Big Top

Book & Lyrics by Noelle Donfeld, Music by Nathan Wang

Bigtop

Big Top

Sometimes, it takes losing all your dreams before you can discover the one dream that truly matters.“Big Top” is a love story amidst the mayhem, attempted murder, passion, and undaunted determination at a struggling traveling circus.

BILL, a talented hick from Homefork, population 23, arrives at the circus determined to fly under the big top with the trapeze artists, “THE FLYING  RATCHADENIVEJS”, IGOR, REX and IVAN.    As with all the men who see her, Bill is immediately smitten with SANDY, the beautiful, young tightrope walker, whose earnest desire is to dance with the man of her dreams, Mikhail Baryshnikov, at the Bolshoi.   Bill reveals he always flies without a net, which challenges the trapeze stars and results in Rex’s near-death on a faulty trapeze.   Replacing Rex, Bill gets a chance to join the act, but his experience swinging on a vine in Homefork doesn’t prepare him for a swing on the high trapeze, and he is booted unceremoniously from the team.  Unable to leave Sandy , Bill practices doggedly at the low trapeze as increasingly gruesome “accidents” continue to occur at the circus, much to the relief of the owner and ringmaster, GEORGE.   With each accident, the circus’ blood-thirsty audiences grow ever larger, and the circus is, at last, destined for success.  However, as the gore continues, it becomes apparent that an evildoer is behind the accidents.   Although everyone in the circus is under suspicion, the preponderance of evidence points to Bill, who is forced to leave Sandy to escape the wrath of the performers and the arm of the law.

Act two opens with the surviving circus performers nervously trying to prepare for a performance.  In the opening clown act, a phone booth falls on a clown, putting her in a coma.   In hiding, Bill approaches ESTELLE, the circus’s most talented tumbler and gullible clown, convincing her to help him discover the culprit responsible for the myriad “accidents”.   Desperate for love, Estelle finds it impossible to say “no” to a man, even though she suspects Bill could be a murderous fiend.   Disguising Bill as her cousin, PETUNIA, Estelle convinces George to hire him/her to take the injured clown’s place.  Bill’s “dressed as a woman’s intuition” finally helps him discover the true villain is the seemingly mild Ivan.   Knowing people believe he is guilty, Bill is forced to leave when Ivan threatens to reveal Bill’s presence and to harm Sandy .  When Sandy again rejects Ivan’s attempt to woe her, he cuts her safety net, and Bill, who can’t leave the woman of his dreams, is the only one who can save her.  However, he is paralyzed with fear when he climbs up to the platform, until he finally cuts one side of the trapeze, converting it into a “vine”.  Bill is able to follow his heart and his dream of flying, Sandy reveals an unexpected truth, George is thrilled with the world’s only “vine/trapeze act”, and Estelle finally realizes that the man of her dreams is the roustabout ZEKE, who has been desperate for her love all along.

LIST OF CHARACTERS (14 WITH MULTIPLE CASTING)

BILL, a talented young hick from Homefork, who taught himself to fly on the “trapeze” without a net, and dreams of flying under the big top.

SANDY, a naïve and beautiful tightrope walker who dreams of dancing with Baryshnikov at the Bolshoi.

ESTELLE, a sweet clown who is searching in all the wrong places for the right man.

GEORGE, the dapper circus owner/barker, who is struggling not to lose his beloved circus as easily as he lost five wives.

ZEKE, George’s humble right-hand man and roustabout who is secretly crazy about Estelle.

IGOR, an almost-famous trapeze artist, who performs with his two sons.

IVAN, Igor’s older son who lives in his brother’s shadow.

REX, (ensemble)  Igor’s younger, handsome, macho son.

ASPIRA, (ensemble) a superstitious snake charmer

TIM, (ensemble) an animal trainer who is totally devoted to his performing gorilla, Agatha

HUGO, (ensemble) the pushy, hot-blooded fire-eater

MARC, JIMINY and ADELAIDE , (ensemble) Estelle’s fellow clowns.

PHOTOGRAPHER, (ensemble) who always pops up at the circus at the right time.

FAMILY OF FOUR/.AUDIENCE (ensemble), “family-oriented” and blood thirsty.

 

Selected Lyrics

ODE TO THE BIG TOP

ODE TO THE BIG TOP

c) Donfeld/Wang

(Curtain rises.  Circus performers are back stage at dressing tables.  Some are applying make-up and getting dressed.  There are SANDY, a beautiful, young tightrope walker, wearing wings, IGOR and his sons, IVAN and REX, muscular trapeze artists, HUGO, a swarthy fire eater, ESTELLE, ADELAIDE, MARC and JIMINY, clowns, a snake charmer, ASPIRA, in a belly-dancer-type costume, who enters kissing her cobra and TIM, a gorilla trainer. GEORGE, the dapper, middle-aged ringmaster/owner is in his top hat center stage.)

Ensemble

FLASHING, BEDAZZLED,

ANTICIPATION RISING IN THE AIR.

FRANTIC AND FRAZZLED,

I HOPE THAT I DON’T MELT BENEATH THE GLARE.

I LOVE TO SEE THE PEOPLE STARE;

AT LEAST I HOPE THAT THEY WILL STARE.

WITH ANY LUCK,

THE CROWDS WILL CHEER

THAT’S IF THEY’RE HERE.

WHICH ISN’T CLEAR.

 

Estelle

HAPPY AND HEADY, IMAGINING THE LAUGHTER LONG AND LOUD

 

Clowns

PUMPED UP AND READY,

CONNECTING WITH A FLIP AND FEELING PROUD

TO HEAR THE CHEERING FROM THE CROWD

 

Ensemble

FOR I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE THEM

WOWED AND ROWDY, HEAR THE SHOUTING,

NOW IS NOT THE TIME FOR DOUBTING.

 

Sandy

EVERY EVENING I GO ON

HOPING THAT HE’LL SEE A SWAN

WHO’S WINGING HIGH ABOVE HIM.

HOW I LONG TO SEE HIS HANDSOME FACE

SMILING AT MY STYLE AND GRACE.

HE’LL TAKE MY HAND

AND DANCE WITH ME UPON THE WIRE.

I WILL BE HIS HEART’S DESIRE

SETTING ALL THE SKIES ON FIRE,

HIGH, SO HIGH.

 

Igor, Ivan and Rex

ALWAYS IN TRAINING,

WE LOVE HOW WE ATTRACT THE FAIRER SEX..

FLEXING AND STRAINING,

AND WATCHING ALL THE LADIES CRANE THEIR NECKS.

 

Rex

THEY LOVE TO SEE ME PUMP MY PECS

(Estelle approaches him and feels his muscles.)

 

Igor, Ivan and Rex

AND SIGH WHEN EVERYONE CONNECTS.

WHEN RISING HIGH

ABOVE THE FLOOR

AH, THE RAPPORT,

THEY BEG FOR MORE.

 

George (in the center of the Ring)

AWESOME, AMAZING,

COME SEE THE MAGIC UNDERNEATH THE TENT.

DARING AND DAZING,

THE MOST EXCITING MOMENTS YOU’LL HAVE  SPENT

GLUED TO YOUR A SEAT AT AN EVENT.

 

Ensemble

I SEE EXCITEMENT IN YOUR EYES,

AND THEN YOU’LL RISE

IN HUGE APPLAUSE

IT’S ALL BECAUSE YOU LOVE US

ON THE FLOOR OR HIGH,

WE’LL LEAP, WE’LL DANCE, WE’LL GLOW

(Hugo lights his torch)

I HOPE THE CROWDS ARE GOING TO GROW.

WE’RE ON,

TIME TO GO.

WELCOME TO THE SHOW.

LET’S GO!


I WANT TO DANCE WITH BARYSHNIKOV

I WANT TO DANCE WITH BARYSHNIKOV

c) Donfeld/Wang

(Sandy, a circus tightrope walker, reveals to Bill, the circus newcomer, who is obviously attracted to her and has high aspirations himself, the reason why she is constantly practicing on the high wire.)

Sandy

EVER SINCE MY MAMA BOUGHT MY TUTU

EVER SINCE I LEARNED TO PIROUETTE,

I WOULD PRACTICE AT THE BARRE,

ALWAYS PLANNING TO GO FAR

OFF TO MOSCOW,

 

Bill

”Gee!”

Sandy

BUT THE CIRCUS WAS AS FAR AS I COULD GET.

 

I WANT TO DANCE WITH BARYSHNIKOV.

DANCE AT THE BOLSHOI, BE HIS SWAN,

SO I PRACTICE EVERY DAY…

I’VE PERFECTED MY PLIE,

AND I ALSO LEARNED TO TAP AND TWIRL BATON.

 

I WANT TO DANCE WITH BARYSHNIKOV.

I WANT TO LEAP INTO HIS ARMS,

BUT THE ONLY TIME WE LEAP

IS WHEN I AM FAST ASLEEP,

AND INSTEAD OF MOSCOW, ALL I SEE ARE FARMS.

 

HE MAKES ME SMILE,

MY SWEET MIKHAIL,

EVERY TIME I THINK OF HIM

IT GIVES ME SUCH A THRILL.

THOUGH I’VE BEEN TOLD,

MOSCOW IS COLD,

SNUGGLING WITH MIKHAIL,

I WOULDN’T MIND THE CHILL.

 

Bill

”In Moscow?”

 

Sandy

(Dreamily)  “Oh, yes!”

 

I WANT TO DANCE WITH BARYSHNIKOV,

DROWN IN HIS LUSCIOUS BABY BLUES,

AND IT ALWAYS MAKES ME BLUSH

WHEN I PICTURE US IN RUSSIA.

 

Bill

“In Russia?”

 

Sandy

IN RUSSIA.

IN MY DREAMS IT’S ME THAT MISHA HAS TO CHOOSE.


GOTTA SWING

GOTTA SWING

c) Donfeld/Wang

Bill

NOT A LOT TO DO DOWN HOME IN HOMEFORK,

SWIMMING IN THE POND AND CATCHING FISH. THEN I SAW A MOVIE AT THE BIJOU,

AND EVER SINCE I ONLY HAD ONE WISH.

 

GOT TO SWING

LIKE THAT APE MAN

WHO’D GO SWINGING ON A VINE.

HE WOULD FLY TREE TO TREE,

AND I WISHED IT WAS ME THERE

FLYIN’.

 

GOT TO SWING

LIKE THAT APE MAN,

BUT MY DREAM WAS CLOSE TO DYIN’

THOUGH WE HAD LOTS OF TREES,

DIDN’T HAVE A TRAPEZE FOR

FLYIN’.

 

So,

FIRST I BOUGHT A ROPE AND LEARNED TO KNOT IT,

 

George

A boy scout!

 

Bill

MADE MYSELF A SWING RIGHT BY THE CREEK.

 

Igor

A monkey.

 

Bill

REACHING FOR A BRANCH, I THOUGHT I CAUGHT IT…WHOOPS!

HAD TO SIT ON ICE CUBES FOR A WEEK.

 

Wooo!   But “Never give up” is my motto!

 

George

I believe it.

 

Bill

HAD TO SWING LIKE THAT APE MAN.

TRIED AGAIN, AND IT FELT FINE.

AND IT GAVE ME A RUSH

SWINGING OVER THE BRUSH THERE

FLYIN’.

 

Bill

OFF I’D GO A FLIPPING AND A SOARING.

EVERY DAY I’D TRY ME SOMETHING NEW.

NEVER WITH A NET AND NEVER BORING.

NOW THERE’S NOTHING ELSE I’D RATHER DO.

 

Bill                                                                               Ensemble

I COULD SWING LIKE THAT APEMAN                DOO-WAH, BE DOO WAH

AND I CROSSED THE COUNTY LINE.

COUNTY LINE

THOUGH I RAN OUT OF ROPE,                             HE’S FLYING

I NEVER LOST HOPE                                               AH-EE-AH-ING

OF FLYIN’, FLYIN’.                                                 ON TOP OF THE WORLD.

 

HAD TO SWING

LIKE THAT APEMAN                                               BE-DOO-BE-DOO-WAH

AND I SAW YOUR CIRCUS SIGN,                        SAW A SIGN

SO I MADE ME A PACT                                           DO-WAH

THAT I’M JOININ’ THAT ACT                                DO-WAH

I CAN SEE YOU REACT,                                          DO-WAH

BUT I SWEAR IT’S A FACT                                     DO-WAH

I’M FLYIN’,                                                               AH-EE-AH-EE-AH

FLYIN’.                                                                      FLYIN’.

 


PERFECT MAN

PERFECT MAN

c) Donfeld/Wang

Estelle (man-crazy, loveless clown)

WHERE’S THAT PERFECT GENT,

SOMEWHAT…HESITANT?

SEEMS I JUST ATTRACT THE DREGS.

ONE IS LIKE THE REST

GROPING AT MY CHEST,

ONE TYPE GRABS, THE OTHER BEGS.

 

ONE’S A TWIT WHO HITS AND RUNS,

I LIKE BEING WOOED.

ONE’S A SLEAZE WHO’LL SQUEEZE MY BUNS,

TREATING ME LIKE FOOD!

NO ONE SEES MY INTELLECT

THEY JUST SEE ME NUDE.

WHY CAN’T I BE VIEWED

LIKE MOM, A PRUDE?

 

HOW I’D LIKE TO FIND

SOMEONE SWEET AND KIND,

FULL OF WISDOM, CHARM AND WIT.

THERE’S A PERSON HERE

WHO’S A PERFECT DEAR.

WHERE’S A PERSON WHO’LL COMMIT?

 

WILL I FIND THAT PERFECT FIT,

NOT ANOTHER PERFECT SHIT!

ONE WHO NOTICES HOW SWEET I AM,

NOT ANOTHER “WHAM, BAM,

THANK YOU, MA’AM.”

I HAVE GOT TO FIND THAT

PERFECT,

PERFECT,

TRULY PERFECT MAN!