A BRIGHT NEW MUSICAL!
Prince Hal is affectionately remembered as “The Madcap Prince.” In his time — the early fifteenth century — his wayward adventures and lowly companions were an ongoing scandal, and caused people to fear for England’s future. He so intrigued Shakespeare that he made Prince Hal the central character in three of his plays.
More than anything else, Hal was motivated by an enormous appetite for life. He wanted to experience everything and to play as many roles as possible — thief, lover, hero, and statesman. To the surprise of all, the “madcap” became one of England’s greatest Kings.
Of all Prince Hal’s companions, none was more notorious than Sir John Falstaff. This merry rogue, a "Santa Claus for adults" is regarded as one of the greatest comic characters in English literature. Falstaff’s enormous size and out-of-control physical appetites make him a natural for comedy, but he is also a con artist of the first order. He’s learned to use humor as a way to evade, deceive and seduce. Easily, Falstaff’s roaring laughter and crafty wit could corrupt a saint
Ann was born and raised in a small Welsh village. All her young life she believed herself to be the daughter of a Welsh lord, but after her “father’s” death, her mother confesses that she is really the natural daughter of a nobleman from Eastcheap, Sir John Falstaff. She decides to go in search of him. As the show opens, Ann has just arrived at the Boar’s Head Tavern and is stunned when she meets Falstaff.
Ann believes that souls inhabit trees, flowers, streams and animals. Through her song, “Waiting Star,” she clears her mind and heart to receive the guidance of these spirits. The “voices,” though, are really from her deeper self. Through her remarkable intuition she actually has a wisdom and strength far greater than the people at court she wants so to impress. When she becomes “more sophisticated” she loses contact with that part of herself and is no longer able to feel the voices. Her victory, near the end of the play, is rediscovering that magical, romantic part of herself and realizing its power. She also learns that she has helped Prince Hal to hear his own voice inside — a voice of destiny.
While their future is uncertain, they realize their love has been victorious in a profound and powerful way. This magical force touched two people’s lives, changed them forever, and gave them a strength that nothing would ever take away.
“Golden Age of Musicals”
Although many of the characters in this show come from Shakespeare, the tone of Waiting Star is not “classical”— the treatment is comparable to a Golden Age musical. The author’s foremost goal is to create a show in this bright and entertaining tradition.
After a stormy beginning, the love between Ann and Prince Hal becomes deeply powerful and they dream of a shared future. Unfortunately, politicians, courtiers, even Falstaff, scurry to make the romance serve their own ends. The conflict reaches a climax when Hal is nearly killed. Ann decides to return to Wales.
At the show’s conclusion, Ann is on the boat landing when Prince Hal makes an unexpected appearance.
PRINCE HAL: Male, 19-24
Prince Hal, affectionately remembered as “The Madcap Prince” is a wild youth who is charismatic, handsome, and bright. In his time — the early fifteenth century — his wayward adventures and lowly companions were an ongoing scandal, and caused people to fear for England’s future. Shakespeare was so intrigued by him that he made Prince Hal the central character in three of his plays.
More than anything else, Hal was motivated by an enormous appetite for life. He wanted to experience everything that life has to offer and to play as many roles as possible — thief, lover, hero, and statesman. To the surprise of all, the “madcap” became one of England’s greatest Kings.
When we first meet Hal, he has only recently discovered the Boar’s Head Tavern and all its colorful characters. It’s a world he didn’t even know existed. His blind spot is in thinking that these new “friends” —all of whom cater to him — don’t care about his royal station. He would like to just be “one of the gang,” but he isn’t.
His favorite companion, of course, is the lovable rogue, Jack Falstaff. In Falstaff he finds the approving and fun-loving older man figure who is the polar opposite of his actual father, the dutiful King Henry IV.
Hal is keenly aware that, when he becomes king, all his freedoms will be taken away and knows that this “wild” phase will be short lived.
As it turned out, Prince Hal’s adventurous and expansive nature served him well. Far from being a curse, his connection with so many kinds of people made him a great king. Few rulers have ever known their people so well, and Prince Hal united a previously divided kingdom.
ANN GWYNELLYN: Female, 17-22
Ann is dreamy, beautiful in a soft kind of way, and possessed with unusual spiritual gifts. She is also quick-witted and adventurous. Her storybook idealism is challenged by the manipulations of the English court.
Ann radiates a special something and she has a deep and powerful effect on some of the people she encounters.
She was born and raised in a small Welsh village. All her young life she believed herself to be the daughter of a Welsh lord, but after her “father’s” death, her mother confesses that she is really the natural daughter of a nobleman from Eastcheap, Sir John Falstaff. She decides to go in search of him. As the show opens, Ann has just arrived at the Boar’s Head Tavern and is stunned when she meets Falstaff. Needless to say, he is nothing like she expected.
Ann, in the early scenes, believes that souls inhabit trees, flowers, streams and animals. Through her song, “Waiting Star,” she clears her mind and heart to receive the guidance of these spirits. The “voices,” though, are really from her deeper self. Through her remarkable intuition she actually has a wisdom and strength far greater than the people at court she wants so to impress. When she becomes “more sophisticated” she loses contact with that part of herself and is no longer able to feel the voices. Her victory, near the end of the play, is rediscovering that magical, dreamy part of herself and realizing its power. She also learns that she has helped Prince Hal to discover his own call to greatness.
Her early belief in nature spirits is, by no means, part of any religion. It is closer to a youthful game of pretend magic. Still, it is a very real step in her spiritual evolution. The important thing is that she knows, at the deepest level, that there is “something.” She represents the truly magical side that is in all of us.
That having been said, she should not be played as a mystic or psychic. For now, she is a charming, idealistic, dreamy, playful, high-spirited young woman.
Her spirituality, though, does evolve during the course of the play and many characters come to recognize her uncommon depth and wisdom. They are touched by her kind heart — a heart that often sees the greatness in people. Even the hardened Lord Rutherford, her worst enemy, is eventually moved by her.
JACK FALSTAFF: Male, 55-70
Of all Prince Hal’s companions, none was more notorious than Sir John Falstaff. This merry rogue, a "Santa Claus for adults,” has long been regarded as one of the greatest comic characters in English literature. Falstaff’s enormous size and out-of-control physical appetites make him a natural for comedy, but he is also a con artist of the first order. He uses humor as a way to evade, deceive and seduce. Easily, Falstaff’s roaring laughter and crafty wit could corrupt a saint
Falstaff is big in stature, big in voice, big in merriment, big in ego. He loves for a good time to be shared all the way around and he loves making people laugh.
Falstaff is also boastful and has very few morals or inhibitions. He is openly self-serving and meets every situation with the strategy “What’s in it for me.” He hardly even considers what impact his selfishness might have on others, and feels that his charisma and merriment give him a free pass in life.
He rationalizes all his dishonest acts. After cheating a noble, he laughs, “I left him a wiser man. Ha! Did I ever school that Worcester in the ways of the wicked!”
For whatever reason, though, audiences have loved him for over four hundred years. Even Queen Elizabeth was a fan and, according to legend, asked Shakespeare to write a play about Falstaff in love – the result was The Merry Wives of Windsor.
While Falstaff is a comic character, he is definitely not a buffoon. Let’s not forget that in Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part I, he ends up with riches and glory. He is the clear winner. The same is true in Waiting Star.
One of the best portrayals of Falstaff was done by Orson Wells in the movie, Chimes at Midnight.
Falstaff and Mistress Quickly
They have a complicated relationship, but they also have genuine affection for one another. Mistress Quickly allows Falstaff to stay at the Tavern, even though he is way behind on the rent. Falstaff is not in love with Mistress Quickly but would like her to be in love with him. Mistress Quickly: vice versa. They flirt and play one another constantly.
Falstaff and Prince Hal
Falstaff is the approving father figure who totally understands and even encourages the young prince’s vices. Since Hal’s actual father is openly ashamed of his adventurous son, Falstaff’s jovial approval is welcome. Not only that, Falstaff has opened up a whole new world for the young prince.
Falstaff and Ann
They don’t share many scenes together and this is deliberate. Audiences shouldn’t associate Ann too closely with Falstaff. She is nothing like him and they don’t have much of a connection. (Similarly, Eliza only rarely appears with her father in My Fair Lady.)
Perhaps sadly, Falstaff doesn’t really own his being a father. He had no part in her upbringing and is mostly in denial about her. His first impulse is to use her to his advantage – first in letting his tavern friends think that Ann is his latest romance; and then in using Ann’s involvement with the English Court to pad his pockets.
MISTRESS NELL QUICKLY: Female, 40-70
Nell Quickly is owner of the Boar’s Head Tavern. She is shrewd and sometimes coarse, but has a soft heart. She and Falstaff have the most unusual of relationships. While they have a genuine affection for one another, there is no real romantic attraction. She would like for Falstaff to be in love with her just to satisfy her ego. They flirt and play one another constantly.
Mistress Quickly allows Falstaff to stay at the tavern, even though he is many months behind on the rent.
While she has a definite bawdy side, she fancies herself to be running a proper and high class establishment. The Boar’s Head, of course, is the opposite of that. She aspires to respectability, but is really much more comfortable with the likes of Falstaff and the rowdy bunch that are her usual patrons.
MELISSA FARADAY: Female, 35-70
Melissa — psychic, mysterious, and a bit scary — is a strange outcast who is rumored to be a witch. She has been blind for decades but has amazingly keen intuition. She seems to know things, but we don’t know how much is real and how much is imaginary. She should have an obvious edge to her personality.
She imagines Ann to be an earlier version of herself, but this really isn’t the case. They both have some psychic gifts but there the resemblance ends.
BELLE MAYFIELD: Female, 16-22
Belle is Ann’s favorite companion. She is comical without meaning to be, and her wants in life are simple. She is afraid of magic, but would like Ann to use her powers to get her a good husband. Audiences will love her because she is refreshingly uncomplicated. The role can easily be doubled with that of Nora Stark, as they do not appear in any scenes that are close to one another.
NORA STARK: Female, 35-60
Nora is a servant assigned to watch over Ann. She is somewhat kind, but also dreamless, cynical and resigned to an ordinary life. She appears in Act I, Scene I and then again near the end of the play. Ann begins to trust and confide in her and is then shattered when she learns Nora thinks she is delusional. The truth is that Nora finds Ann’s romantic idealism to be annoying. This part can be easily doubled with the role of Belle Mayfield, as they do not appear in any scenes that are close to one another.
KING HENRY IV: Male, 40-50
King Henry, while competent and hard working, is also stern, dutiful and stingy. He is the opposite of his free-spirited son, Prince Hal. His son’s wild behavior, he believes, could not only compromise his rule, but also harm the kingdom. He, of course, loves his son even though he has great difficulty showing it. The King and Prince Hal have a touching reconciliation after the tournament.
His quick-witted wife finds him an inspiration for humor. His tightwad nature is spoofed in the song, “Why Can’t They Sing About That?” With the exception of the tournament scene, the role should be played for comedy.
QUEEN JOANNA: Female, 35-50
Queen Joanna is bright, quick-witted and spontaneous — a foil to her too-serious husband, King Henry. This isn’t mentioned in the script, but she is actually King Henry’s second wife, and not Prince Hal’s biological mother. She takes a fairly light view of her stepson’s life style.
HARRY HOTSPUR: Male, 20-30
Hotspur believes he, and not Prince Hal, should be the next King of England. He is a blustering, glory-seeking, young man who nonetheless has some inspired greatness in him. He is so idealistic that he doesn’t understand the self-serving nature of the nobles who are manipulating him. In the pivotal tournament scene, he suddenly realizes that Prince Hal is not the unprincipled ruffian that he thought. He suddenly sees him through Ann’s eyes and he loses all desire to take the young prince’s life.
Despite his ego, he has genuine courage and some sterling qualities. Lawrence Olivier portrayed him in the Orson Wells film, “Chimes at Midnight.”
EDMUND RUTHERFORD: Male, 50-65
Rutherford is a devout, wise, and slightly corrupt elder statesman. A loyal supporter of King Henry, he sees the love between Ann and Price Hal as a threat to England’s future and schemes to tear them apart. Rutherford is the classic “iron fist in a velvet glove.” He is charming but will do whatever it takes to promote his agenda. Around Ann he, at first, appears fatherly but changes his tone when that approach fails. Ann feels awkward, naïve and intimidated around him. He is everything she is not.
Unlike the other manipulators, though, Rutherford does have a conscience and some vulnerability. In a crucial scene near the end of the story, Ann manages to reach him. Although he is, at first, shaken and angry, he ends up helping Ann. This part will call for an especially good actor — one who can show vulnerability and transformation.
CHARLES WORCESTER: Male, 40-55
Worcester, who is King Henry’s greatest enemy, is calculating, ambitious, and treacherous. He tries to bring down the king by manipulating Harry Hotspur and spreading malicious rumors about Ann and Prince Hal. Although he professes to “save” England — he only wants power and wealth for himself. But he is no match for Falstaff! Although he tries to manipulate the dissolute round knight into serving his agenda, Falstaff plays along just enough to gain a small fortune at his expense.
JOHN NORTHUMBERLAND, Male, 40-55
Northumberland, who is closely allied with Worcester, is another enemy of the royal family. He wants wants power and privilege for himself, but isn’t as treacherous as Worcester. He is even hesitate about harming Ann, but finally goes along with the plan. Northumberland does not have that many lines, but his presence is still important.
ALFONSE DEVINLY, Male, 20-60
Alfonse, the marriage broker, is one of the funniest characters in the show. He is trying to broker a marriage between Prince Hal and an extremely unattractive (but wealthy) noblewoman. He is outrageously foppish and almost seems to be courting the young prince for himself.
THIEVES, SOLDIERS, TROUBADOR, PEOPLE OF THE COURT, AND A MESSENGER
Many of these smaller parts (some only have a line or two) can be played by actors of either sex. Also, they can easily be doubled with other roles.