The Musical Play That Never Was
But It Describes Me.

In my previous essay, “Look at Me… I Am Old but I’m Happy,” I mentioned that Cat Stevens wrote the song for the musical play, Revolussia, from which I pulled the title for my last essay. The song was intended to be about a father and son during the runup to the Russian Revolution. His son wanted to join the communists in their attempt to overthrow Czar Nicholas II. There were several reasons for scrubbing the attempt at creating another Broadway hit. The most important was that Cat Stevens came down with tuberculosis and nearly died.

The intent of the play seemed like a Russian musical based upon a Russian version of Archie Bunker arguing with Michael, his son-in-law, who he called Meathead. The Russian version of Archie Bunker had the father wanting his son to stay home rather than to go off and fight the godless commies. Nevertheless, I started to wonder about what actually happened to the Romanov’s family dynasty during that time period?

Vladimir Lenin controlled the Bolsheviks, which later became the Communist Party. Lenin was responsible for overthrowing Czar Nicholas II in 1917. However, a dozen years prior there had been the Russian Revolution of 1905. This was a direct result of the Industrial Revolution finally making its way to Russia. While the Industrial Revolution revolutionized the industrial basis of the West, it also created a great deal of social and economic disorder in all Western societies. However, it was far worse in Russia.

Due to both the effects of the Russian Revolution of 1905, Nicholas II promised the workers reforms that would be created in the Dumas. However, in 1914, WWI began, and the Russians joined the Allies against the Germans. Nicholas II actually went to the front to command the Russian army.

While her husband was off to the war, Czarina Alexandra took command on the home front. Enter the strange monk, Grigori Rasputin, which caused major chaos and unrest. Finally, some nobles in Russia killed him on December 30, 1916.

The Mad Monk Rasputin

Matters in Russia got worse until the February Revolution of 1917, which occurred in February of the Julian calendar and in March in the Gregorian calendar. On March 2, 1917, Czar Nicholas abdicated. However, between November 6 and the 7, which was called the October Revolution, Lenin seized control without any fighting. Even though he was able to do so, many Russian intellectuals were opposed to Lenin, the peasants, soldiers, and workers. That resulted in the Russian Civil War, which was between the Red Army, the communists, and the White Army, the intellectuals and some supporters of the czar. Nevertheless, by 1923, Lenin and the Communist Party controlled Russia.

The Romanov dynasty

Whatever happened to the Romanov dynasty after his abdication in March of 1917? Nicholas II and his family were put under house arrest not far from St. Petersburg. Lenin had to deal with the belief that Nicholas II was the legitimate leader of Russia. Many of the White Russians wanted to restore him to his throne. Afterall, Nicholas II was believed by many as God’s chosen leader of Russia. The Whites were moving to Ekaterinburg where the family was being held. During the night of July 17, 1918, around midnight, the family was moved to the basement of the house where they were all shot and killed. Many scholars believe that the four princesses and their mother, Alexandra, were taken to another site and killed. Regardless of precisely who was killed in the basement, the actual execution took twenty minutes. There were a dozen executioners shooting at the Romanovs in the basement. There was so much shooting that smoke filled the basement. The executioners repeatedly firing at people that have been shot before created an elongated execution.

This is the Church on the Blood, which was built over the house where the Romanovs were killed.

The reason why the musical play, Revolussia, never got to Broadway was said to be due to Cat Stevens contracting tuberculosis, which may be true. Nonetheless, I’m not sure the storyline of the Russian Revolution and the killing of the Romanovs would have been a great musical.