A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Musical – “Keep on the Sunny Side”

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In The Miserable Mill, the Baudelaires a befriended by a Lucky Smells worker named Phil who does what he can to help them adjust to their wretched new lives. However, the children don’t really share the guy’s eternal optimism. And by the way, Lemony Snicket’s definition of an optimist is summed up this way: “For instance, if an optimist had his left arm chews off by an alligator, he might say, in a pleasant and hopeful voice, ‘Well, this isn’t too bad. I don’t have my left arm any more, but at least nobody will ever ask me whether I am right-handed or left-handed,’ but most of us would say something more along the lines of ‘Aaaaah! My arm! My arm!'” Though in the TV show, it’s “half-priced manicures for life.” Anyway, Phil fits this to a T.

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When it comes to a good song for Phil, I chose to parody “Keep on the Sunny Side” which was featured on the O, Brother Where Art Thou? soundtrack and was most famously performed by the Carter Family in 1928. While most of the song parodies for A Series of Unfortunate Events I selected mainly pertain to musicals or rock, this one is an exception. It’s actually a traditional Christian hymn written by Ada Blenkhorn in 1899, inspired by her wheelchair-bound nephew’s instance to be pushed down the “sunny side” of the street. The Carter Family’s performance made it a staple in bluegrass and country music. In this version, I took the Christian stuff out and replaced it with how ridiculously horrid the lumbermill conditions are.

 

“Keep on the Sunny Side” (ASOUE Version)

Sung by Phil

Well there’s a dark and a troubled side of life.
There’s a bright and a sunny side too.
But if you meet with the darkness and strife,
The sunny side we also may view.

Keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side,
Keep on the sunny side of life.
It will help us every day, it will brighten all the way,
If we keep on the sunny side of life.

Oh, accidents always happen every day,
Crushing legs that we cherish so dear.
But old Sir will in time pass away.
While the injuries will eventually heal.

Keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side,
Keep on the sunny side of life.
It will help us every day, it will brighten all the way,
If we’ll keep on the sunny side of life.

Let us greet with a song of hope each day.
While we’re paid in coupons as fare.
Let us go and work our 12-hour days
So Sir won’t kick us out of his care.

Keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side,
Keep on the sunny side of life.
It will help us every day, it will brighten all the way,
If we’ll keep on the sunny side of life.
If we’ll keep on the sunny side of life

A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Musical – “Heigh-Ho”

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In The Miserable Mill, Mr. Poe brings the Baudelaires to Paltryville which is a very depressing place full of bare trees with no undergrowth and houses with no windows. Nor is it listed on a map and there’s no guidebook of the place of any kind. Their new guardian is the owner of the Lucky Smells Lumbermill whose name is utterly unpronounceable so he’s addressed as Sir. Anyway, once Mr. Poe dumps them off at the train station, the children go to the lumbermill where they learn that they’re to sleep and work there. Why anyone would think it’s perfectly fine for children to work at a dangerous place (particularly a baby like Sunny), I have no idea. But the conditions are beyond shitty. Even the ever optimistic Phil and the other workers question such a notion. Not only do mill employees endure long hours in a dangerous environment, their new foreman is a scumbag, they’ve never seen the owner in years, they’re paid in useless coupons, only take a 5 minute chewing gum break each day, and get beef casserole for dinner. But the Lucky Smells workers seem oddly complacent over the whole thing, despite how any normal adult would never agree to work under such terms and conditions.

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Perhaps a good song in this sequence would be “Heigh-Ho” from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Though in the original version, the seven dwarves work in a gem mine from dawn to dusk and yet they live in a cottage where they allow Snow White keep house for free. Makes you wonder what they’re working for or what their boss is like. Then again, in fairy tales, dwarves have always been associated with precious minerals and metals. Though J.R.R. Tolkein hated the dwarves portrayal in this 1937 Walt Disney movie. In this version, I have the Lucky Smells Lumbermill workers singing about their work day in a rather cheerful tune. But that’s supposed to create dissonance and highlight their strange complacency.

 

“Heigh-Ho” (ASOUE Version)

Sung by the Lucky Smells Lumbermill Workers

We work work work work work work work in our mill the whole day through
To work work work work work work work it what we really got to do
We’ve got a lot of bad accidents
If you split split split with a chainsaw or an ax
In a mill! In a mill! In a mill! In a mill!
Where a million wood planks stack!

We work work work work work work work from early morn till night
We saw saw saw saw saw saw saw up every log in sight
We saw up wood planks by the score
Got hundreds injured, sometimes more
But we don’t know what we saw’em for
We work work work a-work work

Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho
Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho
Heigh-ho

Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho
It’s off from work we go
(Whistle)

Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho

Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho
It’s off from work we go
(Whistle)

Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho
(Whistle)

Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho
Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho
Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho
Heigh-ho hum

Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho
It’s off from work we go
(Whistle)

Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho
It’s off from work we go
(Whistle)

Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho
It’s off from work we go
(Whistle)

Heigh-ho (until fade)

A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Musical – “On My Own”

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Lemony Snicket never got over his love Beatrice. In the beginning of The Miserable Mill, he discusses how despite being engaged to her at one point, she wrote a 200-page book explaining why she couldn’t marry him, which was delivered via carrier pigeons. Not to feel bad for Lemony, but that’s the kind of stuff that doesn’t look good on his dating profile. At any rate, he never really got over her rejection of him since he dedicates each one of his books to her. Despite that she dumped him for someone else and later died. So it’s unlikely he’d be going on a date any time soon.

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Another good song to highlight this is “On My Own” from Les Miserables. In the original version, Eponine pines for Marius despite knowing that he’s interested in someone else and will probably never even consider her as a viable love interest. So she imagines a world with him as her lover which will never be. In this version, I have Lemony Snicket basically do the same thing for Beatrice despite that she moved on and eventually died.

 

“On My Own” (ASOUE Version)

Sung by Lemony Snicket

And now I’m all alone again
Nowhere to turn, no one to go to
Without a home, without a friend
Without a face to say “Hello” to
But now the night is near
And I can make-believe she’s here

Sometimes I walk alone at night
When everybody else is sleeping
I think of her and then I’m happy
With the company I’m keeping
The city goes to bed
And I can live inside my head

On my own
Pretending she’s beside me
All alone
I walk with her till morning
Without her
I feel her arms around me
And when I lose my way I close my eyes
And she has found me

In the rain the pavement shines like silver
All the lights are misty in the river
In the darkness, the trees are full of starlight
And all I see is her and me forever and forever

And I know it’s only in my mind
That I’m talking to myself and not to her
And although I know that she is dead
Still I say, there’s a way for us

I love her
But when the night is over
She is gone
The river’s just a river
Without her
The world around me changes
The trees are bare and everywhere
The streets are full of strangers

I love her
But every day I’m learning
All my life
I’ve only been pretending
Without me
Her world has gone on turning
A world that’s full of happiness
That I have never known

I love her
I love her
I love her
But only on my own