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Scene Changes by Donald Tongue

GENRE: Three Act Romantic Dramedy RUN TIME: 90 minutes

SYNOPSIS

A Broadway traveling production of A Christmas Carol is ready to mount a three night run in Concord, NH. Samantha Wheelwright (Sam), legendary ex-Brit actress of stage and film, whose career is faltering, has been cast to perform the role of Mrs. Cratchit. But there’s a problem with their Bob Cratchit – he has taken ill, and inclement weather has forced the producer to hire a local actor.

At rise, we see the youthful actor, Matt (Matthew Simmons), backstage dressed as Bob Cratchit, going over his lines. When Sam first happens upon Matt, she immediately assumes he is some local who has wandered into the theater and, without even realizing Matt is in costume, she tries to call security to escort him out of the building. To convince Sam he is part of the cast, Matt starts to recite some of his lines. The realization of the situation sinks in, and Sam is mortified by the thought of having to perform with such an inexperienced actor who is totally wrong for the part. All through the first act, Sam tries to remedy the situation: she calls her agent; she tries to convince Matt to quit, which almost succeeds until Matt remembers that his grandmother has already bought tickets. Eventually, Sam resorts to simply trying to wrestle the script out of Matt’s hands, but he is undeterred. Matt reveals that, when he was twelve, he decided to become an actor after seeing Sam perform on Broadway. He then asks Sam if they can run their first scene, and she relents. Act one ends with Matt getting carried away when he gets to the stage direction to kiss Mrs. Cratchit.

Act two opens on opening night with Sam in full costume sitting backstage on Scrooge’s bed, smoking a cigarette. She is upset with the prospect of having the audience laugh at their unlikely pairing, and she is clearly obsessing over the kiss that was more than simply following a stage direction. Matt enters with a bad case of opening night jitters. Both are seeking a place to be alone, but they end up having to engage with the person they were hoping to avoid. The mood is uneasy, and Sam decides to make Matt even more uncomfortable. At one point Sam plays out a mock seduction, playfully suggesting they ‘do it’ on Scrooges bed, but she backs off when Matt gives her a look that reveals how she is really playing with his heart.  Act two ends with Matt and Sam in a passionate lip lock as the stage manager calls for places.

Act three: Sam and Matt are the only two left in the darkened theatre after the last performance. Sam has fallen for Matt and has been trying to think of any excuse to delay his departure. She eventually reveals her true feelings and presses the point. Matt admits to falling victim to his boyish crush for her, but he can’t turn his back on his marriage.  In the end, Matt is a little less naive and Sam has learned to connect with an emotion she thought was dead and buried – Love. They have both grown and learned from the experience and the world seems different, the scene changes.

SETTING

Present day Concord NH in December where a traveling production of A Christmas Carol is being presented. The play takes place backstage where there are a number of set pieces and props. Most prominent is Scrooges small four-poster bed prop.

CHARACTERS

SAM – Samantha Wheelwright, ex-Brit, Female, single, 40. Emma Thompson would be ideal for this role.

MATT – Matthew Simmons, Male, married, 27. A young Matthew Broderick would be ideal for this role.

COSTUMES

Present day street clothes. Mr. and Mrs. Cratchit period dress.

PRODUCTION HISTORY

March 2012
Script-in-hand
Production

January 2012
One Act Production
(40 minute cutting)

June 2010
Act II Production
(15 minute cutting)
Page to Stage Encore
City Auditorium
Concord, NH

2012 New Works Festival
Firehouse Center for the Arts
Newburyport, MA

Playwrights’ Platform 38th
Annual Festival of New Plays
Boston Playwrights’ Theatre
 *Best Actor Award – Carey Cahoon