8

THE EMPEROR'S NEW CLOTHES

Main Characters:

EMEROR ARMANDO: Ruler of the land of Espeland

PRINCESS JADA: Armando's daughter. Age 19.

PRINCESS NADINE: Jada's (fraternal) twin sister. Age 19.

PRINCE FABIAN: a visiting dignitary.

LEON: A palace tailor.

MIRABELLE: another palace tailor.

The show opens in the throne room of the palace, where EMPEROR ARMANDO is holding an event where his subjects can come to him with their problems and he will offer them "aid" and "advice." The subjects range from impoverished peasants and farmers to middle class landowners. The emperor has not arrived yet, so as the subjects arrive they start discussing how excited and thrilled they are that he is going to take the time to listen to them and help them.

A servant enters the empty stage and opens the doors. The subjects come pouring in through the door. He then shuts the door before everyone can get in, fearing that there will be too many people. The subjects inside don't seem to notice.

ALL SUBJECTS

What a kind and caring emperor,

He's such a thoughtful man,

To take the time to listen to our woes

What a marvelous, fine emperor,

Of course, for sure he can,

Solve all of our problems

With the knowledge that he knows.

SUBJECT 1

And the power that he holds.

SUBJECT 2

He's such a lovely host.

SUBJECT 3

Plus, he wears the finest clothes!

SUBJECT 4

And he's going to improve all of our lives!

SUBJECT 1

Think of all we can achieve

SUBJECT 2

With the help we will receive

SUBJECT 3

When our emperor arrives!

ALL SUBJECTS

What a great and glorious emperor

He's such awesome guy,

And Espeland is such a lucky land!

What a fabulous, fine emperor,

He'll listen to our cries,

He'll help and give advice and understand!

EMPEROR ARMANDO enters, followed by his twin daughters, JADA and NADINE. The EMPEROR is good looking for his age and very fashionably dressed. NADINE is thin, beautiful and also clad in the latest fashions. JADA is not as beautiful as her sister, she is somewhat overweight and somewhat fashion challenged. The young ladies stand beside the throne. The EMPEROR stands in front of the throne and addresses the subjects.

EMPEROR

Good morning, my subjects, and thank you for coming. Dears, tell me how I can help, what can I do? For you? (sits down and gazes at them)

The subjects begin crying out their complaints all at once

(Sung, overlapping)

SUBJECT 1

Please, sir, my crops-

SUBJECT 2

My fighting sons-

SUBJECT 1

There was a fire, and now-

SUBJECT 3

I just have a question-

SUBJECT 4

My husband died and now my baby's hungry-

SUBJECT 2:

They won't stop fighting-

EMPEROR

(spoken) Hush! One at a time, please.

SUBJECT 1

Dear Emperor, your highness,

I've a problem with my crops, you see,

a fire came and burnt half my fields down.

I can't pay my bills

and feed my child with only half my rice,

dear sir, it would be nice,

if you could perhaps, give me some extra time

before you come demand my taxes?

EMPEROR

Ah, good man, you still have half your rice,

I'm sure that will suffice,

to feed your child till next harvest, sure enough.

As for taxes and your bills,

you could do without your frills.

You could even sell your land or sell your stuff.

SUBJECT 1

But Emperor, please, I would only need a few extra-

EMPEROR

(spoken)

Nonsense, I'm sure you'll get by just fine. NEXT!

SUBJECT 2

Emperor, my sons, all they ever do is fight.

I love them both, but I must leave one my estate. Emperor, my problem is,

there's no fair way to decide,

and I can't bear to give them

one more cause for hate.

EMPEROR

Of course, you should just leave it to the oldest son.

SUBJECT 2

But, your highness I can't leave Gerard with nothing,

simply cause Migeul's the oldest one.

EMPEROR

Well, dear subject, I know well

you own a large estate.

If you could let them share the place,

I'm sure they would do great.

SUBJECT 2

But sir, they'd kill each other with their hate!

(spoken)

They couldn't possibly live in the same—

EMPEROR

(spoken) Next!

SUBJECT 3

Emperor of Espeland, I'd simply like to ask

whom you intend to name as royal heir?

Which of your twin daughters

is to rule our lovely land?

Jada? Or Princess Nadine, the fair?

Music stops and everyone goes silent and looks to the emperor. SUBJECT 3 appears confused.

EMPEROR

(spoken, standing up from the throne) Excuse me? Are you saying— are you saying that I'm— old?

SUBJECT 3

No, no not at all your grace, you are quite handsome and fit, and very, very, veryveryvery young. I was just—

EMPEROR

How dare you insult me! Get out of my palace!

SUBJECT 3 flees the throne room.

EMPEROR

Ahem, my daughters are quite obviously still children. Why would I need to choose an heir before they're even grown? I'm young and healthy. Good people of Espeland, you have nothing to fear, I'm going to be alive on this throne for a very long time. (sits down and music starts up again) Now, who's next?

SUBJECT 4

Oh emperor, my baby, she's dying of starvation. My husband died, and I've no money for her food. She only needs a little, just some milk, and—

LEON and MIRABELLE enter. MIRABELLE whispers something to the EMPEROR and he interrupts SUBJECT 4. Music stops again.

EMPEROR

Well, sorry dear subjects, that's all the time I have for today. I'm afraid I must run off to a suit fitting with the palace tailors. Farewell!

EMPEROR, LEON and MIRABELLE exit.

SUBJECT 4

But please, your highness, you never even answered me!

The subjects exit too, all obviously upset. JADA and NADINE are left onstage.

NADINE

Who do you think father will pick to be his heir?

JADA

Oh please, he's never going to pick an heir, Nadine. We could ask him on his death-bed and he would still say (impersonating the emperor, lying across the throne)"Are you [cough, cough] calling me— old?! [cough, cough, cough]" (impersonates him dying)

NADINE rolls her eyes.

NADINE

You're just joking around because you know he'd never pick you.

JADA

(standing up)

Oh? And why not?

NADINE

(sitting down on the throne)

You're just not regal enough, I suppose. You have no poise. No charm.

JADA

And why on earth would someone need poise and charm to run an empire? Intellect and wisdom are what you need.

NADINE

Wisdom? (mocking) well then, oh Wise Empress Jada, please share with me your magnificent wisdom! Ha! You know father's going to pick me. I'd make a fantastic empress because, well, (singing)

I'm so lovely and fair,

with my long, flowing hair,

They'll carve statues in my name.

They'll write songs to proclaim

My beauty and fame,

You'll see.

Every prince in the land

Shall duel for my hand.

I'll be

Sweet and serene,

What a queen!

With a prince at my side,

(standing up)

I'll be known far and wide,

As the fabulous Empress Nadine!

JADA

Sweet and serene?

You'd be vapid and mean

What a queen!

With your ego and pride,

You'll be known far and wide

As the air-headed Empress Nadine!

(spoken)But, me, on the other hand…

With my wisdom and trust,

I'll be caring and just,

They'll travel a week,

Just to hear me speak.

I'll lead and inspire

The entire empire!

You'll see.

I'll guide and advise,

Make allies,

I'll be

Righteous and grand,

And praised through the land

As Empress Jada, the wise!

JADA sits down on the thrown again

NADINE

Make allies?

But your gross size,

No decent guys

Could ever withstand,

You'll be mocked through the land

As the empress with enormous thighs!

JADA

You're a self-absorbed dummy!

NADINE

You're ugly and chubby!

JADA

I could climb to heights unknown-

NADINE

(Pulling JADA off the throne)

You'd never make it!

JADA

You'd make a mockery of the throne!

NADINE

Well, at least I wouldn't break it!

JADA

(frustrated) Ugh!

NADINE and JADA sing this part at the same time, overlapping, while they both try to sit on the throne at the same time, shoving each other.

NADINE

You'll see.

Every prince in the land

Shall duel for my hand.

I'll be

Sweet and serene,

What a queen!

With a prince at my side,

I'll be known far and wide,

As the fabulous Empress Nadine!

Make allies?

But your gross size,

No decent guys

Could ever withstand,

You'll be mocked through the land

As the empress with enormous thighs!

JADA

You'd be vapid and mean

With your ego and pride,

You'll be known far and wide

As the arrogant Empress Nadine!

I'll lead and inspire

The entire empire!

You'll see.

I'll guide and advise,

Make allies,

I'll be

Righteous and grand,

And praised through the land

As Empress Jada, the wise!

NADINE wins the physical struggle to sit on the throne and pushes JADA off. She sits there regally as the music fades out and JADA gets up.

NADINE

Keep dreaming, cupcake.

NADINE exits the stage. JADA remains by herself and walks around the throne. The music fades back in, softer.

JADA

With my wisdom and trust,

I'll be caring and just,

They'll travel a week,

Just to hear me speak.

I'll lead and inspire

The entire empire!

They'll see.

I'll guide and advise,

Make allies,

I'll be

Righteous and grand,

And praised through the land

As Empress Jada, the wise!

The music changes back to the music from the opening number. JADA sits down on the thrown and pretends to give advice to the subjects in the opening number.

JADA

(spoken)

Good morning, people of Espeland. My dear subjects, how can I help you?

JADA pauses briefly and pretends to listen to a subject

I'm so sorry, ma'am, to hear

That half your rice burned in the fire

But, it's all too very clear

you make the best rice pudding in the empire,

all will buy your rice

at thrice the price,

if you make what's left into that delicious treat.

In fact, I'd like a hundred servings

for my banquet next week.

(spoken) Now, who's next?

JADA pretends to listen to another subject. LEON enters but she doesn't see him. He is carrying a crate of fabrics.

Isn't it a shame when siblings fight?

But I do have a solution to your plight.

Leave one son your house and property,

he'll make a living from the crops, you see,

and then,

leave your money to the other man,

so he can buy some other land,

far from the brother he can't seem to stand.

He too can have a farm to start.

Your sons won't be as rich,

but good sir, they'll live in bliss,

since they'll be miles and miles and miles apart.

(spoken) Alright, who's up next?

LEON steps in front of the throne and plays along.

LEON

Dear Empress, your Majesty,

I have a small request for you, your grace.

I've been working very hard, you see,

And I think I do deserve an ample raise.

JADA comes back to reality and tries to regain her composure. The music stops.

JADA

Leon. Well, what a surprise. Is the fitting finished already?

LEON

Just about. Mirabelle sent me to get some measurements for you and your sister. Your father wants us to make you two some new dresses for the prosperity parade and the ball and banquet and everything. As if we don't have enough work to do already with his wardrobe alone. (rolls his eyes)

JADA stands up and LEON starts measuring

JADA

Well you know how he always needs to out-dress everyone.

LEON

Of course. Arms out.

LEON measures across her arms

JADA

You don't have to make me anything fancy, you know. I don't want to look like a toy doll, all covered in lace and bows.

LEON

Good, cause Nadine's probably going to demand extra lace and bows for her gowns. Any idea what colors you'd like? I brought a crate full of silks to choose from.

JADA

Dark green, or maroon maybe.

LEON

Absolutely not.

JADA

What?

LEON

You wear dark colors because you don't want to stand out, right?

JADA

Well, yes, that's true-

LEON

I'm trying to help you here. This is the prosperity parade. Everyone's going to be wearing bright, festive colors and prints. If you wear some dark, sad color, you're going to stick out like a- like a weed in a flower garden. You should-

JADA

(angry, a little hurt)

Oh? And what color would you recommend to make me look like less of a weed?

LEON

Not that you're a- I mean, that's not what I intended to- I just meant that you should-

MIRABELLE enters.

JADA

Just make whatever you want, Leon, I don't care.

JADA starts to leave, but LEON stops her.

LEON

Wait, I still need to get your, uh, waist measurement.

JADA stands uncomfortably while Leon measures her waist, then immediately storms out.

MIRABELLE

What was that all about?

LEON

Oh you know, I say something completely arbitrary and she manages to get offended.

MIRABELLE

Psh, women. So, I already got Nadine's measurements. Along with her elaborate list of specifications and demands.

LEON

Lace and bows?

MIRABELLE

More than ever. Like we don't have enough work to do already.

LEON

(laughs) I was just saying that. Jada told me I could make whatever I want.

MIRABELLE

Oooh, artistic license! Let's make her something hideous!

LEON

Well the clothes she wears now are already hideous. I thought it might be fun to make her something she'd actually look pretty in, for a change, since she said I don't have to use any of the dreary dark colors she usually wears. Just for something different, you know?

MIRABELLE

Whatever you say. As long as we get everything done in time, I'll be happy.

LEON

As long as we get raises, I'll be happy. Can you believe what the emperor is paying us? I've sewn burlap tents for more money than this.

MIRABELLE

Leon, we can't ask for raises, that's how his last tailors got fired. Hell, that's how we got hired, because we were willing to work for less as long as we had a place to live.

LEON

But we're being treated like slaves, Mirabelle! We're supposed to make six gowns and three suits in less than two weeks!

MIRABELLE

Well then, we'd better get started now.

FABIAN enters.

FABIAN

Excuse me? Where might I find Emperor Armando?

LEON

I believe he's gone to the grand hall for lunch.

FABIAN

Please tell him that Prince Fabian of Atropora has arrived. I would like to speak with him as soon as possible.

LEON

(sort of mad because he's not a servant) Of course, your grace, I'll go find him right away.

LEON exits.

MIRABELLE

Prince Fabian, how far is Atropora?

FABIAN

It's a four-day journey on horseback.

MIRABELLE

Four days! You must be exhausted. Perhaps you'd like to rest before you meet with the Emperor?

FABIAN

Not at all, miss. I must speak with the Emperor immediately, it's quite urgent.

NADINE comes rushing in.

NADINE

Oh it is true, a prince! Allow me to introduce myself your highness. I'm Princess Nadine, Emperor Armando's daughter. May I ask what brings you to Espeland?

FABIAN

It's a pleasure to finally meet you at last, Princess. I'm Fabian, prince of Atropora. I'm here to speak to your father. Is he on his way?

NADINE

Yes, yes, he'll be here shortly. Atropora? Why, that must have taken you six days! Aren't you tired?

FABIAN

Well, four days in fact. My horses are much more tired than I.

EMPEROR ARMANDO enters, followed by JADA and LEON.

EMPEROR

Fabian! Last time you were here your were four years old! You remember my daughters, Nadine and Jada.

NADINE curtseys low and winks at him. JADA nods.

EMPEROR

What brings you to my lovely palace, young lad?

FABIAN

I trust you have not forgotten about our arrangement, your highness?

EMPEROR

What arrangement? Oh, good gracious, my boy, are you 20 already?

FABIAN

I turn 20 in one month, your grace, so I have come to you today in hopes that you might honor the wishes of your late wife and my mother.

EMPEROR

Of course, Fabian, of course. Have you brought the contract with you?

FABIAN

Yes, would you like to read it?

FABIAN takes a paper out of his pocket and hands it to the EMPEROR.

EMPEROR

Ahem, (reads) In accordance with the terms of the annexation of Atropora by the Espeland Empire, I, Emperor Armando, consent to the following conditions. Prince Fabian of Atropora, upon reaching the age of 20, shall marry the heir to the throne of Espeland and rule the empire alongside her, thereby uniting our great nations truly. Should Espeland fail to honor this arrangement, the empire must peacefully relinquish control of Atropora and allow it to become an independent nation once again. Signed, Emperor Armando. (he hands the contract back to FABIAN) So you're here to claim one of my daughters then?

NADINE

But which one of us is engaged to him, father? The contract doesn't say-

FABIAN

That's exactly what I've come here to discern, your grace. The contract doesn't specify which princess I'm engaged to. It simply says that I'm engaged to marry "the heir to the throne of Espeland." Which of your daughters is heir to the throne?

EMPEROR

Ah, Prince Fabian, I have yet to choose an heir.

FABIAN

Well, who is the oldest?

EMPEROR

Ha, that is the tricky part, dear boy, for Princess Nadine and Princess Jada are twins, born on the exact same day.

FABIAN

Good heavens. Well, Emperor, I must ask you to name an heir immediately, if you wish to fulfill the terms of the contract. Otherwise, as the contract states, you must relinquish control over Atropora so that-

EMPEROR

I know what the contract states, boy,

Prince Fabian, I need some time

To decide

on your bride,

So it would be sublime,

If everyone stopped bossing me around!

The EMPEROR stomps around stage throughout the song, waving his arms and basically throwing a temper tantrum while everyone tries to calm him down.

FABIAN

(spoken) Your highness, I simply ask that you-

EMPEROR

Do you know what it's like run an empire?

You're a prince just in title, not career.

I still rule your land,

And so I command,

That you just listen here,

And never ever tell me what to do!

JADA

(spoken) You'll have to decide eventually, just get it over with and-

NADINE

(spoken) Father, perhaps if you just give it some thought-

EMPEROR

How am I supposed to choose between my daughters?

What kind of father would I be to make

Sisters fight?

It's not right,

Jada, Nadine, for your sake,

Please just stop pressuring me!

LEON

Your highness, maybe you should calm down a little-

MIRABELLE

Yes, perhaps you should have a seat, your majesty-

EMPEROR

It's bad enough from friends and family,

But now from my servants too?

You make clothes,

So don't suppose,

You can advise me what to do,

Cause I'm sick of people telling me what to do!

The EMPEROR stamps his feet until his clothes tear with a loud rip and the music stops. He turns to MIRABELLE.

EMPEROR

You call this quality craftsmanship, Mirabelle?! Clothes that rip to shreds every time I so much as move?!

MIRABELLE

I'll fix that right away, your highness-

EMPEROR

Oh no you won't missy, cause you're fired! Get out of my palace! I never want to-

MIRABELLE

Fired?

EMPEROR

You heard me! I'm sick of your attitude and your ugly styles and your terrible work!

MIRABELLE

(angry) Well maybe if you didn't eat so much you could move around in your clothes without tearing them!

EMPEROR

Excuse me?!

MIRABELLE

And maybe if you didn't throw temper tantrums like a two-year-old people might like you better!

EMPEROR

People love me. I believe I told you to get out of my palace!

MIABELLE

Fine! Come on Leon, let's go.

LEON looks confused and picks up the crate of fabrics.

EMPEROR

Leon isn't fired, Mirabelle. He's staying here.

MIRABELLE

Leon is coming with me, your majesty.

EMPEROR

Well let's ask him, shall we? Leon, would you rather stay employed and get paid double or quit and follow Mirabelle into poverty?

LEON

(hesitant) Well, your highness, it would certainly be difficult to handle all the royal sewing by myself, seeing as it's already too much work for two people. (getting more confident and hinting to Mirabelle) I think now might be a great opportunity to answer the Duke of Preciaso.

MIRABELLE

The Duke of Preciaso? (confused, then catching on) Oh yes, the duke!

LEON

He's been offering us a job for years, he's always been quite jealous of your clothes, your highness.

MIRABELLE

Yes, he's offered to pay us twice as much as you-

LEON

But of course, we were always too loyal to accept-

EMPEROR

Fine then, go make clothes for the Duke and see if I care!

The EMPEROR knocks over Leon's crate of fabric and makes a mess. LEON and MIRABELLE start picking up.

NADINE

But who's going to sew my new gowns?

FABIAN

Your highness, there's still the matter of the heir?

JADA

Yes, father, who's going to be the heir?

MIRABELLE

(whispering to Leon) Well that almost worked, but what now?

EMPEROR

Would everyone please stop pestering me with these stupid decisions!

LEON

(to MIRABELLE) Hm. I have an idea. Just follow my lead. (clears his throat and speaks louder) Oh yes, the Enchanted Silk of Abu Dhabi. The Duke has been begging us to weave him some ever since we made it for his sister-in-law years ago.

The EMPEROR looks over, interested. LEON and MIRABELLE continue picking up fabric and talking to each other loudly.

MIRABELLE

Wouldn't the Duke look splendid in a suit of our fabulous enchanted silk? I wonder if we could finish it in time for the Prosperity Parade?

LEON

And I hear he's having some trouble choosing a general. He'll certainly need the powers of our enchanted silk to help with his decision.

EMPEROR

What is this enchanted silk you two are babbling on about?

(Music begins)

LEON

Oh, just this specialty fabric we used to make for our old employers. It's very rare-

MIRABELLE

Delicate-

LEON

Expensive-

MIRABELLE

Beautiful-

LEON

And it has magical powers.

EMPEROR

And how come you've never made any of this expensive, magical silk for ME before?

LEON

Well, your highness, I don't think you've ever commissioned any before. Has he?

MIRABELLE

No, I believe he hasn't.

EMPEROR

This is an outrage! I demand you make me a suit of the Enchanted Silk of Abu Dhabi at once!

LEON

But, Emperor, that's quite impossible, since you've dismissed Mirabelle, and she's the only one who knows what to feed the magical silkworms to get them to produce magical thread to weave the magical silk with.

EMPEROR

What's so magical about this silk anyway?

MIRABELLE

Why, it's extra ordinary-

LEON

Nigh, extraordinary? It's like nothing that you've ever seen!

MIRABELLE

You'll look smashing!

LEON

Simply dashing!

MIRABELLE

And the fabric's power will-?

LEON

Solve all of your woes!

EMPEROR

(spoken) How?

LEON

It will expose

All of those

You may suppose

Know

How to do

The jobs that you

Bestow, so

You can erase

And replace

Every trace

Of disgrace

Who isn't worthy of his place.

MIRABELLE

Or HER place,

If that's the case.

LEON

Of course, your grace.

EMPEROR

(spoken) So you're saying that a suit made from this magic silk will give me the power to determine whether or not a man is smart enough for his job?

MIRABELLE

(interrupting) Or HER-

EMPEROR

(spoken) Or HER job, indeed. Can it show me who would be the best choice for a certain position? How does it work?

MIRABELLE

Well, you'll see their merit

When you wear it

Because, well, because-

LEON

Because the way we weave it-

MIRABELEE

The stupid ones,

LEON

Unworthy ones,

MIRABELLE

And foolish ones

LEON

Simply can't perceive it!

MIRABELLE

(whispering) Can't perceive it?

LEON

(whispering) Leave it.

LEON & MIRABELLE

It's like a dream,

The way it gleams,

The shades! The shine! The sheen!

It's like nothing that you've ever seen!

All will stop to stare

When you wear

This fairly rare,

Light as air,

Precious silk

With power beyond compare!

EMPEROR

So the silk is only visible to those who are smart enough?

LEON

Precisely your grace, and those who are unworthy and unwise are simply blind to it. After all, fools and failures are incapable of perceiving anything of true beauty.

Emperor Armando, sire,

When you wear this rare attire,

You'll know exactly who to hire-

MIRABELLE

And who to fire-

EMPEROR

And who to rule when I retire!

How much cash would this require?

LEON

(spoken) Well we have to buy the enchanted silkworms-

MIRABELLE

And the terribly expensive ingredients for their food-

LEON

Not to mention the rare dyes we must use for the colors-

MIRABELLE

And the long and stressful hours-

LEON

So we're looking at about 1500 up-front for the materials, plus a 38 percent pay raise for our labor.

EMPEROR

That's outrageous!

LEON

That's the price of fashion and power, your highness.

LEON & MIRABELLE

It's like a dream,

The way it gleams,

The shades! The shine! The sheen!

It's like nothing that you've ever seen!

All will stop to stare

When you wear

This fairly rare,

Light as air,

Precious silk

With power beyond compare!

EMPEROR

(spoken) I'll give you 700 up front and a 15 percent raise.

LEON

Mm, looks like the Duke of Preciaso is the only one who can afford our services. Farewell your highness. (bows)

EMPEROR

Wait! I'll pay it, I'll pay it. But I want you to also finish the gowns for my daughters with that raise.

MIRABELLE

So we have a deal?

EMPEROR

We have a deal.

LEON

You won't regret this, your highness, because-

LEON & MIRABELLE

It's like a dream,

The way it gleams,

The shades! The shine! The sheen!

It's like nothing that you've ever seen!

EMPEROR

All will stop to stare

When I wear

This fairly rare,

Light as air,

Precious silk

With power beyond compare!

Lights fade. END SCENE.

The next scene takes place in the tailor's studio. There is fabric everywhere, as well as other sewing notions such as thread, ribbons, buttons, etc. LEON and MIRABELLE enter.

MIRABELLE

I can't believe that fat moron tried to fire me! I'm the best tailor he's ever had! Ugly styles? Terrible work? His waist has grown eight inches in the past month! And he's surprised that his clothes ripped?

LEON

Relax Mirabelle, we're about to become very, very rich.

MIRABELLE

I've never been so insulted!

LEON

Don't you get it? All our problems are solved! Once the emperor pays us, we hop on the next boat out of here and go where-ever we please.

MIRABELLE

Once he pays us? Oh no, no, no. Leon, you're enchanted silk idea is brillant!

LEON

Thank you.

MIRABELLE

It's perfect!

LEON

Well thanks.

MIRABELLE

Thanks to your genius idea, the emperor is finally going to get the humiliation he deserves.

LEON

What?

MIRABELLE

He's going to march through the streets of Espeland naked, thinking he's wearing some magical suit!

LEON

Whoa, Mirabelle, it's just a diversion to get us some money and buy us some time to bail.

MIRABELLE

Leon, you don't even realize your own brilliance. He totally fell for it! He's eating out of our hands right now.

LEON

Which is why we need to bail before he realizes we're scamming him.

MIRABELLE

The longer we wait, the more money we get. Remember our 38 percent pay increase?

LEON

Yeah.

MIRABELLE

We'll ruin him

We'll get revenge

LEON

We'll fool the king

We'll get our pay

MIRABELLE

We'll stash the gold

LEON

And run away

MIRABELLE

While the entire empire laughs-

LEON

We'll be counting bags of cash

On a ship to who knows where,

Where we'll live out our wildest dreams

MIRABELLE

Thick as thieves

LEON

And rich as kings!

With no regrets-

MIRABELLE

Except for this-

That I will miss

The look upon

his handsome face

When he weeps in shame

From his disgrace.

BOTH

The beauty of it is he's gonna pay

MIRABELLE

For all that shit he said today

LEON

Payment!

MIRABELLE

Payback!

LEON

A new life, far from this empty existence!

Far from this pathetic subsistence!

I can't wait til we depart,

Maybe then my life will start!

All because today

He's gonna pay!

MIRABELLE

And so I make this resolution

I'll get revenge, get retribution!

Emperor Amando then will see

How much more there is to me

All because today

He's gonna pay!

LEON

Payment!

MIRABELLE

Payback!

LEON

A new life, far from this empty existence!

Far from this pathetic subsistence!

I can't wait til we depart,

Maybe then my life will start!

MIRABELLE

And so I make this resolution

I'll get revenge, get retribution!

Emperor Amando then will see

How much more there is to me

BOTH

All because today

He's gonna pay!

JADA is sitting on a bench in the garden, studying from a book. FABIAN enters, looking bored.

FABIAN

What are you reading?

JADA

Oh, hello Fabian. I'm just reading Principles of Commerce Law.

FABIAN

By Hubert Emmille right?

JADA

You've read it?

FABIAN

Yes, my father gave me a copy for my 16th birthday. (sits down) Seems a little outdated nowadays though.

JADA

Well it's all I have to study from. My father doesn't buy very many books. He doesn't really read that much.

NADINE enters and sees them. She starts picking flowers and sashaying around, trying to get Fabian's attention.

FABIAN

Well I brought along a few books if you'd like to borrow some.

JADA

That would be so helpful, thank you.

Fabian notices NADINE and stares off at her, no longer paying attention to JADA.

JADA

I want to study as much as I can so I can pass my father's test. I just have to pass it, I just have to. What books did you bring? (he doesn't answer) Fabian?

FABIAN

(still watching NADINE) Huh? Oh um, Theories of International Communications, Imperial, uh Imperial…

NADINE

Oh, good afternoon Fabian. Are you enjoying your visit?

FABIAN

Well, it's been rather boring so far, Princess.

NADINE

Yes well, Jada is usually pretty dull, isn't she?

FABIAN

Oh no, I was actually referring to the Emperor. He refuses to meet with me, he rarely even speaks to me.

NADINE sqeezes herself onto the bench between FABIAN and JADA, putting her hand on Fabian's knee.

NADINE

How awful! You must forgive him though, he has so many preparations to make for the Prosperity Parade. That's what's keeping him so busy.

FABIAN

Of course, of course, it's just been rather tedious, eating all alone, going for walks by myself.

FABIAN puts his hand on NADINE's hand and JADA rolls her eyes and continues to study.

NADINE

How terrible! Allow me to make it up to you. You simply must have dinner with me tonight.

FABIAN

That's so very kind of you Princess. I'd love to join you for dinner.

NADINE

Fabulous.

JADA shuts her book loudly and Fabian looks at her. NADINE leans back and forth to stay in his sightline.

FABIAN

Oh, well I should go get those books for Jada.

JADA

Fabulous.

FABIAN

I'll see you at dinner Princess Nadine. (exits)

NADINE

(standing up and calling after him) I can't wait! (turning to JADA) How dare you try and flirt with him! You know very well that he's going to marry whoever passes the test, so if you think you can weasel your way to the throne by soliciting his affections then you are completely deluded!

JADA

Are you serious? You're the one fondling his leg and inviting him to dinner!

NADINE

He's a guest. I have to be a polite hostess, of course. And it's not like you're pretty enough for a prince to even look at you. So um, what were you two taking about anyway?

JADA

(suggestively) International relations.

NADINE

Oh, you little- ugh! What makes you think he'd ever want to marry you?

JADA

Because I'm going to pass the test and father's going to name me as his heir to the throne, meaning that Fabian would have to marry me if he wants to become emperor, which of course, he wants more than anything in the world. Or anyone.

NADINE

Well in that case he's going to marry me, because guess what? I've already passed the test!

JADA

What do you mean? The test is next week.

NADINE

I peeked into the tailor's studio this morning and saw them weaving the enchanted silk. It's the most beautiful fabric I've ever seen.

JADA

That's cheating!

NADINE

No it's not. I had to go there anyway to get my new dress fitted. (smiles) I have to look pretty for the parade next week when father names me as his heir and Fabian proposes to me.

JADA

That'll never happen, Nadine. I'm going to see the silk and pass the test without cheating. (exits)

NADINE

Hmph. Selfish little brat.

FABIAN re-enters with some books.

FABIAN

Where's Jada? She wanted to borrow these books.

NADINE

Oh I guess she got tired of waiting and ran off somewhere. Care for a stroll in the garden before dinner, your highness?

FABIAN

(sets books down on the bench and offers his arm) A stroll sounds fabulous.

END SCENE

The tailors' studio. Leon is at the loom, running the mechanisms without any thread on the shuttle. Mirabelle is sewing on Nadine's gown.

MIRABELLE

After I finish this seam, I'm going down to the docks to arrange for our departure.

LEON

Excellent. Frances came by earlier to drop off our payment. Well, I should say he came by earlier to try and get a glimpse of enchanted silk (laughs). The payment was just his excuse to stop in.

MIRABELLE

And what did Frances think of our fantastic fabric?

LEON

He called it "unbelievably beautiful."

MIRABELLE

Ha, what a moron.

A knock at the door. Mirabelle opens it and ALBERTO enters.

MIRABELLE

Alberto, how lovely to see you! What brings you all the way down to our little corner of the palace?

ALBERTO

(trying to look around Mirabelle to get a glimpse of the loom) Well I was just headed to the kitchen and I thought I'd see if you two needed anything. Since you've been working so hard, of course.

MIRABELLE

Oh, isn't that sweet, Leon?

LEON

Yes, very sweet. Alberto, you're such a sweetie.

ALBERTO

So that's the magical silk, eh?

LEON

It is indeed. Do you think the emperor will like it?

ALBERTO

He'll absolutely love it! Those colors are just perfect for him.

MIRABELLE

Yes, doesn't the emperor look magnificent in blues and greens?

ALBERTO

Blue and green? Yes, yes, he always looks so magnificent in blues and greens. Well I guess I should be going. I have to get to a meeting.

LEON

Oh I thought you were going to the kitchen?

MIRABELLE

Yes, I thought you came to see if we wanted anything?

ALBERTO

Oh right, right. Do you want anything?

LEON

I would love a nice, cold glass of milk.

MIRABELLE

And I could really go for some strawberries.

ALBERTO

Well, I'll be back shortly. Keep up the good work.

ALBERTO exits and SOFIA enters.

SOFIA

Good afternoon, I was just passing by and I noticed that beautiful silk on your loom! It's simply marvelous! I just had to come in for a closer look.

LEON

Thanks Sofia, I just hope the emperor will be pleased with it.

SOPHIA

Oh of course he will be, just look at it! He'll look dazzling!

MIRABELLE

Well reds and purples do complement his skin tone so well, don't they?

SOPHIA

Absolutely, red and purple is so perfect for him, I've always said. Great choice. Well, I should be on my way. (exits)

MIRABELLE

(closing the door and laughing) How can they be so stupid?

LEON

How can YOU be so stupid? Stop telling people different colors, they're going to catch on!

MIRABELLE

Oh relax Leon, no one's going to find out. Notice how everyone pretends they can see it? They're all too obsessed with themselves to catch on to anything. Now I'm headed down to the docks. I expect you to make a lot of progress on that weaving when I come back.

MIRABELLE exits, closing the door. LEON stops his pretend weaving and leans back in his chair, stretching. There is another knock at the door and LEON stumbles and knocks over the chair, startled, as JADA enters.

LEON

Princess Jada, your gown isn't quite ready for fitting yet, perhaps if you stop by tomorrow-

JADA

(taking a deep breath and entering the room, shutting the door behind her) I'm not here about the dress. I want to see the fabric.

LEON

(pulling out the unfinished gown) Well I decided to go with a periwinkle blue satin. I think it will bring out your eyes and go nicely with your-

JADA

No Leon, the silk. The enchanted silk of Abu Dhabi. Nadine said she saw it, so I need to see it too.

LEON

Oh, the fabric.

JADA

Is that cheating? Am I not allowed to see it?

LEON

Well Nadine was in here earlier, so I guess if she saw it, then it's fair for you.

JADA

Where is it?

LEON

It's, well, it's on the loom.

JADA

(staring at the loom) You're lying to me. You're lying to me, right? (LEON can't think of anything to say) Oh no, no no no no! I can't see the silk! I'm going to fail the test! I'm never going to be empress. Leon, what's wrong with me?

LEON

There's nothing wrong with you, Princess.

JADA

Tell me what I need to do. How can I make myself more worthy? Do I need to study more?

LEON

Um, yes, that must be the reason. You just need to study some more. Why don't you go do some studying tonight and then tomorrow, when you come in for your fitting, you can check the loom and see if you studied enough?

JADA

Do you really think it will help?

LEON

Well it certainly couldn't hurt.

JADA

Alight, thanks Leon. Leon? Please don't tell anyone that I can't see it.

LEON

Of course, Princess.

JADA

Thanks.

LEON

See you tomorrow. Good luck with that studying.

JADA

Bye.

JADA leaves and LEON watches her from the door for a moment before he closes it.

LEON

Imagine that,

she didn't lie,

didn't pretend

that she could see.

Could she be the girl for…?

She didn't guess

Like all the rest

Who went and came,

They're all the same,

But she—

she could be the girl for…

the way she stared

and got so scared

and then declared

It wasn't there.

The way she stressed

And then confessed

She couldn't see the suit

It was refreshing, it was…

She isn't blind and self-obsessed,

And that's appealing?

Why is it so confusing to express

The way I'm…?

She's not dishonest; she's not vain,

And that's appealing,

But it still doesn't explain

This warmth I'm…?

She's sincere, and dear, and true,

And so appealing,

That I simply can't subdue

This sudden…

This sudden…

This sudden FEELING!

the way she stared

and got so scared

and then declared

It wasn't there.

The way she stressed

And then confessed

She couldn't see the suit

It was refreshing, it was…

It was…

It was CUTE!

She didn't lie,

didn't pretend

that she could see.

Could she be the girl for…?

She didn't guess

Like all the rest

Who went and came,

They're all the same,

But she—

Could she be the girl for…?

She could be the girl for…

Oh let her be the girl for ME!

END SCENE

The tailor's studio. The next day. MIRABELLE is sitting at the loom, LEON is doing some sewing on Jada's dress. JADA is studying on the floor with a pile of books, her back to the loom. She reads a page or so, then turns to look at the loom. Disappointed, she goes back to reading the book. She repeats this a few times.

JADA

Leon, this isn't working.

LEON

Just be patient, Princess, you still have a few more days to study.

JADA

But how come Nadine can see it? She's never read any of these books. She's never read anything but fairy tales. Hm, maybe that's what I should be studying-

LEON

(cuts her off) Absolutely not. How could fairy tales make you a better ruler?

JADA

Well fairy tale queens and princesses are always graceful and lovely and--

LEON

And vapid, uneducated and boring?

MIRABELLE

And whiny, desperate and annoying?

LEON

Mirabelle! (to JADA) You're already graceful and lovely, Princess. (standing up) Especially since you have such a talented tailor to sew your lovely, graceful gowns. Put your books down for a moment and try this on.

He helps JADA to her feet and hands her the gown. She goes behind a dressing screen to put it on. MIRABELLE stands up and approaches LEON.

MIRABELLE

(whispers) Oh my God, I can't believe you're falling for the goddamn princess! Leon? Are you insane? We're running a heist here!

LEON

I just— I mean- what are you talking about?

MIRABELLE

(mocking) You're already graceful and lovely, princess. (makes a disgusted face) It's repulsive.

LEON

You don't think she noticed?

MIRABELLE

What?!

LEON

Do you think Jada noticed that I…

LEON's sentence trails off when Jada comes out from behind the screen in the new gown. MIRABELLE rolls her eyes and returns to the loom.

JADA

It fits.

LEON

It fits? That, princess, is an understatement. You— you look beautiful. Look in the mirror

LEON leads her over to the mirror and begins making small adjustments on the bodice as JADA regards her reflection.

JADA

Oh, I like it. You were right about the color.

LEON

Of course I was right about the color. I'm a professional, Jada. You should trust me.

JADA

(laughing) I'll never doubt you again, Leon.

LEON

Good, cause your next dress is going to be bright pink velvet.

JADA

Oh no no, not on your life.

LEON

Well I guess Nadine tends to use up all the pink velvet anyway.

JADA and LEON laugh. LEON kneels down to adjust the gown's hem. SOPHIA enters with a small basket of clothing.

SOPHIA

Hello, I just came to drop off Fabian's mending. (looking at the loom) Oh Mirabelle, the silk looks so splendid.

MIRABELLE

Thank you Sophia, I'm glad you approve.

SOPHIA

Well, I'm off to finish Princess Nadine's washing. Good day!

SOPHIA exits. JADA stares at the door after she leaves.

LEON

Ha, I imagine all that pink velvet takes a long time to clean.

LEON laughs and looks up at JADA, confused that she's not laughing anymore.

JADA

Sophia can see the silk? The laundress?!

LEON

Oh, Jada—

JADA

Why don't we just make Sophia the Empress!?

JADA starts to gather up her books.

LEON

Princess, she doesn't really— it's not what you think-

MIRABELLE

(under her breath) Quiet Leon-

JADA

You know what, you keep these, they obviously aren't helping.

JADA shoves the books into LEON's arms and runs out the door. LEON tries to follow but MIRABELLE holds him back.

LEON

She's still wearing the gown!

MIRABELLE

We'll get it later. You and I need to talk.