“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: ‘A Song of Steel’!”
[The curtain rises on Allyn-a-Dale, Will Scarlet, and Marion and Robin Hood, in their respective roles as Jack Snow, Peter “The Woodsman” Pan, Wendy Darling-Pan, and Simian, the winged monkey formerly in the employ of the Antichristmas Beast. Two lanterns, one each borne by Will and Allyn, provide the only light. The party of four stands stage right on a circular platform, on which a prop wall stands before them at an angle ideal for maximum audience visibility. In the wall’s center is a door that looks like it’s been constructed from a hay bale.]
Allyn/Jack: Behold, the first of the doors into the vault of the forest’s wild pigs, as referenced previously in our serial fairy tale skit. Have you got your skeleton key, Mother?
Marion/Wendy [holding the key made of bone up to the lantern light ]: Present! Let me at that lock of straw.
[With the insertion and twist of the key, the straw door swings open. As the players step through single-file, the circular platform beneath them rotates so that, by the time they’ve all reached the other side, another wall and door stands before them – this time, a door made of wood.]
Will/Woodsman: Now, see, this door makes so much more sense than the first. Straw? Really? Who’s that going to keep out?
Robin/Simian: People with severe allergies?
Will/Woodsman: Eh. Maybe.
[Marion inserts and twists her key once again, opening the wooden door and restarting the platform’s rotation. When all the threshold crossing and platform spinning has ceased, the audience gets its view of the third wall and its door made of brick.]
Allyn/Jack: The final door. After this, we’re in, and the treasure is ours to wield against the Antichristmas Beast! …erm, I don’t suppose any of us know exactly what this treasure is?
Will/Woodsman: No idea.
Marion/Wendy: Not for long!
[In, twist, everybody through. Beyond the platform of doors, the stage brightens from pitch black to merely gloomy. Solemn, pig-faced statues line the backdrop curtain, and a boxy stone shape dominates the vault space.]
Robin/Simian [nervously wringing his tail ]: Is it just me, or does this place come off as rather like a tomb?
Eerie, Echoing Voice: Whooo’s ooout theeere?
Robin/Simian [jumping into Will’s arms ]: Eeeeek!
Will/Woodsman: Those wings of yours, monkey… they wouldn’t happen to have been grafted on from a chicken, would they?
Eerie, Echoing Voice: Who’s OOOUT there? Living in the su-u-un… Give me one DAY ooout there! All I ask is o-o-one…!
Marion/Wendy: Wait. That’s from “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”. What kind of ghost sings Disney showtunes?
Eerie, Echoing Voice: Ghost? Who’s a ghost? Not me. You’d see, if you just let me out of the casket!
Robin/Simian [whimpering ]: You promise you’re not dead?
Eerie, Echoing Voice: Far from it, my friend. A livelier one of my kind you never shall know! …if only because, of my kind, there’s only one. Only me. Only Songsteel, singing sword of the forest!
Allyn/Jack: A singing sword! That must be the weapon we’ve come for! Somebody lend me a hand.
[Marion takes responsibility for the lanterns while Will and Allyn remove the casket’s stone lid. Reaching down, Allyn pulls out the slender silver sword – the voice of which is, without the casket’s echo effect, much more easily discerned as that of Gant-o’-the-Lute (star of soon-to-be-launched fairytale novella “The Song Caster”!).]
Lute/Songsteel: Free from my confinement at last! I’d feared I’d be left here to rust ‘til time’s end, curse the dwarves who built my crypt of a prison!
Allyn/Jack: Now, now, speak none too ill of the dwarves. ‘Til I joined up with The Woodsman and Wendy, they were my only family.
Lute/Songsteel: As you like it, then. Sing hey for the dwarves! If naught else, they’ve some decent music to their name. Far over the Misty Mountains cooold… to dungeons dee-ee-eep—
Will/Woodsman: Yes, lovely. So, how does a singing sword best the Beast? I tried a sword on him once before, and he just pulled a vanishing trick. Why should this blade have any better luck?
Lute/Songsteel [insulted ]: Why should—?? You sylvan slow-wit, have you know idea who I am?!
Allyn/Jack: We mean to learn. Come, all. Let us—
[Another eerie echo of a voice cuts Allyn short, this time the sound like a cross between a windstorm and a great wolf’s howl.]
Robin/Simian: Oh, NO! It can’t be!
Marion/Wendy: Can’t be what?
Howling Windstorm Voice: Little prey, little prey, let me come in!
Will/Woodsman [defiant ]: Not by the beard of a monkey chicken!
Howling Windstorm Voice: Then I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow these doors in!
[With a gust and a crash, the straw door flies out into the orchestra pit (currently clear of orchestra members and instruments, never fear). With another, louder gust and crash, the wooden door does the same.]
Will/Woodsman: Nobody panic! The brick door will surely hold.
Robin/Simian: But it won’t! Don’t you see? This is neither mere windstorm nor regular forest beast. The Antichristmas has summoned the Puffwolf! He can huff and puff anything in!
[Gust! Crash! The brick door blasts past the players and off into the wings.]
Everyone Onstage [in 4-part harmony (a diminished 7th chord, for you musical types in the audience) ]: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!
“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.
“Thank you to audience members Miranda McNeff and Chelsea de la Cruz,” says Allyn, “for providing us with inspirational lines from the songs ‘Out There’ and ‘Misty Mountains’.”
“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!”
“Now, before we go,” says Allyn, “hearty congratulations to (oh, hello again) Miranda McNeff, winner of the signed Benedeck bookmark in this week’s ‘Song Caster’ mini-giveaway!”
“Way to go, Miranda!” Will cheers. “And look alive, everyone, for opportunities to win big as we hit June 24th, the start of Launch Week for ‘The Song Caster (Book Four of The Wilderhark Tales)’. ‘Til next time, friends: Will and Allyn out!”