By Leo Schwartz and DC Cathro
The show begins with Emmett’s funeral and we are drawn back in time to tell the story with the help of the Gospel Quartet.
Emmett Till is a wondrous, smart child with a loving mother, Mamie, and doting grandmother Alma. Mamie is a widow who is constantly encouraged to remarry. They all live in Chicago.
Meanwhile in Money, Mississippi, Carolyn Bryant’s marriage to Roy has fallen on hard times. She and her friend, Juanita, complain about how love is not like the movies.
On a trip to Maxwell Street, Emmett meets Uncle Mose from Money, Mississippi. He encourages Emmett to visit him later that summer. Emmett is excited by the invitation, but Mamie is worried about Emmett being in the Jim Crow South, but she later relents.
Roy Bryant is always traveling for work and insists that Carolyn keep a gun on her to protect her from any “coloreds” who come to shop at their store.
The night before Emmett is to leave, Gene Mobley, a barber, takes Mamie on a first date and kind of makes a hash of it.
In Money, Emmett has a good time with his cousins. However when he walks into the Bryant store is gets a full dose of the Jim Crow South. The boys, as is their habit, play checkers on the front porch of the store. When Roy calls Carolyn from the road, he badgers her into getting her gun out of the car. As Carolyn walks to her car, Emmett lets go with a wolf whistle. The act frightens the boys and they quickly hop into the car and drive off.
While Mamie is in Chicago exploring the possibility of a new life with Gene Mobley, Emmett is lynched and murdered by Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam.
When Mamie receives the news, she demands her boy’s body be returned to her so she can show the world what has happened to her child.
Gary is approached by Tyler Toolman, who reprimands him for signing up for the talent show, and insists that he’ll never find an assistant. GARY is refused by the popular Cheryl Samatasinghar-Stein. Penelope offers to take the spot as his assistant. Gary politely declines. The next day, Gary receives bad news. According to the rule book, there can only be one magic act in the talent show. Since Tyler signed up first, Gary is disqualified. Tyler taunts Gary, forcing him to perform an illusion. Gary obliges, but unfortunately fails.
Back at home, Gary discovers that his father Mort was an amateur magician. Later that night, Gary is visited by the ghost of his father. Mort recommends that Gary finds himself an image by attempting Harry Houdini’s Chinese Water Torture Cell Illusion.
At the talent show Tyler performs his creepy act. He is interrupted by Penelope, who chases him off the stage, running him over with her wheelchair. Gary performs a few successful illusions, climaxing with the Chinese Water Torture Cell. However, it fails. Gary is revealed floating in the tank.
The scene shifts to limbo where Mort introduces Gary to famous magicians including Gary’s idol, Harry Houdini. Houdini lectures Gary to believe in himself. Gary awakens back in reality. Cheryl now having seen a different side to him attempts to seduce him. Gary sees through her scheme and rejects her. Gary makes Cheryl disappear in a puff of smoke, so he and Penelope can finally share a tender kiss.
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(The doublings for the Gospel Quartet are merely suggested by the author)
Emmett Till (“Bo”) – a 14 years old, Black.
Mamie Till (Emmett’s Mother) – 30’s, Black
Alma Till (Mamie’s Mother, Emmett’s Grandmother, aka “Mamoo”, Matriarch) – 60’s, Black
Mose (Mamie’s Uncle, Alma’s Brother-in-law), aka “Preacher”) (GQ) - 60’s, Black
Wheeler (Emmett’s first cousin once removed, Emmett’s best friend) - teens, Black
Maurice (Mose’s eldest son) (GQ) - teens, Black
Simeon (Mose’s youngest son) – 7 to 10 years old, Black
Thelma (Mose’s daughter) / (Triple cast as LIZZY and WOMAN) - Black
Carolyn Bryant (Wife to Roy Bryant and owner of a country store) – Mid-Twenties, White
Juanita Milam (Carolyn’s sister-in-law) – Late Twenties, White
Samuel Johnson (Store Customer) (GQ) – Older Black Man
Roy Bryant (Husband to Carolyn and owner of a country store) (GQ) – 24, White
Reverend Davis (Pastor of Emmett’s Church) (GQ) - 50’s, Black.
Gene Mobley (Mamie’s suitor) (GQ) - 30’s, Black
Man (any available GQ)
Gospel Quartet (four singers who can take on the roles of the various above characters.)
GQ 1 – Tenor I
GQ 2 – Tenor II
GQ 3 – Bass I
GQ 4 – Bass II