I have a couple of things to add to this topic. Both are from The Jim Morrison Scrap Book and my own archives.
"When the book (Lords & New Creatures) had been published and the first copies arrived by mail in L.A., I found Jim sitting in his room, crying, and he said, 'This is the first time I haven't been fucked.' He said that a couple of times, and I guess he felt that that was the first time he had come through as himself."
Jim also sent a telegram to his editor in New York, saying, "Thanks to you and Simon & Schuster, the book is great beyond my expectations."
The Celebration of the Lizard, another collection of poetry Jim wrote in 1968, was originally slated to be the Doors' third album.
The Doors attempted to create an appropriate musical backdrop for Jim's poetic masterpiece. They recorded two versions, one thirty-six minutes long, and another twenty-four minutes long, but the music never matched the intensity of Jim's lyrics.
END.As if Ray Manzarek's director skills had not gone far enough with the releases of Dance On Fire (1987), Hollywood Bowl (1987) The Soft Parade (1991) & The Best Of The Doors (1997)...
I think we can safely surmise that all of the film footage contained in these videos with the exception of one, a visual to the song, "Strange Days" were all outtakes from the films "Feast Of Friends & "Feast of Friends Outtakes" (1968)", "The Doors Opened & Closed" (1968) "HWY" (1969), Critique (1969) and "A Tribute To Jim Morrison" (1981) Another more recent film was released based entirely on previously recorded film footage but this time it was Tom DiCillo putting the pieces together and the finished project was called "When Your Strange."
...Fast forward to the year 1997 - In this year Ray Manzarek serves as "artistic consultant" on a play called The Celebration of the Lizard spun together by Joel Lipman based on Jim Morrison's previous work. It's seems strange to me that back in 1968 music could not be put to COTL for recording purposes but in 1997, decades after Jim's passing the song is based on a stage play that Manzarek is confident will go to Broadway.
The play made a short run in San Diego and died out. No Broadway lights for Mr Manzarek this time around. Also at the turn of the century in Doors news was the fact that the surviving Doors were working on a tribute album - a tribute to themselves which spawned the VH-1 Storytellers tv show.
Below is a sample of the articles floating around at the time:
Morrison Poem To Be Stage Play - October 1, 1997
The San Diego Repertory Theater has begun development for a presentation of Jim Morrison's poem, The Celebration of the Lizard. The play will feature Doors music, and is being produced with a collaborative effort between Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek and writer Joel Lipman. The project is still in its early stages of development and no dates have yet been set for its debut.
Sixties Rock Veterans Reborn In New Arenas
MTV News – October 2, 1997
October 2 [12:00 EDT] -- The Doors, Janis Joplin and the Rolling Stones are set for interpretation on stage, in the movies and in classical dance.
Three rock veterans of the sixties will be brought to life next year in distinctly different formats. Words and music composed by The Doors will be featured in a stage play built around the late Jim Morrison's "The Celebration of the Lizard" writings in conjunction with the San Diego Repertory Theatre. Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek told the L.A. Times that the premise involved "the classic journey of the hero," set among warring factions battling for supremacy in a post-apocalyptic future. Manzarek added the play is "loaded with Doors songs" including a female gospel style rendition of "The End," a female quartet version of "Waiting for the Sun" and show-closing "When the Music's Over" sung by the entire cast.
Morrison's Legacy Alive In SoCal
Posted Oct 01, 1997
Even though Jim Morrison died more than 25 years ago, his work lives on and it's hitting Southern California.
His poem, "Celebration of the Lizard," is in pre-production at the San Diego Repertory Theater. A collaborative effort between former Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek and writer Joel Lipman, the play is currently in its most basic stages -- it hasn't been cast and the launch date hasn't been picked. Stay tuned to JAMTV for more details including what Doors songs will be heard during the show. (Ari Bendersky)
Zane and Jones May Star in Jim Morrison-Scribed Musical, Lizard; Reading Held June 1717 Jun 1999
The June 17, reading of Lizard has the three surviving Doors members -- Robbie Krieger, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore -- serving as creative consultants. Morrison died in 1971, after a hard night of drinking and drugs. Lizard would not be the first link between Morrison and legit theatre; Morrison designed several sets for stage productions (including one for Fiddler on the Roof) while a student at Florida State University. Morrison was also rumored to so affected by a production of The Living Theatre's Paradise Now, he exposed his genitals during a concert -- and subsequently underwent a highly publicized arrest.
Billy Zane, Grace Jones light fire for Morrison, Doors
By Claude Brodesser
NEW YORK (Variety)
Deals are imminent for Billy Zane and Grace Jones to star in the newly formed stage musical ``A Celebration of the Lizard,'' built around the music of The Doors and the poetry of its frontman, Jim Morrison.
A staged reading is planned at the San Diego theater this month with surviving Doors members Robbie Krieger, Ray Manzarek and John Densmore serving as creative consultants.
Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews
Last updated 13th September 1999.
Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews – September 13, 1999
Ray Manzarek, one of the original members of the rock group The Doors, is working on a musical - Celebration Of The Lizard. Based on a poem about the Apocalypse by Jim Morrison, it will use Doors songs - like a more ambitious Mamma Mia!. The show is set on the riot torn earthquake ravaged streets of Los Angeles. Billy Zane and Grace Jones took part in at reading at San Diego Rep earlier in the summer. Plans are for a full scale production at San Diego next spring, with the hope of reaching Broadway in the autumn.
NEW MUSICIAL EXPRESS - June 14, 1999
THE THEATRE DOORS ARE OPEN
A stage musical inspired by the poetry of Jim Morrison is set to open next year and Billy Zane will star as a Morrison alter ego called 'The Stranger', inspired by the late Doors frontman's poem 'The Celebration Of The Lizard'.
According to US website SonicNet, the surviving Doors will act as creative consultants on the stage musical being produced in San Diego which will also star Grace Jones as 'The Lizard Lady'.
Meanwhile Ray Manzarek will play keyboards with the reformed Cult on a version of 'Wild Child' which is being recorded for a forthcoming Doors tribute album. There are no details about the other bands involved.
CELEBRATION OF THE LIZARD – PREVIEW
By: James Herbert
Sign On San Diego
Union Tribune News
May 18, 2000
Apocalypse Now: Lizard Checks Into The Morrison Hotel During A Trip Through The Mind Of An Original L.A. Woe-An
A few stanzas into the deeply weird poem and song cycle that is Jim Morrison’s Celebration of the Lizard, the late singer and lyricist for the Doors recited a tale of a man waking up with a strange creature groaning beside him/sweat oozed from it’s shiny skin.
James Douglas Morrison – mystic, pinup, rock legend, rock casualty – was some kind of strange creature himself. He lived fast, died young (1t 27 in 1971) and left either a good looking corpse or, if you believe the Jim Lives crowd, no corpse at all.
And so, fittingly, it is a strange creature now being birthed at the San Diego Repertory Theatre – a musical fable, as Rep artistic director Sam Woodhouse calls it, inspired by and created from the legacy of Morrison and the band.
The Rep’s Celebration of the Lizard beginning previews Saturday, uses Morrison’s poem, (which appeared on the Doors 1970 album Absolutely Live) as its narrative skeleton.
But it fleshes out the beast with 30 plus songs from the Doors catalog in the service of a story about a wandering band of survivors in post apocalyptic Los Angeles and the anti-hero who tries to lead them out of the chaos.
Morrison’s fanciful creature isn’t the only one sweating.
“This is by far the most ambitious project we’ve done in the history of the Rep,” with a budget twice as large as the previous record, says Woodhouse, who is directing the play.
The music component alone is a huge undertaking. O-Lan Jones, the shows musical director and arranger, says, “I feel as though we’ve constructed a whole country of music, with gangplanks and cities and freeways and things like that. It feels three dimensional.
Joel Lipman, the writer, producer and driving force behind Lizard points out that the production also has 16 cast members who portray some 40 to 50 characters, while a five man band performs for all but three to four minutes of the show.
The opening sequence, Lipman notes, is “12 to 15 minutes of full tilt action and music. It’s L.A. Woman, its Blood On the Streets, It’s five or six songs that the cast is literally running through: running, leaping, rolling, fighting, jumping.”
If the core of Lizard – the trippy, cryptic, reptilian obsessed poem itself 0 is not the most accessible source material for a book musical, the songs surrounding it could help the show appeal to a broader audience.
Theatre goers can expect to hear such Doors classics as Light My Fire, Riders On The Storm, and People Are Strange, along with such one off works as Peace Frog – the mere mention of which brings a giggle of delight from Jones (“I can’t wait for you to see that one!”)
For the show’s creative team, though, the tune that seems to capture most vividly both the message of the Doors and the theme of the production is Break On Through.
“Break On Through to the other side. Dare to imagine a world you cannot see.” Says Woodhouse. “One of the messages of the 60’s was to cast off your old ways; don’t look above you, if you will, in terms of the political hierarchy for answers. Leap over it’ tear it down; imagine something completely different.”
Lipman speaks of the chaotic setting of the play, and of the characters’ struggles to free themselves from it, in similar terms.
“Break on through that landscape to something,” he says. “That’s what the play is. I literally get goose bumps thinking about that, because it’s like (the Doors) who catalog of writing and music fits into that one thought.”
The lyric’s symbolism even extends to what the play’s creators hope will be its future, they openly aspire to get Lizard to Broadway, if it is a success in San Diego.
“We have great hopes and desires, once it breaks through, that it will have a healthy and long life on the other side,” says Woodhouse of the play’s prospects. “That’s certainly a desire and a goal. But at this stage, we’re deep in the birth process.”
“Does anybody need a weapon?”
At the Rep’s rehearsal space on a recent afternoon, the birth process Woodhouse refers to is focused on a scene where two key characters – the Stranger, played by Jeff Meek, and Antonio, played by the one named Baruti – confront each other.
Woodhouse is surveying the ensemble, making sure each member has some kind of fighting implement – a stick here, a bone there, even the odd skull.
On the directors cue, the dozen or so actors chant and dance, as if engaging in some inscrutable trial rite. Then, Meek and Baruti issue challenges to each other in song.
Lizard as described by Lipman was coming together in earnest last year, the Rep hosted several staged reading with Billy Zane (Titanic) and Grace Jones in the leads. (Other names floated around for the Strange included Kevin Bacon and Lou Diamond Phillips.)
“Those guys were great,” Lipman says of Zane and Jones. “Billy was great. And with no disrespect to him, Jeff Meek – in baseball, they call it a pitch that’s in your wheelhouse.”
“This is where he lives. He’s a martial artist, he’s a singer, he’s an actor. He’s a stage actor, which is really important….I think we’ve been blessed to get someone with those tools.”
The play has the blessing of Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek, who has helped guide Lizard since he and Lipman first talked about the concept some 10 years ago.
Lipman, a veteran music and tv producer, had long toyed with staging a Doors based play. In college he and a friend mounted a “black box” production of An American Prayer, another of Morrison’s poetic works.
A decade later, when he was helping Manzarek produce a record of poetry and jazz, Lipman asked the former Door about the meaning of Lizard.
“Ray said, ‘That was Jim’s apocalyptic vision of Los Angeles,’ And literally, three nights later I sat up in bed and said, ‘That’s the story.’”
The eventual casting of Karole Foreman, a San Diego native and Rep associate artist, as Queen Of The Highway opened the way for the production to make a home at the theatre.
Lipman already had met O-Lan Jones, a composer who runs an L.A. musical theatre company called Overtone Industries, through a mutual friend who impressed upon Lipman that Lizard would need a musical director.
“The truth of that comment,” says Lipman, “was like saying, ‘If you can’t swim don’t jump in the water.”
And as the hugely ambitious Lizard nears its debut, the two seem to be not only keeping their heads above water, but keeping their sense of humor.
Asked over breakfast if they followed any special rituals to immerse themselves in the world of the Doors, Jones shoots back with a laugh, “Well, there was the time we killed the goat. But I don’t remember any other rituals.”
Lipman jumps in right on cue: “Goat meat, by the way, is a lot sweeter than anyone thinks.”
On the topic of staying true to the Doors legacy, though, Lipman is a bit more serious. He says he expects Manzarek and Doors guitarist Robbie Krieger to attend the show’s opening, although drummer John Densmore is a question mark.
“One of the biggest rewards for me really will be, and is, that they will like this and that it speaks to them,” he says.
As for the uninitiated: “People who don’t know the music will think, ‘ Oh, it’s just that loud rock ‘n’ roll stuff?’ It’s not. Man.
“In this world, in this play, it’s beautiful.”
Manzarek speaking to VH-1 June 14 2000
"It beats the hell out of the Oliver Stone movie," Manzarek said. "Lizard is not the story of the Doors. This is much more a story of the dark and the light, with a final redemption at the end that consists of a women's chorus singing 'Waiting for the Sun.' It's a glorious moment."
"The whole point is to get to Broadway," he continued. "Think of San Diego as Hartford. We're just trying out." Manzarek and the play's author, Joel Lipman, are meeting with theater promoters and record executives in New York in the hopes of opening Lizard on the Great White Way.
COMING TO THE SAN DIEGO REPERTORY THEATRE AT THE LYCEUM - HORTON PLAZA
CELEBRATION OF THE LIZARD, A GALACTIC WORLD PREMIERE
Date March 1, 2000
Celebration of the Lizard
San Diego Repertory Theatre, Lyceum Stage, Horton Plaza
San Diego Repertory Theatre will take a giant step forward with its galactic world premiere of Celebration of the Lizard based on the music and lyrics of legendary rock 'n' roll icons The Doors: Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore and Robby Krieger. Among the glittering wreckage of a futuristic urban landscape, the show will feature more than 40 songs including Light My Fire, Riders On The Storm, People Are Strange, Touch Me and Hello I Love You. It will also be highlighted by the mysterious Lizard Woman urging The Stranger along the highway to Break On Through.
The mood of Celebration of the Lizard will be one of magic and mystery and can change in an instant by the wave of a hand, an explosion or....music. More than a dozen cast members and a live five piece band will take the audience on a wild and fascinating roller coaster ride to what lies just beyond.
Previews: Saturday May 20-Saturday May 27
Opening Night: Sunday May 28, 7 pm
Final Performance: Sunday July 2
Preview Performances: $28
Regular Run: $30-$37
If popular demand warrants the show being extended beyond the scheduled closing date, new ticket prices will be announced later.
Orange County Weekly Theatre Review June 9-15, 2000
Turn out the Lights
This is the end, my friend
by Joel Beers
Stop us before we sing again!
I’m still waiting for proof that the rebellious spirit of rock can be translated into commercial musical theater. Jesus Christ Superstar, Rent, Tommy, et al. either watered down the source material or offered tepid rock-tinged scores.
On the other hand, it’s tempting to try. Take the possibilities suggested by the life of Jim Morrison. He was a theatrical performer to begin with, and as a songwriter, his best lyrics stand as creditable poetry. And his collaboration with the rest of the Doors produced the kind of weird, chaotic career arc that might generate some theatrically interesting sparks.
Unfortunately, each of those sparks flickers and dies in Celebration of the Lizard, a world-premiere "rock & roll musical fable" at the San Diego Repertory Theatre. Not plotted well enough to be a decent stage musical and not nearly edgy enough to be considered rock & roll, the show meanders for two-plus hours through a twilight zone of artless pretension, lame storytelling and sheer goofiness. It’s a lot like some of the Doors’ less-inspired records.
Celebration of the Lizard places us in a futuristic society where a Stranger (Jeff Meek, who looks the part but lacks the vocal intensity for some of the screamier songs) is fleeing a dying city after killing a cop. On the road, he meets the Queen of the Highway (Karole Foreman, one of the few performers whose vocal prowess is up to the task) and the Lizard Woman (Michele Mais), who convince him that he has a great destiny to fulfill. He winds up out in the desert with a band of hedonists, who have turned their back on the decadence of civilization in order to eat, drink and screw all day. The Stranger now has to persuade the tribe to break on through to the other side, to Arden, a place free of both the emptiness of decaying civilization and the empty pleasures of the wilderness. About this time, Christopher Columbus pops up and everyone bursts into a rousing version of "When the Music’s Over" as they climb the rigging of a ship seeking a new land.
Obviously, Joel Lipman, who conceived and wrote the show, is a huge Morrison fan. Why else would he take approximately 40 Doors songs and Morrison poems and try to turn them into this so-called fable? The problem is that Morrison’s work wasn’t written as one long narrative. This isn’t Pete Townshend and Tommy. Lipman is instead trying to give order and coherence to Morrison’s words after the fact. That’s great if you’re writing a term paper, but it’s a terribly weak foundation for a play, and the cracks are everywhere. A mysterious figure stalking the Stranger is, of course, the spy in the house of love. When said spy encounters a couple rutting like pigs, he begins singing "Love Street." A woman, angered at betrayal, hisses at a man, "Arms that change, eyes that lie!" When another character dies, we get "The Unknown Soldier."
It goes on and on. And by the time two characters are running in place, arms furiously pumping as they sing the bit from "Not to Touch the Earth" ("Run with me . . . let’s run"), that’s exactly what these feet were yearning to do.
Celebration of the Lizard at San Diego Repertory Theatre, 79 Horton Plaza, San Diego, (619) 544-1000. Tues., 7 p.m.; Wed.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 7 p.m. Through July 2. $30-$37.
-- JAM! Music
Tuesday June 13, 2000
Jim Morrison play eyes Broadway
The Lizard King may be slithering onto Broadway.
The New York Daily News says there are plans to bring the music of Jim Morrison and The Doors to Broadway in a production called "Celebration Of The Lizard King."
The play, based on Morrison's apocalyptic poem about Los Angeles, opened last week at the San Diego Repertory Theatre, and Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek and co-writer Joel Lipman hope to have the piece on the Great White Way within a year.
Already, Lipman and Manzarek are in talks with investors and partners about raising the money needed to stage the piece, which features 35 Doors songs.
"The whole point is to get to Broadway," Manzarek told The Daily News. "Think of San Diego as Hartford. We're just trying out."
"'Lizard' is not the story of The Doors. This is much more a story of the dark and the light, with a final redemption at the end that consists of a women's chorus singing 'Waiting for the Sun.' It's a glorious moment."