||Amateurs and Professionals are warned that this play is
copyrighted ©1985, 1999 by John Mucci and Richard Felnagle. This play may
not be performed without its accompanying music. For licensing performance
rights and musical materials, contact the authors.
RUSSEL's BACK YARDa cycle of musical plays for Community Theatre
by John Mucci & Richard Felnagle
Russel and The Crystal Ball
CAST:Russel Kunkle: A twelve year old boy.
*Mrs. Kunkle (Helen): His
Pauline Shishninski: The only girl he knows enough to
Casey Hollenstein: A bully whom he admires
Jamal LeMage: His best friend.
In this play:
Russel's Father: An insurance agent who always manages to look
Barbara Kunkle: Russel's older sister, with teenage
problems of her own. She gets along well with Russel—on a strictly
* Madam Mumm, a
mysterious Gypsy fortune teller, who, despite her resemblance to Bela
Lugosi's grandmother, seems to be a character taken from what musical
comedy thinks of as being a mysterious Gypsy fortune
Dudley: Her servant; an insecure but sensitive young
man, who wears very thick glasses that are nearly opaque.
Russel's Double (mute): dressed like Russel, but wears a black stocking-mask
*(should be played by the same actor)
Flexible number of supporting characters, including kids at Russel's
school, and young people who we will discover inhabit the world of the
- Overture (Russel's Song)
- Nightmare music
- Interlude: Walk to School
- Walkoff music Sc. 3
- Russel's Song
- Scene 4 Underscore
- End of Act One
- Open Act 2
- Facing the Music
- A Lugubrious Salutation
- Crystal Fight
- Walk-off music
||(RUSSEL's back yard consists of a number of
multi-leveled sets, only as elaborate as the resources of the
theatre will allow, enhanced by props. There is a large tree in
the center, with RUSSEL's treehouse built onto some lower
branches. This play finds RUSSEL's old, rusty broken-down bicycle
at the base of the tree.)
MUSIC IN: "Russel's Song (Introduction)"
Jim Schroeder from the original cast of "Russel's Back Yard" (1972)
Walt Seng, photo
PART OF THE WORLD IS
PART OF THE WORLD I CAN FEEL.
BUT PART OF THE WORLD
I CAN STEAL
FROM BOOKS I HAVE READ
DREAMS IN MY
BLOOD I HAVE BLED.
'CAUSE PART OF THE WORLD IS IN MY
I CAN BELIEVE
ANYTHING I WANT TO!
IF I SAY
IT'S SO, THEN IT'S SO!
THE WORLD CAN BE ANYTHING I WANT IT TO
AND IF I SAY IT'S SO, THEN IT'S SO.
(LIGHTS pick out RUSSEL'S friends, who enter one by one,
as HE sings in recitative:)
THIS PERSON WHOM I ADMIRE VERY MUCH, BUT LIKES TO BEAT ME UP
A LOT IS CASEY HOLLENSTEIN.
PAULINE SHISHNINSKI IS HIS GIRLFRIEND, AND I WOULD DO JUST
ABOUT ANYTHING IF SHE WERE MINE.
AND THIS IS JAMAL LEMAGE, WHO IS THE BEST FRIEND YOU COULD
JAMAL, CASEY, and PAULINE:
OUT IN RUSSEL'S BACKYARD IF FOR NO OTHER GOOD REASON THAN WE
GOTTA KEEP HIM IN LINE.
WE'RE GLAD THAT YOU ALL
STOPPED BY. WHY?
WE CAN BELIEVE
WE WANT TO
IF WE SAY IT'S SO, THEN IT'S SO!
COME ALONG WITH ME
SHARE MY DESTINY:
WE'LL SEE WHAT WE WANT TO SEE.
AND IF WE SAY IT'S SO. .
ANYTHING WE KNOW.
ANYWHERE WE GO,
BE IT HIGH OR LOW.
IF WE SAY IT'S SO, THEN IT'S SO!
IT'S SO. . .!
MUSIC IN: "Nightmare Music"
(At rise, restless MUSIC begins, and LIGHTS come up
dimly on a corner of the stage, giving the impression of a young
boy's bedroom, with posters of the ususal stuff boys like,
including a bicycle racer on an expensive racing bicycle. Pages
from magazines are taped to the wall behind his dresser. In
addition, a garish poster, an advertisement reading:
HARLEY-FELLINI. THE BEST BICYCLE EVER MADE.
RUSSEL (as we shall see, actually RUSSEL'S DOUBLE), is asleep in
his bed. The room is average-messy for an eleven-year old boy,
with legos and erector-set pieces scattered about, but there are
an abnormally large number of books is in evidence. RUSSEL moves
uneasily in his sleep.
MIXED WITH THE MUSIC is the SOUND of a large crowd
applauding. [If the theatre has multimedia capacities, screens
should depict various exciting angles from the Tour de France or
a similar race.]
The real actor playing RUSSEL, riding on a Harley-Fellini
bicycle, enters, slams on the brakes, dismounts and tears off
his helmet. A CROWD of rather faceless people, some wearing
white clown masks or stocking masks rush in, cheering. The only
faces we will recognize are RUSSEL's parents and his friends
PAULINE, JAMAL, AND CASEY, and they too can be wearing masks—of
RUSSEL's FATHER rushes up to him. MR. KUNKLE is in his
forties; his hair line is receding as his paunch is
You did it, son! You won
I couldn't have done it
without you, Dad. Thanks for gettin' me this Harley-Fellini! It
really is "The Finest Bicycle Made:" just like the poster says!
(PAULINE and JAMAL approach. THEY are both nearly Russel's
age. PAULINE is a few months older, but SHE seems much more
mature. SHE has wavy blonde hair, and to Russel, she is as
beautiful as a goddess. JAMAL is a few months younger than
Russel; HE is husky, wears glasses, and always looks like an
unmade bed. Paper confetti falls into the scene. JAMAL and
PAULINE are applauding madly.)
PAULINE [in rapturous
Russel, you're a hero!
(The SOUND of the applause swells, becomes more of a
pounding. RUSSEL's MOTHER, who is dressed as a nurse, starts to
pound on the floor with her foot. THE OTHERS all look at her
What's that noise?
(HELEN KUNKLE, Russel's mother, is actually pounding on
the door. SHE is in her early forties, dressed for work in a
white nurse's uniform. SHE has a tired face, and SHE carries
herself as if SHE is always under a heavy burden of some sort.
Time for school, Russel! Wake
(THE CROWD look around in horror and dash off in every
direction, taking bicycles and props with them, leaving RUSSEL
to dive under the covers and then sit up, his eyes open a little
too wide. HELEN crosses downstage to the KITCHEN. )
Okay, Mom! I'm up!
(HE jumps out of bed, crosses to the dresser, and pulls
open the top drawer, but then his eyes lift up to one of the
photographs on the wall. )... And next Saturday, you're
gonna be mine, all mine!
(LIGHTS crossfade as RUSSEL gets ready for school. LIGHTS
UP on BARBARA KUNKLE, Russel's older sister, setting the table
for breakfast, downstage, as HELEN comes in. BARBARA is about
fourteen years old and dressed for school. )
What time did your father
bring Russel home last night?
About ten o'clock.
[muttering to herself]: Ten
o'clock on a school night! No wonder the kid can't get up.
Mom, did you know Dad's
gonna get Russel that fancy new bike he wants?
No. Not the Henry-Falutti...
Russel said some guy at
Daddy's office got him a deal.
But we need new tires for the
car, and you're due for a trip to the dentist! Just because your
father and I are separated doesn't mean he can forget about his
responsibilities around here!
(RUSSEL bursts into the kitchen. HE is dressed for school
and talking a mile a minute. HE gives his mother a kiss on the
cheek. HE grabs a banana and drinks some milk. )
Morning, Mom. Morning,
That's Bar-bbra, thank you,
What's for breakfast?
Scrambled eggs? We have any more of that raisin bread? Did you
eat the last of the Trix?
[a pause; then:] Barbara, you
finish up the eggs for me. I have a phone call to make. [a beat]
Raisin bread's in the cheese drawer.
(RUSSEL grabs a cereal box and opens it, trying not to rip
the recloseable top, which of course rips. He starts to look for
the prize inside.)
RUSSEL [softly]: Isn't it great about
that bike? The Finest Bike
Yeah, but I don't think you
better tell anybody else yet.
Oh, no. Dad made me promise
not to tell anyone but you.
Isn't Mom supposed to know?
No. He said he wanted to tell
BARBARA [realizing her mistake]: Uh-huh.
Say, I hear my bus. Don't make a mess. Wipe up.
You didn't tell her, did you?
BARBARA [chicken]: No, of course not.
Why would I do a thing like that? Dishes in the washer are
(SHE grabs the box, and cereal flies out all over. RUSSEL
retrieves the plastic prize anyhow. LIGHTS crossfade to HELEN,
on the phone, downstage L.)
HELEN [loud, into the phone]: No, I already
tried his apartment. Please tell him to call his wife the minute
he gets in. [a beat] Tell him he forgot to tell me something!
(SHE slams down the phone in disgust, sighs wearily, and
then walks out of the Light, presumably going back to the
kitchen. LIGHTS Crossfade to a spot center stage, where RUSSEL
is walking to school with JAMAL.)
MUSIC IN: "Interlude #1"
(THEY both carry books and other academic paraphernalia.
What j'you write your social
studies report on?
Lichtenstein? Geeze, Jamal:
Well, it's a small country. I
figured I wouldn't have to write a lot. What'd you pick?
I wrote on the gypsies. I got
really interested in all that stuff about telling fortunes and
reading palms and...
Could you read mine?
Maybe. Let's see. [looking at
JAMAL's palm]. Wow! Look at that lifeline! It's huge!
That one?—I think that's
chocolate. [rubs his hand on his pants. Inspects it closely
again. RUSSEL nods. Disappointedly:] Yeah.
(Before RUSSEL can finish his sentence, THEY both hear
the voice of CASEY HOLLENSTEIN calling from behind them. )
Oh, no. Not Hollenstein!
Yeech. Casey's enough to make
anyone's lifeline shrink. He wants to show off his new bike.
[CASEY rides on, and jumps off his bike—kind of wobbly.]
RUSSEL [to Casey]: Another new bike?
What happened to the one you got last Christmas?
This one's for racing. We're
gonna give that "old" one to the poor. Which reminds me, Kunkle,
what's your address again?
Very funny, Richie Rich!
(HE looks furious. HIS eyes follow CASEY, as he gets back
on his bike. )
CASEY See you at school! Have a nice
walk! Ar, ar, ar. (CASEY rides off, away down the road on his
bike. HE isn't very good at it. At the corner he wobbles a lot
JAMAL, [turning to RUSSEL:] Rrr,
I hate him! He thinks he's so...
(RUSSEL turns to JAMAL, amused. JAMAL looks at him
What are you smiling about?
RUSSEL [affably]: Him. He doesn't know
what he's talking about.
That isn't a racing bike. The
wheel base is too long, the angle of the seat tube isn't steep
enough, and it's got the wrong kind of handlebars.
JAMAL [amazed]: I didn't know you knew
so much about bikes.
RUSSEL [not wanting to give anything away]:
Well... it's sort of a hobby.
(RUSSEL's expression changes. JAMAL turns to look. CASEY,
stopped at the corner still, is showing off his new bike to
PAULINE, who looks very impressed. )
His bike may be junk, but
Pauline sure looks impressed.
RUSSEL [jealously—half to himself]:
Yeah, well you just wait 'til next Saturday...
[remembers he's not supposed to talk about it]...Oh, maybe I
shouldn't have said that.
What about next Saturday?
Well... Promise me you won't
I promise. JAMAL puts both
hands over his mouth.
Next Saturday, my Dad's
getting me a bike that's ten times as good as that piece of junk
(JAMAL looks as though he'd pop like a balloon. His
hands practically explode away from his face. RUSSEL starts to
walk on, out of the LIGHT.)
Really? Well, what's it
called? How much does it cost?
(THEY walk on towards school.
THEIR VOICES FADE.)
MUSIC IN: "Interlude #2"
(It is the afternoon of the same day. MR.
KUNKLE is sitting on a school yard bench, trying to read the
paper. His coat is off, his tie is loosened, and his sleeves are
rolled up. HE looks at his watch. HE does not look happy.
Several children pass by, exiting from the school. After a
moment, CASEY rides by, totteringly, and falls off his bike. HE
gets back on with a wry smile to Mr KUNKLE and totters off. In a
moment, RUSSEL crosses, and MR KUNKLE puts the paper down,
Hi, Russ. How's it doing.
Hi, Pop. Uhwhat's going
on? You look terrible.
I have some bad news.
About your bike... I promised you that Henley Belloni
RUSSEL [sits on the bench]
The finest bike. I know.
...aw, the only way to say something bad is to say it. I'm afraid
I can't do it. I can't get it for you.
RUSSEL [a beat:
There's just too many
other things that need to be bought. Mom needs some car parts.
Your sister's gotta go to the dentist...
For all I care, her dumb
teeth can all explode!
Now, Russel! Listen! I
know it sounds stupid to you...
RUSSEL [getting off the
I'm sure you can explain it.
Come on. Let's walk
(THEY walk toward the center of the stage, where the LIGHTS
come up on the treehouse in Russ' back yard.)
No. I gotta go somewhere.
Thanks a lot.
(MR KUNKLE reaches in his pocket and takes
something out of it. )
Wait a minute, Russ.
(The TWO continue. MR KUNKLE is carrying an old leather pouch.)
Look, I can't get you the
bicycle, but... [hands Russel the odd-looking leather bag] I
want you to have these anyway.
What is it.
opens the bag and looks at the contents. Some colorful marbles
spill out into his hands. He drops one on the ground. MR KUNKLE
stoops to pick up the lost marble.)
They were mine when I was
RUSSEL [not thrillled]:
It's a bag of marbles.
We used to have
tournaments with them -- every kid in school would compete, and
one year I was champ of the whole neighborhood!
RUSSEL [one last try]:
Okay, you got to be the champ of your
neighborhood. All I'm asking is the same chance! I need that
bike, Dad! Please, you promised!
HELEN KUNKLE, unseen by father
or son, emerges from the wings, carrying groceries.)
I'm sorry, RussI
can't! If it were just up to me of course I would. But right
now... [stops; looking for the right way to say this] ...your
mother and I had... a little breakdown in communication.
RUSSEL [trying to hurt]:
That wouldn't happen if you
still lived with us!
(RUSSEL takes off, with the bag of marbles, heading into
the back yard. HELEN and MR KUNKLE walk R, as though toward the
house. RUSSEL kicks over his rusty old bike.)
HELEN [to her husband; not so calmly]:
Thanks a lot! I always get to play the
bad guy. I needed this right nowon top of everything else!
( THEY are practically storming off.)
Hey, come on, will you
I've listened. For fifteen
years I've listened...
The SOUND of a door slamming, as THEY are
gone. The BUZZ of angry voices, off, with verbal punctuation on
words such as "bicycle" and "responsibility," and "kid."
is center stage, with his hands over his ears, and he is
practically weeping. The bag of marbles falls to the ground, and
some spill out. One very large, clear marble emerges from the
bag. Silence. RUSSEL stares at the large marble.)
What's that? Gee... It's just
like a little crystal ball. If I were a gypsy, I could use this
to see into the future.
MUSIC IN: "Russel's Song"
Jim Schroeder and Marie Paolicelli from the original cast of "Russel's Back Yard" (1972)
Walt Seng, photo
Oh, man! I wish I knew what's
gonna happen! [looking at the marble in his hand] I wish
this were a crystal ball!
I CAN BELIEVE
ANYTHING I WANT TO!
IF I SAY IT'S SO,
THEN IT'S SO!
THE WORLD CAN BE ANYTHING I WANT IT TO
'CAUSE IF I SAY IT'S SO, THEN IT'S
[recitative] I BELIEVE THIS STRANGE AND UNCOMMON
CRYSTAL BALL ONCE BELONGED TO A GYPSY FORTUNE-TELLER!
AND IN THIS CRYSTAL BALL, SHE COULD SEE THE FUTURE UNTIL
SOMETHING TERRIBLE BEFELL HER!
I BELIEVE THAT TO THIS VERY DAY SHE IS STILL LOOKING FOR THIS
MAGIC CRYSTAL BALL FROM THE ATTIC TO THE CELLAR!
WHAT THIS STORY NEEDS IS FOR SOME CLEVER FELLOW TO TAKE THIS
CRYSTAL BALL AND BECOME A FUTURE-TELLER-YELLER!
AND WHO COULD THIS PERSON BE?
last lines of the song, a strange and shadowy figure has stepped
up behind RUSSEL, who is too busy singing to notice.]
I CAN BELIEVE ANYTHING I WANT TO!
IF I SAY IT'S SO, THEN
THE WORLD CAN BE ANYTHING I WANT IT TO BE
IF I SAY IT'S SO, THEN IT'S... WHOA!!
mysterious person throws her arms around RUSSEL from behind, as
if to capture him. Although she is wearing a shawl over her face, it
falls as she reaches for RUSSEL, reveal the satanic
face of MADAM MUMM [played by the same actor as HELEN]. But
despite this, SHE is an ancient, age-less crone with long,
stringy black hair, dangling earrings and gold neck chains, and
a colorful patchwork shawl. HER accent suggests she is something
akin to Bela Lugosi's grandma. MUSIC UNDER.)
It's mine! Give it to me!
RUSSEL [struggling]: Let go! Lemme
(RUSSEL pulls away but then crashes into the equally
strange figure of DUDLEY: a little man about Russel's height in
a bowler hat, a dark peasant shirt, a patchwork vest similar to
Madam Mumm's shawl, long pants, and no shoes. HE wears a pair of
glasses so thick that his eyes cannot be seen through the
lenses. As a consequence, HE is forever knocking things over,
Yes, Madam Mumm!
(DUDLEY lunges as if to grab the fleeing RUSSEL, but
because DUDLEY is so blind, HE misses completely and falls
face-down on the ground. MADAM MUMM is also lunging in Russel's
direction, but SHE trips over the spilled marbles on the ground,
and falls over DUDLEY, onto her butt.)
MUSIC OUT. (MADAM MUMM and DUDLEY are sprawled on
[to Dudley] You
clumsy oaf! Now we'll never get it back!
(DUDLEY raises his
head. HE is not wearing the glasses he had on a moment ago. His
eyes remain firmly shut, as if he were afraid to open them.
DUDLEYMy glasses! Where are they! Help!
Calm down! Stop screaming!
(While MADAM MUMM
is extricating herself from DUDLEY's awkwardness, RUSSEL takes a
moment to put the crystal ball back into the pouch and hide it
in a hollow of the tree. Then HE steps over toward DUDLEY.
DUDLEY is searching frantically for his glasses. They are in
plain sight and within his reach, but HE is tapping around him
everywhere the glasses aren't. RUSSEL picks up the glasses,
looks through them, winces, andthen places them into DUDLEY's
hands. DUDLEY, quickly places the glasses over his eyes. A look
of intense relief instantly covers his face.)
Your eyes must be really
weak. I put them on and I couldn't see a thing.
There's nothing wrong with my eyes. I wear them so I can't
I don't understand.
Never mind that now. [as
though trumpeting]: I am Madam Mumm, the famous Gypsy Fortune
Teller! [as though kazooing]: and this is my servant, Dudley.
Why did you try to grab me
Uh...that was a little
mistake. Shall we say, a boo-boo...? Let's start all over.
RUSSEL [still suspicious]:
Well...all right. My name
MADAM MUMM [her hand up to stop him]:
No! Let me
tell you! [concentrates on his face] ...Steve!
RUSSEL [correcting her]:
Sure? You look kinda
Steve-y. [SHE shrugs, then guesses the last name] ...Smith!
RUSSEL [correcting her again]:
I'm better when I have something to hold in my hands. You got
RUSSEL [brandishing one]:
Baseball or football?
Ehhn, I'm sick of these
Miami Dolphins. [feel free to ad lib a local or recent national sports gaffe or triumph here] Then I will read your palm! MADAM MUMM grabs
MADAM MUMM [reading his palm]:
Hmmm...You are very intelligent for only nine years of age...
RUSSEL [correcting her] :
(RUSSEL and MADAM MUMM both peer closely into HIS palm.)
MADAM MUMM [looking more closely]:
Oh, is that a twelve? Ach, grape-jelly.
[she rubs his hand. Then, looking up] I'm used to bigger hands.
RUSSEL [taking his hand back]:
it up, lady! You're a fake!
(MADAM MUMM gasps as if she has just
been stabbed with a knife.)
Madam Mumm is no fake!
She has great powers! She helps people!
(DUDLEY suddenly trips and
falls. MADAM MUMM drops on her knees.)
You don't understand! I
am an artist— give me back my crystal ball! Russel, reading palms and cards and tea
leavesthis is for amateurs! Let me show you what I can do.
Russel, Just lend me the crystal ball for a moment. Surely,
there is something in your future you would like to know
(RUSSEL's face shows that her last question has struck
a chord, but HE decides to play it coy. HE looks toward the
surreptitiously takes the bag from the hollow in the tree, and
dramatically produces the crystal ball. MADAM MUMM lights up
immediately at the sight.)
[reaching out] Oh, little
darling! Come to Momma!
[pulling the ball away from
her] Hey, now! No funny stuff!
[raising her left hand]
Honest! Sit down on the ground next to me and put your hands on
(RUSSEL sits facing MADAM MUMM on the ground. HE places
the crystal on the ground between them.)
good. Now watch closely.
(LIGHTS change to something more
ominous as a parody of Russel's Dream plays out, with the CROWD
coming onstage again, their faces concealed with stocking-masks,
looking for all the world like automatons of RUSSEL's friends
CASEY rides across the stage, gliding through the finish
line; the CROWD silently cheers; then RUSSEL—or rather, his
double again— lumbers in on his old rusty bike, which falls
apart on the spot. HELEN and MR KUNKLE immediately approach him
and start to argue furiously, silently, then cackling the word
"bicycle" "bicycle" over and over, as the CROWD laughs and
laughs, pointing at RUSSEL. Finally the double RUSSEL points at
the real one, and the LIGHTS crossfade to the scene again.)
What does it mean?
(Suddenly RUSSEL turns to the SOUND of JAMAL's VOICE.)
Hey, Russ! Whatcha doing?
(MADAM MUMM and DUDLEY sneak around the tree, and are
suddenly gone, as RUSSEL, alone, is seated on the ground; he
puts the crystal ball back into the pouch. JAMAL enters. HE is
wearing a partial baseball uniform and carrying a glove.)
[pocketing the pouch]
Aren't you going to practice?
What's the matter?
[standing] My Dad just told
me... and I just found out I'm not...
(RUSSEL is interrupted by
the arrival of PAULINE SHISHNINSKI from around the same corner
of the house. Like JAMAL, SHE too is dressed in a makeshift
Hey, you guys! Here comes
Casey on that new bike of his! You guys seen it yet?
[instantly hostile]: Oh. no.
[swaggering a bit; to Pauline]
So, you think Casey's bike is pretty good, hunh?
Of course! Best in this
Well, you won't think so on
(RUSSEL makes the gesture of both hands over his mouth,
as did JAMAL, before.)
[cautioning him] Jamal!
[to JAMAL] You know someone
who's got a better bike?
(CASEY HOLLENSTEIN enters the yard now.
HE too is dressed for baseball, but his uniform is complete and
looks as though it just came from the dry cleaners. HE jumps off
the bike in question which clatters to the ground in a heap, and
HE then picks it up and walks it towards the OTHERS. HE pulls a
chamois cloth out of his back pocket and begins wiping down the
two rear-view mirrors with sticker-reflector on the backs that are in the shape of
[butting right in, too eagerly] There isn't
a better bike! It's got monogrammed chain-guards, extra-long
levers on the brakes, phosphorescent handlebar tape, and
four-color reflectors! It's the best there is!
RUSSEL [simply: not snooty]
it isn't. Chain and Crank Magazine called your Moshewadda Turbo
the rip-off bike of the year! The Harley-Fellini is the finest
bike made! [quickly] It has a double-butted frame made of
41/30 chromium/molybdenum tubing, sidepull brakes, a cotterless
crank, genuine leather saddle, and uses Swiss-patented
derailleurs. It won every award there is at the Brussels Design
Show for the last three years! It weighs at least ten pounds less than
yours, that's without the decals, and...
(RUSSEL shuts up, realizing he's said too much. CASEY
fumes. He'd hold his hands over his bike's ears if he could find
them. HE looks down at his bike, suddenly having doubts about it
now. There is an uncomfortable pause.)
You sound like you know a lot
[boldly again] I do. That's
because I read.
Well, I don't have time for
that. All I know is that my bike's beautiful and expensive and
nobody around here ever heard of your... Homely-Spaghettis!
Well, they will! Russel's
Dad is gettin' him one next Saturday!
Russel! Why didn't you tell
You're lying! You're making
this up because you're jealous of my new bike!
RUSSEL [again, simply: but getting mad]:
I'm not jealous of any second-rate bike!
[calling his bluff] Okay. Your
Dad said he's getting you one of these Holyoke-Whatsits things
(RUSSEL is obviously in crisis as to what to say...)
Well? Did he say it or not?
Yeah, those words did
come out of his mouth ...but...
(smelling blood) All right, Kunkle. I hope
you're telling the truthbecause I'm gonna tell everyone in
[moving his bike to leave] And
next Saturday, we'll just see who's got the better bikeyou or
me! [shoves off] See ya later, liar! Chromium/molybidum
seat covers, hhnh! Ar, ar, ar. (CASEY exits, wobbly still.)
Oh, man! Is he gonna be sorry!
[turns to Russel] I gotta get to practice. See you later, Russ.
[starting to follow JAMAL]
Aren't you coming to practice, Russ?
No, I... I gotta finish some
I'll call you tonight,
RusselI want to hear more about that new bike!
[transformed] Really? You're
gonna call me? I'll be waiting! Good-bye, Pauline!
very impressed. RUSSEL would rather follow them, but HE is
alone. Suddenly a look of horror comes over Russel's face.)
MUSIC IN: "Trio" |
Marie Paolicelli from the original cast of "Russel's Back Yard" (1972)
Walt Seng, photo
(SOUND: Mocking laughter, perhaps with an ECHO effect, as
in the crystal ball vision.)
Now I understand!
(RUSSEL approaches his horrible, rusty bike. HE kicks at
it again. )
What they showed me... is my future! Mom will find out I told
everybody I'm getting the new bike, and they'll have a big
fight, and they're gonna get divorced for sure, now!
(MADAM MUMM steps from behind the tree, next to RUSSEL,
who does not acknowledge her arrival just as if she'd been there
all along. )
Call them backthere's
still time! Tell them the truth!
Yes! [his expression changes]
No! Pauline will laugh at me, now! I can't!
(DUDLEY appears on
the opposite side of RUSSEL.)
Help him, Madan Mumm!
I know you can!
MADAM MUMM, THIS IS
LAST NIGHT, WHEN I GOT IN,
I WAS SO HAPPY
BUT NOW I HAVE TO SAY
THAT I DON'T CARE FOR
AND I DON'T WANT TOMORROW TO COME.
[singing] YOUR ACT IS
WEAK AND GETTING WEAKER.
YOU NEED MY SPECIAL POWER.
MY LIFE IS GETTING BLEAKER
BY THE HOUR.
YOU NEED ME. HOW YOU NEED ME!
I HEAR YOU
WHAT FORTUNE, FINDING SUCH AN UNFORTUNATE FELLOW.
TELL ME WHERE I'M WRONG,
WHERE AM I WRONG? WHERE AM I WRONG?
MADAM MUMM [overlapping]:
I'VE HEARD THIS SONG,
I'VE HEARD THIS SONG,
I'VE HEARD THIS SONG BEFORE
SUCH A SAD ONE, AND HOW!
YOU CAN GET OUT OF THIS
IF YOU LISTEN NOW.
YOU'LL DO FINE BY ME.
I'VE GOT A PLAN,
SUCH A GOOD ONE, AND HOW!
I CAN CUT YOU A BREAK IF
YOU'LL TAKE IT NOW!
I'VE GOT THE KEY
IF YOU'LL LISTEN TO
HOW YOU NEED ME.
HOW YOU NEED ME!
TRUST HER, RUSSEL.
WHAT DOES SHE MEAN?
YOU CAN TRUST HER, RUSS:
WHAT SHE SAYS IS
SHE CAN MAKE A NEW FUTURE THAT'S
RIGHT FOR YOU.
SHE CAN MAKE ME A FUTURE?
MADAM MUMM [spoken]
JUST TALK TO THE GREAT
MANY PEOPLE SHE'S SAVED!
MADAM MUMM [spoken]
MADAM MUMM: [singing]
UNCLES AND COUSINS!
Where are they?
[sung] WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
FUTURES THAT MADAM MUMM
MADE FOR THEM!
YOU CAN TRUST HER, RUSS:
SHE HAS NEVER MISSED.
(Holding up a little black book)
LOOK, IN THIS BOOK IS HER MASTER LIST
SHE'S GOT IT DOWN TO A SCIENCE.
I DON'T KNOW...
YOU DON'T KNOW
HOW CAN YOU FACE
SUCH A WORLD OF DISGRACE?
IT WON'T BE
YOU'LL SEE TIME SLIP AWAY.
JUST AS QUICK AS A CAT
IT IS SATURDAY!
THEN WHERE WILL YOU BE
WHEN THEY ALL COME
YOUR BEAUTIFUL, CUSTOM-MADE, GENUINE,
CHROMIUM, LEATHER SEAT ...NOTHING!
TRUST HER! ... SHE'S RIGHT!
HOW YOU NEED ME.
HOW YOU NEED ME,
YOU NEED ME,
YOU NEED ME.
...THIS ISN'T EASY FOR ME!
YES IT IS... YES IT IS!
TO BE PROMISED A BIKE
WITH MOLYBDENUM LUGS,
HAVE THE RUGS
DUDLEY AND MADAM MUMM:
WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE MILES AWAY
OKAY! MY ANSWER, OF COURSE, IS...
WHEN YOU BARGAIN FOR SOMETHING THIS NICE,
I CAN WIPE WORRY AWAY,
BUT YOU'LL PAY, LEETLE BOY.
I'VE GOT SOME NEWS FOR YOU.
HOW YOU NEED ME, IT'S TRUE.
I'VE HELPED OTHER BOYS MUCH WORSE OFF THAN YOU!
Not here! Don't Bleed!
IT'S LIKE DREAMS IN YOUR BED...
YOU'VE HEARD WHAT I'VE SAID
AND I TELL YOU THE DEAL ISN'T MADE
I'VE GOT A TRADE IN MIND...
SOMETHING SO SMALL
PART OF THE WORLD IS REAL.
PART OF IT I CAN FEEL.
BUT PART OF THE WORLD I CAN STEAL.
FROM BOOKS I HAVE READ...
BLOOD I HAVE BLED ...
DREAMS IN MY BED:
ALL IN MY HEAD.
WHAT HAVE I GOT YOU'D LIKE?
TRUST HER, RUSSEL!
NONE OF HER
CLIENTS HAS EVER COMPLAINED TO HER.
IT'S LIKE SLEEPING.
IT'S AN EFFORTLESS THING TO DO.
IT'S LIKE DREAMS IN YOUR BED.
YOU'LL FIND THAT IT'S EASY.
IT'S NOTHING AT ALL.
LEETLE BOY, TRADE ME YOUR CRYSTAL BALL!
AND YOU SHALL BE SERVED
ALL YOU HAVE DESERVED.
IT'S NOTHING COMPARED TO
THE BEAUTIFUL STATE
THAT IS WAITING FOR YOU!
THIS IS MY BIG OPPORTUNITY
WHAT AM I
IT'S WAITING FOR YOU!
ALL YOU'VE DREAMED ABOUT,
YELLED ABOUT, SCREAMED ABOUT
WAITS FOR YOU, NOW'S THE TIME,
NEVER TAKE LESS
TELL ME YES!
DON'T LET THIS PASS:
I SAY YES!
(THEY end up posed something like the Three
MUSIC STING: "End of Act One."
Russel, the deal is this. I will
make you a future just as you dreamed it. The price? The
crystal ball. If you don't like what you see? The deal is off.
(MUSIC IN and UNDER. RUSSEL rather guility takes out the
crystal ball from the pouch and hands it over to MADAM MUMM. SHE
eagerly looks into it, and it starts to glow.)
[seeing something in the
ball] A bicycle! Is this the bicycle that's causing all the
[leaning forward] Let me see.
THE STAND-IN RUSSEL wheels in the Harley Fellini from the wings,
and dreamily waltzes across the stage with it. DUDLEY's hands
get closer to the crystal.)
Oh, let me see, too!
Dudley, no! Don't touch
That's itthat's the one!
[almost a whisper] And
this time, Russel, it really is all yours!
(LIGHTS crossfade to
reveal RUSSEL, his DOUBLE, MADAM MUMM, and even DUDLEY, all
standing beside the bicycle. RUSSEL reaches out to touch the
bikeit's quite real.)
I told you Madam Mumm
could help you!
Dudley! What are you
(MR. KUNKLE steps in from the wings.)
[his voice a little odd]:
Better than an old bag of marbles, isn't it Russ?
[hugging him] Dad! You got me the bike after all! But what's Mom
(HELEN KUNKLE now steps into the picture. DUDLEY is
present also. When SHE speaks, DUDLEY reacts strangely to
the SOUND of HER VOICE, as he has for MR. KUNKLE's VOICE)
Your father and I talked it
over, Russ. Good behavior gets rewards.
Yes. I'm coming home.
That's not your father...
(MADAM MUMM elbows DUDLEY out of the
[trying to distract
Russel] Look, Russel! There's more!
(PAULINE steps in to admire
the machine. RUSSEL'S PARENTS walk out backward.)
[exact intonation as before,
but phony:] Russel, you're a hero!
remember] No, your name isn't Pauline. It's...[trying to
MADAM MUMM [nervously, realizing the threat]
Dudley, I forbid you!
(DUDLEY moves closer to PAULINE. HE is
frustrated at not being able to remember HER name.)
Oh! Don't you remember me?
(PAULINE's eyes light up, just as
if SHE had recognized a long-lost comrade.)
Dudley! [calling to unseen
others] Hey, you guys! Look! It's Dudley!
[to Dudley] How come my
friends know who you are?
[confused again] Your
friends? But these are all the people Madam Mumm...
(DUDLEY thumbs through his little black book of names he brought out
before, but MR KUNKLE, BARBARA KUNKLE, and HELEN KUNKLE crowd
around DUDLEY, interrupting him ad-lib greetings.)
[trying to regain control
of the situation] Well, Russel! Satisfied? Is it a deal?
[to MADAM MUMM] Wait a
minute. What's going on here?
(MADAM MUMM flies into a rage. SHE
pushes everyone away from DUDLEY, grabbing his black book and
ripping it in two.)
Dudley, you fool! You're
(As SHE pulls RUSSEL away from DUDLEY, a
strange VOICE is heard, weird and distorted and not quite human,
coming from PAULINE's form.)
What's the matter?
Can't we say hello to an old friend?
[frozen with terror] Who...
Who are you?
(In a terrifying moment, all FOUR of the characters
playing RUSSEL's family and friends become stiff,
mannequin-like, and totally-unreal, as though they were puppets.
THEY totter around the stage as though they had lost reason and,
with grotesque faces, perhaps enhanced by makeup, we see they
are not known to RUSSEL at all, but are those we will call THE
CHANGELINGS. One of them, in MR KUNKLE's form, approaches
[in a watery voice] Who are we, Russel?
Anything you want us to be!
around to face HER] Russel! Do we have a deal or not?
[in fright] No! No deal!
(RUSSEL grabs the crystal
ball out of MADAM MUMM's hands, and the CHANGELINGS flee in all
directions. MADAM MUMM laughs malevolently as they all scatter,
leaving RUSSEL alone on stage holding the crystal ball, glowing
softly in his hands.)
[in a whisper] Oh, no. What
have I gone and dreamed up this time?!
(HE looks down at the
crystal ball which, as the LIGHTS quickly FADE is the only
illumination on his terrified face.)
END OF ACT ONE. To Act 2.