Woody - A New Fairy Tale
By John Carden and Nolan Doran
We open with a small Victorian puppet theatre on stage. An old man crouches inside and the ensemble filter on singing ‘Once Upon A Time’, which show’s Woody and his earlier life progressing to the present/future. Woody is actively engaged in a virtual experience with his virtual reality glasses. ‘Racing’. All of the ensemble are on their various electronic devices attempting to multitask, pushing and shoving and racing their way to work. Suddenly an alarm beeps and Woody realizes he is late. ‘Fame’ Woody, walks down a subway corridor. The walls display the life he wants, sex, fame and money. They are what it takes to be happy. At Sweeley Enterprises, Woody makes a presentation of the ‘Neurogate Prequel’ ‘virtual reality prototype’. CEO, Sharon Sweeley stops him short and tells him she hates his invention.
‘Glutton Free Gluttony’. Sharon sings of her fantasy of virtual reality, that she hopes Woody will create.Woody tells her he will deliver it on time and goes to Dr. Gumm’s office. Woody is not well and wants to get to the bottom of what is going on with his health. It seems that he may be turning to wood? After no good explanation from Dr. Gumm, Woody walks sadly down a New York street. He suddenly spies a sign, “Psychic Readings by Carmela.” He walks into her shop. She begins to shuffle a deck of tarot cards and tells Woody his future. ‘The Fortune’. She tells him, “You must looka for the blue. Time is short, Pinocchio.” Woody leaves more confused than before. Woody walks into a park, where he meets Brian, (a handsome, outdoorsy type) who tells Woody that he could not imagine working indoors in an office, he will always stay true to who he, ‘Standing Alone’. Brian asks Woody to go on a date. Woody is hesitant but accepts. Brian leaves. Woody takes in what has happened. ‘Standing Alone Reprise.’ Later that night in his apartment, Woody works to improve his virtual reality invention, ‘Birth of the Neurogate’.
Woody engages his new invention and the ‘Neurogate’ comes to life. His current reality vanishes and Woody is transported into the world of his own desire. Woody comes to the point of being in complete ecstasy. Feelings of darkness and fear invade Woody’s reality. Woody realizes that he has created something that will change the face of mankind forever. ‘Vlog 258’. Woody sings that the Neurogate works, but he doesn’t think it is ready. Later in the board room of Sweeley Enterprises, Woody presents the ‘Neurogate’ to Sharon. ‘The Neurogate Pitch’. This time she wears the new transdermal patch. Sharon tells Woody that she loves his invention. She concludes that they are ready to launch the Neurogate to the public. Woody hesitates. He tells Sharon that it has a few ‘bugs’ that need to be worked out. Sharon refuses to hear it and works to further convince Woody, ‘Just Say Yes’. She shows him all things money and power can buy. Then she gets down to business. She hands Woody a contract for the rights to the Neurogate.
Finally, Woody agrees to one of two contracts.The second being more to his favor. With his attention diverted, Sharon switches the contracts and gets Woody to sign the less generous contract. Woody leaves to meet Brian. Sharon feeling victorious sings, ‘Fame Reprise’. At the ‘Garden Cafe’ Woody enters saying, “Sorry I’m late.” Brian says, ‘I need to get going. Gotta work early tomorrow.” Woody tries to convince him to stay, and Brian finally agrees. Woody pulls out the Neurogate. Brian protests, saying “I’m not into all that virtual stuff,” but agrees to try it. They both travel into a virtual world of Brian’s imagining, the Peruvian Amazon. Woody says that he created the Neurogate, so he can finally be happy. Brian tells him that he has to face up to his life in the real world to be happy and he can’t use the Neurogate as an escape. ‘Meant To Last’.
Brian leans in to kiss Woody. Woody, uncomfortable with intimacy, imagines two shirtless men who come out of the woods. Brian is upset and rips off his patch. He walks off leaving Woody with his invention. Woody walks the dark lonely NYC streets. ‘Where You Going Woody?’ He stumbles across two Lady Boys working the door of a nightclub. They flirt with him, ‘Baby You Like?’ and coax Woody inside a dimly lit, run down piano cabaret bar where a performance is underway. ‘Betty’s Blues’. Onstage, Betty Blue delivers her nightly banter, the audience goes wild. After the show, Betty Blue pulls Woody backstage. She says, “I see you’re turning back into wood, like when you were a little boy”. Woody doesn’t know what she’s talking about. She reminds him how they first met. ‘Like Fairy Like Son’. Betty waives her wand and transforms time, taking Woody back to a glittering club where she once worked. She tells Woody that he was a wooden puppet, who longed to be real, and his name was Pinocchio. She explains that she erased his memory once he became real, as humans are not allowed to know the existence of fairies or magic. Woody asks Betty to waive her magic wand and stop him from turning back into wood. Betty refuses. Woody blames her magic for what’s happening to him. They quarrel and he leaves. That One Thing. From on high, Betty stands on a blue cloud and sings. She failed as a parent, never showing/teaching Woody how to love. Woody returns to the park, he puts on the patch and returns to to the Neurogate world. This time the Neurogate world is dark and haunted. Woody is now trapped and the virtual world has become an everchanging nightmare. Woody begins to run and as he does, he falls. His shoes are gone and his feet have rooted literally into the ground. As he tries to pull free, the roots grow deeper. Spirit men are now upon Woody tying him up. He manages to rip off the Neurogate patch and returns to the real world. Back in the park. ‘Addicted’. Woody wants more out of life than money and fame. He wants to find something real, ‘Love.’ Brian slides down out of the tree. He tells Brian that he had always thought money and fame would make him happy, but then he met him, ‘The real thing staring him in the face’. Woody suddenly remembers the Neurogate launch. Woody tells Brian that he can’t let what he created, ‘The Neurogate’, get out into the public because it is dangerous. He asks Brian to help him. Woody adds that he must first stop by his apartment to get a transmitter which contains a program that will destroy the Neurogate. Carmela arrives on her Vespa and offers to drive them both to the launch. They all hop on and she drives them away.
Moments later at a crowd filled coliseum, the Vespa arrives. They head inside. Woody asks Carmela for the transmitter, which he gave her for safekeeping. She can’t seem to find it which exasperates Brian and Woody. Marty introduces Sharon Sweeley, She walks down front and center and addresses the audience. She tells the audience that she was not always the woman they see standing before them. She was unhealthy, a glutton! Night after night, her sweet tooth got the best of her. She suddenly realized what a little self empowerment could do. “Never question what you feel is true, the answers all begin with you.” Woody tells Carmela, ”Okay I really need it (meaning the transmitter). Sharon continues, “Fan your online lustful fires! We’ll fulfill your heart’s desires!” Sharon announces, “Now through an exciting technology, you can eat to your heart’s content with a new virtual eating app, “The Gluttonizer!” The crowd roars and begins to chant, “Sweeley’s, Sweeley’s!” Sharon hushes them and explains that in many great discovery’s other treasures are also found. She presents, “The NEUROGATE!” Brian and Woody are upset and Carmela is now extremely frazzled. She hits her chest with her fist. She remembers and pulls the transmitter from her bra. Woody grabs it and tries to run to the podium but he is now more wooden and can not do so. Brian assists him. Woody yells, “WAIT, HOLD IT EVERYBODY!” The crowd goes silent. Woody tells Sharon that they are not going to go through with the launch. Sharon utters that it is not Woody’s choice. Woody states that since he owns 60% of the company, it is his choice. Marty shows Woody the contract. Woody realizes that Sharon switched the contracts She presses the button. The Neurogate begins to groan and engage. Woody yells, “You can’t do this!” He tries to push past Sharon to use the transmitter.
Marty blocks Woody and he falls on the stage dropping it. Marty picks it up. Brian steps in at this moment and punches Marty. Marty drops the transmitter. Woody crawls towards the transmitter and Sharon tries to stop him. Out of nowhere Carmela appears and grabs Sharon by the hair and pulls her back. They tussle and Woody continues crawling. The Neurogate revs up and the crowd grows wilder. At the last moment, Woody grabs the transmitter, plugs it in and types in the security code. On the last keystroke, he goes completely wooden and lifeless. The giant LED screens and the Neurogate short circuit and melt down. The Neurogate is destroyed. Sharon is furious with Woody, “You will hear from my lawyers! Freakin’ Tree!” Brian walks over to Woody who is frozen in place. He asks, “Woody? Are you?,” Carmela goes on to explain that Woody is not dead; he is wood and that Brian can plant him in the garden. Brian picks up Woody and carries him away to the park and plants him. Time elapses and we see Brian’s ritual of constant care for Woody. Then one day while caring for Woody, Brian says, I don’t know if you can hear me. I don’t want to live life alone.‘Standing Alone Reprise’.“ Betty Blue hears Brian’s wish and descends in a chariot. She walks over to Woody and places her wand on him and recites an incantation, “Orem Shanti Ah!” Woody returns to his human form and exclaims, “I’m alive!” Brian is incredulous and wants to know where Betty came from. She replies that it’s a long story.
Woody asks why she decided to help him. She replies that she saw Woody put his ‘ass’ on the line for others and that she wanted to give Woody time to settle down and see if love would grow between him and Brian. She laments that she feels she could have done a better job parenting him. Betty tells Woody to “Love and Live”. She makes Woody promise, “No more running.” Woody promises and takes Brian’s hand. ‘Then You Came along’. Woody tells Brian he spent a lifetime ‘self defeating’ but then Brian came along and taught him to be real. Segue to Carmela’s shop where a young inventor reveals that he has a new virtual invention that is going to change the world forever. Carmela slaps him and says “I see very bad things in your future!” The chorus concludes “And things work out somehow!”
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(7 ACTORS TOTAL)
1. Woody – 29 years old, virtual world app designer
2. Brian – 27 years old, arborist
3. Betty Blue – Age unknown - A famous drag queen and mother / Ensemble Leader /Reverend Betty Blue
4. Marty – 40 years old, C.F.O. of Sweeley’s Sweets / Ensemble / HotGuy1 / Lady Boy 1
5. Sharon Sweeley – 35 year old C.E.O. of Sweeley’s Sweets / Ensemble
6. Carmela – 46 year old, Italian psychic / Dinah - 36 years old, Secretary to Marty / Ensemble
7. Doctor Gumm – 40-52 years old/ Ensemble/ Man1 / Lady Boy 2 / New Inventer
NOTE: The Ensemble is comprised of various city dwellers from homeless people, to students, to hipsters and fashionistas, all carrying various electronic devices.