You are at: home » theater » plays » poor little rich girl blue  

On one of my pilgrimages to Guinle Park, I arrived at Vinícius’ house bearing some sixteen unpublished tunes. As usual, I left the material on the “little” tape recorder and went home to wait for the usual “little” week. (Like Spanish, Portuguese employs a diminutive form, adding the suffix “-inho” to transform, for example, a week – semana — into a little week – semaninha. Vinícius was notorious for his use of the diminutive form.) The week passed and then another. Since I’d had no news of the poet, I decided to drop by. When I entered the little room where he normally worked, he acted as if nothing were amiss. “Ah! Little Partner, it’s good you showed up. I’m here with your little songs for fifteen days and I haven’t managed to do a thing!” I had to ask – “What happened?” “No,” he began, “it’s that with these new little tunes, it seemed to me you were wanting to tell me a little story…” Since I found nothing to say to that, he continued, “Take a good look at this first little song. See if this doesn’t suggest a guy declaring his love to his beloved?” I thought that, in as much as it was Vinícius, this was nothing new. But I waited for him to continue. “Now see if this second little song isn’t the beloved replying to the guy’s declaration?” And, noticing my perplexity, he concluded, “Little Partner, you wrote a little musical comedy!” Still surprised, I exulted, “Vinícius, that’s great! Since my Missa Agrária with Guarnieri, I’ve been really wanting to do a musical comedy. With that, Vinícius changed his tone. “Right. But here in Rio de Janeiro, in this mundane noise (his words), I can’t write at all. But if, in compensation (his words), we were to transfer ourselves to the house of my fourth wife up in Petrópolis, we could finish this little comedy off in a week!”

Said and done. A few days later, we were at the house of Vinícius’ fourth wife, in Petrópolis, having brought with us our equipment, to wit: guitar, little tape recorder and – as one might expect – a little crate containing 12 liters of “little bottled dogs”, which was how he referred to the sacred whiskey – in his opinion, man’s best friend. Vinícius consumed eighty percent of the “kennel” in question and as he did so, he returned it to me in the form of a musical comedy that he, in one of the richest moments of our partnership – and of my career – baptized as Poor Little Rich Girl.

“Little Partner,” which was how he began to tell the story, “our little comedy takes place in a vacant lot carioca. On one side of the lot, there’s an apartment building and there in the penthouse lives the Poor Little Rich Girl! And the little lot, in turn, is inhabited by a community of beggars…” “Beggars, Vinícius?” I interrupted. Precisely in my comedy, I thought, he’s going to put beggars! The poet tranquilized me. “Don’t worry, little partner. These little beggars are very sympathetic, very hip and super organized, see? They leave every day at dawn to go to their little jobs of begging and are lead by a Beggar Chief. This Beggar Chief, just you imagine a black man, all large, all gothic, with a shining set of teeth and wearing a size 14 shoe.. His other is a little wooden leg, but which in no way hampers him in neither love nor samba. This is the beggar Carioca, who each day on waking, calls the others forth for their daily labor…”
And Vinícius continues the story. “Then, little partner, a new beggar shows up in that community. It is the Beggar Poet and he is the hero of the story. But right off, he runs into trouble with one of the other beggars already living in the community, the Beggar Thief (Num-Dô, or Give-Not), or rather, the administrator of the communities’ goods. They get into an argument, but the Beggar Poet finishes off the thief. With a song, little partner...”

There’s more to the little story and Vinícius continues. “At the end of a beautiful day, another beggar shows up. A demographic explosion. We’re talking about a little beggar so destitute that he inspires pity in the other beggars. He is a Parrot Perch come from Ceará. (Many northeasterners often traveled to the south of the country in vans and trucks with no seating, only a long rail, like a perch for parrots, to hold onto. Hence, the nickname.)

At the most lyrical and romantic moment of the play, Vinícius comes out with this:

“One day, the Beggar poet is wandering aimlessly around the little vacant lot, when suddenly he looks up at the top of the building and sees the Poor Little Rich Girl in the penthouse. There she was, on the balcony, absolutely beautiful. Ah! That little beggar falls hopelessly in love with her.” Vinícius paused. “But you know what, little partner, that Poor Little Rich Girl also falls in love with the Beggar Poet.” I couldn’t help myself. “Hold it a minute, Vinícius. You think that people are going to believe that a rich girl will fall in love with a beggar?” My poet appeared to be even a little offended when he replied, “And why not, little partner? It was spring!” Who’s going to argue with a poet!

Song Search