Here, as a stopgap until a beleaguered webmaster can complete a permanent page on the Desert Peach Webcomic site, The House of Sled is honored to host a synopsis page for the Desert Peach Musical with audio files of the live original cast performance by the Mystic Fruitcake Theatre Company, Seattle, WA, in 1992. To listen, click the link and click again on the music note icon that will appear.
Based on the drawn books by Donna Barr
Libretto: Donna Barr, T. Brian Wagner, Angela Rhoads
Score: Michael Seyfrit
The setting is North Africa during the German campaign of 1941-42, and later Germany near Herrlingen. The story interlaces historical events with surreality, dark humor, camp, and farce.
Manfred Pfirsich Marie Rommel is the Desert Peach, the (very imaginary) gay younger brother of Erwin Rommel, the Desert Fox. In the first scene we see the men of the Afrika Korps proclaiming their intention to be, under the Fox, the “Best Damn Heroes” that the world has ever seen. [02 – Best Darn Heroes – Do I Look Like A Hero] Udo, a young corporal who is less sanguine about his chances of being a hero, finds himself dragooned into serving as the Peach’s orderly, a task which includes carrying a parasol. [03 – It’s Hot]
Nearby in the African theater, Lieutenant Rosen Kavalier, a dashing pilot, discovers he’s assigned to the Afrika Korps indefinitely. Mulling a predicament probably brought on by his habit of womanizing, he’s spotted by the Peach, who falls for him at sight and woos him impulsively. [04 – Garden Interlude] Rosen rejects his overtures and goes off to drink over his bad luck [05 – Unter Den Birnbaum], but finds he cannot get the Peach out of his mind. Ironically, the undercover French Resistance girl who keeps his beer coming finds she’s equally smitten with Rosen. [06 – He’s A Guy]
The Fox is meanwhile submerged under his correspondence [07 – Fan Mail] and so beleaguered that he allows his brother to spirit him away for a desert picnic. [08 – Regulations – 09 – It’s A Nice Place For A Picnic]. Ambushed by British snipers, they return fire. Pfirsich shows an unexpected warrior spirit and captures the British snipers, but wants to refuse a medal for what he sees as merely an outburst of rage and violence. [10 – Blood And Medals] Udo complains that the Peach should be more manly. [11 – Why Can’t He Be Like His Brother]
Back in Germany, conspirators in one of the many plots against the Fuhrer gather to plan an assassination, each singing of the ways he expects to come out on top in a new Germany. [12 – Plot – I Need A Scapegoat] Hoping to recruit the Desert Fox as a figurehead leader, they exit one by one, the ringleader confiding in the audience that if the plan falls through, the Fox will also be their scapegoat.
The second act opens with a fast-forward musical recap of the first: “Mr. Sondheim, eat your heart out!” (not available in these sound clips). Back in Africa, Rosen is obsessed with the Peach and once more trying to drown his conflicts in Schnapps. Pfirsich finds him drinking by moonlight and charms him until they embrace, kiss, and waltz off the stage. [13 – The Engagement]
Rommel finds he’s been recalled to Germany and cautions Udo to “look after my brother.” But their camp is raided, and the fugitive Udo and Pfirsich are nearly lost in the desert. After a brush with an outlaw army [14 – The Capture, 15 – Conscription] and dramatic rescue [16 – The Rescue] by a lovelorn Sheik who nearly lures the Peach away from his betrothed, they set out for Germany and home.
Back in Europe Rosen, convinced Pfirsich is dead, encounters the French Resistance agent, Angelique, who blackmails him into marriage by threatening to reveal his liaison with the Peach. [17 – We Could Be Shot] Elsewhere, the conspirators sing of the impending change of regime [18 – Preparations] but learn that their plot has failed and scatter in desperation.
Rosen and Angelique encounter Pfirsich in the street; Rosen stammers his excuses and Pfirsich sings of his lost love before breaking down in tears. [19 – The Break Up]
The lead conspirator pays a visit to Feldmarschall Rommel, now recovering from wounds sustained in the homeland; telling the Fox that he is sought as a member of the assassination plot, he offers him a way to save his name and family by committing an honorable suicide which will be publicly announced as “death from his wounds.” [20 – The Deal] Faced with death or disgrace, Rommel chooses the poison. Udo, overhearing a part of their conversation, wonders if he dares ever tell the truth about what he’s heard. [21 – How Can I Dare Tell Him?]
Nearly unhinged by his losses, the Peach enters at the conclusion of the funeral music [22 – A Fine State Funeral], but finds his way through grief to a state of strange tranquility in which he sees the solution: throw a party, invite everybody, and stop the fighting, because “you can’t be breaking heads when you’re passing food around.” Since this is a frothy operetta, soldiers of all nations actually accept the invitation, the stage gradually filling up with everyone who has appeared so far [23 – Ending the War]. Addressing the shade of his brother, the Peach vows to carry on, at the same time warning his hearers
Next time your Nazi come they;ll have a new disguise
They won’t be wearing jackboots, they’ll have three-piece suits and ties
They’ll tell you things you love to hear, you’ll never know they’re lies…
He forgives Rosen, just in time for the Sheik to appear with open arms. Everyone sings and waltzes until only Udo and an Allied soldier are left onstage, socking away a few leftover beers for the next war, which they’re sure will be along shortly.