Friday, October 5, 2018

The Enchanted Bookshop sings!

Growing up in the small town of Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, I didn't get much of a chance to see Broadway shows or national touring productions. But the town did have a movie theater, and three times a year, the manager closed the curtain over the screen, removed the first few rows of seats and built out the stage so that the local community theater could put on a show.

The community theater produced a ton of plays over the years, but it was the musicals I loved the most. Fiddler on the Roof. MameCamelot. They were all so big and full of life. And I remember thinking, even then, that those shows were better than anything I'd seen on that movie screen behind them.

Which is all just a roundabout way of telling you how excited I am that Pioneer Drama Service has decided to turn The Enchanted Bookshop into a musical.

I've always wanted to write a musical. There's just one small problem. I don't know the first thing about writing music.

But Stephen Murray does. He's the Massachusetts composer who Pioneer paired me up with. Stephen has decades of experience writing musicals, and his songs have a fun, bouncy quality that make them perfect for the school market. I can't wait to see what he comes up with for The Enchanted Bookshop.

No word yet on when the musical will be released, but Stephen is working on the score as we speak so I expect it'll come out in 2019, probably in time for the new school year. Of course, when it does come out, you'll hear it here first, so keep coming back!

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Trouble in Paradise Junction hits close to home

You can leave your hometown, but your hometown will never leave you.

That was true for me when I wrote my small-town satire Trouble in Paradise Junction. And it was true for Iowa Central Community College theater director Teresa Jackson when she first read the script.

"I fell in love with the town and its citizens on my first reading and heard their voices in my head immediately," she says in this article in the Fort Dodge Messenger. "Amazingly enough, the playwright's 'voices' sound very much like the ones I heard in my childhood. I grew up in Missouri and the Ozarks was our stomping ground."

Okay, so that last part is kind of embarrassing. But I'm thrilled she feels that way because I really worked hard to capture the real, honest-to-goodness people who live in that beautiful area, instead of the "hillbilly" stereotype that so many plays and TV shows seem to be satisfied with.

Many playwrights say that they hear the voices of their characters in their heads, and that writing a play is just a matter of dictating those voices to paper. Well, I haven't always experienced that--I sweat over every line of dialogue I write--but I have to admit it did come easier with this play than any of my others.

If you'd like to hear some of those voices for yourself, order a copy of the script here.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Babka Without Borders is now available

Another school year, another release of one of my plays. And I couldn't be more excited.

This time it's Babka Without Borders, my lucky thirteenth play with Pioneer Drama Service. Here's the blurb:
What's babka, you ask? Only the tastiest, most delectable pastry in the world... and a key ingredient in this hysterical, fast-paced farce that's loaded with physical humor and a bit reminiscent of The Grand Budapest Hotel. Oh, did we mention that the babka becomes an aerial assault weapon that sparks an international war? You see, The Harmony Cafe could be any quaint European bistro if it weren't for one thing: an international border runs smack dab through the middle of it! One half of the cafe is in the Grand Duchy of Bunkelburg; the other half is located in the Royal Principality of Primwick. Luckily, the cafe serves the world's best babka, and Hildegard and her staff somehow manage all the multiple border crossings and red-tape to serve their delicious, sweet coffee cakes and keep the peace. But because the Duchess of Bunkelburg secretly entered and won Primwick's annual babka baking contest, the Prince of Primwick closes the border, making restaurant operations near impossible. But once that slice of babka goes flying across the border and hits a Primwickian patriotic zealot... well, now it's all-out war! It's hard to see how even The Harmony Cafe can maintain the peace, let alone stay in business! But with much farcical humor and good fun, the very same pastry that tore the countries apart brings them back together. This large-scale cast tale of love, espionage and the best babka east of the Danube goes to show there are no boundaries for good taste!
I made this one as easy to produce as possible--one set, flexible cast (8M/11F/2E plus doubling and extras) and minimal technical requirements. This gives directors freedom to focus on the physical comedy, which is where the heart of the play really lies.

For complete information including a script sample, click here.

Unfortunately, this release means I'm going to have to apologize to school custodians all over again. This is my third play which involves a kind of food fight (see also this one and this one).

But hey, tossing a few pastries around is a great way to make your audiences hungry for those valuable concessions. And really, who doesn't love a good babka?

Thursday, August 30, 2018

An enchanted interview

Local theatre productions rarely get TV coverage, youth theatre productions even less so. So I was thrilled to come across this TV interview out of Springfield, IL.

These well-spoken young ladies play Margie and Heidi in the M.A.S.S. Media Productions production of The Enchanted Bookshop and they do a great job describing their experience in the show.

Want to know the takeaway of the play? Zoe Chase (Margie) has a simple answer: Books are wonderful!

I couldn't have said it better myself.

Side note: M.A.S.S. Media is doing a sensory friendly show on Saturday afternoon for autistic and other special needs children, with subdued lights and sounds and the freedom to wander around and talk during the performance. I know this has been a growing trend in the world of live performance and I'm so glad they found my play to be conducive to that.

The show runs through Sunday, September 2 at the Hoogland Center for the Arts. So if you're in the area this weekend, I encourage you to buy some tickets and get yourself down there. I know it's going to be a fantastic show!

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Yes, Virginia, there is a National Book Lovers Day

If you've seen The Enchanted Bookshop, then you may remember the scene. The two jewel smugglers have given kindhearted bookshop owner Margie an ultimatum: return the diamond necklace they think she stole (she didn't) or they're going to destroy all the books:

MARGIE: Oh, Bombalurina! What am I going to do? I've been to very jewelry store in town and none of them have the right necklace!

BOMBALURINA: Meow meow! Meow meow meow!

MARGIE: What's that? You want me to lock the door?


MARGIE: Ooh, that's goof. Maybe if it looks like we went out of business, those hoodlums will go away. (Goes to the RIGHT EXIT to try to lock the door.)

EDDIE: (Saunters IN just then with FINGERS.) It's a little early to be closin' up shop, ain't it?

MARGIE: What? Oh, uh, not at all! It's National Book Lovers Day! You know, the day people all over the country stay home and read a book!

When I first wrote that scene, I didn't even know there was a National Book Lovers Day. I mean, it sounded right. After all, there's a Moldy Cheese Day (October 9), a Middle Name Pride Day (March 10), a World Sauntering Day (June 19), There's even a National Nothing Day (January 16). So it only made sense to me that the millions of bibliophiles would get their own day.

Well, that day is today. And it's kind of ironic, because it's also the day--one year ago--that The Enchanted Bookshop booked its first production (Ha! See what I did there?).

If you love books as much as I do, then you're going to want to celebrate this day the way it was meant to be celebrated: by curling up with a good book. And, if you feel really celebratory, visit your favorite bookstore and pick up something new to read.

Margie would be proud.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

That'll learn ya

Wow. Pumphouse Junior does a great job promoting their shows. Today it's an article in their local newspaper, The Daily Tribune News.

In it, director Laurel Anne Lowe explains that they like to do plays that offer a lesson in literature, mythology or other subjects, which is why they chose The Enchanted Bookshop.

But it's not just for the audience. It seems the performers are getting educated too.

"We've already heard from some of our young actors that they've been doing their 'homework' to learn about characters, like Pollyanna, Robin Hood and Tom Sawyer... The familiar characters are fun to dive in for them."

I always loved reading these books when I was growing up so I couldn't be happier knowing that a new generation of readers is discovering these stories.

Oh, and one other fun thing about this production. I noticed in the cast list that they have an actor portraying Captain Flint, Long John Silver's parrot. I wrote it as a prop, but I would love to see what the young performer does with the part.

Captain Flint want a cracker?

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

One for the books

The Enchanted Bookshop seems to bring out the creativity in everyone. And Pumphouse Junior, a children's theater company in Cartersville, GA, is no exception.

They're producing the play this month and they knew they'd need a lot of books for their set. So what did they do? They asked friends of the program to donate them, with the promise to give the books to the local library when they're done.

What a fantastic idea! Not only does it promote interest in their production, not only does it get them a whole boatload of free props (always a benefit for cash-strapped theaters!), but it gives the whole community a stake in the show.

Of course, the library is the biggest winner of all.

Pumphouse Junior has already collected hundreds of books, and they're continuing to take them through the end of the run. Here's hoping they get hundreds more!