JDS Logo James, 1971

James, the Dragon Slayer

based on "The Fifty-First Dragon" by Heywood Broun
music, book, lyrics, & orchestration by J. Adrian Verkouteren
(©1971 J. Adrian Verkouteren) excerpts from major songs were recorded live

Act I

In medieval England teenager George is escorting his eight-year-old brother Charlie to the Fitzwillian School of Knighthood, where he meets the other students ("Everyone's Welcome Here" Play 0.26 MB mp3).

George and Bartholomew, leader of the student body, have a bet on why James does not participate in sports, a matter that intrigues the entire student body ("What's the Matter with James?" Play 0.54 MB mp3).

After the other students leave for dinner, James muses on why he is unhappy at the school and what he hoped life would offer him ("I Want to Open My Eyes" Play 0.57 MB mp3).

The Headmaster, Dr. Benjamin, summons James to his office and tries to interest him in dragon-slaying. When James expresses anxiety at such a dangerous activity, the Headmaster gives him a "magic word" ("Rumplesnitz!" Play 0.55 MB mp3).

A week later, the students marvel at the progress James has made slaying practice dragons ("Over There!" Play 0.58 MB mp3). The Headmaster and Chaplain arrive to announce that James is ready to try his first real dragon, and the assembled company equip him for battle ("Dress Him Up Fine" Play 0.47 MB mp3). After a few tense moments, James returns triumphant to the cheers of his schoolmates.

Act II

A year later students rise early on a dreary morning to decry their life away from family and home ("What a Bore of a Boarding School" Play 0.58 MB mp3).

James appears and sallies forth to battle his fiftieth dragon but during the battle forgets to say the magic word rumplesnitz, yet slays the dragon anyway. When the Headmaster confesses to James that the word was not really magic, James finds his faith in his world shaken ("What's Happened to my Childhood?" Play 0.51 MB mp3).

The following day the Headmaster sends a reticent James to face another dragon. While they wait for him to return, the Headmaster and Chaplain reminisce about their own youthful days ("Those Days of Yore" Play 0.43 MB mp3).

Students sent out to look for James return with his fallen body, which causes the Headmaster to re-examine his role in the events leading to the tragedy ("A Dream Must End" (Reprise) Play 0.61 MB mp3).

But the eyes of adults and the eyes of children do not always see things the same way, and the story outlives the Headmaster's loss of faith.