"Eclipse"
A shadow hides the light

Set in Ancient Greece, Eclipse is the story of a thoughtful prince named Aristocles, and his unexpected and undesired rise to the throne of Sparta. As prince, Aristocles has led the sheltered life of a scholar, leaving military and political matters to his best friend and older brother Demetrius. But when the king dies, and Demetrius reveals himself to be the leader of a massive underground rebellion against the monarchy, Aristocles is forced to assume kingship – a role that he never envisioned, and certainly never desired.

As Aristocles attempts to unite his roles as monarch and ethicist in the face of rebellion, he struggles equally in his relationships with two women: Acacia, a gloomy invalid and self-proclaimed “Mistress of Misery” who is the only living member of the past royal family, and with whom Aristocles has been infatuated since childhood; and Melody, a kind but impassioned revolutionary who turns out to be the secret wife of his brother Demetrius.

Eclipse is a story of love and betrayal, of goodness and destruction, and of the many beauties and cruelties of fate. Yet through loss, tragedy and uncertainty, the underlying message remains:

“The sun is always shining, you just can’t always see it.”

Eclipse is the first musical that I ever wrote, and as such, it holds a very special place in my heart.

I began writing Eclipse at age sixteen. I had been performing musicals for years, and was growing tired of singing the same repertoire again and again. I was sitting in history class learning about Ancient Greece when suddenly the thought struck me: maybe I could write a song for me to sing. A few weeks later, I finished writing “A Perfect World” (performed by Dana Gitlin in the sidebar player).

I’d been writing poetry for as long as I’d known how to read (and way before I learned how to spell), but “A Perfect World” was the first song that I ever completed. A few weeks later, I submitted the song anonymously to my school’s literary magazine. I sat in the room fidgeting nervously as the students on the review board read the lyrics. After what seemed like an eternity, one girl spoke up.

“When I read this,” she said, her voice breaking. “It makes me want to find someone I care about, and tell them how much I love them.”

At that moment, I knew I was going to be a musical theater composer.

A few weeks later, I hesitantly gave some sheet music to a fellow student named Doreen Strauss (who would go on to play Melanie in The New Musical) during rehearsals for 42nd Street, and asked her if she would like to sing a song I had written. We gave the music to our musical director, and I sat back and listened to my music being performed for the first time. It was just about the most fulfilling sensation I had ever experienced, and once again, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life.

Doreen Strauss performing “A Perfect World” in concert 

I spent the rest of high school writing out the music, lyrics, and script for Eclipse, becoming immersed in Greek history and culture and in the philosophies of Plato, whom the main character (Aristocles) is named for and loosely based on.

I wrote about a dozen songs for Eclipse, some of them good, some of them terrible, all of them teaching me the art of writing for musical theater. When I went to college, I began writing The New Musical on my very first day, and Eclipse was forced to the back burner. But it is a project that I still routinely take out to polish, and one which I very much hope to return to in the future.

*Click any song title to view the lyrics and context for any song in the player*

Eclipse Prologue (Instrumental)
The sun glistens in the sky as Peasants roam the fields near Sparta, gathering food. Gradually, a shadow turns the sun into a crescent that grows smaller with each passing moment. The Peasants point in alarm, horrified, until nothing remains but a dark hole in the sky, surrounded by a radiant circle of light. As fearful screams permeate the fields, the Peasants retreat into the darkness.
The Mistress of Misery
In the course of many years of illness and solitude, Princess Acacia has developed quite an over-the-top sense of morbidity and gloom. Acacia has just stumbled across a morose poem written by Aristocles called “The Door of the Dead,” which was written by Aristocles as a joke but taken quite seriously by Acacia. Intrigued, Acacia and her “shadows” (maidservants) turn their seductively mesmerizing attention toward Aristocles, who has been infatuated with Acacia since childhood.

ACACIA
I find that your thinking is very…insightful
I feel a connection to you; so strong, it’s alarming
It’s almost as though we are bound at the core
I envy the dead, while sheer life you abhor
I wonder what led you to open this door…
It’s just as you said: “The door of the dead”

Before I tell the story, how a simple poem seduced me
I beg you, share my glory! Let the shadows introduce me…

SHADOWS
She’s the mistress of misery
Seeker of shadows
Defender of darkness
Never seen the sun
Faithful to fear
Daring disaster
Coveting Chaos
Always on the run

ACACIA
It’s my way of having fun….

Who needs forgiving, we mortals can never decide
But why bother living in a world that has already died?

ARISTOCLES
Well truthfully, princess, to me it’s not all that appealing

(Acacia removes her shawl, revealing a seductive black gown)

ACACIA
And what do you feel for this lovely attire?

ARISTOCLES
(completely under her spell)
Desire…

ACACIA
I’ve searched through the years all over this land
I’ve finally got the whole world in my hand

ACACIA (cont’d)
I’ll always be grateful
You don’t understand
I’m alive!
 
ARISTOCLES
I beg you, dear Princess
You don’t understand
I’m alive!

ACACIA (cont’d)
Now that I’ve read “The Door of the Dead”
It seems you have the talents to voice all I’ve never spoken
While I create the balance of a soul that is lost
And a heart that is broken
I’m the…

ACACIA and SHADOWS
Mistress of misery
Seeker of shadows
Teacher of terror
Never left these walls
Guilty of gloom
Harboring horror
Signaling spirits
Crying in the halls…

ACACIA (cont’d)
So join me, be part of my ongoing trend
Together we’ll find what comes after the end
(Putting her arms around him)
Stay with me here, and I’ll be your friend…

ACACIA
Fiend of the fire
Despair and desire
Martyr to murder, it’s true
Mortality? Kill it!
For now, if you will it
This mistress belongs to you

SHADOWS
She’s the mistress of misery
Seeker of shadows
Defender of darkness
Never seen the sun
Faithful to fear
Daring disaster
Coveting chaos
Always on the run

Mistress of misery
Seeker of shadows
Teacher of terror
Never left these walls
Guilty of gloom
Harboring horror
Signaling spirits
Crying in the halls


ACACIA
Oh… 

I’m faithful!

Forever!
Oh…

Now the spell has been cast
And the princess deserted
Finally bound, I am free!

All these ideas
You’ve so cleverly worded
Mean so much to me

ACACIA
I’m the angel of dread!
Now take me through the Door of the Dead!
(handing back poem)
Well said.

© 2004, Michael Bihovsky

Lost
*Note: Although this song is sung by Michael in the player, it is written for the character Melody

Struggling to decide between the two men she loves, Melody wanders the streets by a river in the village she grew up in, and reflects back upon her life and the choices that she made along the way.

MELODY
The streets are filled with strangers
And the water leaves the streams
A fire burns, consuming all
The embers of my dreams
I fall to catch my memories
As my greatest fears advance
For nothing matters anymore
I’ve had my time; I’ve had my chance

I’m lost in an ocean of despair
The friends I love, the gods above
Don’t even know I’m there
I tried to focus every day
But even so, I’ve lost my way
It wasn’t worth the cost
Please help me
I am lost

A whisper in the twilight
Tells of secrets I can’t know
If I could leave the river
Would it ever cease to flow?
Everywhere I once saw magic
Curses have been cast
I strive to find a brighter purpose
But I can’t bring back my past

All alone in the night
Nothing left, nothing right
I close my eyes and see
Above the skies, shine bright your eyes
That sought to see inside of me
And if I knew the way
I wouldn’t wonder anymore
But I simply can’t betray
All that I was before…

The world becomes indifferent
And a shadow hides the light
The flame burns ever stronger
Burning through the endless night
I made a choice to stay on track
I made a choice
I can’t go back

The river can’t be crossed
Please find me
I am lost…

© 2004, Michael Bihovsky

A Perfect World
Once forced into the daylight by Aristocles, Acacia experienced sights and realities that she had once felt certain could only exist in dreams. And yet, her illness has overpowered her. With Aristocles by her side, she thanks him for the new life he has given her. Though saddened by regret, she is not afraid, because finally, she is not alone.

ACACIA
In a perfect world
In a place with no regret
Every time the sun would set
We’d know that it would rise
In a perfect time
Streams would never lose their way
Dreams would never drift away
Through losses and goodbyes

The lights are fading; all my hopes have flown
But still…the night is so much brighter when I’m not alone

In a perfect world
We would stroll the brooks and fields
No need for masks or shields to hide us
In a perfect life
Take my hand, and see that day
Those we love would always stay beside us
Not just inside of us!

And you
You’d come without
A warning
And take me through the twilight by your side
And then
I’d walk with you
Until the break of morning
Forever… forever….

For even in the night, I dreamed of sunshine
And even through these walls, I felt the sky
Everywhere I sought and searched for beauty
And every time I closed my eyes, I’d fly
When all I ever prayed for was compassion
And all I ever wanted was a friend…

(Acacia gasps painfully)

ACACIA
But it’s not a perfect world
For as the day grows longer
The illness grasps me stronger
Would you hold me?
Won’t you touch me?
Will you love me
For a perfect end?

© 2003, Michael Bihovsky

A Love Song
Melody and Aristocles know that their time together is limited. A war is coming – and they are on opposite sides. Before parting, they choose to live in the moment, and to be together this one last time.
ARISTOCLES
Hush-a-bye
Just let the moment take posession
Take a breath
And let the moonlight set you free
Dare to dream
That just one brief, enchanted evening
Can last for worlds
If you will sing with me

Like a love song
Softly sung
Like the sky that sees the sunrise
When the night is young
Now you’re here; we’re together
And an instant lasts forever
Here beside you
Here I belong
Like a love song
The music lingers on…

MELODY
All my life
I’ve wandered through an ever-changing season
Wond’ring how the mind is lost
And why the heart deceives
But just for now
There doesn’t have have to be a reason
For though the world can turn its back
The music never leaves

Like a love song
Sweet and true
Like the brightest stars
The night I fell in love with you
We will walk through the fire
Building bridges ever higher
Send me wisdom
To help me make my choice
Like a love song
You give my soul a voice

BOTH
So hold me tight
Stay close tonight
And take me to that world within your eyes
The evening calls, eclipses come
But here with you
I know the sun will rise
And let us rise!

MELODY
For the first time
I’m not afraid to feel

BOTH
Like a love song
A world of boundless fantasy is real

MELODY
And even though the shadows hide the sunlight

ARISTOCLES
And times will come when we might feel alone

BOTH
There’s no denying
Fate is flying
Towards some great unknown
But you’re here with me
And everything that matters is all right
In moonless skies, the stars can shine so bright…

MELODY
Like a love song
From the heart
I will hold you in my mem’ry
Even when we are apart
ARISTOCLES
Like a love song
From the heart
I’ll be near
Though we’re apart
 

BOTH
We’ll soar above one future
And we’ll fly beneath one wing

ARISTOCLES
Light or darkness

MELODY
Right or so wrong

BOTH
Like a love song
You give my heart a melody to sing

© 2004, Michael Bihovsky