Why Are We Here?

(The True Existential Romantic Comedy)

December 31, 2009

Characters

DOMINGUEZ: The even-tempered European. Early twenties.

CARUSO: The curious host. Early twenties.

CASANOVA: The comedic second banana. Early twenties.

GIACOMO: The clownish peacekeeper. Early twenties.

DONOVAN: The Marty McFly (Back to the Future). Younger, late teens.

JONES: The blonde tycoon. Early twenties.

DYLAN: The brown hair, blue-eyed chosen one. Older, mid-twenties.

LAZARUS: The jealous title holder. Early twenties.

ZIEGFELD: The Southern gentleman. Early twenties.

BUXOM BRUNETTE: The curvaceous fulcrum. Early twenties.

SETTING

Present day. Suburbia. A middle school music room.

NOTE ON STAGE DIRECTIONS: Stage directions are only indicated when absolutely necessary. The idea is for the actors to create true-to-life waiting-room-type behavior (pacing, sitting on the floor, scratching themselves, talking to themselves, etc…) based on characterization, thus the director should give the actors the trust and freedom to explore all options for blocking and behavior in this single room setting.

NOTE ON INTERMISSION: In order to fully convey to the audience the feeling of being trapped in a waiting room, Purgatory, in conjuncture with the characters in the story, there will be NO INTERMISSION.

NOTE ON CASTING: Must be cast as nine males and one female or the entire effect and purpose of the play is lost.

At Rise: A room is set-up to look like a middle school music room lined with four windows along the back wall US, complete with a wooden upright piano, a drum set, various percussion instruments, a trumpet, and an acoustic guitar. There is no teacher's desk, but the standard chairs with attached lap-desks are arranged in a "U" shape facing the audience, CS. Enter, one at a time, several young males in their early twenties. Judging from the expressions on their faces, it is apparent that no one is aware of the reason for the meeting, although assumptions have been made. However, everyone who enters is wearing a classic, red "Hello! My name is…" name tag. CARUSO enters first from the only door to the room located on SL. He explores every corner of the room, touching each desk and instrument, assessing and processing every detail of his surroundings which continues for several minutes when DOMINGUEZ enters. DOMINGUEZ takes a quick look around before choosing a seat in the next to last seat on the right of "U." CARUSO immediately chooses the seat to the left of HIM. HE speaks.

CARUSO

[Leaning over HIS desk]

Dominguez? Hi, I'm Caruso.

DOMINGUEZ

Hey, what's up?

CARUSO

Nothing really. Actually, I was wondering if you know why are here.

DOMINGUEZ

No idea. You?

CARUSO

Nope. But I assume it has something to do with…

DOMINGUEZ

Don't say it!

CARUSO

What?! Why not?

DOMINGUEZ

Because… It doesn't add up.

CARUSO

Ok, but…

DOMINGUEZ

But what?

CARUSO

Well, through the use of deductive reasoning, I conclude…

DOMINGUEZ

You shouldn't come to conclusions.

CARUSO

Why not?

DOMINGUEZ

It's not good for your health.

CARUSO

[Laughs. A noise is heard coming from the door.]

Uh oh…

DOMINGUEZ

Oh my God. Another one.

[Enter CASANOVA, casually. CARUSO approaches HIM, and greets HIM in a manner similar as to DOMINGUEZ.]

CARUSO

[Reading HIS name tag]

Casanova… Really? As in the Italian equivalent to Don Juan?

CASANOVA

That would be me. And you are…?

CARUSO

Caruso.

CASANOVA

As in the barbershop?

CARUSO

As in me. And that's Dominguez.

CASANOVA

Hey!

DOMINGUEZ

Hey, what's up?

CASANOVA

Not much. Any idea why we're here?

DOMINGUEZ

That's the million dollar question.

CARUSO

I have my theories…

CASANOVA

Really? Let's have them…

DOMINGUEZ

No.

CASANOVA

Why not?

DOMINGUEZ

Because they're bullshit.

CASANOVA

Harsh.

CARUSO

It's alright.

CASANOVA

I see. Well, while we're here, might as well get acquainted.

[Shakes THEIR hands.]

It's nice meeting you both.

CARUSO

You, too.

DOMINGUEZ

Likewise.

CASANOVA

So… How do you know her?

DOMINGUEZ

What?!

CASANOVA

Know each other… How do you two know each other?

DOMINGUEZ

Oh. We just met.

CARUSO

Yup. We're all in the same boat here.

CASANOVA

I see.

CARUSO

[Taking CASANOVA aside for a moment]

Just between you and me, I met her in Kindergarten.

CASANOVA

Wow. Seventh grade for me. And him?

CARUSO

I don't know. He won't talk about it.

CASANOVA

Iiiinteresting.

[Beat]

DOMINGUEZ

We were married as toddlers.

CARUSO

He speaks!

CASANOVA

Seriously!

CARUSO

What was that you said?

DOMINGUEZ

We were married as toddlers… Or at least we said we would be…

CASANOVA

You were those kids.

DOMINGUEZ

Yeah.

CARUSO

And then what happened? If you don't mind me asking…

DOMINGUEZ

We grew-up.

CASANOVA

That sucks.

DOMINGUEZ

Yeah… What about you?

CASANOVA

Seventh grade sweethearts… Sort of.

DOMINGUEZ

I know what you mean. Then what?

CASANOVA

We grew-up.

DOMINGUEZ

Yeah.

CARUSO

I moved away.

CASANOVA

Me too. After we drifted apart.

DOMINGUEZ

We never lived in the same town.

CARUSO

How'd you meet?

DOMINGUEZ

Our parents were close.

CASANOVA

I see.

[Beat. Another sound at the door is heard.]

DOMINGUEZ

Here we go again.

[Enter GIACOMO and DONOVAN. CARUSO approaches THEM in a manner similar to earlier.]

CARUSO

Two in one shot!

CASANOVA

Score!

CARUSO

[Reading HIS name tag]

Giacomo! Sei italiano come siamo?

DOMINGUEZ

I'm not!

CARUSO

Come siamo Casanova e io?

GIACOMO

No hablo italiano. Sorry.

DOMINGUEZ

¿Hablas español?

GIACOMO

Not so much. Only high school Spanish.

DOMINGUEZ

Damn. Ok.

DONOVAN

I speak more than he does.

CARUSO

[Reading HIS name tag]

Donovan? Sounds Irish.

DONOVAN

And Italian… and then some.

GIACOMO

Same as me.

DONOVAN

Io parlo italiano… school level.

CARUSO

Bene! Molto bene! Siamo un gruppo di paisanos, no?

GIACOMO

Pizza?! What?! I'm hungry.

CARUSO

PaisanosItalianos… Well, all of us, minus Dominguez.

CASANOVA

Poor Dominguez… although technically I could be on his side, too.

CARUSO

Really?

CASANOVA

Yeah, but I don't speak a word of Spanish. I took French in high school. Don't ask me why.

DONOVAN

Like the Billy Joel song.

CASANOVA

What?

DONOVAN

There's a Billy Joel song called "Don't Ask Me Why."

GIACOMO

One of his later hits, if I'm not mistaken. Off the album Glass Houses released in 1980… It was the last single released…

DONOVAN

[Interrupting]

Here he goes again.

GIACOMO

I read a lot of Rolling Stone.

DONOVAN

I like Spin Magazine better.

GIACOMO

You would.

DONOVAN

Don't start with me, Giacomo.

[Beat]

CASANOVA

You guys don't seem too phased by all this.

GIACOMO

Nah… We expected it. Right Donovan?

DONOVAN

Yup.

DOMIGUEZ

You did?

GIACOMO

Hell yeah! She's going to choose today. That's why she's called us all here. Just watch… And she's going to choose me!

DOMINGUEZ

What makes you so sure?

DONOVAN

He always says that. Don't listen to him.

GIACOMO

You're just jealous!

DONOVAN

Am not.

GIACOMO

Are, too!

DONOVAN

Am not. And I'll tell you why!

CARUSO

I'm curious myself! Do tell!

DOMINGUEZ

Yeah!

CASANOVA

Do it!

DONOVAN

Because she told me so! She said likes me better than you… that I was easier to talk to….

GIACOMO

Were.

DONOVAN

Shut-up, Giacomo! That was a mistake and you know it.

GIACOMO

A pretty big mistake if you ask me.

DONOVAN

Whatever. It's over. Moving on…

[Beat]

CARUSO

So….

[To Giacomo]

How do you know her?

GIACOMO

Theatre… Middle school… But mostly high school.

DONOVAN

We were in a band.

CARUSO

The three of you?

DONOVAN

Yeah… Well, there were eight of us in it originally.

GIACOMO

No, originally it started with four of us, remember?

DONOVAN

Well… the first band practice ever was just you, me, and her… Remember that?

GIACOMO

I do remember that actually…

[Pause]

CASANOVA

What kind of music did you play?

GIACOMO

Reggaeton.

DOMINGUEZ

What?!

GIACOMO

Did I say "reggaeton?" I meant, reggae… jazz infused reggae… or was it reggae infused jazz? Either way… that's what we played… Kind of like Brian Setzer and The Stray Cats meets 311… Meets Charlie Parker… Meets Green Day… Meets Blink-182… Although Blink-182 and Green Day are basically the same thing…

DONOVAN

Except not.

CASANOVA

Cool! I love 311… and Blink-182…

GIACOMO

Yeah, we were pretty rockin' if I do say so myself.

DONOVAN

Are. Are pretty rockin'.

GIACOMO

You say "tomato," I say "tomatto."

CASANOVA

So are you guys still a band?

GIACOMO

We would have been… if it weren't for extenuating circumstances…

[HE speaks the next line]

Cough Donovan Cough.

DONOVAN

Hey, that happened way after we broke-up!

GIACOMO

But still… Remember your whole "No relationships in the band" rule, yeah… That really fucked us up.

DONOVAN

I don't know, I'd say the broken relationships fucked us up.

GIACOMO

Whatever. Juliana was our Yoko and that's all there is too it.

DONOVAN

I really don't think she had anything to do with it.

GIACOMO

Shut-up, Donovan. You really think after what you did you still stand a chance? Let alone deserve to be here?

DONOVAN

[Seething]

You know what Giacomo… You are…. You are…

[HE relaxes.]

You are… absolutely right. I don't. But you know what? I got an invite. So I'm here. Waiting for what? I don't know… but I'm sure it has something to do with her… and us. And anyway… why are you guys here?

DOMINGUEZ

That's what we'd like to know.

CARUSO

Well, according to my deductions, since Dominguez met her as a baby, I was in Kindergarten, Casanova was in seventh grade… You two both said high school, correct?

[THEY nod in agreement.]

Then, we're still missing college…

[The door opens again. Enter JONES.]

JONES

And me! Sorry I'm late. I got held-up in traffic.

DOMINGUEZ

And you are?

JONES

Jones, at your service.

DOMINGUEZ

Ok. So how do you know her?

JONES

I come in right after Caruso, but before Casanova.

CARUSO

I remember! She left me for you…

JONES

Then I moved away.

CASANOVA

You too?!

DOMINGUEZ

That makes three and counting…

JONES

No, that really just makes three.

DOMINGUEZ

Oh.

CARUSO

[To Jones]

Didn't you meet her in second grade?

JONES

Yes, but our love affair didn't start until sixth.

CASANOVA

Right before she met me!

JONES

You got it! You were the rebound guy. Sorry man.

CASANOVA

I'll have you know it was love at first…

[Pause]

CARUSO

Sight?

CASANOVA

Yeah, I guess so… Sort of.

CARUSO

That's two "sort of's" in your story. Intriguing… Any more?

CASANOVA

Sort of.

GIACOMO

Hahaha! Good one! High five!

[HE extends HIS hand to CASANOVA who delivers.]

CASANOVA

Sweet!

GIACOMO

Not so much.

CASANOVA

Huh?

GIACOMO

You're still forgetting one teeny tiny measly little detail in your story.

CASANOVA

[Perturbed]

What's that, Giaco-homo?

GIACOMO

[Mockingly]

Ooo, creative! Never heard that one before, Casablanca! Anyway! As I was saying before I was so cleverly insulted, you're forgetting something…

CASANOVA

[Small]

What's that?

GIACOMO

You gave her an eating disorder!

CASANOVA

WHAT?! No, I didn't! You don't "give" people eating disorders! When did this happen anyway?

GIACOMO

Right after you broke her heart in 8th grade. She spent the rest of middle school and the beginning of high school trying to fit in… or stand out… or fit in… or stand out … either one… or neither one… or both…

CASANOVA

You're kidding?

[Pause]

Aren't you?

[Pause]

AREN'T YOU?

[Pause]

You're not. I had no idea! Seriously. I mean, I noticed she had lost a lot of weight, but I had no idea I had anything to do with it!

GIACOMO

Neither did she, really.

CASANOVA

What? Was it serious?

GIACOMO

Depends on what you mean by serious. She wasn't eating regularly, if that's what you mean. No breakfast. Rarely lunch. Dinner, sometimes when she could stomach it. It got to the point where she was force-feeding herself granola bars in school for some sort of sustenance. It all depends on if you consider that serious… or not…

CASANOVA

Woa. I'm sorry. Seriously, I am.

DONOVAN

[Jokingly]

Seriously?

CASANOVA

Seriously… I mean... Sincerely.

GIACOMO

… But it's ok, you want to know why?

CASANOVA

Love to.

GIACOMO

Because then I came into the picture and saved her! Me! Giacomo, AKA: Superman! I took her under the vastness of my wing. Taught her everything I know! And under my superior tutelage, she fully regained her health and, more importantly, her self-esteem, thus the student has become the master, young Paduwan.

[HE bows with respect toward CASANOVA.]

CASANOVA

I see. Glad you intervened when you did.

GIACOMO

I try.

[Beat]

JONES

Not to disrupt a cozy moment between two friends, but do I really need to be here? I've got a business venture to take care of elsewhere…

[Looks at Rolex.]

And I'm already late! Damnit!

DONOVAN

Try opening the door.

JONES

Ok!

[HE tries. The door stays shut. HE puts all HIS weight into pulling on the handle. Nothing. The door won't budge.]

You mean we're stuck here?! In Purgatory?!

GIACOMO

Forever! Muahahaha!

CASANOVA

Seriously?!

DOMINGUEZ

What?!

CARUSO

There is one option we haven't tried.

DONOVAN

What?

CARUSO

When is the only time the door has opened?

DOMINGUEZ

When someone's walked in.

CARUSO

Precisely! Someone has yet to try walking out while someone else is walking in!

GIACOMO

Genius! I must say…. Wish I'd thought of it. Maybe I did… And here's where I'd snap my fingers… if I could.

DONOVAN

I'll do it for you.

[Snaps HIS fingers repeatedly to indicate "deep" as in the 1960's Beatnik poetry movement.]

GIACOMO

Thanks!

[Beat. The door opens again. Enter DYLAN. From the doorway, HE peers inside the room, looking around at all the people HE assesses the situation reaching a temporary conclusion.]

DYLAN

[Aside]

Degenerates.

[HE exits. Right as HE turns to leave, CARUSO sees HIM in the doorway and yells to HIM.]

CARUSO

HOLD THE…

[The door slams shut!]

CARUSO

DOOR! Ugh!

CASANOVA

Who was that?

DOMINGUEZ

Yeah. I'd like to know.

DONOVAN

Dylan. He was in the band.

CASANOVA

Why'd he leave?

GIACOMO

Wouldn't you?

CASANOVA

I don't know. I didn't even think about it really.

JONES

Well, I would! This whole Purgatory thing really doesn't fit into my busy schedule.

DONOVAN

No one cares about your busy schedule, Jones.

GIACOMO

Watch yourself, Donovan.

DONOVAN

Ok, ok. Sorry Jones.

JONES

Don't worry about it. It's natural to get at each other's throats when there seems to be no sign of escape any time soon.

CARUSO

We're like chickens trapped in a chicken coupe, ready for the slaughterhouse!

GIACOMO

Someone needs to cut our beaks and talons before we kill each other, and that someone's going to be me! Unless anyone else wants the job?

JONES

It's all yours!

DONOVAN

Agreed!

CASANOVA

Go for it!

CARUSO

Congratulations! You are now the official peacekeeper! Any remarks?

GIACOMO

I'd like to thank the Academy for this fine honor bestowed…

DOMINGUEZ

[Interrupting]

Hey!

CASANOVA

He speaks!

CARUSO

Again!

CASANOVA

Everyone quiet! We need to give him our full attention!

GIACOMO

Shhh…

[Everyone grows quiet. Pause.]

DOMINGUEZ

We haven't tried the windows.

CARUSO

He's right! Here all this time… How silly!

DOMINGUEZ

We'll test them all at once. I'll get the far right window. Jones, you get the one next to it. Then Donovan. Then Casanova.

GIACOMO

Shouldn't I be up there?

DOMINGUEZ

You're the peacekeeper. You already have a job. But if it makes you feel any better, you and Caruso can spot us to make sure nothing bad happens, while remembering to keep an eye on the door! Think you can handle that?

CARUSO

Gotcha!

GIACOMO

Shouldn't be a problem.

DOMINGUEZ

Good! Everyone to their places!

[THEY scatter.]

On the count of three we lift each window to see if they'll open. Ready?!

[THEY nod, etc… in agreement.]

One! Two! THREE!

[At the same time, THEY lift each window. Nothing moves.]

Ok. Alright. Let's try it again. On the count of three… One… Two… Three!

[Nothing happens. One of THEM falls to the floor, picked-up by one of the spotters. THEY return to THEIR seats.]

Damnit! Ok, nevermind.

CARUSO

It was a good idea. You gave it your all.

GIACOMO

A nice last ditch effort, but it looks like we're stuck here. Permanently. Muahahaha!

DONOVAN

Thanks, Giacomo. Thanks.

[Beat. The door opens, enter LAZARUS. CARUSO takes notice.]

CARUSO

HOLD THE…

[The door slams shut!]

DOOR! Ugh!

DOMINGUEZ

Again! Damnit!

JONES

Shit!

DONOVAN

Fuck!

CASANOVA

Seriously?!

GIACOMO

Oh well.

LAZARUS

What?! What'd I do?

CARUSO

[Approaches LAZARUS]

Oh nothing.

[Reads HIS name tag]

Lazarus. From the Bible?

LAZARUS

The guy Jesus brought back to life.

CARUSO

But Greek.

LAZARUS

Yes.

CARUSO

Welcome! I'm Caruso. And then we have…

[Pointing to DOMINGUEZ]

DOMINGUEZ

Domínguez. Hey, what's up?

JONES

Jones. Hey there!

CASANOVA

Casanova. Nice to meet you!

GIACOMO

Giacomo. Ditto!

DONOVAN

Donovan. Like wise.

CARUSO

And there you have it!

LAZARUS

Wow. So why are we here?

DOMINGUEZ

That's the million dollar question.

CARUSO

We have our theories…

CASANOVA

[Interrupting]

How do you know her?

LAZARUS

I'm her X.

[A loud collective gasp is heard from the GROUP in unison.]

That's right. X. As in, X-boyfriend. Me.

GIACOMO

Lucky bastard. Blew up my spot!

LAZARUS

If I remember correctly, you were with Juliana at the time.

GIACOMO

Yeah, well… Ok, fine. You win… This round! But I'll get you next time, and your little dog, too! Muahahaha!

CASANOVA

[Aside to DONOVAN]

He's big on the evil laughter, huh?

DONOVAN

[To CASANOVA]

Sometimes.

[Beat]

LAZARUS

So, what's with the door?

DONOVAN

Go see.

LAZARUS

Ok.

[HE walks over to the door, grabs the handle and tries to open it. Nothing.]

It's locked.

DOMINGUEZ

We know.

LAZARUS

So we're stuck here.

JONES

Yup. Unfortunately.

LAZARUS

Might as well make the best of it!

GIACOMO

That's what I'm saying!

LAZARUS

Well, I am supposed to be like you, aren't I?

GIACOMO

Yeah, but you're not. I'm a better musician than you.

LAZARUS

Riiight. Whatever helps you sleep at night, Giacomo.

CASANOVA

I take it you two know each other.

LAZARUS

You could say that. We've hung out a few times, including a triple date.

GIACOMO

Yeah, that was awkward.

LAZARUS

Maybe for you, but I got some definite hand-holding and cuddling action that night!

DOMINGUEZ

You did?!

LAZARUS

Hells yes!

DOMINGUEZ

Wow.

[Beat]

CASANOVA

How long did you date?

LAZARUS

Almost two months.

JONES

That's nothing.

LAZARUS

Well it's more than any of you can say! I actually held the title!

GIACOMO

That's right, you did. But she only dated you because she thought you were like me! And then you weren't, and that was a huge disappointment.

LAZARUS

Yeah well, we had the best break-up ever. We weren't even supposed to break-up. We were just supposed to lose the titles.

JONES

Ironically.

LAZARUS

Now that you mention it, yes.

CASANOVA

Without the titles, then you're just…

[ALL at the same time]

Friends!

LAZARUS

Friends!

CARUSO

Friends!

GIACOMO

FRIENDS!

DONOVAN

Friends.

DOMINGUEZ

Friends.

JONES

Friends.

LAZARUS

Good friends… almost like friends with benefits… except we mostly benefited over the phone. And then….

GIACOMO

And then… You cheated on her by making-out with your best friend… x-girl friend… best friend… either one… whichever she was… or both. And you had the audacity to call her up and tell her about it! Trying to make her jealous?

JONES

Ironically.

[Pause]

LAZARUS

Ok, fine. I admit, that was a little immature and jerky on my part. But we did stay in touch for a while… and then…

CASANOVA

[Interrupting]

You moved away?

LAZARUS

Sort of…

CASANOVA

Ah ha!

LAZARUS

What?!

CASANOVA

Nothing.

[To CARUSO]

See?!

CARUSO

[To CASANOVA]

I see…

LAZARUS

What? I don't get it…

CARUSO

It's nothing. There are just a lot of "sort-of's" in this story.

LAZARUS

Oh. Well, I didn't exactly move away. We never lived in the same town to begin with, which was part of the problem while dating in high school I suppose…

DOMINGUEZ

Like me.

LAZARUS

Yeah, J.C.! (Jesus Christ!) We were friends for about a year after we dated until I went away to college… Then I called her once to thank her for introducing me to good music… and then… we just sort of lost touch.

[Pause]

Ok, so I just stopped talking to her….

CARUSO

Why?

LAZARUS

I don't know, exactly. Jealousy, I suppose.

JONES

Ironically.

LAZARUS

YES! Ironically! Ok, I get it…

[Pause]

CARUSO

Jealousy from what?

GIACOMO

From me! From talking to and about me all the time! Right?!

[Pause.]

Right?

[Pause. HE answers HIS own question]

Right!

[Beat. The door opens, enter ZIEGFELD, CARUSO notices.]

CARUSO

HOLD THE…

[The door slams shut!]

DOOR! Ugh!

DOMINGUEZ

Again! Damnit!

LAZARUS

J.C.!

JONES

Shit!

DONOVAN

Fuck!

CASANOVA

Seriously?!

GIACOMO

Oh well.

ZIEGFELD

Hey fellas! What's up?

CARUSO

[Approaches ZIEGFELD in the usual manner.]

Ziegfeld, huh? Like the Follies?

ZIEGFELD

Yessir.

CARUSO

Intriguing… I'm Caruso. And from right to left we have: Dominguez, Jones, Casanova, Giacomo, Donovan, and Lazarus.

ZIEGFELD

Pleasure y'all!

DOMINGUEZ

Hey, what's up?

JONES

Hey there!

CASANOVA

Nice to meet you!

GIACOMO

Ditto!

DONOVAN

Like wise.

LAZARUS

[Extending his hand to ZIEGFELD who accepts the warm, firm handshake.]

What's shakin'?

ZIEGFELD

We are… HA!

[Pause]

I came here looking for her, that's what. I got an invite in the mail, surprisingly. It said to meet in room 216… So here I am. Why? I don't know exactly. Any ideas?

DOMINGUEZ

That's the million dollar question.

CARUSO

We have our theories…

CASANOVA

[Interrupting]

How do you know her?

ZIEGFELD

We met in college. Same major. Drama.

JONES

That explains a lot.

ZIEGFELD

You can say that again.

JONES

That explains a lot.

GIACOMO

[Laughs]

Right on, Jones! High five!

[HE extends HIS hand to JONES who delivers.]

JONES

Thanks.

CASANOVA

I take it you fought a lot.

ZIEGFELD

You could say that… You could also say we were at an all out war for most of the three years we were together… and by together, I mean… in the same department.

LAZARUS

So you never held the title?

ZIEGFELD

Officially, no.

CASANOVA

But sort of…?

ZIEGFELD

Sort of… yeah.

CASANOVA

[To CARUSO]

That makes three!

CARUSO

[To CASANOVA]

Indeed. Touché!

CASANOVA

Score!

ZIEGFELD

¿Que pasa?

CARUSO

It's nothing. There are just a lot of "sort-of's" in this story.

ZIEGFELD

You can say that again… but don't!

CARUSO

Ok, I won't.

ZIEGFELD

Thanks fella.

CARUSO

No worries. You were saying…? What sort of "sort-of's?"

ZIEGFELD

We sort of dated, we sort ofhad a relationship, we even sort of kissed…

GIACOMO

You what?!

ZIEGFELD

Well, I wanted to… but I ended up kissing her on the forehead instead.

CARUSO

Why is that?

ZIEGFELD

I don't know.

[Pause]

Anything else just didn't feel right…

CARUSO

Intriguing… You said there was a lot of drama?

ZIEGFELD

Si, Señor.

CARUSO

Do you mind elaborating?

CASANOVA

Yeah, please do. I'm sure we'd all like to know.

[ALL nod heads in agreement.]

ZIEGFELD

Well, in a nutshell: There was a lot back and forth. I like you. I don't like you. This is weird. I love you. I don't love you. Let's just be friends. I hate you. I can't stand you! Get out of my life! I love you. I need you! I can't live with out you! Fuck you. Let's break up. Forever! For good! And lots of little fights and flights in between…

DOMINGUEZ

Wow.

LAZARUS

Sounds dramatic alright.

ZIEGFELD

Yessir. Plus, we were in the same department… which meant working together… seeing each other all the time… which of part me loved… and part of me loathed… if you know what I mean.

DONOVAN

All the drama!

ZIEGFELD

Yessir. Exactly.

DOMINGUEZ

Wow.

[Beat]

¿Hablas español?

ZIEGFELD

Un poco.

DOMINGUEZ

¿De donde eres?

ZIEGFELD

El sur. The South. Some of my non-blood relations speak Spanish. I learned it by osmosis.

DOMINGUEZ

Damn. Ok.

ZIEGFELD

Such a disappointment, I know.

DOMINGUEZ

What?!

ZIEGFELD

A disappointment.

GIACOMO

More like an achievement.

ZIEGFELD

I don't understand.

CASANOVA

It's an achievement you even speak Spanish at all.

ZIEGFELD

Yeah, I guess so.

CASANOVA

Trust me. I could speak it, but I don't.

GIACOMO

And well, I was pretty good at it in high school, but that was soooo long ago… I forgot.

ZIEGFELD

Wait, you're the guy from the band she was in…. The Vulcanos?

GIACOMO

That would be me!

DONOVAN

And me!

GIACOMO

That would be us!

ZIEGFELD

You guys were good.

GIACOMO

Oh, you heard us?

ZIEGFELD

Yessir.

LAZARUS

Me too!

DOMINGUEZ

Same here.

DONOVAN

AWESOME!

ZIEGFELD

Do you guys still play?

GIACOMO

We would if it weren't for extenuating circumstances. Cough Donovan Cough.

DONOVAN

Cool it, Giacomo!

ZIEGFELD

Shame. You guys rocked! I particularly liked the lead singer's voice…

DONOVAN

That wasn't her. She played tambourine.

ZIEGFELD

Really? I could have sworn…

DONOVAN

Nope.

ZIEGFELD

Tambourine? As in this one right chea?

[Takes the tambourine from the drum set and shakes it.]

DONOVAN

Yup, just like that…

[Pause]

Hey, are you thinking what I'm thinking?

ZIEGFELD

[Still shaking the tambourine]

"I think so, Brain. But if Jimmy cracked corn and nobody cared, then why does he keep cracking it?"

DONOVAN

Thank you, Pinky and the Brain.

ZIEGFELD

Welcome.

[Puts down the tambourine]

DONOVAN

No, but seriously…

GIACOMO

Cough Casanova Cough.

CASANOVA

Huh?

GIACOMO

Nothing.

DONOVAN

Will somebody listen to me already?!

CARUSO

Let's all give Donovan our undivided attention.

JONES

Let's.

LAZARUS

N.P. (No Problem.)

DOMINGUEZ

What's up?

CASANOVA

Ok.

ZIEGFELD

Def.

GIACOMO

Well…We're waiting!

DONOVAN

We're in a music room… right?

[Heads over to the drum set]

Let's have a jam session!

[Sits down]

All of us, right here, right now!

[Picks up the sticks]

Come on!

[Strikes sticks together, and starts a beat on the set.]

LAZARUS

[Heads over to the small, wooden upright piano and begins to improvise to DONOVAN'S beat.]

Sounds like a plan, Stan. I like your rhythm…

GIACOMO

[After a moment, picks up the trumpet and joins the improvisation.]

Me too! Come on guys, you all have to play!

DOMINGUEZ

[Picks up the acoustic guitar and putters with it before joining in.]

I'm game. Why not?

CASANOVA

[Nailing a Christopher Walken impression while playing the cowbell]

"We need more cowbell!"

ZIEGFELD

[Picks up a percussion mallet, and using it as a microphone, HE speaks into it.]

Let's do this!

[THEY all proceed to improvise as ZIEGFELD beat-boxes and "do wops" along to a made-up melody]

GIACOMO

[Over the music]

Jones, Caruso… Join us! Play something!

CARUSO

I can play the clarinet.

JONES

Me too, forever ago.

GIACOMO

Well then, Jones, you play that triangle over there.

JONES

The triangle?! Ok, fine.

GIACOMO

And Caruso… You play the tambourine.

[Picks up the tambourine and hands it to CARUSO with a wink and a smile.]

CARUSO

Thanks, Giacomo. I have it.

GIACOMO

You got it! Hey Donovan, let's play "I'm a Believer!"

DONOVAN

The song from Shrek? I think I can manage…

ZEIGFELD

The Smash Mouth version?

GIACOMO

More like The Monkees version, tambourine and all… So slow it down a little, Donovan.

DONOVAN

Ok!

[HE does.]

That better?

GIACOMO

Yup!

DOMINGUEZ

Good, now I can keep up! Hey guys, what's the chord progression?

GIACOMO

Make it up!

DOMINGUEZ

[Laughs]

Alright!

GIACOMO

Whenever you're ready, Ziegfeld… Lead us in!

ZIEGFELD

Alright… One… Two… One, two, three, FOUR!

[THEY play. LAZARUS plays the opening lead guitar part on the piano. GIACOMO stands next to HIM in order to transpose the accent notes on the trumpet. THEY take turns improvising solos, repeating the chorus more times than necessary; ALL equally enjoying themselves while rocking out to the song. Unbeknownst to anyone, the door opens. A moment passes until the room goes quiet as THEY put down THEIR instruments at the sound of a loud two-fingered whistle coming from the doorway; ALL except LAZARUS who remains poking at the piano, playing such familiar tunes as "Ode to Joy" and "Linus and Lucy (The Peanuts Theme)," along with others while the rest of the scene continues. Enter DYLAN who speaks while holding the door open with HIS left foot.]

DYLAN

Hey! You guys want to get out of here or what?

JONES

Yes!

ZIEGFELD

What!

CASANOVA

He's back!

CARUSO

And he's holding the door open!

LAZARUS

It's Dylan!

DONOVAN

We're saved!

GIACOMO

Dylan, you came back for us! I knew you would!

CARUSO

Why the change of heart?

DYLAN

Good question. And there'll be plenty of time to answer such questions after I get you guys out of here. I'll hold the door open while you make your escape one at time. Hurry up, before anyone finds out what we're doing!

DOMINGUEZ

I guess I'll be the first one to leave. First one in, first one out.

DYLAN

Good. Wait for me outside in the hallway, and I'll get you guys out through the front door as well.

DOMINGUEZ

Ok. Cool.

[Exit DOMINGUEZ into the wings where HE along with the others will wait for DYLAN off-stage, and around to the wings SR.]

DYLAN

Next!

CARUSO

I'll go! I came in next.

DYLAN

Go for it!

CARUSO

Good bye, music room! It's been fun getting to know you.

[Exit CARUSO]

DYLAN

Touching. Keep on coming!

CASANOVA

I'm up next!

JONES

No, really it's me. Let me go next.

CASANOVA

Ok, you didn't want to be here anyway.

JONES

Yeah, well… it turned out to be kind of fun… really.

DYLAN

Good good. No time to waste.

[Nailing an Arnold Schwarzenegger impression]

"Get to the chopper!"

CASANOVA

True Lies. Nice!

DYLAN

Thanks! Who's next?

CASANOVA

[Pointing to JONES]

He is.

JONES

Thanks! Bye room!

[Exit JONES]

DYLAN

[Reading HIS name tag]

Alright, Casanova, you're up!

CASANOVA

Thanks, Dylan, seriously.

[Exit CASANOVA]

DYLAN

Don't mention it. Giacomo… Donovan… "Come on down!"

DONOVAN

Thank you, Price is Right. Giacomo, after you.

GIACOMO

Dylan, you're my hero! You're all our heroes, actually.

[Exit GIACOMO]

DYLAN

Thanks, Giacomo. Wait for me there. Donovan…

DONOVAN

Thanks, Dylan.

[To LAZARUS and ZIEGFELD]

Peace out, cub scouts!

[Exit DONOVAN]

DYLAN

Lazarus…

[Pause]

Christ. Lazarus!

[Pause]

LAZARUS!

LAZARUS

[Stops playing the piano, "Linus and Lucy."]

Oh, right!

DYLAN

Good to see you again, but let's go!

LAZARUS

Ditto, Dylan.

[Exit LAZARUS]

DYLAN

Ziegfeld, I presume?

ZIEGFELD

Yessir.

DYLAN

It's up to you.

ZIEGFELD

Let's blow this Popsicle stand!

DYLAN

After you!

ZIEGFELD

Def!

[Exit ZIEGFELD. DYLAN gives the room one last go around with HIS eyes, then HE kiss HIS hand, flashing it to the sky.]

DYLAN

See you later!

[Exit DYLAN. The curtain closes in front of the classroom set. As it does, the original version of "I'm a Believer" by The Monkees plays throughout the theater while one at a time, now led by Dylan, the group reenters from DSR. They gather in a "U" shape, waiting for DYLAN to tell HIS story. HE lights a cigarette. CARUSO speaks.]

CARUSO

Why the change of heart, Dylan? Why did you come back for us?

CASANOVA

We'd all like to know.

JONES

Yeah, really.

DOMINGUEZ

Same here.

LAZARUS

Do tell!

ZIEGFELD

I'm all ears.

DONOVAN

Me too!

GIACOMO

Yeah, Dylan. Enlighten us, will you?

DYLAN

[After a careful drag of HIS cigarette]

To answer your question, Caruso… To answer the question… It was the music.

[Pause]

CARUSO

Please elaborate.

CASANOVA

Seriously.

DYLAN

[Another slow drag of HIS cigarette]

Well, I got the invite as you all did. But I hate to admit it, when I looked inside the room earlier, I couldn't see any reason to stay. So before the door closed, I left. But something possessed me to stay, not to leave the premises completely. So I stood out here awhile, smoking a cigarette, or two, or three… contemplating what my next move was going to be, when I heard the music you guys were playing… First the awesome jam band number… then The Monkees song… "I'm a Believer," and honestly, you all sounded great! And, it sounded like you were having a lot of fun… And I thought, well… maybe I should join them. And I was about to when the little voice in my head considered the possibility that you all were trapped inside there… in that room…

JONES

We were!

DYLAN

… And I said, I have to save them! It's my job to rescue them. I've got to get them out, and I'm the only one who can!

DOMINGUEZ

Wow.

CASANOVA

Seriously.

CARUSO

That's amazing.

LAZARUS

Agreed!

ZIEGFELD

But how did you know?

GIACOMO

Because he's just good like that, right Dylan? You're magic!

DYLAN

I guess you could say that, Giacomo. I don't really know how I knew. It was instinctual, I guess. I'm glad I did what I did though… who knows how long you guys would have been stuck in there. In Purgatory…

JONES

Oh my God! Exactly!

DONOVAN

So… Oh wise one… We know why you're here, but why are we?

DYLAN

Another excellent question, Donovan. Why do you think?

DONOVAN

I don't know… I was having a good time jamming… after we all told each other our stories about how we know her….

DYLAN

There you go.

DONOVAN

What?

GIACOMO

[Singing the last song from the play Once on This Island… The Musical.']

"And this is whyyyy we tell the story! Whyyyy we tell the story!" La La La Laaaa….

[Beat]

CARUSO

But you still haven't told us how you know her.

DYLAN

I've known her my whole life.

DOMINGUEZ

What?!

DYLAN

… In one way or another I have. We're soul mates. She's my other half. My life is her life, and her life is mine…. And you've all had a tremendous impact on it…

[Pause. HE takes one last drag, throwing the butt on the ground.]

This is what I was contemplating while I was out here smoking those cigarettes.

[Pause. HE lights another cigarette.]

And that's why we all had to come here today. To see that we're all a big part of who she is and ultimately… who she will become… and for all of us to share our stories in order to better understand what happened in our own lives… to make sense of it all… and to come together once and for all as family… for the good of each other. And it was my job to save you all from being stuck in Purgatory just as much as it was your jobs to come together and play that music. If that makes any sense….

[Pause. HE takes a long drag from HIS cigarette as HE waits for a response. The flabbergasted GROUP stares at HIM in silence, most with mouths agape.]

Anyway, we met in high school. I blew into her life on the breeze, and I stayed because she made this home for me… which is what I needed the most.

[Pause. Another long, drag of HIS cigarette.]

And she stayed because she needed… She needed me. She needed her soul-mate. She needed that one person to come in and break the obvious cycle, and make her feel worthy… special… complete. Not, that you all didn't do that in your own ways… because you did. You definitely helped. But don't we all want what she wants? That something more! In earnest, our deepest desire is to find our soul-mates… to be truly connected to another human being… completely understood by someone else… never having to explain ourselves… never having to think up excuses… accepting our mistakes. It's the natural human desire. It's the driving force behind everything, all that we do… art, music, theatre… even business and competition… It's what makes us human… animal… what makes us alive. The capacity for Unconditional Love… Hope and Faith… and the Belief that True Love will, in fact, conquer all.

[Pause. One last, long drag of HIS cigarette.]

And it took me this long to be able to see this clearly. I needed to rescue you guys, but really you rescued me… I needed that extra push to get me here… I needed to hear that music! So I thank you all, from the very bottom of my being. I am truly blessed and grateful to be one of the lucky ones to have found his match, but I almost left her alone, wilted and withered… suffering… Boys, let me tell you… knowing what I know now, having been through all that we've been through tonight… and prior to tonight… Always be truthful to yourself, because the truth will, indeed, set you…. us… free.

[The GROUP, now hopefully moved to tears, pauses to see if DYLAN is finished. HE puts out HIS cigarette on the ground, keeping the butt in HIS pocket, along with the one from earlier. On this cue, CARUSO begins the applause, followed by GIACOMO, DONOVAN, CASANOVA, LAZARUS, DOMINGUEZ, JONES, and ZIEGFELD. Thinking the play is over the audience may also join in the applause at this moment. However, a few minutes into the ovation, a surprise to both the GROUP and the audience, a BUXOM BRUNETTE with blue eyes clad in a flowing top and skirt, reminiscent of a gypsy, enters from SL as THEY all continue to applaud DYLAN, giving HIM high fives, hugs, and more cheers; encircling HIM so that the audience barely sees HIS face over the GROUP. Slowly, SHE approaches CASANOVA and whispers in HIS ear. Silent, and dumbfounded, HE steps aside. The same goes for GIACOMO, DOMINGUEZ, and CARUSO… until SHE finally reaches DYLAN. THEY embrace. Then SHE kisses HIM full on the lips. The GROUP whoops and hollers for the happy couple! Then finally, SHE speaks.]

BUXOM BRUNETTE

Thank you. Thank you so very much. All of you, collectively. You all finally get it. And thank you most, Dylan, my love, for showing them the way.

[THEY kiss again. More whoops and cheers from the GROUP.]

Now let's go to the diner and get some food. You all must be starved. I know I am!

[Exit EVERYONE SL, dancing, skipping, singing, talking, holding hands, etc…]

FINALE