Santa Claus is comin’ to Town

Rankin Bass Christmas specials! This was one of the things I loved most about Christmas as a child.

Watching television on holiday afternoons featuring those distinctive doll-like characters, brought to life with a stop-motion animation technique called “Animagic”. (I used to look forward to it almost as much as Santa dropping off the presents!)

According to wikipedia
The company was founded by Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Jules Bass in the early 1960s as Videocraft International. The majority of Rankin/Bass’ work, including all of their “Animagic” stop-motion productions, were created in Japan. Throughout the 1960s, the Animagic productions were headed by Japanese stop-motion animator Tadahito Mochinaga.
Their traditionally cel-animated works were animated by Toei Animation, Crawley Films and Mushi Production, and since the 1970s, they were animated by the Japanese studio Topcraft, which was formed in 1972 as an offshoot of Toei Animation.

The 5 most popular films (and also my personal favourites) were

Rudolph The Red-nosed Reindeer (1964)

With narrator Burl Ives in the role of Sam the Snowman

The Little Drummer Boy (1968)

About the birth of the baby Jesus, and with Greer Garson providing the dramatic narration

Frosty the Snowman (1969)
This was actually cell animation (as opposed to “Animagic”) and narrated by Jimmy Durante (who also sang the title song). Jackie Vernon voiced the title character.

Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town (1970)
An origin story about Santa Claus, narrated by Fred Astaire as (the animated character) mailman S.D (“Special Delivery”) Kluger. Kris Kringle is voiced by Mickey Rooney

The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974)
Narrated by Shirley Booth as (the animated character) Mrs. Claus, and featuring Mickey Rooney once again as the voice of Santa Claus. The iconic characters of Snow Miser (voiced by Dick Shawn) and Heat Miser (voiced by George S. Irving) also featured in this film.

Snow Miser

and

Heat Miser

Merry Christmas, happy holidays and best wishes for a great start to 2013!
(Back again in early February. All the best in the meantime).

The Teddy Bears’ Picnic

Well, two weeks after My Homework ate my blog… I still haven’t written another one. So, I was sort of faced with three choices this week :

1) Do nothing
2) Write another poem about why I have no blog this week (and slowly start turning it into a blog of poems about not blogging)
3) Post what I have been working on, which is a puppet show for the Teddy Bears’ Picnic my daughter’s school is having on Sunday. (I had to write the ten minute script for them, make the puppets and props and rehearse everybody – hence no blog).

So I’ve chosen option 3 and posted the script for an enthralling tale entitled “The Teddy Bears’ Picnic” below. (Well, with any luck it might be enthralling for 3-7 year olds. I guess I’ll find out on Sunday…)

‘THE TEDDY BEARS PICNIC’
by Michelle Mead

ROLES:

DAISY (PUPPET)
DOLLY (PUPPET)
CHARLIE (PUPPET)
CHIP (PUPPET)
TIGER (PUPPET)
NARRATOR (VOICE/PERSON)

PROPS :

PICNIC BASKET
PICNIC RUG
BALL
4 CUPCAKES
FLOWERS

DAISY, DOLLY, CHARLIE and CHIP appear onstage with a PICNIC BASKET.

NARRATOR
Once upon a time four little teddy bears decided to go on a picnic together. Their names were Daisy…

DAISY
Hi!

NARRATOR
Dolly…

DOLLY
Hello!

NARRATOR
Charlie…

CHARLIE
Nice to meet you!

NARRATOR
And Chip.

Chip says nothing.

NARRATOR
Say “hello”, Chip.

CHIP
No.

NARRATOR
Why not? Don’t you to be polite?

CHIP
Not really.

NARRATOR
Well, that’s not very nice.

CHIP
I don’t care.

NARRATOR
Hmmm. (SIGHS) Well, let’s just get on with the story.

DOLLY, DAISY and CHARLIE carry the picnic basket a little way across the stage while Chip walks in a daydream behind them.

NARRATOR
They took a great big picnic basket full of food with them to the park. It was so full of food that they all needed to help carry it.

DOLLY
Did you hear that, Chip? We all needed to help carry the basket.

Chip hums to himself, looking around at the sky instead, pretending he does not hear.

DOLLY
Chip, we know you heard.

CHIP
No, I didn’t.

CHARLIE
You have to help us carry the basket.

CHIP
But I don’t want to.

CHARLIE
Well, it’s not fair if you don’t.

CHIP
I don’t care.

CHARLIE, DAISY and DOLLY
Hmmpff!

DAISY, DOLLY and CHARLIE walk off a little further across the stage with the PICNIC BASKET. CHIP follows.

DAISY, DOLLY and CHARLIE put down the PICNIC BASKET and lay out a PICNIC RUG.

NARRATOR
They found a lovely spot for their picnic, then put down a blanket and the basket, and started to set things up.

While DAISY, DOLLY and CHARLIE busily set up the picnic, CHIP kicks a ball back and forth across the stage without helping.

NARRATOR
They all pitched in to help.

Chip continues to kick the ball around, not helping.

NARRATOR
Didn’t they, Chip?

CHIP
Sure.

CHIP kicks his ball through the middle of the picnic setup.

CHARLIE, DAISY and DOLLY
Chip!

CHARLIE picks up the BALL.

CHARLIE
I’m holding onto this now, Chip.

CHIP
I don’t care.

DAISY, DOLLY and CHARLIE all shake their heads. CHARLIE put the BALL away (offstage).

NARRATOR
The four of them decided to go and pick some flowers to put in the centre of their picnic rug.

CHIP
What?! I didn’t decide that!

NARRATOR
Well, that’s what they did anyway.

CHIP
No, it isn’t.

NARRATOR
Yes, it is.

CHIP
I’m not doing that. It’s dumb.

NARRATOR
You know this is getting very tiresome, Chip.

CHIP
I don’t care.

NARRATOR
Well… the co-operative members of the cast went off to pick flowers.

DAISY, DOLLY and CHARLIE exit side stage.

CHIP sits down on the PICNIC RUG and starts looking through the basket of food.

CHIP
(TO AUDIENCE)
Hey, look what I just found!

He holds up a CUPCAKE (PROP).

CHIP
We have cupcakes! My favourite! Do you think I should eat one now?

CHIP waits for a response from the audience.

CHIP
Well, I’m going to!

CHIP devours the CUPCAKE Cookie Monster style.

CHIP
Yum! That was so good I think I need to have another one!

CHIP devours yet another CUPCAKE.

CHIP
Yum, yum! And another one!

NARRATOR
I wouldn’t do that if I were you, Chip. The others will be very upset if you eat all the cupcakes.

CHIP
I don’t care.

CHIP eats the last two CUPCAKES at once.

DAISY, DOLLY, and CHARLIE return from side stage with FLOWERS.

DAISY
What are you doing, Chip?!

DOLLY
Oh, my goodness! You’ve eaten all the cupcakes!!

CHIP
(LOOKING AROUND)
Woops!

CHARLIE
That wasn’t nice, Chip!

CHIP
It was, you know, Charlie. They were the loveliest cupcakes!

CHARLIE
Well, it isn’t fair that you ate them all!

DAISY
Yeah, Chip. Stop doing naughty things! You’re ruining our picnic.

CHIP
I don’t care. I’m bored with this picnic anyway.

DOLLY
(SHOCKED)
Chip!

CHIP
I think I’d have more fun on my own. I’ll go into the forest to play by myself.

CHIP starts to head to towards his side stage exit.

NARRATOR
But you can’t do that, Chip!

CHIP
(STOPPING)
Why not?

NARRATOR
Because… a big bad tiger lives in the forest. Remember? I wouldn’t go in there by yourself, if I were you.

CHIP
A big bad tiger in the forest? There is not.

NARRATOR
Yes, there is. He’s mean and terrifying. And you just shouldn’t go in there. You should stay here, so we can all get on with the story we’re supposed to tell.

CHIP
I don’t believe you. I’m going anyway.

NARRATOR
Well, I think you’ll end up being very sorry about that.

CHIP
I don’t care.

DAISY, DOLLY and CHARLIE shake their heads as CHIP heads off stage.

NARRATOR
(ANNOYED)
So, Chip went off into the forest, I guess. And apparently the script just went out the window. (CALLING AFTER CHIP) I wonder if Big Ted from Playschool is this difficult to work with?

CHIP
(OFFSTAGE)
I don’t care.

NARRATOR
Goodness me!

DAISY, DOLLY and CHARLIE and all the other picnic props disappear from the stage.

CHIP returns to centre stage from one side.

CHIP
Hey! Isn’t this great? I’ve got the whole forest to myself now. I can run…

CHIP ‘runs’ back and forth across the stage.

CHIP
…and jump…

CHIP ‘jumps’ up and down.

CHIP
… and SHOUT! We know there’s not really any tiger out here, don’t we?

The TIGER starts to sneak up on CHIP (hopefully prompting a reaction from the kids. Or a PLANTED adult in the audience might help prompt one).

CHIP
What? What’s wrong?

CHIP waits for an audience response to his question, with the TIGER still sneaking up and preparing to pounce.

CHIP
The tiger?! Where?

As soon as CHIP looks around for the TIGER, the TIGER ducks down (BELOW STAGE) and hides.

CHIP
(TURNING BACK TO THE AUDIENCE)
What tiger? There’s no tiger. You’re seeing things.

The TIGER starts to sneak up on CHIP again (hopefully) prompting an audience reaction to let CHIP know about the TIGER again.

CHIP
Really? There is a tiger?!

The TIGER is almost right beside CHIP when CHIP finally looks around the stage, and narrowly misses seeing the TIGER, who ducks below stage.

CHIP turns back to the audience.

CHIP
Are you trying to trick me? Because I don’t see any tiger.

The TIGER starts to creep up on CHIP once more, prompting more appeals to CHIP to look out for him from the audience.

CHIP
No, I’m not going to look this time. You can’t fool me again.

The TIGER is getting closer and bearing down on CHIP, almost right beside him.

CHIP
Okay! This is the very last time I look.

CHIP briefly glances at the TIGER beside him and then back the audience, before he suddenly jolts in realisation, and turns back towards back towards the TIGER shaking.

TIGER
GRRRrrrrrr!!

CHIP
Aaarrrgh!

CHIP ‘runs’ across the stage and off sidestage with the TIGER chasing behind him (and also following offstage).

CHIP ‘runs’ back onstage (from the same side of stage he just exited) and across to the opposite side, with the TIGER still chasing along behind. They both run off sidestage.

CHIP and the TIGER make one more pass across the stage (entering from the side they just exited and running off side stage on the opposite side).

CHIP ‘runs’ back on from side stage and the TIGER ‘runs’ on stage towards him from the opposite side of the stage. They bump into each other in the middle of the stage.

CHIP
Aaarrrgh!

TIGER
GRRrrrr!!

CHIP
Please, don’t hurt me, Mr Tiger!

TIGER
I’m not going to hurt you.

CHIP
Phew! What a relief.

TIGER
I’m just going to eat you.

CHIP
No! No, you can’t eat me!

TIGER
I most certainly can. I’m a tiger and you’re in my forest. I can do whatever I like. And besides it’s lunchtime.

CHIP
(WAILS)
But that’s not fair!

TIGER
Fair?! I don’t care. Now stand still so I can take a nice juicy bite out of you.

CHIP
Noooooooo!

CHARLIE
(FROM OFFSTAGE)
Wait just a minute, Mr Tiger.

DAISY, DOLLY and CHARLIE come onstage from one side carrying the PICNIC BASKET.

DAISY
If you’re hungry we have a lovely picnic basket of food you might prefer.

TIGER
Hmmm. What have you got in there?

The TIGER looks inside the PICNIC BASKET.

TIGER
Let’s see… Some cheese and ham and tomato rolls, and grapes and popcorn and (GASPS) chocolate cake! My favourite! I have to admit that sounds a whole lot yummier than raw teddy bear. I’ll have this instead.

The TIGER carries the PICNIC BASKET off side stage.

NARRATOR
And so Daisy, Dolly and Charlie saved their friend Chip from the tiger. And Chip said thank you to them. Didn’t you, Chip?

CHIP
Yes, I really did – do. Thank you! Thank you so much for saving me. I’m very grateful to you all.

NARRATOR
And, so…

CHIP
And I’m so sorry for being naughty and unfair before. And for ruining the picnic.

NARRATOR
So, the…

CHIP
So the thing I’ve decided to do, is to make us all some more food for another picnic tomorrow. (BOWING HIS HEAD, ASHAMED) If you would all like to come along, that is.

DAISY
I’d love to.

DOLLY
Me, too.

CHARLIE
We’ll all come along, Chip. What a nice idea.

NARRATOR
And that…was the end of the story. And a very nice ending to the story it is, too, Chip.

CHIP
Thanks, but I’m sorry I messed up the script for you.

NARRATOR
That’s okay, Chip. Just this once, I suppose I don’t care.

THE END