My collaborator Katie and I were scouring several sources in the public domain to adapt into a musical, and we found The Day Boy and The Night Girl in an anthology of Victorian fairy tales, edited by Jack Zipes. We were impressed by how different it was from all the others we read (although we were also taken in by MacDonald's The Light Princess). It displayed an unusual depth and subtlety of thought for this kind of story, along with a surprising sense of humor and aesthetic. Katie and I were so struck by the depiction of the witch as such a layered and conflicted character. She was a woman with a wolf in her mind. She was a scientist. Despite the fact that she was clearly the antagonist in the story and did terrible things, the story of her misguided and controlling love for these children felt somehow not entirely lacking in compassion. That is, we felt that Macdonald was a writer of great heart with an empathy that extended even to this troubled witch. The boundaries differentiating right from wrong and good from evil were not clearly demarcated, providing an extremely rich and complex world for us to musicalize.
The details and description and names were also marvelous and original. It was vivid and visual, and summoned a colorful musical landscape in which we could let our imaginations run free. The musical has had two readings at New York University, a reading at Indiana University, and a production at The Spirit of Broadway Theater in Connecticut. We hope to establish future interest in the musical and accordingly rewrite/rework this timeless story with its timeless themes.
Four excerpts from the musical, plus the entire libretto, and presented below as an entry in Works of MacDonald's 2017 Competition for Charity.
Composer: James Rubio
Lyricist/bookwriter: Katie Baldwin Eng
The words and music below are the property of James Rubio and Katie Baldwin Eng.