This one-act, Broadway-style musical is based on an infamous true tale told by renowned glass artist Tim Tate -- in the spring of 1968, two young brothers test suburban conventions when they order a live monkey from an ad they saw in a comic book.
In the woods, under a tree, young Timmy reads his comic books in solace. Picked on by his brother, ignored by his social-climbing parents, and shunned as a nerd by his classmates, he -- just like everyone in his family -- longs to be free from the conventions of a very conventional life.
SONG: A Suburban Life (Company: Catherine Aselford, John C. Bailey, Cyle Durkee, Betty Entzminger, Charlotte Hendrix, Suzie Mellring, John Moriarity, Ellie Nicoll, Jessica Phillippi)
Tim's brother (Chris) locates him under the tree and calls him back to the house for daily chores. As Chris rips a comic book from Tim's hands, his eye catches an advertisement for a mail-order monkey. Could this be the ticket to cool?
SONG: Be Cool (The Boys: John Moriarity, Cyle Durkee)
Meanwhile, the parents, frustrated with their wandering children, bemoan the responsibilities of parenthood.
SONG: Raising Boys (The Parents: Suzie Mellring, John C. Bailey)
The boys send off the mail-order monkey order form and the money from their piggy bank. Time passes slowly and monotonously.
DANCE: Cul de Sac (Time Passage: Instrumental)
Trapped in a small box, a squirrel monkey jostles around, lamenting his fate.
SONG: Pepe's Song (Pepe: Rick Hammerly)
Days continue to pass. One Saturday, the house is prepared for a special bridge tournament which Tim's mother is nervously preparing to host. In the midst of cleaning and the arrival of early guests, the doorbell rings. The postman has a package addressed to the boys. When the mother tries to reject the package, the postman states that the monkey inside will surely die on its return trip. Unable to cope with the situation, she accepts the package and places it on the kitchen counter. Turning to her anxious sons, she instructs them "Whatever you do, do not touch that box!"
SONG: It's Here! (The Family: John Moriarity, Cyle Durkee, Suzie Mellring, John C. Bailey)
In the living room, the women of the bridge club patter about their social obligations and gossip about one another -- and their undeserving hostess.
SONG: The Bridge Club (The Bridge Club: Catherine Aselford, Charlotte Hendricks, Ellie Nicoll, Jessica Phillippi)
Hovering over the kitchen counter, Tim and Chris cannot contain themselves — there is a monkey in a box! In an effort to help the monkey breathe easier, they decide to pick at the ragged edges of the box -- after all, enlarging an existing hole is not opening the box…
SONG: Pick It (The Boys: John Moriarity, Cyle Durkee)
The overzealous widening of the hole has allowed Pepe to escape. For a brief moment, the monkey calmly surveys his landscape. Calm turns to panic as the monkey begins a rampage around the kitchen and into the living room, defecating and urinating on the walls, jumping on beehive hairdos, and biting an unsuspecting club member. When the father opens the front door to discover the pandemonium, Pepe escapes.
DANCE: The Escape (Instrumental)
The boys immediately run after their new friend. Sensing the worst, the parents follow. Through garbage cans and sheds and the woods, they all frantically look for the monkey.
SONG: He's Gone (Company: Catherine Aselford, John C. Bailey, Cyle Durkee, Betty Entzminger, Charlotte Hendrix, Suzie Mellring, John Moriarity, Ellie Nicoll, Jessica Phillippi)
Exhausted and feeling guilty for not being a more attentive parent, the mother sings of regret and announces her renewed drive to live as carefree a life as her children should.
SONG: I Know What’s in my Heart (The Mother: Suzie Mellring)
The kids return to the house, distraught at the loss of their friend. With Pepe's disappearance, all gain the freedom to encounter the future with purpose.
SONG: Finale -- The Winds of Change (Company: Catherine Aselford, John C. Bailey, Cyle Durkee, Betty Entzminger, Charlotte Hendrix, Suzie Mellring, John Moriarity, Ellie Nicoll, Jessica Phillippi)
Original Capital Fringe Festival Cast
Book by Jon Gann
Music by Brian Wilbur Grundstrom
Lyrics by Jon Gann and Andrea King
Based on a true tale told by Tim Tate
Orchestrations by Brian Wilbur Grundstrom
Music and Lyrics © 2009 Jon Gann, Brian Wilbur Grundstrom, Andrea King
Recorded at BrianWilbur Music www.brianwilbur.com
Mixed at ReelPlan, www.reelplan.com
Presented by Mather Theatricals
Friday, July 10, 2009
The Washington Post
'Pepe' at Home at Fringe Fest
It's two weeks before opening night, and the cast of the Capital Fringe Festival's "Pepe! The Mail Order Monkey Musical" is still making do without a finished set, costumes or props. Worse, Rick Hammerly, the Helen Hayes Award-winning actor who plays the titular primate, is out sick, having been replaced -- for the show-stopping number that includes the lament "What Am I Doing in This Box?" -- by musical director Brian Wilbur Grundstrom and -- for his poop-flinging escape from the aforementioned shipping container -- by co-choreographer Nora Lockshin.
Nevertheless, the music and vocal performances are almost shockingly polished, and not only for a Fringe show, which this most definitely is.
Based on the real-life experience of local glass artist Tim Tate -- who as a 9-year-old in the late 1960s sent $19.95 for a live squirrel monkey, only to have the animal wreak havoc on his mother's bridge club -- the musical by filmmaker Jon Gann, founder of the D.C. Film Alliance, is an at-times-funny, at-times-poignant meditation on freedom. It also has been given a somewhat happier ending than the actual story. The show may be all Gann's, as Tate is quick to point out, but that doesn't stop Tate from providing a quick promotional blurb. "It's 'Les Miz,' " he says, "with a monkey."
-- Michael O'Sullivan