Once Upon A Christmas

Once Upon A Christmas Synopsis
Music and Lyrics by
Michael DeMaio

Book by
Michael DeMaio and John Matthews


Act I

Scene 1 – Parole Board Hearing Room. Three Days Before Christmas.
After a short musical prologue, the curtain rises on a parole board hearing in Secaucus, New Jersey. Matthew Crawford and Harry Bunk, dressed in orange prisoner suits, their backs to the audience, nervously await their fate.
Seated at a large, high table are seated the Seven Members of the Parole Board. The Parole Board Chairman, gavel in hand, is at the center.
The parole board members are dressed in black suits, white shirts and black neckties. They speak in a unison monotone. The verdict is in.
The Chairman slams down his gavel and declares that parole for Matthew and Harry has been denied. The parole board exits to the music of the scene change with a comical, robotic dance.

Scene 2 – Prison Cell Block. Immediately Following.
In a cell block of the prison, Matthew and Harry, with the help of some other Prisoners, ponder their predicament (“We’ve Got to Get Out of Here!”).
Matthew and Harry convene over a plan to escape. It is here that we learn that they were falsely convicted of the crime of counterfeiting. They must escape and clear themselves.

Scene Three – Prison Work Room. Immediately Following.
The prisoners solemnly march into the prison work room. There, they begin to assemble toys that will be sent to several of Manhattan’s children’s shelters. The most conspicuous of the toys are life size toy soldiers. It is time for dinner break. The dinner bell rings, and the prisoners line up and exit the work room.
Matthew and Harry make their desperate and comical escape: they will duck out of the line, get dressed in two toy soldier costumes that were left behind by a visiting acting troupe, hide in an outgoing crate, and be shipped to one of the children’s shelters and subsequent freedom. Matthew and Harry jump into the crate just as Warden Gilmore enters with Two Workmen.
In a sinister tone, Warden Gilmore orders the workmen to deliver the crate to: “the usual place…and no slip ups…these toy soldiers are the biggest money maker we have!”
The workmen slide the crate that contains Matthew and Harry off stage.

Scene Four – Angberd’s Toy Emporium. Sometime Later.
Gleeful Shoppers crowd the aisles of Angberd’s Toy Emporium, the largest toy store in Manhattan. They happily sing about buying all the Christmas gifts they want with their beloved credit cards (“Christmas Shopping”).
At the center of the fray is the eccentric owner of the store, Ignatz T. Angberd.
He is accompanied by his floozy companion, Bubbles. Angberd encourages his customers to not worry and to “charge it”.

Scene Five – The Stockroom of the Toy Store. Immediately Following.
Two of Angberd’s employees, Stacy Bradford and Beth Chamberlain are busy in the store’s stockroom unpacking boxes of toys.
Stacy laments about the romantic aspects of Christmas, while Beth complains that she is broke. Stacy’s cockeyed optimism is no match for Beth’s desire for all that money can buy (“I Want a Guy for Christmas”).

Scene Six – Parlor of the 30th Street Children’s Shelter in Manhattan. The Same Time.
Kate and Mary Callahan manage the 30th Street Children’s Shelter in Manhattan. At the shelter, we find ourselves in the midst of a visit from Santa Claus.
Each Christmas season, Santa gives the toys made at the prison to the children. Kate and Mary are perplexed that there were not enough toys for all the children this year, and that the new warden of the prison, Warden Gilmore, was not as accessible as the previous warden. They express concern.
When the adults leave, five shelter kids sneak back in. They are Tommy, Mikey, Jill, Holly and Skeeter. They finalize their plans to continue a shelter tradition: sneak out on Christmas Eve and give the food stuffs that they have stashed away to the neighborhood homeless people (“Ya Gotta Give”).

Scene Seven – The Stockroom of the Toy Store. The Next Morning.
Stacy and Beth are busy opening boxes of toys. They open two very large boxes containing life size toy soldiers. It’s Harry and Matthew standing straight and stiff and looking ridiculous in their disguises. The girls, not knowing that it’s Harry and Matthew, joke about how ugly they are. Finally, his nose twitching, Harry lets out a loud sneeze.
The girls get frightened and threaten to call the police. Harry and Matthew calm the girls down and tell them their story. Matthew and Harry think they have been delivered to a children’s shelter. They finally convince the girls that they must clear themselves of a crime thy did not commit. Stacy and Beth agree to not turn them in.
Warden Gilmore, Angberd and Bubbles enter the other side of the stockroom. Stacy, Beth, Matthew and Harry hide behind some boxes and listen in on the conversation. Angberd and Warden Gilmore are discussing their plot to defraud the city’s children’s shelters by diverting the toys made by the prisoners for the shelters to Angberd’s toy store to be sold for profit.
Stacy and Beth can’t believe it. Angberd is a crook!
Warden Gilmore is exasperated by Angberd’s oblivious and childlike antics. Angberd is always playing with one toy or another; a Pee-Wee Herman Doll, a Slinky, or his favorite, a yo-yo.
Gilmore wants his cut of the money from their scam. Angberd tells Gilmore that he doesn’t want him around the store anymore, as it may arouse suspicion. Angberd reveals a ridiculous plan to give Gilmore his money. Angberd will hide the money in a hollowed out book and pass it to Gilmore on Christmas Eve at Rockefeller Center, after the show at Radio City Music Hall. The exasperated Gilmore decides that it’s hopeless to reason with the oblivious Angberd and reluctantly agrees to the plan.
We also learn that is was Warden Gilmore who perpetrated the frame up of Matthew and Harry in the counterfeiting scheme.
The idealistic Stacy decides that it’s her duty, in the spirit of Christmas, to help the shelter kids get their toys back, and to expose the corruption by Angberd and the Warden.
Beth doesn’t want any part of it until she learns from Harry that if he gets out of prison, he can collect a 10 million dollar inheritance. The materialistic Beth immediately agrees to help. They decide to begin at the shelter.

Scene 8 – The Shelter. The Same Time.
The kids quietly put the canned goods and loaves of bread that have stashed away into sacks, as they prepare to sneak out and give the treasures to the homeless people (“Ya Gotta Give Reprise”).

Scene 9 – The Parlor of the Shelter. The Same Time.
Harry, Matthew, Stacy and Beth explain the situation to Mary and Kate. Mary and Kate are reticent at first, but they decide to help get to the bottom of things (“How’s Your Acting?”).

Scene 10 – A Dark Street. Later That Night.
Tommy, Mikey, Jill, Holly and Skeeter pass out food to some homeless people.

Scene 11 – The Stockroom of the Toy Store. The Same Time.
Stacy and Beth are waiting for Harry and Matthew. Angberd and Bubbles enter. Stacy and Beth hide. Angberd happily plays with his yo-yo as he proudly shows Bubbles around. He boasts that he sells more Silly Putty that FAO Schwartz. Bubbles coos with childlike infatuation (“Silly Putty Man”).
Angberd and Bubbles exit.
Stacy and Beth admit that they have grown fond of Matthew and Harry. Even the materialistic Beth realizes that her feelings for Harry are more than just about money (“I Found a Guy for Christmas”).
They have a plan, however crazy, to get the book (and the money) from Angberd and Gilmore on Christmas Eve at Rockefeller Center.
They will dress up as Santa Claus and run a phony book drive. They will distract Angberd and Gilmore and, in the confusion, take the book that contains the money.
Scene 12 – The Shelter. The Next Evening.
Stacy, Beth, Matthew and Harry are explaining their nutty plan to Kate and Mary. The kids are eavesdropping. The kids enter and are curious about the strangers.
Stacy explains to the kids that Matthew and Harry were convicted of a crime they didn’t commit. Tommy wants to know from Matthew why they aren’t afraid (“A Voice in the Distance”).
The adults exit.
The kids decide that will take matters into their own hands and attempt to get the money back themselves (“A Voice in the Distance Reprise”).

Act II

Scene 1 – The Stockroom of the Toy Store. Christmas Eve.
Harry, Matthew, Stacy and Beth are putting on their Santa suits. They decide to rehearse their charade. They all practice their ho-ho-ho’s. Beth is unable to do it. Each time she tries, she lets out a loud, high pitched screech. Stacy, Matthew and Harry tell Beth that it’s easy to act like Santa Claus (“Santa Claus”).

Scene 2 – Rockefeller Center. Christmas Eve. 9:00 PM.
Rockefeller Center is crowded with tourists and revelers (“The Rockefeller Center Song”).
Harry, Matthew, Stacy and Beth are stage left at a small table that is litered with books. On the front of the table is a sign that reads: “HOLIDAY BOOK DRIVE-EVEN THE NEEDY NEED TO READ”. They look ridiculous in their Santa suits.
Angberd, Gilmore and Bubbles enter. Gilmore is nervous as he asks Angberd for the book with the money in it. Angberd, as annoying as usual, is excited about the show he just saw at Radio City.
Harry notices Angberd and Gilmore and decides that he will try and get the book with the money in it that Angberd is carrying. Meanwhile Kate and Mary have entered. They too have on Santa suits, and they are also trying to get the book with the money in it. Harry tries to grab the book from Angberd. The book flies up into the air and a melee breaks out. People and books are flying everywhere. A Policeman intervenes. Everyone scatters off in different directions.

Scene 3 – Rockefeller Center. Immediately Following.
There are some homeless people lying about. Tommy, Holly, Jill, Billy and Skeeter enter. They give a homeless woman some food from their sacks (“A Voice in the Distance 2nd Reprise”).
The woman accepts the gift, and with a look of gratitude, reaches into her meager bag and takes out her only possession: a book, and hands it to Holly.

Scene 4 – The Shelter. Immediately Following.
Harry and Matthew are frightened and concerned. They did not get the evidence they need to clear themselves. And, in the confusion, lost track of Stacy and Beth. They also realize that they have fallen in love with Stacy and Beth.
Matthew tells Harry to go look for the girls at the toy store. Harry exits.
Stacy runs in. She and Matthew embrace.
Across the stage in front of the stockroom traveler is Beth. She paces nervously. Harry arrives and they express their affection. Stacy and Matthew do the same (“For Your Love”).
After the song, Kate and Mary enter the shelter. Harry and Beth enter. They all lament that they were unable to get the book with the money in it from Angberd. The kids enter. Tommy holds up a book and declares: “…are you looking for this…?”
It’s the book given to Holly by the homeless woman. It has the money in it.

Scene 5 – The Toy Store. Immediately Following.
Gilmore, Angberd and Bubbles enter. Angberd is playing with a Slinky as if nothing was wrong. Gilmore assures Angberd that he will take the money out of his hide.
Stacy, Beth, Matthew, Harry, Kate, Mary, the kids and a Detective enter.
With the evidence in hand, it’s the end of the line for Gilmore, and Angberd. Matthew and Harry are exonerated. The kids are sad that Matthew, Harry, Stacy and Beth have to leave. But, there is a Christmas surprise: Stacy, Matthew, Beth and Harry are to be married and will adopt the kids (“Merry Christmas, Happy New Year”).

Once Upon A Christmas Song Samples
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