WHAT THE CRITICS SAID:"One of simonelli's best works. A theatre experience not to be missed. Destined to become a holiday classic!"Joe Franklin - Bloomberg Radio Purchase this title on amazon books! https://www.amazon.com/dp/1688363289 For licensing inquiries on this and other titles, please contact: Brian ShermanIPEX Theatrical Artistsp: 646-355-8050e: firstname.lastname@example.org PRODUCTION HISTORY First Ave. Playhouse NJ 2010 (premiere) SAMPLE DIALOUGE: CAST OF CHARACTERS
Ralph……..owner of a small store (45-55)
Sally………………………………store cashier (45-55)
Amanda…………………………8 year old girl (8-11)
Tom……………Sally’s nephew / store clerk (20)
Frankie…… neighborhood loan shark (40 -65)
Carlos………………store delivery man ( 35-55)
Barbara Jordinaire……………. actress (45-55)
Beth………….Ralph’s estranged daughter (16) ACT 1
SETTING: A small market in New York City. A few shelves line the wall with groceries. There is a counter back that serves as the butcher area. Behind the butcher counter is an open doorway that leads to a back room. Main store entrance is down left. Door leading to basement is up right. Door leading to storage room is up left. There is a small cafe table down left with two chairs.
AT RISE: Lights up on Sally, a women of forty-five. She is sitting at small desk that has a cash register and telephone. Where applicable during first act phone will ring randomly keeping Sally busy.(Phone rings.)
SALLY. Five Star Market, happy holidays! Oh, hi Mrs. Bellows, yes, we have tangelo’s…yes they’re in season, they get flown in from New Zealand… Well I didn’t say they were in season in New York…
(Ralph enters from main door carrying a large, heavy parcel. He drops it on the counter. He is a large, robust man aged fifty. He searches the floor of the store looking for something.)
RALPH. Gus, where are you? Come on Gus, I’ve got some chicken liver for you. (He moves to door up right continuing to call for Gus, the store cat. He opens door, which leads to the basement and calls) Gus, are you down there? Come on up.
SALLY. (to Ralph) Good morning Ralphie.
RALPH. Good Morning Sally.(Ralph hangs up his coat in alcove behind Sally’s desk then crosses to behind butcher counter)
SALLY. (to phone as she continues taking order)Yes, one quart of milk, whole wheat bread, diet soda, chicken cut up, and tangelo’s. Anything else Mrs. Bellows? Brillo, I think we’re out…I think an order's coming in today… Hold on… (to Ralph) Ralph, did you pick up that wheel of Brie cheese?
RALPH. (busy behind counter)It’s in the van… have you seen Gus around?
SALLY. We have Brie Mrs. Bellows… sure; I’ll throw a wedge in. What’s that? If you have to ask you can’t afford it… after all, this is Park Avenue. (she hangs up phone)Hey Ralphie, we’ve got orders backed up for delivery and Carlos didn’t show up again…
RALPH. Did you call Murphy’s bar on third Avenue?
SALLY. Murphy’s doesn’t open till ten A.M.…it’s nine forty –five.
RALPH. Maybe he lined up early to get a good seat.
SALLY. Stop joking, this is Christmas Eve, we’re getting swamped with orders… I’ve got nine turkeys that have to go out this morning, are you working on them? After all, you are the butcher around here.
RALPH. Have you seen Gus?
SALLY. No. Why are you so interested in that stupid cat?
RALPH. He’s the only one around here who doesn’t answer me back.
SALLY. (phone rings) There’s another call, I need ten pairs of hands around here… (she picks up phone) Five Star Market, happy holiday’s. Yes, I’ll send it up right away. See Mrs. Chambers is waiting for her order and there’s no one to deliver it.
RALPH. Well why the hell is it so busy?!
SALLY. What, you’re complaining? It’s Christmas, it’s busy.
RALPH. It’s Park Avenue, everyone is Jewish.
SALLY. The East Side of Park Avenue is Jewish, the West Side is Christian, and the West Side wants their orders! (she exits booth and starts straightening the groceries)
(Ralph moves stage left to small counter with cash register on it, picks up telephone)(Into phone)
RALPH. Sal? It’s Ralph at Five Star Market. Hey, those tomatoes you sent me were rotten. How could you send out produce like that? No, the apricots were fine but the tomatoes stink. Well I want you to take them off the bill… that’s right…off the bill…What? Your money’s coming, I’m mailing out a check the first of the month…now just take those tomatoes off the bill… your money is coming I said (he hands phone to Sally) tell him his money’s coming.
SALLY. (Into phone)Your money’s coming.
RALPH. (Back to Phone)… hey look, I could just as easily stop off at the super store on the way in and pick out my own produce, I run a high class shop here, I got top level clientele…yeah, well make sure you do.
SALLY. So how about those orders Ralph, after all they’re not going to deliver themselves, and I’m the one who’s got to listen to all the complaints around here, God forbid you should ever pick up the phone when it rings.
RALPH. I’m the butcher here and you’re in charge of the groceries, you said it yourself. If a meat order comes in, I’ll answer the phone.
SALLY. And how are you gonna know if it’s a meat order before you answer, does the phone moo?
RALPH. You know what I mean. And we’ll let Tom deliver the orders until Carlos gets here. He’s off from college this week isn’t he? Shouldn’t he be here already?
SALLY. He called, he’s running a little late. The ‘4’ train got held up at Grand Central again. Do you want your phone messages? (She returns to her booth and picks up pink message pad.) Mrs. Schwartz wants two chickens; broilers, not fryers. (she crosses back to butcher counter)
(Ralph starts writing the orders on the white butcher paper with a heavy crayon)
RALPH. Broilers, not fryers…got it.
SALLY. Mrs. Cartwright wants a rack a lamb.
RALPH. A rack of lamb? That’s a lot of work. Is she a good customer?
SALLY. She’s one of our best customers. Pays her bill on time every month like clockwork. And since when do we turn down orders around here? Just my luck, I get stuck working with a temperamental butcher. (Back to her desk)
RALPH. Well she better be a good customer…
SALLY. Oh, and Frankie Santa called four times looking for you.
RALPH. (a look of concern)Frankie Santa?
SALLY. That’s right, Frank Santarelli. He says he’s coming over later. You been gambling again?
RALPH. (nervously)Of course not, he’s just coming to wish me a Merry Christmas.
(He takes out a bottle of Scotch from behind counter and pours a drink into his coffee cup)
SALLY. Why are you drinking this time of the morning?
RALPH. I’m a closet alcoholic, when else would I drink? Did Barbara Jordanaire call to order anything?
SALLY. (a little jealous)No, your "Grade -B, Off-Broadway" girlfriend didn’t order anything.
RALPH. (takes bottle and cup downstage and sits at table)She is not my girlfriend and she is not a "Grade-B". She happens to be a fine actress. She was up for a Tony Award a few years ago.
SALLY. (she crosses to him)Yeah, twenty years ago. And she hasn’t done a decent role since unless you consider 'The desperate actresses of New York City’ acting. She’s stuck doing reality T.V. The only thing lower down on the rung is internet infuencer. And the way you fawn over her when she comes in the store. (mocking tone as she hugs him) "Hello Miss Jordanaire, what can I get for you Miss Jordanaire.”
RALPH. I do not fawn over her.
SALLY. Are you kidding? And every time she calls in to have something sent up you deliver it personally. She doesn’t even know we have a deliveryman! It’s embarrassing. You’re making a fool of yourself!
RALPH. We just happen to have a very good relationship, what’s the word I’m looking for…
SALLY. What word?
RALPH. You know, to describe when you enjoy a female's company but you’re not having sex.
RALPH. (taking umbrage)No, not Gay.
RALPH. Platonic, that’s the word. Me and Miss Jordanaire have a platonic relationship. (Gets up and starts arranging groceries)
SALLY. I still say she's washed up. I heard that she made a blue movie a few years ago.
RALPH. That was not a blue movie. It was an experimental, art film.
SALLY. (crosses to Ralph)If you say so. Anyway, Miss Jordanaire hasn’t placed any orders lately. Maybe she’s on location in Tijuana.
RALPH. You’re just mad 'cause your husband ran off with one of those New Jersey Community Theatre divas fifteen years ago.
SALLY. That is so unfair. How could you even bring that up? That floozy broke up my marriage. (Back to her desk)
RALPH. (sits back down at table)Nobody breaks up anything. He was gonna leave regardless. You can’t control another person’s actions. Everybody’s born with free will. A person wants to leave, they’re gonna leave, and there’s nothing you can do about it. You gotta move on with your life. Find someone else.
(Amanda, a girl of ten years old enters the store and starts looking around for Gus)
SALLY. Look at you, the philosopher all of a sudden. When did you get your degree in Psychology? I notice you haven’t moved on since your wife passed away.
RALPH. That’s different and you know it. I had no control over that happening.
SALLY. And like you said, I had no control over my husband leaving. Once a philanderer, always a philanderer.
AMANDA. (to Sally) What’s a philanderer?
SALLY. Never mind honey, it’s an adult word.
AMANDA. (crosses to Ralph at table)Hey mister, where’s Gus?
RALPH. Go away little girl, I’m busy over here.
(Amanda moves around store likes she owns the place searching for Gus the cat)
SALLY. Ralph, that’s little Amanda Cartwright from the building next door, you know, the rack of lamb. Be nice.
RALPH. I’m sorry, little girl. I haven’t seen Gus this morning.
SALLY. Did you need something Amanda?
AMANDA. My mother sent me down for a box of crackers. The unsalted kind please.
(Ralph moves to the shelf to get the crackers, he moves a can of tomatoes from next to the canned fruit to where the boxes of pasta are)
RALPH. Look at this, Tom put the tomatoes next to the canned fruit again. How many times do I have to tell that kid? Is that how they train them in college? And where is he anyway? You know, just because he’s your nephew doesn’t mean I can’t fire him.
(The phone rings and Sally answers and takes an order as Ralph hands the crackers to Amanda)
Here you go sweetheart. (to Sally) One box of saltines, minus the salt, going next door. Write it down. (Sally just waves busily in acknowledgement) Now go on home little girl, we’re busy here.
(Amanda ignores him and sits at table placing crackers down)
AMANDA. My mother loves your food. She say’s you’re the best butcher on Park Avenue.
RALPH. That’s because I’m the only butcher on Park Avenue. Now run along little girl. Your mother's waiting for her crackers.
AMANDA. Can I look for Gus? He’s my friend.
RALPH. Listen….ah, what’s your name again?
RALPH. Listen Amanda, this is Christmas Eve. We’re very busy here because people want their Christmas turkeys for tomorrow. Don’t you have to help your mom and your brothers and sisters decorate?
AMANDA. I don’t have any brothers or sisters. And we don’t really make too big a deal about Christmas. My dad is a professor at the University. I overheard him tell my mom one time that they only have the tree because of me.
RALPH. Now I’m sure that’s not true. Everyone believes in Christmas. It’s a magic time.
AMANDA. What’s magic about it?
RALPH. What about Santa Claus?
AMANDA. I overhead my dad tell my mom that….
RALPH. Alright, alright.
AMANDA. Can I go find Gus now? He’s so cute with that big bow tie he wears and that big bushy tail.
RALPH. Yeah, he is something, isn’t he?
AMANDA. My dad says you really shouldn’t have a cat in the store but since there’s a rodent problem in New York you really can’t…
RALPH. Rodent problem?! Your dad has quite an opinion on things.
AMANDA. Oh yes, he’s very pragmatic. That’s why he doesn’t believe in Christmas or magic.
RALPH. Hey, how come you know a big word like pragmatic but you don’t know philanderer?
AMANDA. Because my father says that when you hear a new word you either look it up or ask someone what it means and that’s how you improve your vocabulary. And my father is never wrong about anything.
RALPH. Well I think he’s wrong about Christmas. It is magic.
AMANDA. I don’t think so. (she starts looking for the cat) Gus, where are you?
RALPH. The animals talked.
AMANDA. (stopping) What?
RALPH. On the first Christmas Eve. Outside the stable where the baby Jesus was born. The animals talked.
AMANDA. They did?
RALPH. They certainly did.
AMANDA. Animals can’t talk.
RALPH. I think they can. On certain special occasions.
AMANDA. I doubt it.
RALPH. Gus can talk.
AMANDA. He can not.
RALPH. He can so.
RALPH. Really. I tell you what, can you keep a secret?
RALPH. Well, Gus can talk alright. But only one night a year. Can you guess which night?
AMANDA. Christmas Eve?
RALPH. That’s right, Christmas Eve. And do you know why only on Christmas Eve?
AMANDA. Because it’s magic!
RALPH. That’s right, because it’s magic. Okay. I'll make a deal with you. If I tell you the story will you promise to go home so I can get some work done?
RALPH. Now shake on it. Because once you shake on a deal you can’t break it.
AMANDA. You can’t?
RALPH. No you can’t.
AMANDA. Well, okay. (they shake hands)
RALPH. (very animated as he tells story)Okay, Well Gus walked right through that front door ten Christmas Eve's ago. He was just a kitten, but he still had that big bushy tail. His tail was twice the size of him back then. He looked more like a raccoon than a cat. I had left the door open because I was bringing a Christmas wreath in from the car to hang. (He opens front door which Sally promptly closes to keep the cold air out) Well he scampered right in here and jumped on to the stool behind my counter. Since it was Christmas I hung a little bell on his bushy tail and when he wagged it the bell would ring and he started to talk.
AMANDA. He did?
RALPH. Absolutely. I asked him where he came from and he said he was born in a palace in Russia that used to belong to one of the czars. He jumped ship and wound up in New York Harbor. Then he made his way right to this store here on Park Avenue. And every time that bell rings Gus talks, but only on Christmas Eve.
AMANDA. And why is he called Gus?
RALPH. I give him that name. After the Russian prince, Prince Gustav.
(Tom, a twenty year old college student, enters the store)
TOM. Good morning Ralph, good morning Aunt Sally, hey, hi Amanda.
AMANDA. Hi Tom, do you want to help me look for Gus?
RALPH. Tom has work to do honey, now run along and bring your mom the crackers like you promised. Remember, a deal's a deal. (He hands the crackers to her)
AMANDA. Okay. See you later. (She moves to front door) It’s starting to snow!
TOM. (near Sally’s desk)Looks at these order sheets. Why are all these orders still here? Where’s Carlos?
RALPH. (goes back behind counter)Probably getting some early Christmas Spirit.
TOM. At Murphy’s again? You want me to go get him?
(Sally rises and gets her coat which she places on her chair)
SALLY. You stay right here and start filling those orders. I’ll go look for him.
RALPH. Who’s going to watch the phones?
SALLY. What, your arms are broken? I've got to go to the A&P to get some Brillo for Mrs. Bellows anyway.
RALPH. Give her SOS.
SALLY. It’s not the same. They order Brillo, they want Brillo.
(Tom takes the can of tomatoes and moves it back to the canned fruit section)
TOM. I don’t get it; we go to another store to get the items we don’t have? Just tell them we’re out.
SALLY. This is a service business on Park Avenue. They don’t want to hear we’re out. They’re rich, they want service. Why do you think the Korean Grocer across the street went out of business?
RALPH. They couldn’t understand English?
SALLY. That and they didn’t deliver, they didn’t provide service. Tomorrow is Christmas, they want service today! They want their turkeys today. They want their Brillo today!
RALPH. (To Tom)And they want it in English, not Korean!
SALLY. (to Ralph)And they would have their Brillo if that grocery supply order from the wholesaler ever got here. It was supposed to come in yesterday. What happened to it Ralphie, you forget to pay the bill again?
RALPH. Now don’t start sassin' me, this is my store, I make the rules! What does the sign outside say, ‘Ralph’s Five Star Market’!
SALLY. All I’m saying is that...
RALPH. I know what you’re saying.
TOM. Alright you two, knock it off. No fighting, it’s Christmas Eve.
RALPH. And you, how many times do I have to tell you? The canned tomatoes go with the pasta, not the fruit.
TOM. But tomatoes are fruit.
RALPH. College boy. Is that what they teach you? Waste of time and money.
TOM. You say that now, but when I’m a rich and famous composer, we’ll see what you say then.
RALPH. Composer, you?
TOM. And musician, actor and playwright. One day my name is going be all over Broadway.
RALPH. Well you’re not auditioning today.
SALLY. (crosses to butcher counter)Stop picking on him. He is a musician you know. Runs in the family. My brother, his father, is a tenor sax man. Didn’t you mention to me once that you were a musician Ralph?
RALPH. As a matter of fact I used to play guitar. Kept one in the store, downstairs in the basement. I think it’s still down there somewhere gathering dust. Or maybe it got thrown out, who knows.
SALLY. I’ve seen that guitar down there.
RALPH. Doesn’t matter. I stopped playing years ago.
SALLY. Why? (crosses to desk and puts on coat)
RALPH. Gave it up after my wife passed. Besides, my hands are so worn out from cutting meat all these years I’d never be able to play those bar chords. Too bad. I was pretty good in my day. Mary always encouraged me, wanted me to make a career of it. I used to play it for her all the time, but after she died, it just wasn’t any fun anymore. I lost my audience.
TOM. I think you should start playing again. Music can be very therapeutic. When I’m feeling blue I just start playing my piano, I start composing songs; it’s great motivation. Gee Ralph, you think maybe you could put in a good word with Barbara Jordanaire when you talk to her again?
RALPH. Barbara Jordanaire is a professional actress, a theatre veteran. She’s not interested in college kids trying to break into the business.
SALLY. How do you know what she’s interested in? Don’t listen to him Tom. Watch the store and get to those orders. I’ll be back. (She walks out the front door momentarily then pops back in) Frankie Santerelli just rounded the corner. (she exits)
RALPH. I’m going down the basement. Tell him I’m not here. (Ralph starts to exit to basement, goes back for bottle of Scotch then exits)
TOM. (calls after him)But what do I tell him?
FRANKIE. (Mid-forties, tough guy, enters store)Hey kid, where’s Ralph? In the back?
TOM. (nervously)Hi Frankie. He’s not here.
FRANKIE. Is he in the back? (he walks to back room) Hey Ralphie, you back there? (to Tom) So where is he kid?
TOM. I think he went to get some Brillo.
TOM. Band-Aid’s, I meant Band-Aids. He nipped himself cutting some meat.
FRANKIE. When I get through with him he’s gonna need a crutch… (looks at shelves) Unbelievable, the merchandise never moves here. That’s the same cling peaches from last year, I recognize the dent in the can. No wonder he’s got no money. The merchandise is like little tin soldiers, stalwart and smart, they stand at attention and never move.
TOM. Tin soldiers?
FRANKIE. Look kid, I’ll learn ya something about how to make a store display. Your front window, every thing is all over the place It’s all random. Ya gotta line everything up in tree’s.
FRANKIE. (arranging shelf items in threes)Yeah, ya gotta put tree boxes of crackers together, tree cheeses. You know tree, tree, tree.
TOM. Oh that kind of tree.
FRANKIE. Exactly. I got a deli on Third Avenue. That’s how we do it kid. Now where the hell is Ralph? I gotta talk to him. Now!
TOM. I told you, he’s out.
FRANKIE. That’s okay, I’ll wait for him.
TOM. Well I think he’s gonna be a while.
FRANKIE. Hey kid, while I’m here, ya got any pickles in a jar? We’re out at my place. You can’t serve a deli sandwich without a pickle. It’s Un-American.
TOM. It is?
FRANKIE. Sure, it’s like going to the movies and ordering popcorn with no soda. Ya gotta have both or it just don’t make sense.
TOM. I guess.
FRANKIE. Hey, why are you workin' here anyway kid? Nobody ever comes in. Why don’t you come work for me and I’ll turn ya into an A-1 bona fide deli man?
TOM. A deli man?
FRANKIE. Sure, I’ll learn ya how to slice the meat, cook up the chicken cutlets, beat up the guys who don’t pay their bills.
TOM. Come on, you don’t really beat people up for not paying their bills do you? I mean that’s just Hollywood movie stuff.
FRANKIE. A little naive, aren’t ya kid? Now you want to come work for me or not?
TOM. Let’s see, a deli where you beat people up. It does sound intriguing. And it probably would make good material for a play some day.
FRANKIE. A play? What are you, some kind of writer kid? That what you takin' in school?
TOM. I’ve written some things. I hope to be a professional writer someday.
FRANKIE. Like what, books?
TOM. Books, plays…
FRANKIE. Plays? Nobody goes to plays anymore. They watch T.V. or movies.
TOM. I think some people still go.
FRANKIE. Maybe you should write TV shows kid, there’s more money in it.
TOM. Yeah, but if you write for Television you’re an employee of the studio. You don’t own the material. If you write a novel or a play it’s your work. Stays around forever even after you're long dead and buried. Like Othello.
FRANKIE. Never heard of him.
TOM. How about Shylock?
FRANKIE. Now you’re talkin' my language kid. (Phone rings) Now where the heck are the pickles?
TOM. If there’s none on the shelf we’re probably out.
FRANKIE. Ralph keeps extra’s in the basement. I’ll go look.
TOM. No, you stay here, I’ll look.
FRANKIE. You gotta answer the phone. There’s nobody here. Ya can’t leave the place empty. I’ll go look.
TOM. (crossing between Frankie and the basement)It’s okay. They’ll call back, don’t worry.
FRANKIE. Is there some reason you don’t want me in the basement?
TOM. No, not at all, it’s just that you’re the customer and I’ve got to provide you with the proper service.
FRANKIE. Save it kid. I wasn’t born yesterday. (He crosses to basement and yells down) Ralph, get up here pronto. I know you’re down there. Don’t make me come and get you. (to Tom) Watch yourself kid. Don’t ever lie to me again. You think you’re helpin' but you're only makin' things worse.
RALPH. (enters from basement holding pickle jar)Hey Frankie. I was busy in the basement, Tom must have thought I was out.
(he hands him the pickle jar)
FRANKIE. The kid tried to cover for ya, he’s a standup guy. Ya got my money?
RALPH. It’s Christmas Eve Frankie; I haven’t been to the bank…
FRANKIE. (grabs his shoulder)Don’t bullshit me Ralph, you haven’t paid any Vig for three months. I can’t keep carryin' ya. For me, I don’t care, we go way back. But I got people to answer to Ralph, and they’re gettin' antsy. They got Christmas bills to pay too you know.
RALPH. Next week Frankie, I promise, we get the money in here after the first of the month when the charge bills go out, you know that.
FRANKIE. Hey, when you asked me for the money did I say next week? Did I ask you for a credit rating? No, I gave you the money. This is a business transaction. There are consequences involved.
RALPH. And we’ve done business before and you never had a problem did you? I always made good plus.
FRANKIE. But you were never this late and I’m getting tired of making excuses for you. Understand? (Ralph busies himself) Look at me when I’m talking to you. (Ralph looks at him) You understand? I’m not kiddin around this time.
SALLY. Hey, I found Carlos.
FRANKIE. I gotta have something today. What time you open 'til?
RALPH. Five o'clock; give or take. SONG SAMPLE BELOW - 'CHRISTMAS IN NEW YORK'