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For 'Deadly Gamble' Musical, Lyrics Bobbing Up


The burst of new interest in the wreck of Levin J Marvel, spurred by Kathy Bergren Smith's book, Deadly Gamble, has spawned standing-room-only crowds and plans to carry forth the story of Chesapeake Bay's worst sailing disaster in modern times.


Fourteen people perished in the August, 1955 sinking off of Herring Bay when the captain of a schooner packed with elites and professionals from the New York-area sailed down the Choptank into furious remnants of Hurrican Connie.


Earlier this month, at the Calvert Marine Museum in Solomons, more than 130 people took part in an anniversary symposium, among them author Kathy Bergren Smith, a survivor, experts and former Coast Guard officials. An even larger crowd turned out earlier this year at Bayside History Museum.


Also on stage was Maggie Roberts Barkin, pictured above, whose father, Bertram Roberts, a psychiatrist and prominent mental health researcher at Yale University, died in the storm. Her mother, Frances, also on board, survived to raise Maggie and a sister, Priscilla.


Maggie Barkin, of New Haven, Conn., is a former actress and singer and an educator in the performing arts.


She said after the recent gathering that she was compelled to write a musical, and has been writing for months.


After reading our blog, we heard from a reader that it might be difficult to carry forth in the firmament of music when dealing with a tragedy such as this.


Then again, observed New Bay Books contributor Doug Kamholz, what about the Edmund Fitzgerald, commemorated in the Gordon Lightfoot song The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, a huge hit in the United States and Canada?



None of the bodies of the 29 people who died were found after the SS Edmund Fitzgerald freighter, known as "the Queen of the Ore Fleet," went down in Lake Superior in 70 mph winds on Nov. 10, 1975. Lightfoot, who died in May, recorded his song a month after the

vessel sank.



Doug, left, an Illinois wordsmith who takes pride in his region, herewith offers up lyrics to a song that seems most fitting at a moment so many of us are recalling those who died, and those who became heroes when the Marvel was dashed to bits. He's working on the music.


The legend goes down in every Chesapeake town

by the big bay once called Santa Maria

The water, it is said, never gives up her dead

When mid-August skies roil the bahia.


With its load three times nine just off North Beach sand spine

Her work days now sailed for pleasure

That good ship and true was a bone to be chewed

When Connie’s might, it gained its full measure.


Does any one know where the love of God goes

When the waves dial back full lives to zeroes?

Searchers so kind tried to reach the duck blind

Billy and George, they both were the heroes.


They launched a small skiff against winds devil stiff

And from their first wave they were bailing

Then two at a time they plucked from the brine

The six who knew they were failing.


So L J Marvel sails lost to year ‘55 gales

Of Hurricane Connie come calling

Fourteen lives on that day were lost to the bay

As Chesapeake hearts were sad-falling.



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Doug‘s lyrics are terrific and show how far our imaginations can go with exciting source material. When William said I’ve been writing for months in fact, much of what I have developed is in my head. This is because theater, particularly musical theatre is a collaborative art form and stories are best told in stage pictures. To that end, I plan to begin workshopping my adaptation with dancers. I’ll block out vignettes or critical moments from Kathy Bergren Smith’s text and in pairs, the stage artists will come up with a dramatic scene to depict it. The great thing about artistic problems in the classroom and in life is that there are many right answers.

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williamlambrecht
williamlambrecht
Aug 23, 2023
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We agree with you that Doug Kamholz's lyrics were fetching and wish we had the creative chops you two possess. I love your phrase "workshopping my adaptation with dancers." I'd very much like to see my paragraphs floating about the stage on the wings of artists. (Doug hinted that he might have his own choreography cooking.) When I said you'd been writing for months, I understood that exercise to be ongoing in your mind. As a journalist in Washington, leaving Capitol Hill or related political hijinxes, I'd need to write at least the top of story in my head before sitting to commit an act of journalism. Keep us up with your progress in coming months, perhaps offline. william.lambrecht@gmail.com

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