remove the empty beers bottles and potato dip containers to the house for disposal.
Jim break into a song - with a sense of concern and minor apprehension.
He sings to his eldest daughter Kate asking if she know where Christen is - and gets a friendly shrug in return.
[The question of lighting gets important here as subsequent court documents speak to the question of whether one can see into water at an angle. The refraction of light by water may also play a role. The set designer is asked here to inform us that when one is low to the water - one can not see down into the water.]
Here follows a tortured and highly disturbing waterfront scene of growing pandemonium as everybody in the 3 households and the Schultz’ guests join in a search for Christen.
Over the course of the search, Christen’s mother, Rachel, becomes more and more distressed - with her calls for Christen becoming shrieks of anguish. With the infant Cailan in her arms, Rachel actually visits the Lohrmann’s (next door to the South) becoming more and more distressed.
A Schultz guest [Mrs Stevens?] climbs to the 2nd story balcony of the Schultz home - which permits an underwater inspection at 50 feet out into the lake.
And Christen is spotted underwater. The alarm is raised. Everybody rushes to the slippery polyurethane-coated pier and get to work retrieving Christen from underwater.
And Christen’s limp body is retrieved: and born ashore in a ritual and tender manner by the entire group.
[This retrieval of the body from the lake is going to be one of the great moments of rock-opera.. . . . ]
Jim and Rachel sing.
The Schultz’ sing.
The Shannon children sing.
The Lohrmann children arrive from the South and sing.
Act 2 Scene 1 - The Helicopter arrives and sets down on the tiny lawn.
[Broadway has been waiting 30+ years for a helicopter scene to outdo Miss Saigon’s. In this opera, the audience will watch land and then be taken onboard a Wisconsin Flight-for-Life Helicopter for the 45 minute trip to Milwaukee Children’s Hospital. All the stops will be pulled out for the medical heroics that are administered on this flight with the father present. The opera will be great. Every crooked attorney in America wanting to file a wrongful life lawsuit [sic] will be taking notes.]
Act 3 Scene 1 - The Helicopter ride to Milwaukee Memorial
[The Drs, the nurses, the pilot, the co-pilot, the parents, will all sing. The helicopter bay tilt and turn as he helicopter makes its approach and final turn to the roof of Milwaukee Children’s Hospital.]
Act 3 Scene 1
Act 3 opens on the sumptuous San Antonio offices of the Trustee and Attorney-in-Fact for the quasi-eleemosynary multi-billion $ insurance syndicate which is “owned” by its 2.5 million members - all of whom are active or former active duty military officers.
Exhibit “_”:American lyricists:
Exhibit “_”: David Yazbek
Exhibit “_”: Provenance and Documentation.
I was given and thus I freely own all the original documentation for Christen - An American Rock Opera. I do not believe that it is possible to produce an opera (or play or film) which is faithful to the facts without the complete documentation.
In essence, Robert F McDermott and the assistant syndicate managers at USAA chose to destroy a family so that McDermott could execute a SEC run-around and raise billions of $ of capital without benefit of a SEC Registration.
So damning is the Christen Michael Shannon story that I feel it may result in material and substantial changes to the insurance industry.
For one, I do not believe that there is any reason why an insurance company should have any roll at all in deciding what claims they are going to pay or not pay. It is my view that if an insurer doesn’t want to pay that an independent actuary should rate the loss for a 90 % worst case outcome and that the money reserved for the claim should be transferred directly to a mediation/arbitration body - in bond.
But even that is not good enough.
Criminal McDermott (if he were still alive) would ask us to believe that not he was just being cautious for the benefit of other USAA members. Criminal McDermott’s argument would go something like this :
We can’t be paying the claim of every little daughter of a member who gets injured by her father’s negligence or the of the negligence of USAA-member next door neighbor.
That argument sounds so reasonable? But it’s not -and here’s why.
A stunningly accurate medical report by Robert F McDermott’s own expert, Jane Herring, set the exact shape of the playing field and fixed the time frame.
McDermott reserved $5,000,000 the very day he became aware of the incident - which was on August 19 1984 when neighbor Schultz wrote McDermott.
McDermott knew on August 19 1984 that Schultz’ $4,000,000 USAA umbrella was in play as was Jim Shannon’s $1,000,000 USAA umbrella.
And to top it all, cocksucker McDermott knew that both Shannon and Schultz were USAA members - and cocksucker McDermott knew that neither Schultz nor Shannon knew that the other was a USAA member.
I can show conclusively that McDermott misused his knowledge that both the Schultz’ and the Shannons had large USAA umbrella policies.: and I will in the opera. When the world sees the sleaze-bag routine that McDermott pulled by sending an adjuster (Larry Reynolds RIP] to interview the Shannons without telling them that the Schutz’ were also insured by USAA - I believe that McDermott will be revealed for the criminal he was.
Once the extent of the Christen problem was revealed, McDermott could have hired Christen’s RN mother at $60,000 year to care for her over the 10 years he already knew it would take for her to expire.
Cocksucker McDermott, way back in 1985, knew exactly how long Christen was going to live.
At 1984 interest rates, had McDermott put the $5,000,000 reserve out in 10 year T-Notes - he’d have been making money over the 10-years it took Christen to die.
$5,000,000 X 10% = $500,000 year - $250,000 year = $250,000 surplus.
And at the end of 10 years, cocksucker thief McDermott could have mailed the $5,000,000 in principal back to the USAA syndicate names from whom he originally took it.
Returning the syndicate name deposits to the actual syndicate names who supplied the $5,000,000 he reserved was McDermott’s absolute obligation: it is the law of the land.
Published at: http://robertfmcdermott.com/christen_an_american_rock_opera