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Pandemic star was ready to be born

by Celia Storey | March 1, 2021 at 2:00 a.m.
Inundated by media attention — and snow — (counterclockwise from left) Ben, Alfie, Danielle, Thomas, Ella and Tess Marsh walk Monty the German shepherd Feb. 12 at Faversham, England. (Photo courtesy Danielle Marsh)

Two years before covid-19 lockdowns, the singing Marsh family of Faversham, England, videotaped themselves covering tunes from musical theater.

Less polished than their most recent posts, their videos from 2018 and 2019 (such as "Shallow" from "A Star Is Born" and "It Sucks to Be Me" from "Avenue Q") display youthful talent in all its hit-or-miss but heartwarming exuberance. In a 2018 cover of "From Now On" from "The Greatest Showman," the children flinch and grimace but gamely carry on with their instruments and vocals while the dog, Monty, howls.

He's almost in tune.

Their works really pile up after March 2020. By Friday, their YouTube channel held 22 songs. Most are lighthearted parodies for which they wrote new lyrics about the frustrations of lockdown, but not all. "Under Pressure" (by Queen and David Bowie) required no lyrical adjustments to suit the pandemic; the Marsh version features new recording equipment they got for Christmas. And an adaptation of "Amazing Grace" was inspired by the toppling of a historic statue of a slave trader into Bristol harbor by Black Lives Matter protesters.

"The Prostectomy Song" video features an original tune by Ben Marsh. Danielle Marsh explained via email Wednesday that Ben wrote cheeky lyrics for the kids to celebrate his father's successful surgery:

With no prostate,

You can celebrate

You can contemplate,

You can weeeee!

All the adaptations have clever lyrics and some have choreography. The latest, "The Buy-in Eats Tonight," takes off on "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" and includes "bat frequency high ahhs" by 11-year-old Ella while Thomas, 13, plays clarinet.

We-e-e ... need a takeaway.

Justifying our lazy dining

We lie that it's alright.

"Have the New Jab" (Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah") has pointy humor:

Maybe there's a plan above to implant things into our blood

But why on earth would Bill Gates want to rule ya?

And it's not a trick to get you spayed!

It's not some change to our DNA!

It's a covid-fighting weapon! Have the new jab.

"Test Monkey," based on "Dance Monkey," is one long complaint inspired by failures of a covid test-scheduling website, and the video features a shaggy orangutan puppet.

The orangutan returns for "Somewhere (There's No Place for You)." In a parody of the "West Side Story" anthem, as the girls sing the original lyrics, the puppet argues with them, saying, no, they can't be together, and no, there's no place for them. And they cannot hold hands.

"I Know Them Too Well" takes off from "I Know Him So Well" from the musical "Chess":

Looking back, I could have tried polygamy

Learned to run a prison or hotel

But we were ever so outnumbered when

It only takes one child to make life hell!

"Ten School Commandments" parodies "Ten Duel Commandments" from the musical "Hamilton!"

Number one!

The challenge: avoid interaction.

If they close all the schools no need for further action.

As catchy as the original production number "Rhythm of Life" in the musical "Sweet Charity," "Freedom of Life" brings out Dad's baritone.

Daddy started out in full-on lockdown,

Shouting at the children, loud and mean.

Suddenly a voice said, "Go forth, Daddy.

Spread the anger outside quarantine."


Oh, the freedom of life is a powerful beat,

You can mingle in the gardens. Mingle in the street.

Freedom from your children.

Freedom at six feet.

The freedom of life is a powerful beat.

"From a (Social) Distance" is as wistful as Julie Gold's "From a Distance," and the lyrics of "Do You Hear the People Sing" ("Les Miserables") are adjusted a bit to deliver a hopeful message about a world that can be restarted "When tomorrow comes."

But there's delight in less sanguine observations, too. "Where You Are" takes off on a song from Disney's "Moana," and includes advice such as:

You'll be OK.

If not you'll learn just to hide it.

You must find happiness right where you are.

And in "One Day More" (again from "Les Miz"), lyrics are a dialogue among the children, who sing things like "I am bored of being with you," "Do we get a change of clothes?" and "Have you seen my brother's hair?!"

[RELATED: Meet the family Von Trapped]

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