The Lullaby of Broadband
Music and Lyrics by Julian Velard
Lyrics by Grant Black
We open on a stage set in the fashion of The Golden Age of Broadway. Above hangs a sparkling marquee that says “The Internet”. Silhouettes emerge and we see an ensemble of people from all walks of life: A lawyer in a three piece suit, members of the North Korean military, even construction workers. This random cast of characters performs a show-stopping production number about “The Greatest Website in the World”. They sing about a magical website that lets you escape into a virtual reality musical theater universe, regardless of any talent.
Midway through the song it is revealed that this number is happening on the website they are singing about. We cut to the inside of a studio apartment filled with instruments and computer equipment. We see Charlie playing a keyboard while frantically typing commands on the computer, spontaneously conducting the number we are watching.
We see Charlie milling around his apartment. He pours a bowl of cereal. He methodically does the dishes. The camera pans around his studio to reveal a compulsively maintained abode. Charlie in a moment of inspiration sits down at the piano and begins to sing about the sense of order in his world. We see through Charlie’s window and into the window of his next door neighbor across the alleyway: a beautiful platinum blonde. We see Charlie playing the voyeur, watching her every move while he sings of his desire to be with her. He wants to talk to her but he can’t. He is paralyzed, trapped in within the order of his apartment, in a life of perfect rhyme.
Charlie chooses his “clients” for the website through video submission. We watch a video from Yun, a 9-year old Asian girl from San Francisco. Yun wants nothing more than to be Little Orphan Annie. But with her obvious ethnic disadvantage, it’s impossible. Yun says she’d give anything for a shot to show the world how great she could be on stage. Charlie creates an original production number for Yun all about the place she learned her craft, The Orphanage.
Charlie is sitting at his piano, working on a new song. After a few lines he‘s interrupted by his neighbor practicing a song for an audition (turns out she’s a musical theater actress!). Charlie quickly adapts the song he’s working into the accompaniment for her song. Amazed by Charlie’s prowess, she shouts across the alleyway and introduces herself as Penny. Charlie continues to accompany her while singing his own made up melody. As the song builds, the sounds from the street outside being to chime in, from people walking in time on the sidewalk, along with a truck backing up and the gospel choir practicing in the church on the corner.
After getting carried away, Penny realizes she’s running late for her audition and rushes out the door. It’s clear that’s she’s smitten with Charlie. Charlie, left in the haze of love, goes off into his own song where he wonders, “Am I In Love Or Is It The View?”
We see another video submission from Levi, a young man from Tennesee in his late 20’s. Levi grew up the son of a Baptist Minister and he’s expected to take his father’s place and lead the congregation. He’s led a very sheltered life, only leaving the state once to goto Disneyworld. More than anything Levi wants to be a man of the world. He dreams each night of escaping to exotic locales and losing himself in the romance of it all. Charlie creates a tango number inspired for Levi where he dances with different partners from all over the world, all them men.
Penny asks Charlie across the alleyway to go out on a date in variety of ways. Charlie fabricates excuses every time, each one more ridiculous than the next.
Charlie has set himself up to be an online savior, but it’s turning out to be more than he can handle. We see the rapid growth of his website through snippets of various online video submissions, each a brief look at a new character. These cut between knocks on the door (his landlord looking for rent and a Chinese delivery man). We then cut to Charlie panicking and gazing over at Penny while she practices for her audition.
At the end of the number there’s a message from an evil agent who wants to pitch his website as a TV program to networks. The world that Charlie has removed himself from has now found a way inside. The song finishes with Penny singing her audition across the alleyway. And that gives Charlie an idea…
Charlie pushes he entire setup, keyboard and speakers, to his window and sings a declaration of love for Penny while she gets dressed for an evening on the town. By the end of song, Penny has truly fallen in love with Charlie. But when Charlie realizes she’s getting ready for a date and sees a handsome man pick her up, he’s devastated. Not knowing what to do, Penny leaves at the end with her suitor.
Penny answers her door and there is a well-dressed man ready to pick her up for a date. Flustered, she quickly leaves Charlie, promising to call him. Charlie is heartbroken and furious. He quickly logs on to the website to perform his very own and final production number, guns blazing. The number consists of Charlie dancing around a big self-destruct button while “The Internet” stage collapses around him. The entire time he is shadowed by female backing dancers mocking his every move.
Weeks have passed since Charlie last opened the website. We see he’s grown a full beard and wearing a bathrobe stained with cereal milk. Stumbling around the apartment, he walks over to the computer and starts checking his inbox overflowing with video messages. There are messages from Yun and Levi thanking him for what he’s done for them, how he’s changed their lives. Then he comes across a video message from Penny. She’s figured out that Charlie runs the site, that he never leaves the house. In the video she declares her love for him. Astounded by his good fortune, Charlie quickly shaves, then open up his blinds to reveal himself. The two sing a reprise of the ballad together (You Don’t Fall In Love) in the fantasy world of the website.
This time Penny sings the lead with different lyrics. There is a bridge to the song where Penny and Charlie sing together back and forth tossing each other rhymes. At one point Penny gives Charlie a word that can’t be rhymed. Flustered, Charlie is unable to sing the next line. Penny urges him on, telling him that Life doesn’t always rhyme. Very gingerly, like a baby taking his first steps, Charlie tries out a line that doesn’t rhyme, quickly speeding up to a whole stanza where nothing rhymes.
The song closes with a cut back to Charlie and Penny in their apartments. Charlie tells Penny to stay right there, that he’s coming over. He races over to his door and opens it up. He stands at the threshold and starts at the hallway.