THE PARABLES Libretto for ACT ONE

THE PARABLES:

Adventures of the Prodigal Son

 


 

A Contemporary Operetta

by

William Donald Coffey

 

PRELUDE:  E-flat Nocturne for the Spring of Life

 

ACT ONE

SCENE 1:            EVERYTHING NOW

The yard outside the home of Prodigal Son’s father.  Father and Older Brother sit at opposite ends of a timber on which they are working (Father with draw knife, Brother with rasp).  Prodigal Son enters hesitantly.  He starts to retreat but, when  Father rises and greets him with a hug, he proceeds almost defiantly to describe his wants.

 

 

PRODIGAL SON

Father, I …

 

FATHER           [hugs him]

Good morning, my son! 

PRODIGAL SON

Father, I would speak with you…

 

FATHER

Will you join your brother and me at this labor?   [points to timber]

 

OLDER BROTHER

Yes, little brother, would you care to try some work this week?  For a change?

 

PRODIGAL SON

Father, that’s not why I’m here!  I want to ask you something.

 

OLDER BROTHER

You want something?  How unusual.  Is it to help us do some work that you want?

 

FATHER

Peace, my eldest.  As I love you both, I will hear you both.

Of course, my dear son — go ahead, ask anything you like.

 

PRODIGAL SON

INTRO:  EVERYTHING NOW …. HE SINGS:

For a long time now I’ve had this feelin’ in me

To get out and go, cause I’ve just gotta see

New faces, and places, I wanta travel far away;

 

It’s a beautiful world and life is so sweet,

But youth is so short, and I wanta meet

New faces, and places – Father hear what I say!

 

            My brother’s only thirty-three, only ten years more than me,

            So settled in a rut that he stinks!           [brother reacts]

            I don’t wanta get that way, same old routine every day,

            Aging fast – that’s how he thinks!

 

            Instead of hangin’ round until I change my mind,

            I’ve gotta be free, gotta go out and find

            Good livin’ – and I know the way…

 

            You only need to give me my inheritance now,

            My half that you’ve willed us   in CASH,

 

OLDER BROTHER      [spoken]

No!

 

PRODIGAL SON

            …That’s how it should be, Dad,

            Come on, whaddaya say?

 

FATHER

[thru Intro, advances and puts hand on Son’s shoulder, offers understanding advice]

            My boy, you know that I want you to be

            At peace with yourself, but I wish you could see

            The end of the road that you’re choosing today.

 

            Your inheritance I give you willingly…

 

OLDER BROTHER

NO, Father!

 

FATHER

            Go if you must, but please go cautiously,

            I beg you not to throw your life away.

 

PRODIGAL SON

Don’t be so conservative, I just wanta live!

 

FATHER

            My concern only stems from my love.

            I’ll always hold a place for you, wherever fate may lead you to,

[arms out, appealing]

            My son, you’re always welcome to come home…

 

PRODIGAL SON      [unconcerned, flippant]

            Father, I appreciate your words of concern,

But I can’t be wasting time on thoughts of return,

If you don’t mind, I’ll just be on my way.

           

            I got my motorcycle and I got my cash,

            Don’t you worry ‘bout me doin’ nothin’ rash,

            I’ll take everything now, I’m young, I’m free and I’m me!

[exiting]

I’ll take everything now!  I’m free!

Everything now, I’m free, I’m me!

[classic poses:  Father drops face into hands; Older Brother glares, hands on hips]

 

—  End of Scene 1  —

 

SET CHANGE:    Intro  music for IT’S A BEAUTIFUL WORD

 

 

 

SCENE 2 – Part I:              A BEAUTIFUL WORLD

Rich Fool’s party room. Prodigal reclines languorously on one elbow, surrounded by party girls who lavish attention on him.  Rich fool beams approval nearby. Singing begins slowly, pulsating, builds gradually to tempo.

 

GIRL 1

SINGS:

            Let me get you another drink, the time flies

Faster than you think, Let me help you

            Live, love, live love – it’s a beautiful world!

 

GIRL 2

            Let me peel you another grape, I’m woozy…

 

GIRL 3

            Listen to the music rock, it’s groovy…

 

GIRL 4

            I may even let you seduce me…

 

ALL GIRLS

            It’s a beautiful world!

 

PRODIGAL SON         [full tempo]

            Truly life is meant for the living,

            This is even better than I thought it would be!

            I’ll take everything that it’s giving…

 

ALL GIRLS

            Don’t forget, that includes me!  (Wheee!!)

 

PRODIGAL SON

            My friend, you’re a marvelous host, your wines are

            Four grades better than most, in your honor

            I propose a toast…                [all glasses up]

 

ALL

            It’s a beautiful world!

 

[MUSICAL INTERLUDE:  variations on Beautiful World theme, with tambourine.

General revelry — much laughter and dancing.  By musical cue for second verse Prodigal’s glass is empty, girls converge on him with refills as singing resumes]

 

ALL GIRLS

            Let me get you another drink, the time flies

Faster than you think, Let me help you

            Live, love, live love – it’s a beautiful world!

 

PRODIGAL SON

Peel me another grape, I’m woozy…

            Listen to the music rock, it’s groovy…

            I intend to let you seduce me…

 

ALL

            It’s a beautiful world!

 

RICH FOOL

            Love is free but you’ve gotta take it,

            My broad experience proves that it’s true…

 

PRODIGAL SON

            True happiness is what you make it…

 

RICH FOOL

            How true, I agree with you!

 

PRODIGAL:                  Peel me another grape, I’m woozy,

ALL GIRLS:   Let me |  get you another drink, the time flies…

 

PRODIGAL:         Listen to the music rock, it’s groovy,     

ALL GIRLS:       …faster than you think, let me help you…

 

PRODIGAL:          I intend to let you seduce me,   

ALL GIRLS:      …live… love… live… love…

 

ALL:  It’s a beautiful world!

ALL      [unison, great camaraderie]

Prodigal & Fool:  Won’t you | get me another drink, the time flies
    ALL GIRLS:          Let me |  get you another drink, the time flies

 

Prodigal & Fool: …faster than you think, won’t you help me
    ALL GIRLS:  …faster than you think, let me help you

 

ALL: ……Live… love… live… love…  It’s a beautiful world!

ALL: ……It’s a beautiful world! … a beautiful world!

 

 

SCENE 2 – Part II:          THE REST OF MY LIFE

pause for applause … Resume with intro to Part II – heavy downbeats and tambourine.  General revelry, dancing, drinking, miming [director’s choice].

 

PRODIGAL SON

SINGS:   To what do you attribute your extraordinary wealth?

               Your conspicuous consumption?

 

RICH FOOL

            My robust state of health!     [pats belly]

 

PRODIGAL SON

            The grandeur of your parties is known on every hand,

            You top the list in this suburban land.

 

RICH FOOL         [mock seriousness]

            This beautiful world has its hard side too,

            Let’s let the facts be bared:

            When your taxes reach my bracket, Boy,

            You wonder just how well you’ve really fared!

 

            It’s harder to keep than it was to get;

            You gotta be hard nosed, Boy!

            My capital gains, but what remains

            Is a governmental burden on my joy!           I… got…

[bouncy]

            Three Cadillacs and a two-car garage,

            My house has style and grace,

            But I need more room so I’ll just enlarge,

            And rebuild the whole darn place!

 

            My barns are overflowing, what else can I do

            To accommodate my constant gains?

            Tear the whole place down and start a’new,

            I’m fixed for the rest of my days!

 

            Eat, drink and be merry, let the good times roll,

            Cause I’m all set for the rest of my life,

            So bless my soul – everybody…

 

ALL

Eat, drink and be merry, let the good times roll,

            Cause [he’s / I’m] all set for the rest of [his / my] life,

            So bless [his / my] soul.

 

RICH FOOL

            Managing money is quite a stress,

            It’s my wife on whom I depend,

            And to be quite honest I must confess,

            I’d rather just spend, spend, spend!

 

            It’s a constant bother how my treasury fills,

            But bless my penny pinchin’ wife,

            She pays the bills and I take the pills,

            I’m set for the rest of my life!    Everybody!

 

ALL

Eat, drink and be merry, let the good times roll,

            Cause [he’s / I’m] all set for the rest of [his / my] life,

            So bless [his / my] soul…

 

RICH FOOL

     …ah, sing it again!

 

ALL

Eat, drink and be merry, let the good times roll…

[all but Rich Fool fade out as they notice Frugal Wife appear, glowering, hands on hips.

 

RICH FOOL

            Cause I’m all set…    [noticing mood change he turns, sees her, falters]

       …for the rest…   [instrumental music out; he sings alone]

          …of my life…

 

FRUGAL WIFE

You fool!!

Your life could end this very night!

Your heart might stop!  You know it might!

No amount of pills can give insurance for the way you live;

 

How many times have you been warned

To slow down cause your health is bad,

You’ll make me a widow in reward

For the thankless life I’ve had.

 

Do you wonder at the source of his extraordinary wealth?

Well, credit not a dime to him — the thanks is due my self!

I’ve been both wise and frugal with the money that I tend,

And the thanks I get is just to watch him spend!

 

Frugality is a virtue yet in these days of extravagant sums;

Let the government spend more than it gets,

The day of reckoning will come!

 

I tell you to beware and get prepared!

[spoken]        Hard times!  Depression’s gonna start!

            If you should lose a nickel, though you’ve still got more,

            You’d better grab a broom and sweep the place apart…

 

RICH FOOL

Such frugality just depresses me,

            And although I don’t want to complain,

            You worry all night cause you’re so darn tight!         [she reacts]

How can pessimism be so vain?

 

PRODIGAL SON

Why should I beware, or get prepared?

            Just relax and let the good times roll.

 

RICH FOOL

            You’re a drag on the party so bug on out!

            Many blessings on your frugal soul.

 

FRUGAL WIFE    [furious]

Don’t bless me you hypocrite!

            You don’t have the sense to quit!

            Pass your “wisdom” to this young fool,

            He’s obviously right for it!

 

            Can the blind lead the blind?

            Drink yourselves to death!!              [she exits in a huff]

 

[MOMENTARY SILENCE, then singing resumes timidly]

ALL GIRLS
GIRLS 1 & 2:   Let me |  get you another drink, the time flies…

GIRLS 3 & 4:                         Eat, drink and be merry……….

 

GIRLS 1 & 2:                 …faster than you think, let me help you…

GIRLS 3 & 4:                            Let the good times roll…….. cause           

 

GIRLS 1 & 2:                 …live… love… live… love…

GIRLS 3 & 4:                     he’s all set for the rest of his life,         

 

GIRLS 3 & 4:                 …so bless his…

 

RICH FOOL

Ahhh!  MY HEART!!!       [collapses and dies; others show horror; LIGHTS FADE]

—  End of Scene 2  —

 

SET CHANGE during REPRISE played slowly, sadly.

 

 

 

SCENE 3:            THE BIGOT

An open road.  Prodigal Son wearily pushes his small motorcycle onto center stage, sets kickstand, leans tiredly against it.  Mutters to himself.

 

 

PRODIGAL SON

Five dollars …  just five lousy dollars. 

[pauses, wipes forehead with handkerchief]

… I wouldn’t be out of gas … here in the middle of nowhere … [studies a map]

… if he’d loaned me that five I asked for.  … Said he would… “Sure!,” he said…

… but didn’t hand it over…   …he didn’t help me when he could

… before he died…         [angry;  whiny]

He should’ve taken care of it before he died!

 

[two tough muggers saunter slowly onstage toward Prodigal, whose back is to them]

 

…Left me stranded! … stranded and broke!

 

MUGGER 1

Y’don’t look sa broke to me.

 

PRODIGAL SON

What?!!    [whirls]   Who’re you?

 

MUGGER 1

I’m yer pertection man.  Y’pays me, I pertects ya.

 

PRODIGAL SON

Wha…what do you mean?

 

MUGGER 2

Y’got bad ears?   He said ya pay him.  That’s the price of us pertectin ya.

 

PRODIGAL SON

I’m not paying you anything!

I couldn’t pay even if I wanted to, because I’m broke.  I don’t have a dollar!

Besides, I don’t need any ‘pertectin!”

 

MUGGER 1

That’s where yer wrong, sonny.  Explain it to him, Pudsy.

 

MUGGER 2

One, ya do need pertectin.  And two, ya ain’t broke. 

So we’re here to collect yer payment.

[they move in close, threatening]

 

PRODIGAL SON

You guys back off!  Leave me alone!  I am broke, I don’t have any money!

 

MUGGER 1

Sure ya do.  What’s the bike worth, Pudsy?

 

MUGGER 2

Plenty I’d say!

[they attack Prodigal Son; beat him up; kick him after he’s down;

exit at a run pushing the bike away]

 

[Prodigal lies motionless a moment, moans]

 

INTRO  music for THE BIGOT

 

PRODIGAL SON

Help me! … Help me! … I’m hurt!

 

[a passerby looks at him curiously, gives wide berth, hastens offstage]

 

I’ve been robbed…   I’ve been mugged…   Oh, help me!

 

[woman swishes onstage, pauses when he cries out to her]

 

SINGS:   You woman of worthy causes, I need some sympathy!

 

WOMAN OF WORTHY CAUSES   [backing away]

            I’m collecting money to fight disease,

            Humanity needs me if you please,

I just can’t get involved!                    [she rushes off]

 

[enter Fellow Youth carrying sign; stops beside Prodigal,

leans over to peer closely at him]

 

PRODIGAL SON

Oh fellow youth, please stay with me,

I need someone to trust!

 

FELLOW YOUTH

I’m on my way to demonstrate,

I can’t afford to get there late,

I’ll probably get busted!          [pats Prodigal on shoulder and rushes off]

 

[Prodigal strikes road with his fist, cries out in anguish]

 

PRODIGAL SON

My money’s all gone, my tooth is broke,

My bike is stolen, my head is light,

[slower, bitterly]

And where’s the help from all that knee-jerk

virtue limping out of sight?!

[drops head dejectedly]

…outta sight…

 

INTRO music for The Bigot’s solo

 

THE BIGOT

SING:

Take my hand and help yourself up, [Prodigal gets up slowly]

Looks like the bums have struck again;

Don’t lay there expectin’ no help to come,

Here, let me bandage your chin;                   [applies band aid]

 

PRODIGAL SON

I had just about given up hope,

This road seemed so cold and grim;

I ask you sir, what is your name?

 

THE BIGOT

People call me The Bigot.

[he leads Prodigal to a place to sit and rest; props up his knee and sings]

 

Some people never learn what the poor folks know,

How it feels to be down and out;

If you’re gonna get up you gotta help yourself,

That’s what life is about;

[gestures broadly]

Don’t depend on them, they’ll pass on by

When the poor man’s hurtin’ the most;

They love the whole world, but they can’t see you,

Take it from me, The Bigot.

 

The hard-knock school is the best around,

It teaches you how to get up when you’re down.

 

PRODIGAL SON

I’ve gotta get up and start anew, but how?

What’ll I do?   Oh, what’ll I do?

 

THE BIGOT

Now, I know a man who’ll treat you all right,

He runs a truck stop bar and grill;

With rooms to rent, he’s open all night,

Way up on top of a hill.

 

He’ll put you up if I ask him to

cause he knows my credit’s good;

I’ll pay your bill when I next pass through

cause I just think that I should.

 

You can take it easy till you’re strong again,

But you’ll soon have to stand alone;

I’ll ask this man to give you a job,

But it ain’t gonna be like home;

 

Life is hard and the world is cold,

You don’t get nothing free,

Plain hard work is the poor man’s gold,

That’s how it ever will be.

 

PRODIGAL SON

A bigot is a person who’s mean and low,

So tell me why are you helping me so?

 

THE BIGOT

You’re no different than nobody else, like me…

 

[SPOKEN, NO MUSIC]

PRODIGAL SON

Like you?

 

THE BIGOT

Sure. You’re like me, I’m like you.  We’ve all got some good sides, some not so good…

 

PRODIGAL SON

Well… why do people call you a bigot?

 

[Brief silence; then musical phrase (see score) repeats as Prodigal and Bigot speak their

lines through two pages of dialogue]

 

THE BIGOT

You ever been hungry, boy?  I mean real deep down hungry?

 

PRODIGAL SON

N-No…

 

THE BIGOT

Your daddy rich?

 

PRODIGAL SON

Well, our farm produces a big surplus every year.

 

THE BIGOT

You mean his farm, don’t you?  Who serves the meals in your daddy’s house?

 

PRODIGAL SON

Why the servants do, of course.

 

THE BIGOT

Which servant is your best friend?

 

PRODIGAL SON

Which servant?

 

THE BIGOT

Forget it.  You know how it feels to be just real happy?

 

 

PRODIGAL SON

Oh yes!

 

THE BIGOT

Know how it feels to be very sad?  So sad you can’t hardly stand it?

 

PRODIGAL SON

Well… I have been sad…

 

THE BIGOT

How it feels to be angry, excited, exhuberant, wretched?

 

PRODIGAL SON

Yes.  Yes!  I’ve felt all those emotions of course.  Why do you ask?

 

THE BIGOT

Every person you’ll ever meet has felt all those same emotions too, just like you.  Know what that means?

 

PRODIGAL SON

No, what?

 

THE BIGOT

That means you already know at least that much about every person, even those you’ve only just met for the first time.  You already know everybody, at least a little.  That means nobody is a stranger to you.

 

PRODIGAL SON

You don’t seem like a stranger.  I mean…

 

THE BIGOT

Have your daddy’s servants felt all those emotions…just like you?

 

PRODIGAL SON

I…don’t know.  I guess so…  I never thought about it…

 

THE BIGOT

Weren’t watching very close, were you.  Just lettin’ them serve your meals and make your  bed.

 

PRODIGAL SON

I…  Maybe you’re right.  But why are you asking me all this?

 

THE BIGOT

I have felt all those feelings too.  Just like you.

 

 

PRODIGAL SON

So did you know how I felt after those guys beat me up and stole my bike?  Is that why you helped me when those others wouldn’t even stop?

 

THE BIGOT

Sure.  If it had been the other way around, would you have stopped to help me?

 

PRODIGAL SON

I…I think so.  Yes!  I’m sure that I would have!

 

THE BIGOT

Well then…      [he resumes singing]

You’re no different than nobody else…like me…

I do what I must…  do what I must…  do what I must.

 

BIGOT & PRODIGAL SON

[he puts arm around Prodigal, helps him limp off, they exit singing]

I do what I must…  do what I must…  do what I must.

[Lights slowly dim.]

 

—  End of Scene 3  —

 

 

 

SET CHANGE    Variations on EVERYTHING NOW while set is changed to bar scene.

 

SCENE 4:            MANY LEVELS, Part I

The Truck Stop Bar and Grill.  INTRO music begins.  Prodigal, in apron, halfheartedly sweeps floor at one end of room.  [Director’s option]:  Bar Owner wipes bar with towel; Barmaid carries in glasses and beer bottles, sets them down, busies herself.

 

[Mr. Maximus enters. Looks around, fixes on Bar Owner.]

 

  1. MAXIMUS

SINGS:

My name is Mister Maximus, and how do you do,

I’m from the Eternal Revenue.

 

BAR OWNER

Oh?  Well, I’m the bar owner and you’re welcome, I guess,

What the devil can I do for you?

 

  1. MAXIMUS

I need to check your records for the past few years,

We’ve something of a problem I fear.

 

BAR OWNER

Oh!  Let’s got to my office so we both can fear,

I’d rather not fear in here.

 

[They exit;  Barmaid props elbows on bar and studies Prodigal]

 

BARMAID

[SINGS after intro transition from Bar Owner]

Who are you?  What are you doing here?

You don’t look like you fit into this place.

 

Here you are, have you traveled far?

You have such a young and honest looking face;

 

A road side bar is not the end of the road,

Just a haven for a trucker with a heavy load,

And the better life that I hope to see,

What are you doing here working like me?

 

PRODIGAL SON

Life is lived on many levels,

Fickle destiny carries us through,

I can cope with any level,

I’ll do anything I have to do.     [speaks to Barmaid}  Sing with me…

 

PRODIGAL & BARMAID DUET (unison)

Life is lived on many levels,

Fickle destiny carries us through,

I can cope with any level,

I’ll do anything I have to do.

 

PRODIGAL SON

I have traveled far, following fortune’s star,

I’ve done a lot of livin’ across this land.

 

Far from home, making it on my own,

Though my father is a great and wealthy man;

 

It’s just for convenience that I’m working here,

I’ll be much higher by this time next year,

When I’m tired of this place I’ll just travel on,

Livin’ the good life free, I’ll be gone…

 

 

PRODIGAL & BARMAID DUET (unison)

Life is lived on many levels,

Fickle destiny carries us through,

 

BARMAID

You can cope with any level,

 

PRODIGAL SON

I’ll do anything I have to do.

 

PRODIGAL & BARMAID DUET (harmony)

Life is lived on many levels,

Fickle destiny carries us through,

I can cope with any level,

 

PRODIGAL:  I’ll do any, I’ll do any

BARMAID:   I’ll do anything I have to

 

PRODIGAL:  thing I have to, I’ll do any

BARMAID:   I’ll do anything I have to

 

PRODIGAL:  thing I have to, I’ll do any

BARMAID:   I’ll do anything I have to

 

BOTH:            I’ll do anything I have to do.

 

 

SCENE 4:            MANY LEVELS, Part II

During applause, Bar Owner enters looking distraught.  A strong chord is his cue, he sings in an agitated manner

 

BAR OWNER

I am impressed…with your great adaptability,

If what you say is really true;

 

Cause you’re gonna need it, and I wish I had it,

Hard times have come and I’m through!

 

The shadow of depression has fallen on this land,

Better men than me are going down on every hand,

I can’t pay my taxes or my mortgage or you,

And they’re gonna foreclose on it all!

 

PRODIGAL SON

[throws down broom, approaches Bar Owner in high agitation]

But what’ll I do, I still have to eat,

I can’t even get a small loan,

There’ no place left for me to go from here…

 

BAR OWNER

That’s your problem, Boy, I got my own!              [he exits]

 

PRODIGAL SON

[fists raised and rigid, back to Barmaid]

Oh, damn the system, I hate the establishment,

Curse this lousy bar and grill;

Nobody cares if I live or die,

What’s become of human goodwill?

 

BARMAID

[she approaches him, places hands on shoulders; sings softly in sharp contrast]

Don’t despair while life goes on,

Why do you hate what you can’t even see?

What do you know of many levels?

This roadside bar was the good life for me…      [he turns to face her]

 

Now it’s over, what more have I missed?

How can we know other levels exist?

I have coped with a lower level,

I can do it again if I must,

[increasing intensity]

So can you, come home with me,

We both can cope, give me your trust,

You can make it along with me,

There’s welcome in my father’s house, come home with me…

 

PRODIGAL SON

Why, thank you, my dear,    [aside]  (do you peel grapes too?),

But how can I pay my own way?

 

BARMAID

My poor daddy has to work so hard,

He can put you right to work today.

 

PRODIGAL SON

It’s a deal, I’ll take it, say no more,

What’s the job and what does it pay?

 

BARMAID

Taking care of my daddy’s pigs…

            …and all the corn you can eat in a day.

 

PRODIGAL SON           [spoken; aghast]

Corn?  …  Pigs?!  …  ME??!!!     You gotta be kidding!!!!!!!

 

BARMAID                   [angry]

What makes you think you’re so different?

Would you rather starve than admit you’re poor?

 

PRODIGAL SON           [spoken]

Yes!  No!  It’s degrading!

 

 

BARMAID

There’s no degradation you’ll ever have to face

That many others haven’t faced before!

 

PRODIGAL SON

I’ll take it! … God!!! …   What choice have I got?? …

[spoken in anguish:]

Oh, my father …   I’LL TAKE IT!!!!

 

BARMAID                 [more softly]

            Life is lived on many levels, 

            Sheer necessity carries us through,

You can live on any level,

But how well you cope depends on you.      [spoken:]  Sing with me.

 

BARMAID & PRODIGAL SON DUET

Life is lived on many levels,

Sheer necessity carries us through,

I can live on any level,

 

BARMAID:      Just do everything you need to do…

PRODIGAL:     I’ll do anything I have to do…

 

BARMAID:      ….You need to do,

PRODIGAL:     … I have to do.

 

[PAUSE, resume slower; they hold each other]

 

BARMAID:   You can cope with any level…

PRODIGAL:  I can cope with any level…

 

BARMAID:   But how well you cope depends on you.

PRODIGAL: But how well I cope depends on me.

[Lights fade]

—  End of Scene 4 —

 

MANY LEVELS reprise;  lively.    [OPTION:  Lights up if there is to be an intermission]

 

OPTIONAL INTERMISSION

Share

Leave a Reply