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The Klutzes and the Butzes

Oct 29, 2014

741px-Pied_Piper2“Anything like the sound of a rat/Makes my heart go pit-a-pat!”

So says the Mayor of Hamelin in Brunswick in Robert Browning’s The Pied Piper of Hamelin.

Just as the Mayor shudders and squirms, a knock is heard upon the door…

And in did come the strangest figure!
His queer long coat from heel to head
Was half of yellow and half of red;
And he himself was tall and thin,
With sharp blue eyes, each like a pin,
And light loose hair, yet swarthy skin,
No tuft on cheek nor beard on chin,
But lips where smiles went out and in —
There was no guessing his kith and kin!

It is the Pied Piper who proceeds to inform the Mayor and the members of the town council that he charms creatures who do harm (the mole, toad and viper) to follow him in order to alleviate the suffering of the townfolk. He’s lured gnats in Tartary and vampire-bats in Asia, he boasts, and for a mere thousand guilders he’ll charm the rats right out of Hamelin. Of course, once he’s lured the rats to drown themselves in the river, the Mayor reneges on the deal…

A thousand guilders! The Mayor looked blue;
So did the Corporation, too.
For council dinners made rare havoc
With Claret, Moselle, Vin-de-Grave, Hock;
And half the money would replenish
Their cellar’s biggest butt with Rhenish.
To pay this sum to a wandering fellow
With a gypsy coat of red and yellow!

 

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And as this familiar tale goes, the Pied Piper played his pipe once again—such sweet/Soft notes as yet musician’s cunning/Never gave the enraptured air—and the children of the town follow him happily, joyfully, religiously, until they are swallowed into the mountain-side, never to be seen again. Moral’s pretty simple: honor your debts, keep your promises.

This season, Parson’s Nose Theater Co-Founder and Artistic Director Lance Davis has adapted Browning’s tale into an original musical—with this particular twist…

The people of Hamlin are obsessed with their cheese. The Klutzes and the Butzes are willing to sacrifice anything for it. Including their children. A stranger comes from a war-torn land to rescue them. Can they stop her? Do we want them to?

 

The Pied Piper: A Musical
Saturday, Nov. 1st-23rd, times vary (3 p.m. and 7 p.m.)
Parson’s Nose Theater
Tickets: $5-$25; purchase here

 

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The Pied Piper of Hameln quotes translated and edited by D. L. Ashliman at Pitt.edu.
All illustrations by Kate Greenaway, printed by Edmund Evans (1888), public domain

 

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