WAKEME AT MIDNIGHT(Dark comedy - 6m, 4f character age range 35 to 75)
Struggling playwright Ted Santi is waking his 'black sheep' uncle Joey upstairs at the funeral home while all hell is breaking loose downstairs in the lounge! Who are some of the people you're likely to run into at an Italian wake? How about your ex-wife, ex-girlfriend, current girlfriend, local bookie and pesky funeral director, all of whom you owe money to! What's a guy in need of quick cash to do? How about enlist the aid of his zany relatives to find the winning sweepstakes ticket that the practical joking decedent has hidden somewhere in the funeral parlor on which the statute of limitations is set to expire at midnight!
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID:
"A black comedy set in a funeral home with the emphasis on comedy. A must see."
Joe Franklin - Bloomberg Radio
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IPEX Theatrical Artists
First Ave. Playhouse NJ 2011 (premiere)
Producers Club NYC 2013
Conference House Theatre NYC 2014
Cultural Park Theatre FL 2015
Little Victory Theatre NYC 2017
Cultural Park Theatre FL 2020SAMPLE DIALOUGE:
CAST OF CHARACTERS
Ted Santi 50-55 Writer/salesman
Aunt Theresa 80 Ted’s Aunt
Kari 45 Ted’s ex girlfriend
Tommy 45-50 Ted’s brother
Brady 50 + The funeral director
Molly 32 Ted’s current girlfriend
Kyle 35 Brady’s nephew
Pam 55 Ted’s ex -wife
Sal 45-55 Ted’s cousin
Carmine 40-70 Ted’s bookie
SETTING: The downstairs lounge of a funeral home in Brooklyn. There is a couch and a few chairs apparent. A small table with Magazines and a water cooler. A set of wide stairs up left leads to the upstairs viewing room. An arched entrance down right leads to the rest rooms (appropriately marked) and the embalming room. A doorway down right is a broom closet.
AT RISE The set is empty as we hear piped in music (organ playing) typical of any funeral home. This music will play at various times during show. The music fades as Ted enters.
TED. (Enters downstairs followed by Molly he quickly checks his cell phone for messages then puts it away)
The restroom’s are down here babe. Through that door. (Points to restroom sign)
MOLLY. (Follows him in and moves towards restroom entrance. She is at least twenty years younger than Ted and a free spirit. )
I can’t believe we’re at a funeral home at this time of night. It’s a little creepy. Where is everyone?
TED. They’ll be here, they’ll be here, what time you got? (sits on couch)
MOLLY. Where’s your watch?
TED. You know my ex-wife got that in the divorce settlement.
MOLLY. (she crosses to him) And she deserved it after putting up with you for twenty years…I’m talking about the watch I gave you for your birthday last month…oh no, don’t tell me Ted…
MOLLY. Ya hocked it, didn’t ya?
TED. Come on Molly, would I do that?
MOLLY. You’d hock your underwear if any one would take it. First you hock that beautiful tennis bracelet you gave me then the watch I bought you. The card game again right?
TED. (mocking tone) No, it was not the card game again.
MOLLY. C’mon, where’s the pawn ticket? Let’s have it.
TED. I can’t, I gave to Carmine.
MOLLY. Carmine the loan shark! Why the hell did you do that?
TED. Why, why do ya think, (sarcastic) he’s my prom date?…. I owed him money. He needed some security so I told him to take the watch.
MOLLY. (she sits down left) Nice, real nice. You know, I don’t know why I’m with you…you gamble all the time, you’re always broke, you’re old enough to be my father…..
TED. Must be my boyish charm.
MOLLY. Or perhaps because I’m a neurotic , aspiring actress and you’re a border line psychotic playwright?
TED. (a beat) Nah, I still think it’s the boyish charm.
MOLLY. Ya know, they should move your uncle out of that coffin upstairs and get it ready for you because the way you’re going you’re gonna be next.
TED. Carmine wouldn’t hurt me, we grew up together, he’s in my card game.
MOLLY. Oh, I’m not talkin about Carmine killing you.
(looks at her watch)
It’s ten minutes to ten. Why anyone would request they have their wake begin at ten p.m. and end at midnight is beyond me. Who was your uncle, Count Dracula?
TED. Uncle Joey was a bit eccentric and a real practical joker. You couldn’t take anything he said seriously. He used to come to my shows and tell all the actresses he was a Broadway producer.
MOLLY. Yeah, well it must run in the family. Remember you promised me a part in your next play?
TED. You can’t hold me to that, I promise everybody a part in my plays. Did you take the acting lessons like I told you?
MOLLY. (rises and crosses to him) Not yet.
TED. And you expect me to a cast a novice actress just because she’s young and attractive?
MOLLY. It never stopped you before.
TED. That’s besides the point. You need to get experience first.
MOLLY. How can I get experience if you won’t cast me in anything?….
TED. How can I cast you when you can’t act!
MOLLY. Half the women in your plays can’t act!
TED. That’s okay, they’re good at other things.
MOLLY. (hits him with her purse) That’s disgusting!
TED. Not that! One does my P.R. work for free. One works for the printer and gets me a big discount on my programs. It’s a collaborative effort, one must wear many hats in theatre.
MOLLY. Well which one is currently sleeping with you buster! There’s a new slant on the casting couch. A “who can get me stuff for free” couch!
TED. Hey, whatever it takes to get the show on.
MOLLY. Oh, you are making me so nervous…I have to chant.
(starts chanting downstage right, she continues to chant until specified)
TED. What are you doing?
MOLLY. Ohm - I’m chanting!
TED. (Rises to stop her) Would you cut that out, you can’t chant in here, it’s a funeral home!
MOLLY. Who’s gonna hear me? (still chanting as she speaks) I must release the negative vibrations that surround me by tapping into the universal knowledge of the cosmos…ohm…ohm
TED. Unbelievable, 2014 and I wind up with a refugee from Woodstock.
MOLLY. (still chanting) Both my parents were at Woodstock….I was conceived ten years later to the day at a Woodstock reunion party in the woods.
TED. (as he takes out cell phone and starts dialing)
God I’m old….
MOLLY. You sure are…. it’s a good thing for you I have a father fixation. (normal voice as she realizes she really needs the restroom) I’ll be right back.
(Molly exits to the bathroom as Ted takes out his cell phone and dials)
TED. (To phone) Hi Amber, yeah it’s me again, is he in?….. How can he be home sleeping, it’s only seven pm in L.A…I know he’s in the office, just tell him it’s important. …Well tell him this time it’s really important….yeah I’ll hold.
(Brady the Funeral Director enters)
BRADY. Mr. Santi, can I speak to you for a moment?
TED. Just a sec Mr. Brady, I’m on the phone with my agent.. in L.A.,,(aside to himself joyfully) Gee, I always wanted to say that…(to Brady) I’ll be upstairs in a few minutes.
BRADY. Okay, I just wanted you to know that the viewers are starting to arrive. You should be up there with them.. ‘Protocol and etiquette’, that’s our motto at Brady and Sons.
TED. Don’t worry, my uncle won’t mind. He’s probably trying to draw to an inside straight up in heaven. Which reminds me, you feel like joining in a weekly poker game, we just got an opening.
BRADY. A poker game. Interesting. I used to hold a game right here after hours.
TED. Here, in the funeral parlor?
BRADY. That’s right.
TED. You know poker games are illegal, weren’t you afraid you’d get caught?
BRADY. We played somewhere were no one would look.
TED. Why’d you stop the game?
BRADY. All the players died.
TED. How convenient.
BRADY. And Mr. Santi, there’s the matter of the money you owe?
TED. Yeah, yeah, I’ll be up in a minute.
(He heads towards exit as Ted’s cousin Sal enters )
SAL. (To Brady as he exits) Howdy. (to Ted)
Hey cousin Ted….good to see you.
TED. How’s it going up there?
SAL. Aunt Theresa is hysterical. (Imitating their Aunt Theresa)“My baby brother, my baby brother, I can’t believe he’s gone”
TED. Drama queen, sixty years of community theatre.
TED. I’m on hold with my agent (proud of himself) In L.A.
SAL. Oh yeah, the plays. How’s that going for you?
TED. (sits next to Sal)
I just hocked my watch, that’s how it’s going for me. I can’t understand it, I’ve been with this agent for five years and aside from a couple of publishing contracts there’s been nothing. No Broadway, no off Broadway, not even regional theatre. And his other client is Nat Shulman, one of the most profitable playwrights in the last forty years. His ten percent of that guy alone is good for millions a year!
SAL. So what does he need you for?
TED. That’s what I’m thinking. But I figure, having a top agent who ignores you is better that having a lousy agent who ignores you.
SAL. I don’t know, they’re funny out there in L.A. They think differently, real mellow. I was out there on vacation once. I was standing on the Santa Monica pier one day and I saw five people just sitting there watching a seagull trying to break open an oyster.
TED. Really? Maybe it was an acting exercise. They’re a little wacky out there.
SAL. You’re telling me.
AUNT THERESA. (Off Stage)
Joey! Joey! Get up out of that box and I’ll make you Macaroni! “Oh good night sweet prince” My baby brother! My baby brother!
SAL. See what I mean.
TED. (rises and looks upstairs) She never could stop overacting.
MOLLY. (enters from restroom) Oh, another one of the card players.
SAL. Hi Molly, if you ever get tired of this guy and you want to give me a shot….
MOLLY. No thanks Sal, one degenerate gambling boyfriend is enough. (Back to chanting) Ohmm – Ohmmm
SAL. (to Ted) Hey, what the hell is she doing?
TED. (a little sarcastic) She’s releasing the negative vibrations that surround her by tapping into the universal knowledge of the cosmos.
SAL. Oh yeah, I heard about that in California too. Some new kind of foreplay, right?
(Aunt Theresa and Tommy, Ted’s younger brother, enter from upstairs)
AUNT THERESA. (sobbing) Poor Joey! My poor baby brother, I can’t believe he’s gone.
TOMMY. It’s okay Aunt Theresa, it’s okay, Uncle Joey’s at peace now. (he shrugs his shoulders at Ted)
AUNT THERESA. (Hugging Ted) Ted, he was so young, so young he went. (Hugging Sal) Sally, he was so young.
SAL. Uncle Joey was seventy eight Aunt Theresa, I mean after all. (He sits)
AUNT THERESA. In the prime of life. Longevity runs in our family. Your Grandmother, God rest her soul,(she blesses herself and the three men do likewise) died two years ago at a hundred and one. If she’d had lived to see her boy, her little Joey, lying in that box up there….(she sobs on his shoulder)
TED. It’s okay Aunt Theresa. It’s okay. Hey Molly, can you help Aunt Theresa to the ladies room?
AUNT THERESA. (Regaining her composure) `Teddy, who’s this girl?
TED. This is my girlfriend Molly.
AUNT THERESA. Another girlfriend? What happened to the other one I just met at the last funeral.
MOLLY. (to Ted) What other one, what funeral?
TED. (to Molly) Kari, I told you about her. And the last funeral was a year ago.
MOLLY. You told me you broke up with her two years ago.
TED. What do you want from me, she came to pay her respects.
AUNT THERESA. Kari, that’s the one, the Irish girl. I don’t know what it is with you and the Irish girls, All the time the Irish girls. You know what your grandmother, God rest her soul (she blesses herself and the men follow) thought of those Irish girls. Always drinking, never cooking.
TED. Doesn’t matter, I know how to cook. And by the way Aunt Theresa, Molly is Irish.
AUNT THERESA. No offense dear, my late husband Henry was half Irish. God rest his soul. (sign of cross and they follow) A Beautiful man. .(trying to deflect her gaffe). Wasn’t he a beautiful man?
(trying to humor Aunt Theresa, all the men compliment him, ‘’a prince, great guy etc – Tommy sits down)
AUNT THERESA. And Funny!
(again the men ad-lib ‘very funny, a comic genius etc)
MOLLY. No offense taken Aunt Theresa.
AUNT THERESA. (as she gives Molly the once over)
But Teddy, Teddy, she’s …so young.
TED. (proud of himself) Yeah, I know.
AUNT THERESA. (she walks over to Ted and slaps the side of his head) What are you crazy? You want wind up with a heart attack like your uncle Joey? (she starts crying again)
On my poor baby brother. Dies right in the arms of that Putana!
I told him to stop with the women. All the time with the women. Three, four at a time, ever since he was a kid!
SAL. What was he, superman?
AUNT THERESA. (Hit’s Sal) Not at the same time, he’d juggle them. (looks at Ted) Just like someone else I know.
No wonder he’s dead! ( with dramatic effect) Oh I feel so dizzy! (a la Blanche DuBois )“The vapors are upon me.”
(Hits Tommy on the head) Get up and let an old lady sit down!
TED. Molly, do you mind, get her to the ladies room before she goes into the death scene from Romeo and Juliet.
MOLLY. Come on Aunt Theresa, let’s freshen up.
(They exit to the restrooms)
TED. So where have you been Tommy? You’re always late. The card game, my plays, now Uncle Joey’s funeral.
SAL. (to Tommmy) Your brothers right Tommy.
TED. (To phone) Hello Chuck, Hi, thanks for taking my call.
TOMMY. (aside to Sal) He has to talk to his agent at his own uncle’s funeral?
( During the call Tommy and Sal start playing cards, at certain points, as Ted gets loud and excited they try to shush him reminding him he’s in a funeral parlor)
TED. So how are things in L.A.?....Really, seventy two and sunny? That’s great! Besides the weather how are things in L.A.? Anything cooking? …No huh… Did the Santa Monica theatre get back to you? Not yet huh. Well is there anything going on? How about New York? …I know you’re in L.A. but you also represent Nat Shulman, the darling of Broadway, you must know someone in New York?...(getting excited) What do you mean it doesn’t work that way, well how the hell does it work then? I mean we’re together five years and I’m no further along than I was without you…yeah, I know it’s a bad economy Chuck but I’m giving you tried and true material. Thirteen plays, comedies, dramas, musicals, mysteries. I produce them all in Jersey and the audiences love them…Because I can’t afford to produce them in Manhattan, that’s supposed to be your job, to get me producers! I’m not getting excited….yes, I know you’re doing the best you can…yes, I know I’m bound to make it…But I’m fifty three years old, I’d just like to make it while I’m still breathing. I can see it now, I die, the plays hit big and I’m looking down from heaven watching the kids and grand kids driving Mazzaratis, having the time of their lives on my play royalties …of course I ,love my kids, you’re missing the point Chuck? …Chuckie boy…Chuck, you there?
I think he hung up on me.
TED. Yeah, I heard a funny buzz on the line and it went dead.
SAL. Maybe it was an earthquake. They have them out there all the time.
TED. (To Tommy) So where were you Tommy, why are you late?
TOMMY. Well someone had to be here when they dropped Uncle Joey off this afternoon, right? (proudly) After that I was at a classic car show displaying my sixty seven GTO.
TED. Those shows don’t run this late.
TOMMY. Then I had to make a stop to pick up cards.. Here take one.(He hands them each a playing card and a poker chip)
To put in the coffin. In honor of Uncle Joey for having the longest running Tuesday night poker game in the back room of a deli in the history of Brooklyn. Fifty five years. The players may have changed, the cards may have run hot and cold, but Uncle Joey always made the best sausage, pepper and egg sandwiches of any poker game in history. To Uncle Joey.
ALL. To Uncle Joey.
(They all hold up there poker cards so audience can see three aces of hearts then put them away)
TOMMY. (To Ted) By the way Teddy, I saw Kari upstairs.
TED. Oh shit! Was her husband with her?
TOMMY. Louie the Leg Breaker? She said he’s parking the car. It’s a good thing you broke it off with that broad. You were playing with fire for a while there.
TED. You know Kari and I go way back. I knew her before I knew my ex-wife.
TOMMY. Speaking of which, your ex-wife is also upstairs commiserating with your ex -girlfriend.
SAL. Not to be confused with his current girlfriend.
TED. Kari’s talking to Pam?
TOMMY. That’s right. . Probably contemplating a joint murder.
TED. That’s reassuring to know.
TOMMY. You know, one of them castrates you while the other stabs you in the heart a few times.
TED. Enough, I get the picture Tommy!
TOMMY. Well I’m only saying…All the horses are at the starting gate.
MOLLY. (Off) Teddy baby!
SAL. And here comes the latest entry to the field.
MOLLY. I don’t know what to do! She’s in there sobbing and babbling, sobbing and babbling.
SAL. What she saying?
MOLLY. I don’t know, something about ‘Gentleman callers.’
TED. She’ll be fine, that calms her down.
(Kari enters, Ted spots her and moves upstage to try to avoid her as she hugs Sal and Tommy, ignoring Molly)
KARI. Sal, Tommy, I’m so sorry…I was devastated when I heard the news.
SAL. Thank you.
TOMMY. Did you ever meet Uncle Joey?
KARI. No, but I heard a lot about him.
(To Ted coldly)
Oh, hello Ted.
TED. Hello Kari. You look great.
KARI. Save it. (glaring at Molly) Who’s this, your niece?
TED. That’s Molly, my… friend.
MOLLY. His girlfriend!
KARI. Really, how nice for you Ted. But..how’d she get here, is she old enough to drive?
MOLLY. Yes she is. She’s also old enough to know a decent hair Salon too. Would you like the number?
KARI. Why you little…
(They move towards each other as Sal and Tommy grab them. Brady enters)
BRADY. (a little condescending)
I’m sorry to disturb everyone, but shouldn’t one representative of the family be upstairs. Your uncle didn’t have any children as I recall. You’re all there is.
SAL. I’ll go…
MOLLY. I’ll go with him…
TED. Fine, I’ll be up in a minute…
MOLLY. You better be.
KARI. Don’t worry, I won’t steal him from you Mandy.
MOLLY. It’s Molly, but I’d prefer if you use my spiritual name, ‘Kiki Moonglow.’
KARI. Oh you’re not serious.
MOLLY. (she blows baby kisses to Ted for effect)
Keep cool tiger!
(she glares at Kari as she and Sal exit upstairs)
KARI. ‘Kiki Moonglow’? Sounds like the name of the lounge at the bowling alley….You know they’re running a sale on training bra’s at Macy’s and Christmas is right around the corner.
TED. Enough, give me a break, thirty two years old.
KARI. Oh ‘she’s thirty two years old.’ I’ve got shoes older than that!
TOMMY. Ted’s got a car older than that.
KARI. (to Tommy) Stay out of this! (to Ted)
You made promises to me buster! What, so we have a little set back and you bail out!
TED. Little set back? You’re married!
TOMMY. Hey, how is the leg breaker?…, I mean, your husband.
KARI and TED. (to Tommy) Stay out of this!
KARI. (to Ted) I told you I would have left him.
TED. Yeah, you would have left him…and he would have left you…and me…floating in the East River!
KARI. You coward, the worst he would have done is broken your kneecaps.
TED. I’ll tell you what, why don’t you fool around with another guy, let him get his knee caps broken, get a divorce and then we’ll talk.
KARI. Oh, It’s all about you, isn’t it Ted?
TED. When it comes to keeping my knee caps intact, yes, it’s all about me.
KARI. Funny…hey wait a minute….(as she checks out Tommy)
maybe you’re on to something.
TOMMY. Don’t look at me, my kneecaps are working just fine and I want to keep it that way.
TED. Hey, I’m being serious here. You seem to think this is some sort of Noel Coward drawing room comedy where we sit around the living room sipping brandy and discuss our infidelities in a civil manner. You’re married to a mob enforcer for God’s sake. I know the type, no sense of humor!
KARI. Well maybe you should have thought of the consequences before you got in involved with me again!
TED. Hey, I’m a guy, we never think of the consequences till it’s too late!
KARI. Just like back in college.
TED. What do you mean, You were the one who moved here from the Midwest to break into acting. Theatre Major at NYU and you throw it all away and marry that strong arm man.
KARI. Oh, and what did you want me to do? We discussed marriage after college but you kept stalling and chasing actresses. Louie paid attention to me and he is good provider!
TED. You know I would have married you….eventually.
KARI. Eventually is the story of your life. How Pam ever pinned you down I’ll never figure out.
TOMMY. Hey you guys, I don’t think this is the time or place…
KARI and TED. Stay out of this!
KARI. You can date all the young actresses you want Ted…but just remember who was there supporting you at the beginning. Me. You’re college sweetheart.
TED. I know Kari, I know…so, now I’m single and you’re still married and that’s the bottom line. If you ever get divorced, we’ll talk.
KARI. Why should I get divorced when I can’t trust you as far as I can throw you?
TED. That’s not fair…people can change you know.
BRADY. (Who has been observing from a distance)
I hate to interrupt again Mr. Santi…
KARI. Good, then don’t…
BRADY. But there’s that matter we have to discuss.
TED. Right, right, the money I owe you.
KARI. Huh, figures. You owe money again. Always gambling, always the card game…Why didn’t I listen to my mother….’stay away from the bad boys, they’re charmers’ she always told me. But do I listen, nah I don’t listen, I never listen.
(she exits to restroom)
BRADY. Uh, Mr. Santi?
TED. Yeah, yeah Brady…I’ll be with you in a minute.
BRADY. You know Mr. Santi, you aren’t the only one with problems. I have a black sheep nephew in from L.A. who’s trying to take over my funeral business lock stock and barrel