Music and Lyrics by JOHN CLIFTON
Making a Story of Israel into a
Two Eagles is based on the straight play Like Two Eagles by Tuvia Tenenbom, the ground-breaking Israeli-born playwright. The play opened in New York in 1994 and received exceptionally glowing notices, seeming to stun the reviewers with its insights. John Clifton had composed the extensive “incidental” music for that production. Like Two Eagles was about a romance between an Israeli soldier and a beautiful Palestinian girl.
What these two don’t know (but the audience does) is that they had been switched just after they were born. And so we have a Jewish girl brought up as a Muslim, and an Arab boy raised as a Jew. What a brilliant idea, thought Clifton – when the couple and their families, all heavily invested in their respective heritages and prejudices, discover the truth – to reveal the folly, even the ridiculousness of the opposing mentalities! The inbred hatreds just fall to pieces. Tenenbom had broken a wall with his play.
Clifton was struck by the idea of making this startling story into a musical. Recognizing the universal quality of its message, he was also fascinated by the challenge of expressing a love-hate relationship in music and lyrics. The play had been written for the Jewish theatre, but Clifton (a non-Jew) wanted to expand it to appeal to general audiences.
It would be a few years, though, before the way was cleared to begin writing the music and lyrics. Clifton and Tenenbom worked on the project over a long period, shaping the scenes and musicalizing practically every moment in this highly dramatic piece.
They wanted to preserve the impact and the ironies of the original, maintaining its humor and satiric elements – through musicalization. The texture of the musicalized scenes is gritty and often appropriately dissonant, while the main songs tend to be melodious and accessible. Though the theme of Two Eagles is ageless, the authors feel that today the show is timelier that ever – a shocking look at ourselves and our world.
What started me thinking about musicalizing the play "Like Two Eagles"? The cast in that first production was comprised of Jews, Muslims and Christians -- all pulling together to create a wonderful show. I was amazed to see these people satirizing THEMSELVES -- and topping it with a message of hope. It just HAD to be a musical! - JC
Musical for today―
― A nun in the Holy City switches two newborns―one an Arab and one a Jew?
― a Hamas operative learns that she is actually Jewish?
― a Jewish soldier finds out that he’s actually Arab?
― They have fallen in love?
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