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The Nifty Fifties

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The Nifty Fifties is a play performed in 2008 that was never released to DVD by Mustache Manaics Film Co. It was performed by Park Players and was produced by special arrangement with Pioneer Drama Service, Inc., of Englewood, Colorado.

Film DetailsEdit

  • Release Date: May 9, 2008 (Play); n/a (Film)
  • Running Time: 89 min.
  • MPAA Rating: n/a
  • Director: Judy Barringer
  • Producer: Cherie Shefton
  • Writer: Tim Kelly

Plot SummaryEdit

WARNING: This section contains spoilers. If you do not want to find out what happens, skip to the next section.

The play opens inside Louise's Luncheonette, the setting for most of the play's action, in the year 1958. While soda jerk Donald Spinney mans the counter, luncheonette owner Louise shows new hire Virginia Segal around the shop. Apparently, the original waitress, Edna Stover, is moving to Michigan because her dad is working on the Edsel. As the staff talks about re-stocking the kitchen, snooty girls Muffin, Jane, and Ann enter the shop, calling Donald rude and a jerk. They then begin to talk about the pretty boy in school, George Bullock.

Just then, Gracie steps into the shop, whom Donald asks if she's seen that new movie at the Bijou (we later find out that the movie in question is The Blob). She says no, just like all of the others he asks. However, Gracie is more interested in speaking to Louise. Apparently, because the high school's gymnasium is closed for refurbishment, Gracie needs to find someplace else to host the Hippity Hop dance party and Gracie asks if Louise would volunteer the luncheonette for the party. Muffin, Jane, and Ann balk at the idea, but Louise agrees after some persuasion. Muffin still insists that no one will show up, but Gracie says everyone will show up because Ziggy Spinger, famous singer and alleged cousin to Gracie, will be there.

Gracie's brother, Bob, quickly shows up to the shop, telling Gracie he is in danger. Apparently, he took rebel Sinbad's motorcycle for a spin and crashed it. However, out of breath, Bob rests at the counter. As he settles in, George arrives, receiving the attention of the girls. Bob asks him if he's seen the new movie, which he says he has. He then proceeds, along with some of the other luncheonette attendees, to tell about The Blob. Afterwards, Muffin tries to grab George's attention, only to see Sinbad, Riff, and Misty enter the luncheonette. They demand to know where Bob is, and are met with stern words from Louise. After some conflict, they leave the shop. Bob, then rushes in, telling them about a hula hooping girl outside, which everyone goes out to see.

That night at the concert hall, Gracie and her friends attend a Ziggy Springer concert, where he performs his hit song "Oh, Baby!". After the concert, Gracie talks to Beverly, Ziggy's manager's secretary, about the Hippity Hop. She also speaks to Lennie, Ziggy's manager, before Ziggy arrives. Gracie explains her situation and Ziggy agrees, taking her to a restaurant across the street. Lennie, however, doesn't want Ziggy to do attend the Hippity Hop and conspires with Beverly to prevent him from showing up.

Back at the luncheonette, Officer Moore stops by to talk to Louise about Sinbad. She explains what happened, and Officer Moore sticks around for a bite to eat. Just then, Mrs. Eunice Nicholson, the owner of the strip mall where the luncheonette is located, enters to tell Louise that her lease is almost up, but may not renew it. She says that a dry cleaner is interested in moving into the location and also tells her that she won't allow the Hippity Hop to be held there. As Mrs. Nicholson leaves, Louise feels down about the situation. Just then, the students return to the shop. Muffin still doesn't believe Ziggy will show up, but Gracie refutes her by showing her an autograph she got at the concert, which reads, "See you at the Hippity Hop." The gang all gets excited.

That night in an alleyway, Donald and Bob talk about Sinbad's bike before Donald races off, stating that "When it comes to Sinbad, I don't have any friends." Bob becomes miffed before being approached by Muffin and her friends. They discuss what is being read in school before Bob races off to meet Donald. Muffin, Ann, and Jane scold Bob, but are driven away by Sinbad, Riff, and Misty. Sinbad looks around, looking for Bob. Misty mentions that her mom wants her to get a job, a prospect that disgusts them. They then explain their stance as rebels.

Back at the luncheonette, the shop staff are worried sick, not only for their jobs, but for Gracie's Hippity Hop as well. However, Edna hatches a plan to get Mrs. Nicholson out of town for the night by calling her, telling her that her brother is sick. In the meantime, Muffin, Jane, and Ann insult Gracie's decorations for the party, but the others support her. While Donald restocks the counter, Louise regains composure, telling everyone that the Hippity Hop will happen after all. Muffin still thinks the Hippity Hop will flop, with Jane and Ann agreeing.

After Muffin and her friends leave, the phone rings, with Donald picking up. Beverly is on the other end of the line and asks to speak to Gracie. After complying, Beverly tells Gracie that Ziggy can't come, since he has Laryngitis. Gracie hangs up, knowing that Muffin will never let her forget this. However, Gracie comes up with an idea; if she had Donald dress up as Ziggy and sing during a "power outage," she might be able to fool everyone into thinking that Ziggy showed up. Donald is reluctant to go through with the plan, but Gracie assures him that he will have 15 seconds of fame. After much deliberation, Donald agrees.

Later out on the street, Virginia and Edna talk about the Hippity Hop before heading back to the luncheonette to prepare for the party. Gracie and George then walk on, talking to each other. It becomes clear that they are showing feelings for each other, as George asks Gracie out on a date. They then express their love for one another. As they leave, Mrs. Nicholson, who hasn't fallen for Edna's trick, talks to Officer Moore about something going on at the luncheonette. They then head to the luncheonette as Sinbad, Riff, and Misty show up. They mock Officer Moore, then continue searching for Bob.

Back in Louise's Luncheonette, everyone joins in the Hippity Hop, singing and dancing the night away. After the dance is over, Muffin demands to know where Ziggy is. Gracie tells her that he's already there, then proceeds with her plan by turning off the lights. Donald, who is very nervous, swings on-stage and stumbles over the lyrics to "Oh, Baby!," only to have the power come back on. Muffin scolds Gracie for not delivering, but is cut off when the real Ziggy Springer shows up. Ziggy greets the party-goers, but are cut off again when Mrs. Nicholson and Officer Moore show up. Mrs. Nicholson demands that the Hippity Hop be canceled, but faints at the sight of Ziggy, whom she admires. She receives an autographed photo, but is cut off yet again by Sinbad and his gang, who have now found Bob. Sinbad is about to hit Bob when Officer Moore intervenes. Sinbad is run down to the station for stealing the motorcycle, Muffin apologizes for her nay-saying, and everyone parties the night away.

Production HistoryEdit

Back in 1997, Pioneer Drama Service released The Nifty Fifties as a script that could be licensed out to drama groups to perform. The script was written by Tim Kelly and the music was composed by Bill Francoeur.

In the fall of 2007, after the Cornerstone Thespian Society made its last curtain call with Mystery at Shady Acres and The Prince and the Pauper, a group of parents, wanting to create a replacement for the late drama class, formed Park Players, a drama group that returned to the roots of the Cornerstone Thespian Society.

For the play, the managers knew they wanted to put on a musical, they just didn't know which musical to put on. By the end of 2007, two options existed: either they choose The Nifty Fifties or the 1920's based Flapper. However, Flapper proved to be too girl-oriented, so the decision was made to go with The Nifty Fifties. After all, they reasoned, the script writer and composer were the same as the highly-popular Kilroy Was Here!, and most of the cast were veterans from Thespians, especially the successful Mystery at Shady Acres. What could possibly go wrong?

The play was announced in January of 2008, with development starting soon after. Early on, the song "Edsel" was cut out. However, students began to drop out, seeing the impending disaster that most would eventually regard the play to be. First, Daniel Bermudez dropped out, with Michael Monroe following. Characters were constantly being re-cast and the character of Jughead Jarvis was cut out entirely. Some of the managers wanted to do everything, while others wanted everyone else to do everything. Eventually, the play's dance routines were choreographed by eight people, some of which did not stick it out to the end.

In April of 2008, Teresa Bermudez and Andrew Bermudez received flack from another manager, accusing Teresa of favoritism. They dropped out, leaving only their choreography for the song "Hippity Hop" behind. They moved their efforts over to the then-in-development Johnny Thunder and the Secret of Marco Polo and the role of director was taken over by Judy Barringer, director for Kilroy Was Here!. In a desperate attempt to save the play, Judy added a 50's Skit to the intermission.

Audience ReceptionEdit

The play opened May 9th, 2008 to very dismal reviews. Some of the reasons for the play's lack of success are as follows:

  • Most of the audience consisted of Cornerstone Thespian Society veterans, including Samantha Dorosh, Steve Marlowe, and Shannon O'Kelley. Naturally, they compared the play to Thespians' successes, including Jolly Roger and the Pirate Queen and Cactus Pass. This was, compared to those productions, far inferior in their view.
  • Since Park Players was not attached to a support group, there was little to no way to promote the production. The only outside promotion done for the play was a small article in the newspaper The Signal. On the flip side, The Cornerstone Thespian Society was attached to the Cornerstone Support Group, providing several opportunities to promote productions.
  • Many people working behind the scenes felt that too many people were trying to bid for control. Some felt that they deserved to run the show, while some of the more practical-minded managers tried to steer the play in their own direction. In the play's program, three directors are credited (Cherie Shefton as the executive director, Judy Barringer as the director, and Emily Metcalf as the musical director).
  • Many of the students, who were accustomed to playing supporting characters in the past, were now forced to play starring roles, something they were not expecting. As such, the play was criticized for having inferior acting, though lead actress Alyssia Whitley would later get praise for her performance as Sarah Thunder in Johnny Thunder and the Gift of the Nile.
  • It was, overall, viewed as vastly inferior to almost any production put on by the Cornerstone Thespian Society or released by Mustache Maniacs Film Co.

Because of this negative feedback, the play was never released as a film by Mustache Maniacs Film Co. Instead, work geared up for the release of Johnny Thunder and the Secret of Marco Polo later that same year.

SongsEdit

The songs from The Nifty Fifties are listed as such. Any song marked with an asterisk was never heard in the final production.

The Nifty Fifties (Prologue)Edit

The Nifty Fifties (Prologue) is a large-scale, orchestral song that opens the play and features every character that appears in the production.  It was heard in Act 1 Scene 1.

Rock Around the BlockEdit

Rock Around the Block is an upbeat, rock 'n roll tune that is full of energy and features drums on the soundtrack. It is heard part-way through Act 1 Scene 2.

It Was, "The Blob"Edit

It Was the Blob is a spooky, menacing track with low-pitch bass on the soundtrack, mimicking the music from horror B-movies. It was heard near the end of Act 1 Scene 2.

Oh, Baby!Edit

Oh, Baby is a high-octane, rock 'n roll track featuring electric guitars. It was sung by Ziggy Springer and was heard at the beginning of Act 1 Scene 3.

Bop-A-Lu-Bop Dance PartyEdit

Bop-A-Lu-Bop Dance Party is a party song with saxophones on the soundtrack. The song was sung by the company and was heard at the end of Act 1 Scene 4.

Entr'acteEdit

Entr'acte is an instrumental version of the song "It's Tough to Be a Teenager In Love," which heavily features saxophones. It was heard during intermission.

Rebels With a CauseEdit

Rebels With a Cause is a saxophone-heavy rebel song with a slow beat and motorcycle sounds on the soundtrack. It was heard at the end of Act 2 Scene 1.

Edsel*Edit

Edsel is a smooth, suave song with light cymbal clashes and hydraulic sounds on the soundtrack. It would have played in Act 2 Scene 2, but the song was thought to be pointless as far the story was concerned. As such, it was cut from the play.

Teen QueenEdit

Teen Queen is an orchestral piece with wind instruments on the soundtrack. It was sung by Muffin, Jane, and Ann, and was heard in Act 2 Scene 2.

It's Tough to Be a Teenager In LoveEdit

It's Tough to Be a Teenager in Love is a slow jazz song with a saxophone on the soundtrack. It was sung by George, Gracie, and several backup singers, and played in Act 2 Scene 3.

Hippity HopEdit

Hippity Hop is an upbeat song with a mix of swing and jazz on the soundtrack. It was sung by the company at the beginning of Act 2 Scene 4.

Oh, Baby! Reprise 1Edit

Oh, Baby Reprise 1 is an abbreviated version of the song "Oh, Baby," featuring only the first verse. This version is sung by Donald and was heard in Act 2 Scene 4.

Oh, Baby! Reprise 2Edit

Oh, Baby Reprise 2 is the exact same song as "Oh, Baby Reprise 1," except with Ziggy singing the lyrics and the addition of backup singers. It was heard in Act 2 Scene 4.

The Nifty Fifties (Epilogue)Edit

The Nifty Fifties (Epilogue) is a shortened version of "The Nifty Fifties," with a new beginning. It was heard at the end of the play.

Curtain CallEdit

Curtain Call is an instrumental version of "Oh, Baby" and was heard right after "The Nifty Fifties (Epilogue)."

Exit MusicEdit

Exit Music is the exact same song as "Entr'acte." It was heard as the audience left the theater.

CharactersEdit

CreditsEdit

TriviaEdit

  • Had it been released, this would have been the last play-to-film released by Mustache Maniacs Film Co.
  • The song name "Rebels With a Cause" is a play-off of the title of the James Dean movie Rebel Without a Cause.
  • In the song "It Was the Blob," one character yells, "Kortu Gort Barrada Niktou!," referencing a line from the movie The Day the Earth Stood Still.
  • The segment where the song "Edsel" would have appeared refers to the Edsel as the car of the century, an ironic joke since it is now regarded as one of the worst cars in history.
  • In the song "Teen Queen," Muffin, Jane, and Ann spray cans of hairspray, referencing the hit Broadway musical turned movie Hairspray.

External Links Edit

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