A Petpet In The Pound: Part Two
Late that night, while I was sleeping, I felt a hand on my shoulder, shaking me awake. I opened my eyes and blinked at Chris, who was standing over me with a huge smile on his face.
"I've got it!" he said. "We should put on a Musical."
I stared incomprehensibly at him. "A musical... what?"
"At first I thought they should do a Talent Show, because then each pet could show potential owners what he or she was really good at, but then I realized that would be too hectic; you'd need to get supplies for each and every pet, such as juggling balls and stilts and such. Me, for example, if I entered a talent show, I would probably cook something, which would require all the ingredients and a stove. But a musical would be perfect. We'd need costumes, a script, and a set. Plus people are more likely to come to a musical than a talent show. We're not talking about something amazing, just a small production would be fine."
I finally realized what he was talking about. "It takes much more than costumes, a script, and a set to put on a musical. You need a stage, and lights, and a band. You need money, and you need talent. Not to mention advertising."
Chris spread his arms wide, as if the answer was obvious. "This is the Pound, Ray, the Pound! Do you have any idea how many Neopets and Neopians come in and out each day? All you'd need to do is put up a few flyers and our musical will be all around Neopia."
"Okay," I relented. "But you still need money to fund the equipment needed, and you'd need a dance coach and a music coach."
"We'll get funding. Imagine how much business Neopian Fresh Foods would get if they sponsored our Musical? They could even sell goods during Intermission."
It was starting to make sense, but I remained skeptical. Chris could tell by my expression what I thought of his idea. "I'm telling you, Ray, it will work. And pets will get adopted because of it; Neopians will fall in love with them if our musical is good enough."
Chris became obsessed with his musical. I felt like I was watching him from afar as I sat in our cage, holding the sleeping Mary on my lap. Life in the pound didn't suit her; she was sleeping more than a normal Warf should, I thought. But Chris eagerly talked to Rosie, using big gestures and long words, and she quickly caught on to his enthusiasm. But there was a hint of hysteria in her excitement; she was hoping for anything to get pets out of the pound before they ran out of space.
Chris began to get excused from his cage, and together he and Rosie would go to different shops to try and get sponsors for the musical. They went to Movie Central to see if they could rent a stage, and they argued on different scripts before deciding to produce "The Desert Princess", a story of Princess Vyssa and her rise to the throne. Ever so slowly, despite my disbelief, everything began to line up.
One day, when Chris came back to our cage for the night, he was ecstatic. "We've got sponsors!" He said happily. "The Fresh Foods shop and the Neopian Bank! They've both decided to sponsor 'The Desert Princess!'"
It had been two weeks since he had conceived the idea, and he was gone for most of the day, but Mary and I still saw him at night. Mary missed her owner terribly; sometimes she even refused the food I offered her. She even got sick once, and I rubbed her back and helped her recover. It sobered him when I mentioned this to Chris.
"I'll stay here tomorrow," he promised. And he did. Mary was thrilled to spend the day with her owner. He spent most of the day talking about the script, but I was just happy to have my friend back.
A few days later, the pound staff handed out application forms for the musical. Only the most trustworthy pets would be selected, since they didn't want anyone running off during production. I filled out my application even though I had no real acting ability; I signed up to be on stage crew. Chris was going to be in the background cast.
On the day when rehearsal was supposed to start, the selected pets were carefully herded into a back room in the pound. There were thirty pets in all, including me and Chris.
"First of all, I'd like to thank you for signing up to be in the musical. This should help the pound tremendously and get many pets adopted," Rosie said. "We've decided to set Opening Night two months from now. I know that this doesn't give us much time, but I believe it's for the best. I'd like to warn you that, until production is over, no one will be able to adopt you." There were cries of dismay from many pets, although I just shrugged it off. I had already been in the pound this long. "This is because," Rosie continued, raising her voice, "we wouldn't want someone to adopt the lead in the play the day before Opening Night." There were sounds of agreement then, and Rosie smiled.
"Now, we'll have tryouts for the different parts. If you signed up for a lead, please go over here...."
I sat down and waited with the other people who wanted to be in stage crew; since there was no set yet, we didn't have much to do. But everyone was surprised when refreshments were brought in for us to eat; apparently, food was part of the budget (nobody wanted to see starved actors and actresses).
A few days later, someone brought in wood, paint, and other supplies. The stage crew got to work making the set while someone taught the actors how to dance and sing. I discovered I was a pretty good painter, although thankfully there were better artists than I in the group. They worked on the more detailed stuff, such as the food stands in the market place and the pyramids. I mostly worked on the landscapes. We carefully constructed two thrones, one larger than the other, as well as a bed, chairs, tables, and many other miscellaneous structures.
Chris and I were beginning to get worried about Mary. It had been about two months since she and Chris were abandoned, and she was bloated and uncomfortable; some days she would gorge herself on food, other days she hardly touched a bite. She slept often and was irritable. We asked Rosie to take her to the doctor's, but she was so busy with the musical and running the pound that she couldn't do it.
I took a break from working on the set to stay with her in the cage for a few days. She loved my attention and seemed to get better, much to my and Chris's relief. When she seemed well enough for me to leave her alone, I went back to working on the musical.
It was really coming together. With only three weeks left till opening night, the set was all done and everyone mostly knew their lines. They weren't the best dancers or singers, but considering everything, we were doing very well. Rosie and Chris wanted to move the set to Movie Central, where the musical was going to be held.
We spent the day loading all the set pieces onto a large cart, with Dr. Death grumbling that we were pound pets, not play producers. But we ignored him and got the job done, transferring all the items to the large stage where our musical was going to be held.
Sarah, a green Kiko who was also on stage crew, designed the posters. "The Desert Princess" was written in large, dramatic letters over a desert landscape with Princess Vyssa holding her father's crown delicately in her paws. We posted the flyers in the Pound and the Pound Staff took the rest with them to post around Neopia Central.
The staff at Movie Central were kind enough to donate workers who ran the lights, and a local music group donated their time and their talent. A week before opening night, we ran through the whole rehearsal, from beginning to end, with no one forgetting their lines or messing up a dance move.
We were actually going to do it! Chris and I fell asleep each night tired, yet thrilled.
The day before opening night, Chris shook me awake again. I yawned, exhausted. Even with no lines to memorize, stage crew was hard work. "What is it?" I asked him sleepily.
"Look!" he whispered excitedly, pointing to his mattress.
I got up and squinted at it, trying to figure out what he was so happy about. I saw Mary there, curled around something. Then I gasped as I realized what I saw.
To be continued...