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The Tale of Woe: The Musical! - Part One

by rosabellk


[Curtain rises on a dark forest; trees cast heavy shadows. Gilly, a small Usul barely visible in the gloom, wanders among the trees. Music begins softly, then swells into a frightening crash; Gilly screams in terror. Slowly, a light appears stage right: it’s the campfire belonging to the Elephante Storyteller. He sings, in a slow deep voice:]

Elephante Storyteller: Come closer, child, do not fear;

The fire’s warm and bright right here.

So seat yourself, come from that trail,

I’ll entertain you... with a Tale.

[Gilly sits. The Elephante jumps up, suddenly seeming young and energized, and sings, showman-like, in an increased tempo.]

A tale of loss, a tale of fright, A tale to get you through this night,

A tale that scares, a tale that chills, A moral tale of nature’s ills,

A tale of darkness, one of gloom, A tale of lair and crypt and tomb,

A tale that barely any know: A tale, in short... A Tale of Woe.

Gilly: Will this story frighten me?

Elephante: We’ll just have to wait and see!

Gilly: Will I shiver? Will I shake?

Elephante: Quite possibly, make no mistake.

Gilly: But might I find the story charming?

Elephante: You’ll find it, at the least, alarming.

Gilly: Then hurry, tell it, don’t be slow!

Elephante: Very well, then! Here we go! I shall begin the Tale of Woe.

[The Elephante opens the large storybook on his lap. He and Gilly move to the corner of the stage as the action of the story occurs center stage, which changes from a forest to a representation of Neovia; a cobblestone street lined with houses, the foremost of which belongs to Edmund’s family.]

Elephante: Long ago, a city stood,

Not far from this very wood.

Neovia, that was its name,

And from it all the evil came.

But now we see before the strife:

A father, brothers, sister, wife.

A pleasant family, I avow.

Let’s just sit and watch them now.

[Bruno emerges from the house. He is a somewhat handsome, but scrawny Gelert. He sings in a cracking, reedy voice.]

Bruno: My name is Bruno; I’m really quite nice. But nobody notices me.

Lily’s already rejected me twice, and left my poor heart in debris.

[We see Lily, a beautiful Aisha, enter with Oscar, a burly Kougra.]

Bruno: I know I could show her my love if she let me,

(I wish she would even acknowledge she’d met me),

But all she does now are things that upset me.

Oh, how I wish she could see... the real me!

[as he is holding the final note, his voice cracks. Lily and Oscar laugh, and stroll off stage left. Bruno, humiliated, returns to his house.]

Elephante: Bruno was a scrawny lad, weak and full of doubt.

But Reginald, his brother, had intellectual clout.

[Reginald enters from the house. He is an academic Lupe, wearing glasses and carrying books.]

Reginald: Knowledge is my greatest desire!

Facts and books can lift me higher!

And take me from this dreary place,

The boredom I want to erase,

And so my studies I embrace...

[Reginald returns to the house, his snout buried in his book.]

Elephante: Reginald was quite a scholar, quick, astute, and smart.

But he was most unlike his father, who was a pet apart.

[Edmund enters. He is a Skeith shopkeeper.]

Edmund: Shop running, shop running, need to keep the shop running.

I must be extremely cunning,

All this work, it’s simply stunning,

No time left for play or funning,

Or for lying outside, sunning,

All these distractions I am shunning,

So I can keep the shop running!

[he rushes back into the house]

Elephante: Edmund was not quite as smart as Reginald, you see,

He wrongly thought that “funning” is in the dictionary!

Gilly [speaking]: That last line didn’t fit the meter...

Elephante [speaking]: Shush! Do you want me to finish the story or not? [Gilly mutely nods. The Elephante sings.]

Elephante: And now at last we meet the mother of this family:

A rather worn-out Zafara, whom you soon will see.

[Alice enters. She is holding a feather duster in one hand, and a saucepan in the other.]

Alice: I spend all day performing chores that none appreciate:

It’s harder than you think to clean this musty, dark estate.

I cook all day and clean all night without a single “thanks.”

I don’t know how I’ve lasted so long in this house of cranks!

A little rest; a break from all this rushing ‘round and ‘round.

A break for one who’s nearly broken (isn’t that profound?)

[Alice scurries back into the house.]

Elephante: There’s still one more inhabitant who calls this dwelling home:

A little Ixi, happiest when in the dark and gloam.

[Sophie enters. Although still a small child, she shows wisdom and awareness beyond her years.]

Sophie: My brothers wish for strength and knowledge;

My father prays for money.

My mother wants to rest a while,

But my life seems so sunny.

I don’t wish anything would change: I’m happy here and now.

I’m satisfied, I’m quite content, and this I do avow.

[Sophie happily skips into the house.]

Elephante: So now we’ve met the players of our long and tragic tale.

Well, all but one; [Krawley enters] but here he comes! For now, he will prevail.

[Krawley is the essence of a conman. He is a blue Krawk with eerie orange eyes. His suit and spats are slightly tattered, but he manages to make them look classy. He moves with a reptilian slink and sings in a jazzy, throaty rasp.]

Krawley: Call me a... businessman. I’ve come to make a deal:

Anything you want! That’s right, it can be real.

Wish that you were different? Want a little change?

Well, for a price, I’ll set it up; it can be arranged.

Want to be pretty? Ooh! Want to be strong?

Want to be smart, or short, or tall, or stout, or long?

[A small crowd of townsfolk has gathered to watch.]

You, sir! What’s your pleasure?

Just one drop of this liquid treasure

And you will join me, singin’ in leisure,

Trust me! I’m never wrong!

[The crowd grows.]

Crowd: What’s the downside? What’s the catch?

Krawley: Nothing at all! No strings attached!

Crowd: I don’t believe it! It can’t be true!

Krawley: Don’t pass this up! Now how ‘bout you? [He points to Bruno, who has joined the crowd.]

Krawley [spoken]: What do you want, my boy? What do you desire more than anything?

Bruno [reprising his tune from before]: Lily, oh Lily.

I need to be strong so that I’ll win her heart.

I want bulging biceps; my weakness to depart,

I want strength imbued in my every part

So that she can see... the real me!

Krawley: Strength? That’s easy! Take a sip!

Once the potion flows past your lip,

You’ll be a titan, can you comprehend?

You’ll surely impress your female friend.

Don’t be shy! Swallow it down!

And you’ll be the strongest pet in town!

[Bruno takes the bottle Krawley has offered, hesitates for a moment, then takes a swig. Lights down. Lights up: the next day. Bruno emerges from his house, but he is now very handsome and muscular, and his voice is deep and strong. Lily walks by, sees him, and pays him notice. Bruno sings to her.]

Bruno: Lily, dear Lily.

Take a look: I’m buff and strong!

Now we’ll surely get along.

Listen to my wooing song!

Now you can finally see... the real me! [Lily falls into his arms.]

Krawley [sneaks on from stage left]: Satisfied? How’d it go?

Don’t be shy; let me know!

Bruno: It was perfect! There’s no doubt

Everyone should try it out! [The crowd gathers again, amazed at Bruno’s transformation.]

Krawley: You heard what this boy says; you see his new appeal:

Anything you want! That’s right, I can make it real.

Wish that you were different? Want a little change?

Well, for a price, I’ll set it up; it can be arranged.

Want to be better? Ooh! Want to be rich?

Want to be prettier, or scratch that pesky itch?

[to a bystander] You, sir! What’s your pleasure?

Just one drop of this liquid treasure

And you will join me, singin’ in leisure,

Trust me! I’m never wrong!

Crowd: Is it true what happened to Bruno?

Krawley [to Bruno]: If anyone does, shouldn’t you know?

Bruno [flexing]: I can guarantee it’s great!

Crowd: But can you give us a good rate?

Krawley: Certainly! This stuff’s a steal!

Bruno: How can you pass up this deal?

Krawley and Bruno: Have a bottle! Take a swig!

You’ll be sure to win real big.

Come on, line up, don’t turn us down.

You’ll never again have to wear a frown.

Crowd: Let us have some! We’re convinced!

We’ll try this potion you’ve evinced.

Krawley: You won’t regret it! Try some, sir. [He points to Edmund.]

What augmentation would you prefer?

Edmund: I don’t know. Will it hurt?

Bruno: Not at all, Dad! Have a squirt!

Edmund: But are you sure that there’s no risk?

Bruno: No more than a lobster bisque.

Edmund: I’m convinced; give me a bottle.

I must improve my business model.

I need to find prospective buyers

So I can push my profits higher.

[Edmund takes a bottle of the potion from Krawley and drinks it. A well-dressed Lenny bank manager enters from stage right.]

Bank Manager: Reginald, I must confess,

We at the bank have made a mess.

We misplaced a decimal

And it turns out your balance is full!

We’re sorry ‘bout our small mistake,

But now you’re rich! Give us a break!

[The Bank Manager hands Edmund a hefty bag of neopoints and exits.]

Krawley: Anyone else care for a nip?

This is one you shouldn’t skip!

[Reginald and Alice come from the house.]

Reginald and Alice: We’ll try some. What’s to lose?

Alice: This could help to cure my blues.

Reginald: And I can finally find my muse!

[Sophie enters from the house, looks disapprovingly at the hubbub.]

Sophie: What’s this mess? What’s the deal?

I can’t guess what’s the appeal.

Can’t you all just be content

Without all this money spent

On potions to change who you are?

I think this has gone too far!

Krawley: Quiet, girl, don’t take away

What these good folks have gained today.

Sophie: It can’t be real! What’s the cost? [to the crowd]

You’ve gained, but how much have you lost?

Listen to me, heed my warning:

You’ll be sorry in the morning.

[Lights down]

To be continued...

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