What Could Have Been: The Scripts Considered Before "Mystery at Shady Acres"
By: Andrew Bermudez
(Mustache Maniacs Film Co. Headquarters; May 26, 2017)
If you have followed this press room, it's no secret that the last play that we released as a film, Mystery at Shady Acres, turned ten years old this month. To mark this occasion, we're going to do something quite unusual and take a look at the plays that were almost picked instead of Mystery at Shady Acres! This is an unusual way to celebrate, but this is also one story that we have waited a decade to share! Let's get started with some context.
Disclaimer: All of the title treatments and official play descriptions in this press release are the property of Pioneer Drama Service, Inc. We do not claim that these are our property in any manner, shape, or form.
Let's take a journey to November 2006. In the Cornerstone Thespian Society, the productions for Spotlight Night and The Rented Christmas were less than a month away. With the spring semester fast approaching, one critical decision had yet to be resolved: What plays will the two classes perform? The directors for the two classes, Teresa Bermudez and Valoris Peterson, were given the task of resolving this issue with one real problem: There was no idea what genre, what type of stage setup, or anything the two directors wanted to pursue. The blunt and dirty solution? Buy 100+ scripts from Pioneer Drama Service, Inc. and read them all to decide which one to perform.
As I assisted in sifting through the scripts, I remember fondly thumbing through scripts everywhere I went. I read scripts at the dentist office. I read scripts while waiting to eat. I read scripts while waiting in line at the DMV. Essentially, almost a month's worth of time was spent sifting through scripts and eliminating possibilities for various reasons. While I don't remember all of their names (Though I do remember one script only having five roles. Who bought that one, anyway?), there are still some that stick in my brain like chewing gum. In fact, four of the rejected scripts are still in the Mustache Maniacs Film Co. archives. Here are some of the scripts considered before Teresa Bermudez picked Mystery at Shady Acres and Valoris Peterson picked The Prince and the Pauper.
Our Input: This was one of the last scripts to be eliminated, though its staging is almost identical to Mystery at Shady Acres. However, I don't know how the directors felt about the prospect of directing a stage production with a giant cockroach! The feel of the humor and characters was all actually very reminiscent of Jolly Roger and the Pirate Queen and we still have this script in our archives to this day.
Link to Official Web Page: https://www.pioneerdrama.com/SearchDetail.asp?pc=CHATEAULAR&id=0#
Our Input: While neither director decided on directing a musical, this script was actually taken into consideration long after the Cornerstone Thespian Society closed up shop. For its successor, Park Players, the producers and directors wanted to put on a musical, but they could not decide on which one. Ultimately, the decision came down to The Nifty Fifties and this play. However, since this play leaned too much toward female parts and Park Players was generally evenly split between men and women, The Nifty Fifties was chosen instead.
Link to Official Web Page: https://www.pioneerdrama.com/SearchDetail.asp?pc=FLAPPER&id=0#
Our Input: As Johnny Thunder and the Secret of Marco Polo was in pre-production at this time, this script definitely appealed to the taste of adventure that we were experiencing at that time. However, since the play was presented as a performance of a script within a play (A meta-play? I'll have to talk to our HR department about this one.), we were, honestly, a little turned off by it. The possibility of re-telling this play as a straight-up adventure was tossed around for some time, but those plans feel through.
Link to Official Web Page: https://www.pioneerdrama.com/SearchDetail.asp?pc=HURRICANES&id=0
Official Description: With clever plot twists, fast-paced dialogue and great opportunities for physical humor, you’ve never seen Rome like this before! While the emperor is away at war with almost all the senators and other men of the city, playful peasant thieves ransack the market place, the annoying senators’ wives invent silly promotions to raise war-time funds and the princess searches in vain for a husband. If she can’t find a suitable match, her father has decreed she must marry the last gladiator standing in the upcoming games. That’s the last thing this headstrong, intelligent feminist leader wants! To make matters worse, top-ranking (and draft dodging!) Senator Altilis is breathing down her neck to choose him as the one lucky senator to control affairs at the home front. If it weren’t for the princess, Altilis could decree himself that privileged senator. He deviously schemes to get her out of the empire’s affairs by moving the day of the gladiator games up, thus burdening the princess with planning her dreaded wedding. Meanwhile, peasant thieves Gladis, Minimus (his friends call him Mini), and Julia sneak into the royal palace disguised as handmaidens. They are promptly caught in a hilarious scene, almost becoming lion food until the princess gets an idea. If she trains the muscled Gladis to compete in the games, she can avoid marrying Brudis, the brainless brute favored to win. A hysterical scene follows when Mini and Julia’s plan to rig the games to save Gladis’s life blows up in their faces! Find out who is left standing (and who is sent packing!) in this side-splitting comedy. You’ll be glad you picked this play!
Our Input: Like Chateau La Roach, this was one of the last scripts to be eliminated during our task of sifting through every script. Once again, the script had highly-appealing characters with broad, Chuck Jones-esque humor that families could enjoy. However, this play was ultimately passed over for one simple reason: it had too few roles. Even if we had double-casting, some of the students would be left without parts (or with the parts of Nameless Roman Citizens, just one step above playing Cal Pada Guards for the Com 50 films). However, this script was saved and now resides in the Mustache Maniacs Film Co. archive, just in case.
Link to Official Web Page: https://www.pioneerdrama.com/SearchDetail.asp?pc=LASTGLADIA&id=0
Our Input: Honestly, this script was never considered in place of Mystery at Shady Acres, but this one is still important nonetheless to mention due to its unique history with us. While this play was considered before The Rented Christmas was chosen for December 2006, director Teresa Bermudez still enjoyed the script and even considered using excerpts for monologues for Spotlight Night. These plans never materialized, but the script exists to this day in our archives, along with the monologue excerpts.
Link to Official Web Page: https://www.pioneerdrama.com/SearchDetail.asp?pc=MISSINGJES&id=0
Our Input: When we first perused this script, it went by the name Shoes Blues, but the story was essentially identical to the one presented here. This script lasted for some time in the elimination process and was one of the picks by Daniel Bermudez, who was also sifting through the scripts. However, his liking to the script was not widely shared, and this play was eliminated from the decision-making process.
Link to Official Web Page: https://www.pioneerdrama.com/SearchDetail.asp?pc=MUCHCOCONU&id=0#
Our Input: This play calls itself, "A TRAGICAL COMEDY IN TWO AND A HALF ACTS," but the truth is that it's only two very brief acts long. The play includes many references to Shakespeare's works and the theater of Elizabethan England, but many looked dis-favorably on the play's humor, which many felt went TOO far. The play basically is a hybrid of Romeo and Juliet (without the death), Saturday Night Live, and The Godfather, but it took it all to a slapstick level. Because of this, the script was abandoned during the elimination process.
Link to Official Web Page: https://www.pioneerdrama.com/SearchDetail.asp?pc=ROMEOANDWI&id=0#
Our Input: This script was one of my personal favorites from the 100+ scripts that I sifted through, making this the last script to be eliminated. That's right: it was down to this play and Mystery at Shady Acres at the end of the decision-making process. However, there was one stumbling block that kept this play from being the prime pick: several years before, the Thespians performance of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory featured sets so involved and detailed, each set change lasted almost as long as - sometimes longer than - their respective scenes. Not wanting to repeat that same disaster, this story, which takes place over a variety of locations, was the last script to be eliminated, making Mystery at Shady Acres the final choice. However, for lasting so long in the elimination process, the script was given two honors. First, it was the first choice for keeping in our archives and second, this script is the only Pioneer Drama Service play that we never performed that is officially considered canon in the Mustache Maniacs Film Co. Cinematic Universe. Locations and characters from this play will be featured in the upcoming film Van Helbrick: Monster Fighter.
Link to Official Web Page: https://www.pioneerdrama.com/SearchDetail.asp?pc=UNWRAPPED&id=1
Like I mentioned, this is only the tip of the iceberg of the scripts that we sifted through, though these were the most memorable. And before I leave you today, there is one more fun fact that I want to share. While we were able to pick Mystery at Shady Acres and began ordering cast and crew scripts weeks before Spotlight Night was performed, Valoris Peterson ended up ordering 20 more preview scripts before selecting The Prince and the Pauper for the older class in the weeks following The Rented Christmas.
And that concludes this look at some of the other scripts considered before Mystery at Shady Acres. Again, all title treatments and official descriptions presented here are the property of Pioneer Drama Service, Inc. and are not our own. Thank you for reading, and if you are planning on putting on a play and these titles interest you, use the provided links to find out more, including role numbers, running times, pricing, and more. And before you ask, no, we won't canonize your play in our cinematic universe!