In the Slenderman Musical i use a chorus who i affectionately think of as the redneck greek chorus, since their role and function grew to fulfill a variation of what greek choruses did.
It started innocently enough. During the early song On The Run in the first act, i thought a harmony bit reminiscent of the Eagles Seven Bridges Road during the short choruses (“Leaves fall round as you go…”) would nail the mood i was going for perfectly. So i threw it in.
The thing about these highly conceptual musically things though… nothing can really just be in there. Everything must have some justification if at all possible. If at all possible. I am not against having something in there simply because i like it. The problem is, once it’s in there, i’ll start justifying it.
So a few songs later (Chillin’ At The Motel 6) it occurred to me to use a harmony bit again. I mean, it worked the first time, why not expand it? Why not make it a thing?
“Why not make it a thing.” Surely these words are responsible for more tomfoolery in the arts and media than can possibly be imagined.
So now it was a thing and now i started actually thinking seriously about it. I thought at first it would just be the other singers all singing together (and if staged probably would.) But i started to consider it as a greek chorus, only more like a redneck greek chorus. It wasn’t the other characters’ voices. It was a commenting entity in itslef. It would have to be my voice for purely practical reasons, but since i’m also the character of Timothy, there’s a small problem there. Is the chorus an aspect of Timothy? No….
So i called up Jeff Simms, a drummer i know down the Dallas/Fort Worth Texas. Ive heard the harmony work he does with Matthew Broyles and often thought his voice would blend with mine perfectly. He also has spot on pitch. (A whole lot better than me.) Thus did Jeff Simms become my redneck greek chorus.
This chorus gets brought in on occasion to perform various tasks. “A Greek chorus is a homogeneous, non-individualised group of performers, who comment with a collective voice on the dramatic action.” This they do. They are not however a moral judge of the action. It is not their desire to make moral judgements on behalf of the audience. If anything, they are capable of empathizing with whatever character they’re with at the moment, including the dark and terrible ones. They are a voice of compassion although it can be strange when that compassion aligns with a character who is committing an uncompassionate act. Naturally, i love this ambiguity.
Jeff’s voice turned out to blend with mine WAY better than i could have ever imagined. The House song in the 3rd act is easily in my top three songs of the entire piece (many a night it IS my favorite) and those harmonies, the attitude, the ambiguous purpose, the lyrics, melody and killer execution by Jeff are why.
I see the redneck chorus as a fundamental spirit part of the world the slenderman musical takes place in, but what constitutes spiritual in this world is very… uhm… i can’t go into it now.
My favorite modern interpretations of the greek chorus:
The Criminologist from Rocky Horror.
The Cowboy from Big Lebowski
Crystal, Ronette and Chiffon in Little Shop of Horrors:
Statler and Waldorf:
and, the number all time best modern interpretation of a greek chorus:
The Ommpa Loompas.