“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: ‘To Skin a Cat’!”
[The curtain rises on the ol’ woodland set. Allyn-a-Dale as Jack Snow paces back and forth among the prop trees, the flowerpot holding his enchanted mother, Wendy, cradled in his arms. A rustling in the artificial bushes behind him sends him whirling around into a martial art-esque stance. Fortunately, it’s only Will Scarlet as Peter “The Woodsman” Pan.]
Allyn/Jack [visibly relaxing ]: Back at last. We were beginning to fear you’d been captured.
Will/Woodsman: Yeah, sorry. There was a wait at the Bawling Bagel tavern.
[The purple rose’s leaves flail while Marion Hood provides her voiceover work.]
Marion/Wendy: You stopped at a tavern??
Will/Woodsman: Stopped and started, babe, and every minute worth it. [holds up a paper sack with a smile of victory ] I got the stuff.
Allyn/Jack [dubious ]: Really? The skin of a shape-changer, a constellation on a starless night, and a true-minted Coin of the Realm, all stuffed into a sack?
Will/Woodsman: Well, no, not quite. More like lox and bagels and organic mint chocolate chip muffins.
Marion/Wendy [sarcastic ]: Same difference.
Will/Woodsman: A means to an end. Here, Jack, let’s swap. [replaces the flower pot in Allyn’s hands with the takeout sack ] I’ll take my skeptical rose wife, you take the lox.
Allyn/Jack: I’m not actually hungry.
Will/Woodsman: So much the better. More bagels for me, and the lox aren’t for you anyway. They’re a summoning agent.
Allyn/Jack [warily ]: And just what would you have me summon?
Will/Woodsman [grinning ]: What cat genie can’t resist a bite of fish?
Marion/Wendy [trembling with excitement ]: The Abishan.
Allyn/Jack: The abi-what?
Will/Woodsman: You’ll see in a moment. Call him hither, Jack. Do that “wild creature whisperer” thing you do.
[Still looking uncertain about the whole affair, Allyn pulls a handful of the smoked salmon out of the sack.]
Allyn/Jack: Abishan, whate’er you be,
Follow now my voice to me,
And take the gift I offer thee.
[On an overhead faux tree limb, a black leopard appears and proceeds to pounce on the spot of stage just inches from the toes of Allyn’s boots, much to Allyn’s pantomimed alarm. Incredibly enough, when the cat lands, it is no longer a leopard, but a man-cat creature as featured in Danielle E. Shipley’s recent novel, INSPIRED. /end plug ]
The Abishan: Mm, who could say no to a voice like that? To say nothing of the mouthwatering salmon. [stretches into a feline bow ] What do you wish of me, Jack Snow, chosen Santa Claus?
Allyn/Jack: You know of my destiny?
The Abishan [around a mouthful of lox lifted from Allyn’s hand ]: Know of it? I was the first to make mention of it, back in Act 2. I knew one day it would be within my power to help you.
Allyn/Jack: Is it within your power to remove your skin?
The Abishan [pauses chewing ]: My whole skin?
Allyn/Jack: Um, I’m not sure. [turns to Will ] Did the magazine article specify?
Will/Woodsman: Nope, don’t believe it did.
Allyn/Jack: Ah, good. I expect there’s some wiggle room, then. [attention back on the cat man ] What skin are you willing to give?
The Abishan [tail curling side to side as he considers ]: I shall give you my Turkish Angora skin. It will mean the sacrifice of ever taking the shape of that particular breed again, but no great matter. I have many others.
Allyn/Jack: A generous gift, nonetheless. Thank you, Abishan. …Erm, how do we get the skin off you?
The Abishan [grimacing ]: Messily, I fear. You’ll want to lower the curtain for this part. And be warned that I shall most certainly claw you while you do it, and I’ll want an extra helping of salmon when the bloody business is done.
Allyn/Jack [going a bit pale green ]: I do believe this is a task for you, Woodsman. Mother, dear, how about you and I head to the Bawling Bagel? Mineral water’s on me.
Marion/Wendy: I’m for that! [waves a leaf ] Have fun, Peter!
Will/Woodsman [sighing as Allyn exits the stage with the flower pot ]: Oh, sure, leave the dad with all the dirty work. And people wonder why I wanted to never grow up.
“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.
“Thank you to audience member Chelsea de la Cruz,” says Allyn, “for providing us with the inspiration ‘bawling’ and ‘bagel’.”
“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!”