Hounded Heroes (Scarlet’s Fairytale Spin, Act 16)

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“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: ‘Hounded Heroes’!”

<<<>>>

[The curtain rises on the interior of the Antichristmas Beast’s tower – for a change, set up on a platform raised high over stage left. A handheld mirror shakes in the clawed hand of the Beast, portrayed by Little John.]

Little John/Beast: Previously in this blasted serial fairytale, my flying monkey captain defected to my enemies, and the Puffwolf  sold me out for a Gant-o’-the-Lute concert. Now Jack Snow has taken possession of the singing sword, which shall surely mean my doom if wielded against me! I must at all costs prevent him from reaching my castle! [raises arms high over his horned head; his voice booms like thunder as the lights flicker and flash ] By the dark powers vested in me, in the name of all evil things anti-Christmas, unleash the Baskerville hounds!

[Across the stage, Allyn as Jack Snow, Will Scarlet as Peter “The Woodsman” Pan, Marion Hood as Wendy Darling-Pan, and Robin Hood as Simian the aforementioned flying monkey enter the scene.]

Will/Woodsman: Three miles to the Beast’s castle, and all’s well!

[Through a trapdoor just a step ahead of the players, up spring a pair of simplistic but rather terrifying puppets resembling English mastiffs that happen to be glowing a ghoulish green. Ferocious snarling abounds.]

Will/Woodsman: I spoke too soon.

Marion/Wendy: Baskerville hounds! How are we to defeat them?

Robin/Simian: Allow me.

[Robin whips out and slips on the magic britches introduced in Act 11, simultaneously throwing off his furry coat with its attached wings and tail which he turns inside-out to become a dark blue trench coat. He winds a scarf around the turned-up collar and affects a haughty, high-functioning-sociopathic expression.]

Allyn/Jack: Heavens above, he’s a dead ringer for Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes!

Robin/Simian Cumberbatch [coolly ]: I am Sherlock Holmes. And as any Shelockian could tell you, Baskerville hounds, I’ve not only dealt with your kind before, but ultimately emerged victorious. [scathingly ] You would do well to crawl back into the hole from which you came, and inform your master that his end comes without mercy. For we may be on the side of the angels, but don’t think for one second that any of us are one of them.

[Whimpering in fear, the hound puppets slink back through the trapdoor.]

Will/Woodsman: Do you know, Simian, when you’re not being an insufferable coward, you’re actually somewhat amazing?

Robin/Simian Cumberbatch [with a small smile ]: I may have some information to that effect stored in my mind palace, yes.

[Meanwhile, up in the tower…]

Little John/Beast: A thousand curses! I need a Plan B! [more light/sound effects ] By the dark powers vested in me, in the name of all evil things anti-Christmas, unleash the ice hounds!

[Back across the stage…]

Will/Woodsman: Two miles to the Beast’s castle, and all’s well!

[Expert light-‘n’-shadow-puppetry thrown onto the backdrop creates the distinct impression of huge, coldly glittering canines. Blood-chilling growling abounds.]

Will/Woodsman: I stand corrected.

Marion/Wendy: Ice hounds! How do we handle this?

Allyn/Jack: Allow me. [sings ]

Firebird, firebird, hither fly at speed.

Bring your light, blazing bright, that we may proceed.

[From above, a pyrotechnic bird puppet swoops across the stage. Their howls growing fainter by the moment, the ice hound shadows melt to nothing.]

Will/Woodsman: Well, you made swift work of that!

Allyn/Jack [with a grin ]: The cold never bothered me anyway.

[Up in the tower…]

Little John/Beast: Ohhh, hell, oh— [snaps his fingers ] Hell! That’s it! [light/sound effects ] By the dark powers vested in me, in the name of all evil things anti-Christmas, unleash… Cerberus!

[Across the stage…]

Will/Woodsman: One mile to the Beast’s castle, and—

[From the stage left wings, what should roll in but an enormous mechanical construction of three-headed monstrositude. Horrific roaring abounds.]

Will/Woodsman: Never mind.

All is so far from well.
All is so far from well.

Marion/Wendy: Cerberus the hellhound?! How in the world are we supposed to deal with that? [turns to Robin ]

Robin/Simian: [turns to Allyn ]

Allyn/Jack: [turns to Will ]

Will/Woodsman: Yeah, I got nothin’.

[The four huddle together in fear as Cerberus draws nearer, three pairs of red eyes burning like hellfire, until a howling gust from off stage right blows in, blasting Cerberus back the way he came.]

Our Heroes/The Beast: What the…??

[Enter the Puffwolf, portrayed by Edgwyn Wyle.]

Edgwyn/Puffwolf: Just a quick puff to thank you for scoring me that private concert from Gant-o’-the-Lute. It rocked! As did the opening act. You ever hear of the Rock Minstrel?

Allyn/Jack [pulling a face ]: Not that screeching bardolater who goes up against the Merry Men’s minstrel in a ballad-off in “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale”?

Will/Woodsman: Sheesh, I know you’ve had your musical differences, but is that sort of name-calling really necessary?

Allyn/Jack: “Bardolater” isn’t a slur, Woodsman. It just means someone who idolizes Shakespeare.

Will/Woodsman: Oh. Well, hello, Save-a-Word Saturday.

Marion/Wendy: Speaking of saving, thanks for the rescue, Puffwolf!

Edgwyn/Puffwolf: My pleasure. Give the old Antichristmas Beast my regards.

Allyn/Jack: Oh, don’t worry. [draws the singing sword from the scabbard at his belt ] We soon shall.

<<<>>>

“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.

“Thank you to audience members Miranda McNeff and Eric Wilder,” says Allyn, “for providing us with the inspiration ‘hounds, lots of hounds’ and ‘bardolater’.”

“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! ‘Til next time, friends:  Will and Allyn out!”

3 Little Captains and the Big, Bad Beastie (Scarlet’s Fairytale Spin, Act 13)

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“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: ‘Three Little Captains and the Big, Bad Beastie’!”

<<<>>>

[The curtain rises on a dual scene. Stage right, Little John as the Beast stands in his dark tower, scowling into a handheld mirror. Stage left, on the nighttime field set, Will Scarlet as Peter “The Woodsman” Pan stands with his knife to the throat of Robin Hood in his “Benedict Cumberbatch” getup. Alongside Will, Allyn-a-Dale as Jack Snow and Marion as Wendy Darling-Pan look on.]

Will/Woodsman: All right, listen up, Benny…

Robin/Simian [hands up, palms out ]: I’m not actually Benedeck Cumberbatch. I’m Simian, captain of the Beast’s flying monkey guard. I could show you, if you’d let me remove my pants.

Not the same.
Not the same.

Will/Woodsman: Nice try, but nothing doin’. I’m wise to you: Those enchanted britches come off, your wings come out, and then you’ll be in the sky and back to your master before I can say “monkey’s your uncle”. No sir, the pants stay on.

Little John/Beast [stage-muttering to the audience ]: Never thought I’d heard him say that.

Will/Woodsman [continuing ]: …And you’ve got two options: Defect to the side of right, or I’ll cut your head off.

Robin/Simian [blanching ]: Defect to you? But my master will be watching with one of his magic mirrors!

Little John/Beast: Darn straight, he will.

Robin/Simian [continuing ]: The Antichristmas sees all! He knows when you’re sleeping, when you’re awake, whether you’ve been bad or good—!

Will/Woodsman [turning to Allyn with eyebrows raised ]: Memo to us, Jack: Take possession of those mirrors before this is all over. As the chosen Santa Claus, seasonal song has foretold that this all-seeing power is your birthright.

[Little John snarls and gnashes his teeth.]

Will/Woodsman [continuing ]: Now, Simian, what’s it going to be?

Allyn/Jack: Oh, no need to kill him, Woodsman. Just tie him up and leave him for the Beast to retrieve at his leisure.

Robin/Simian [screeching with alarm ]: No, no! Don’t do that! He’ll curse me for failing him!

Allyn/Jack [sweetly ]: Then it sounds like you’ve got little enough to lose by cooperating with us, doesn’t it? Come along, now – join the winning side, there’s a good monkey.

Robin/Simian [grudgingly, gesturing toward Marion ]: My lord did make it sound pretty dire if you managed to disenchant her. He says she holds the key to his undoing.

Will/Woodsman and Allyn/Jack [turning to Marion and speaking in unison ]: You do???

Marion/Wendy [blinking in surprise ]: Not that I was aware. The only key I’ve got is this.

[Reaching down the front of her dress, she draws out a necklace, the pendant of which is a sizeable white key of crudely ornate design. Little John’s movements suggest he’s either really in need of a bathroom or deeply distraught.]

Will/Woodsman: A key made of bone! Where in the world did you get hold of a skeleton key, Wendy?

Marion/Wendy: From Boaromir.

Robin/Simian: Captain of Gondor??

Marion/Wendy: No, you’re thinking of Boromir, son of Denethor. BOARomir, son of a sow, is captain of the local wild pigs. He came to my baby shower while you were on the lam, Peter, and this key was his gift. He said it opened the doors to some vault of treasure deep in the woods. Unfortunately, what with getting caught stealing supplementary baby shower snacks from the Beast’s garden, I never got a chance to search for the vault before I had to abscond to the cloudlands.

Also not the same.
Also not the same.

Allyn/Jack: The treasure trove of the forest’s pigs? Why, I know precisely where that is! The vault’s the work of the dwarves who raised me; they’ve got a miniature scale model sitting on the mantle.

Will/Woodsman: Brilliant! Then you can lead the way, Wendy’s key can get us in, and whatever treasure’s inside must be what’s needed to take down the Beast!

[The light on the field side of the stage goes dark as Little John roars and throws his mirror against the wall.]

Little John/Beast: NO! If they get to that treasure, I’m doomed! My best monkey has failed me. It’s time I called in the big, bad muscle. [raises arms high over his horned head; his voice booms like thunder as the lights flicker and flash ] By the dark powers vested in me, in the name of all evil things anti-Christmas, now do I summon…the Puffwolf!

[A chilling howl like a windstorm accompanies Little John’s villainous laugh.]

<<<>>>

“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.

“Thank you to audience member Chelsea de la Cruz,” says Allyn, “for providing us with the inspiration ‘Boromir’ and ‘The Puffwolf’.”

“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! ‘Til next time, friends:  Will and Allyn out!”

If You’re Desperate and You Know It (Scarlet’s Fairytale Spin, Act 12)

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“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: ‘If You’re Desperate and You Know It’!”

<<<>>>

[The curtain rises on the set of a nighttime field under a cloudy sky. Wendy Darling-Pan, the enchanted purple rose as voiced by Marion Hood, is planted in a plot of earth, center stage, while beside her, posed in a tableau of surprise, are Allyn-a-Dale as her son, Jack Snow, and Will Scarlet as her semi-estranged husband, Peter “The Woodsman” Pan. All easy British charm, Robin Hood stands opposite. All players who are not a flower turn to address the audience.]

Will/Woodsman: Okay, so hold the phone. Previously in this serial fairytale skit, Jack Snow and I were just about to free my beloved Wendy from her rose enchantment, when who should stroll into the clearing but Benedict freaking Cumberbatch!

Robin/Cumberbatch: Little do they suspect [with a wink ], I’m actually a winged monkey in league with their archenemy, ingeniously disguised with magical trousers it amuses me to think of as “Cumberbritches”.

Allyn/Jack: Meanwhile, the fourth wall appears to have been demolished beyond all repair.

Will/Woodsman: Dar-har. But seriously – back to full story immersion. [turns to Robin ] Benedict, what in the world are you doing here??

Robin/Cumberbatch [moving nonchalantly nearer the group ]: Oh, you know, just passing through, on my way to important, international household name actor things. [smile of endearing self-deprecation ] I do hope I’m not interrupting anything.

Marion/Wendy: Nothing major. Our boy Jack, here, was about to sing up some fireflies to make constellations for us.

Robin/Cumberbatch [with apparent polite interest ]: Is that right? Well, please, no need to stop on my account. Go right on and— [points behind Will and Allyn ] I say, what’s that?

[Will and Allyn’s head and the rose’s blossom turn, seeing nothing, for there’s nothing to see. While they’re still peering into the dimmer corners of the stage and being all, “What? What?” Robin cups his hand behind his mouth and bares his teeth a bit. Lips unmoving, he calls out so that his winged monkey screech seems to come from offstage.]

Marion/Wendy: The Beast’s flying monkey minions!

Will/Woodsman: Blast it all, we can’t let them spoil our spell-breaking ritual! [draws sword ] Stay here, Jack. Get those fireflies and deflower your mother.

Allyn/Jack [pulling a face at the choice of words, but letting it pass in favor of more important matters ]: You’re going to face the monkeys? One man against who knows how many of them?

Will/Woodsman [grimly ]: I only need to hold them long enough for you and Wendy to get away – free, clear, and both human. I don’t know, maybe Cumberbatch can lend a hand. Benny, what do you say to—

[Marion’s earsplitting scream cuts Will off as Robin yanks the enchanted rose out of the ground. The lights go crazy, flashing bright and black, interspersed with epic stroke-inducing strobes. When the lighting settles back down to normal, the rose is gone, and Marion lies gasping on the stage in a pool of blood. With a cry of “MOTHER!” fit to rend your heart, Allyn throws himself to his knees at her side, while Will, sword forgotten, seizes Robin by his shirt front and shakes him.]

Will/Woodsman: What have you done, you psychopath?!

Robin/Cumberbatch: I—

Will/Woodsman: Say a word about actually being a high-functioning sociopath, and I swear I’ll hack you to pieces. Why, Benny?! [voice breaks in an agony of grief ] Why?!

Robin/Cumberbatch: I wasn’t trying to kill her, I swear! I was just going to run off with her, back to the Beast. I didn’t know— [gulps ] Look, murder’s not in my job description, okay? I’m just a deliveryman. …Well, deliverymonkey, without my pants.

Allyn/Jack: Woodsman, help! She’s losing too much blood. She’s gone white as a beluga. What can we do?

Will/Woodsman: I don’t bloody well know! Unless… Clap.

Allyn/Jack: What?

Will/Woodsman: Clap, I say! Hard and fast and enthusiastic as you can. Clap with everything you’ve got! You, too, Benedict Arnold. [releases Robin, but draws a knife ] Clap or die. And you! [turns to the audience again, eyes begging ] Please, I don’t care who looks at you funny for applauding your laptop. Clap, clap, clap!

[Exchanging looks of confusion, Allyn and Robin applaud like this is the serial skit’s grand finale. Will, unable to hold a weapon and clap at the same time, turns his gaze toward the cloudy heavens.]

Will/Woodsman: I do believe in Wendy! I do, I do! I do believe in Wendy! I do! I do!

[With a burst of thunder, the artificial clouds pour rain, drenching the spot where Allyn huddles over Marion, and washing the blood away into the plot of earth. As the downpour lightens, Marion’s eyes flutter open, and she half-sits up.]

Marion/Wendy: I’m all right. [hugs Allyn tight, looks over his shoulder at Will ] By the quick-thought-up miracles that follow you wherever you go, Peter Pan, I’m all right.

Will/Woodsman [visibly dizzy with relief ]: Thank all goodness. But now… [recovers himself and holds his knife to Robin’s throat ] What’s to be done with this one?

<<<>>>

“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.

“Thank you to audience members Steven Bourelle and Chelsea de la Cruz,” says Allyn, “for providing us with the inspiration ‘ventriloquism’ and ‘beluga’.”

“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 Miranda McNeff, winner of the signed Emmelea bookmark in this week’s ‘Song Caster’ mini-giveaway!”

“Way to go, Miranda!” Will cheers. “And keep your eyes open, everyone, for further opportunities to win stuff as we near June 24th, launch day for ‘The Song Caster (Book Four of The Wilderhark Tales)’. ‘Til next time, friends:  Will and Allyn out!”

Scarlet’s Fairytale Spin, Act 11

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“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: ‘Too Big-Name for Magic Britches’!”

<<<>>>

[The curtain rises on a stage divided by light and its lack – one half in darkness, the other an illuminated set built to resemble the interior of a sinister-looking tower. A cloak billows impressively behind Little John, in his role as the Beast, as he stalks in front of the grim stone walls, while Robin Hood, costumed as a winged monkey, wrings his tail in the corner.]

Little John/Beast: Blast all, Simian. That fool Jack Snow and the accursed Woodsman have made off with my prisoner, and now you tell me they’ve obtained the skin of a shape-changer?

Robin/Simian: So woodland rumor suggests, my lord Antichristmas.

Little John/Beast [growling darkly ]: It can mean only one thing: They’ve discovered how to break the rose spell I placed on Wendy Darling-Pan. They must not be allowed to disenchant her! She holds the key to my undoing! [hurls a few household items around to underscore the point, then settles down enough to deliver his next lines ] If The Woodsman is half as clever as the Peter Pan he once was, he’ll be ready to make his play this very night. We shall have to be clever, too. [strokes beard, musing ] He’d know me coming a mile off, no matter what disguise I wore. You, on the other hand… [snaps his fingers ] I’ve just the thing. To my bedchamber!

[With a bit of professional razzle dazzle, the tower transforms into the bedchamber set. Little John strides to the wardrobe and rummages about for a bit before pulling out a pair of britches, which he tosses to the Robin monkey.]

Little John/Beast: Take these, and grab a handheld magic mirror on the way out.

Robin/Simian [timidly ]: A magic mirror’s no good to track Jack Snow, my lord.

Little John/Beast: So set it to track his companions! There are ways around everything, Simian, even the chosen Santa Claus. Once you’ve reached your destination, don the britches. They’ll let you get close enough to sabotage the rose disenchantment. Do not fail me!

[The stage’s light half goes dark while the dark half goes light – or as light as a nighttime-in-a-field set will look. Allyn-a-Dale as Jack Snow, Will Scarlet as Peter “The Woodsman” Pan, and a purple rose  transplanted from flowerpot to ground standing in for Wendy (voice provided by Marion Hood) gather beneath an awning of gray clouds.]

Allyn/Jack: We’ve got our skin of a shape-changer and a starless night. What of a constellation and a true-minted Coin of the Realm?

Will/Woodsman: Well, here’s a Coin of the Realm. [holds up shiny golden disc ] And here… [holds up carryout sack from the last skit’s tavern ] …is the mint.

Marion/Wendy: Um, no, those are muffins.

Will/Woodsman: Mint chocolate chip muffins, sweetheart! True mint chocolate chips! Trust me, I know the Muffin Man; he only uses the very finest and most genuine ingredients in his baked goods. So, while I get the mint on the Coin and bury it by Wendy’s roots as the spell dictates, you call up a constellation, Jack.

Allyn/Jack: Out of what? [gestures above ] There are no stars!

Will/Woodsman: Well, I should hope not! The spell wouldn’t work, otherwise. We don’t want stars, we want a suitably twinkly substitute that will conform to your will. Any Act 5-ish ideas coming to you, sonny boy?

Allyn/Jack: Ah, of course: Fireflies!

Marion/Wendy: Jack’s knack for wooing woodland creatures just comes in handy all the time, doesn’t it? Sing-summon the substitute stars, son of mine, and I’ll be human again in a jiffy!

Allyn/Jack [obligingly ]: Fireflies, fireflies, hither fly to— [breaks off abruptly ] Hark. Someone comes.

Will/Woodsman [whipping ‘round, sword at the ready ]: Who goes there?

[Robin’s voice floats in from offstage, sounding extra British ]: Never fear, lads. It’s only me.

[Robin steps onstage sporting (in addition to a familiar pair of trousers) a dapper suit jacket and tie over a T-shirt that reads I AM SHER-FIRE&DEATH. Will lowers his sword, expression gobsmacked. ]

Will/Woodsman: Benedict Cumberbatch???

<<<>>>

“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.

“Thank you to audience member Chelsea de la Cruz,” says Allyn, “for providing us with the inspiration ‘britches’ and ‘Benedict Cumberbatch’.”

“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!”

 

Edit: “OH!” Will exclaims in afterthought. “Danielle just reminded me: We’ve got giveaway results to announce! Congratulations to Emerald Barnes, winner of a signed Gant-o’-the-Lute bookmark!”

“And be not too downhearted, all ye others,” Allyn soothes, “for there shall be further opportunity in the weeks to come for gladsome gain in relation to ‘The Song Caster (Book Four of The Wilderhark Tales)’ – which launches in one month, by the by.”

“There. That’s everything I think. Will and Allyn out, for realsies!”