“Welcome, one and all,” says Will Scarlet, with a broad smile and a bow, “to Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre!”
“Every Saturday,” says Allyn-a-Dale, “Will and I and our friends from the story world of ‘The Outlaws of Avalon ’ trilogy—”
“Coming one of these days to a book retailer near you!”
“—Will take at random two of the suggestions gleaned from you, our gentle audience, and incorporate them into… well, the sort of tomfoolery Will calls entertainment.”
“So make yourselves comfortable,” says Will, “as we now present to you: ‘The Woodsman’s Secret, Part 2’!”
[The curtain rises on Will Scarlet as The Woodsman and Allyn-a-Dale as Jack Snow, Child of Destiny, standing exactly where we left them on the Beast’s bedroom set at the end of Act 6 – Will’s ridiculous hula skirt, go-go boots and all. Allyn’s face is a mask of shock in the wake of The Woodsman’s revelation.]
Allyn/Jack: Peter Pan, Peter Piper, and Peter Pumpkin-eater?? I never even knew you were one – how could you be all three??
Will/Woodsman [stepping out of the boots and skirt ]: Oh, I’m all that and more, Jack. It’s a pretty long story.
Allyn/Jack: Feel free to abridge.
Will/Woodsman [with a sigh of resignation ]: All right. It all began in London.
[The general stage lights dim a few watts, the better to feature the light that goes up against the back wall, casting silhouettes of the iconic Big Ben clock tower and a baby carriage.]
Will/Woodsman: I was young, and I wanted to stay that way. So I ditched my nanny and ran away, with the help of a fairy or two.
[Colored lights join the shadow puppet of an infant flying out of the pram and into the sky.]
Will/Woodsman: For years past counting, I lived in Neverland, aging so slowly that you’d hardly notice it. It was a miracle of timing that she managed to show up just as I hit adolescence.
Will/Woodsman [smiling wistfully ]: Wendy, of course. In the manner of fairytales, it was love at first sight. When she left Neverland, I followed after her. Hung around in her world, growing older at something closer to the speed of time. Her family was willing to look after me for a little while, but it wasn’t long before they starting going about how I was old enough to either get a job or starve. Starving didn’t appeal to me, so I tried the job route, to start.
[The shadows in the back-wall light become a puppet with a set of panpipes. A merry, airy tune blows up from the orchestra pit.]
Will/Woodsman: ‘Twas then I began to be called Peter Piper, for I played for tips on every street corner that didn’t run me off. It earned me just enough to get by, but then…
[The shadows rearrange into silhouettes of a man and a woman beneath a bower of flowers. The he-shadow lifts back the she-shadow’s veil and leans in for a kiss.]
Will/Woodsman: …We were finally married, Wendy and I. Had a nice little honeymoon in Europe – a few days in Italy, a little tour of France’s wine country… – and next thing you know, there’s a baby on the way. Piping didn’t get me anything near enough money for a family of three. I should have gotten another job, straight off, but what can I say? [a sorrowful shrug ] I was the boy who refused to grow up. Rather than do the responsible thing, I turned to thievery. Picked a peck of pickled peppers and a whole patch of pumpkins from a neighbor. And wouldn’t you know who that gardening neighbor was?
Allyn/Jack [with a gasp of comprehension ]: The Beast. You stole from the Beast’s garden, oh, you fool!
Will/Woodsman: Yes, I did, and barely escaped with my life. There were wanted posters up all over the place, calling for my head. I was forced to flee to the forest, leaving behind me every name I’d ever had. …along with my darling Wendy. [a laugh like a sob ]
Peter, Peter, pumpkin-eater; had a wife, and couldn’t keep her.
Beast put her in a pumpkin shell, and there he kept her very well.
Allyn/Jack: The Beast imprisoned Wendy?
Will/Woodsman: Not right away. He didn’t know, at first, that she was the pepper ‘n’ pumpkin thief’s wife. He might have left her alone forever, if only she hadn’t drawn attention to herself by turning thief, too.
Allyn/Jack: Oh, dear. And what did she steal?
Will/Woodsman [with a crooked smile ]: Zucchini, mostly. And one magic bean.
[Allyn stares wide-eyed at Will as the shadows play on, showing a magic beanstalk grown up to the cloudlands … a woman pursued by flying monkeys … a baby sent into the arms of The Woodsman before the monkeys carried the woman off to the pumpkin cell devised by the vengeful Beast. At the end, all lights, on the back wall and above, go out, save for a single spotlight trained on Will and Allyn.]
Allyn/Jack [voice trembling ]: Woodsman… Do you mean to say…?
Will/Woodsman [gently ]: Yes. It’s true, Jack Snow. You are more than the child I was tasked with taking to safety. More than the chosen Santa Clause. [lowers to one knee, arms open in an invitation, almost a plea ] You’re my son, Jack. My precious baby boy.
“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.
“Thank you to audience members Susan Francino and Steven Bourelle,” says Allyn, “for providing us with the inspiration ‘Italy’ and ‘wine’.”
“If you enjoyed yourselves,” Will says, “(or if you didn’t, but you totally did, right?), don’t forget to leave suggestions for future productions in the comments! Words or phrases we’ve got to include, a prop to use, a prompt to run with… anything goes! Until next week, friends! Will and Allyn out!”