“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 Crackerjack Christmas Surprise’!”
[The curtain rises on an old-fashioned parlor setting, brightly decked with holiday swag. Will Scarlet, dressed in knickers better suited to… well, no little boy should have ever been made to wear them, but this is really over-the-top unfortunate… in any case, he’s scrambling around under the Christmas tree, investigating the piles of beribboned boxes. On the nearby settee sits Allyn-a-Dale, in a… well, there’s no getting around it, it’s a nightgown. He distracts himself from today’s costuming choices with a small doll-like figure cradled in his arms.]
Will [poking his head out through the tree’s boughs]: What have you got there, Allyn?
Allyn: A gift from Herr Drossel-Merlin.
Will: You don’t say!
Allyn [grimacing]: Well, you scripted it, so I’m afraid I did.
Will: Here, let me have a look at it.
Allyn [drawing back]: I’d rather you didn’t.
Will [pursuing]: Oh, come on, I just want to see.
Allyn: See with your eyes, not your hands! Let go!
[Following a brief tugging match, Allyn’s gift is flung into the fireplace mantle, from which it falls to the floor with an ill-omened crack.]
Allyn: What have you done! [runs to pick up the item which is now in two pieces] Scarlet, you brat, you’ve broken my nutcracker! His jaw’s come right off!
Will: I’m sure it will be all right. You said it’s from Drossel-Merlin, right? So it’s probably magic. No harm done!
[Before Allyn can give Will a lesson in empathy via a broken jaw of his own, the stage is overrun with actors in rodent costumes.]
Will: We’re under attack! Quick, Allyn, throw a slipper at their king!
Allyn: I’m not wearing slippers. Why don’t you throw your stupid knickerbockers?
Will [once he’s done laughing at the word “knickerbockers”]: Fine, we’ll throw this.
[Snatching the nutcracker from Allyn’s hands, Will hurls it at the mouse with a crown. A cloud of rosy smoke envelops the stage, and when it clears, a man in smart military garb stands in the parlor’s center.]
Allyn [with a gasp]: Oh my word. Is that…?
Will [gaping]: Edgwyn Wyle??
Edgwyn [laughing]: You were expecting a prince from Candy Land?
Will: Yes, as a matter of fact. Doggone it, does this mean we don’t get any sweets after the mouse battle?
Edgwyn: Well, perhaps it’s not quite the same, but I do know of a little shop in Denebdeor with marvelous toffee-coated popcorn and peanut brittle. I’ve brought samples, in fact! And if this parlor-full of critters chooses to go quietly, they can each have a nibble on their way out.
[Squeaking with glee, the mouse army accepts the otherworld tailor’s terms of surrender, and in a matter of moments, the stage is rodent-free.]
Will: There, you see, Allyn? I told you it would all work out.
Allyn [arms folded, eyes glaring]: I still appear to be shy one functional nutcracker. You don’t expect me to break a tooth on that peanut brittle, do you?
Edgwyn: Please, allow me. [places the hard candy between his teeth, chomps down with his powerful jaws, and hands the smaller, more manageable pieces to Allyn]
Will: Ha! He’s still a crackerjack nutcracker after all! And he knows how to sew! I say, Edgwyn, I don’t suppose you could hook me up with a dashing uniform like yours, could you?
Allyn: You chose the costumes, Will; you can live with your dreadful decisions. I, on the other hand, am due some less daft pajamas. Come, my nutcracker tailor; let’s brainstorm designs.
Will [left alone as Allyn and Edgwyn exit the stage]: Well, I never! Humph. I hope one of the parcels under the tree contains a proper pair of pants.
Mouse King [calling from offstage]: Don’t we all.
Will: A little less noise from the peanut brittle gallery, thanks so much!
“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.
“Thank you to audience members Mere Joyce and Miranda McNeff,” says Allyn, “for providing us with the inspiration ‘peanut brittle’ and ‘guest appearance by Edgwyn Wyle’. And, of course, thank you to Edgwyn for coming to join us all the way from the Wilderhark Tales.”
“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!”