Unlike any adaptation of Charles Dickens'
Expectations you may have seen.
What's the word on the street?
In 1830's London, papermongers
chase ha'pennies by hawking "broadsides" -- the pulp fiction of
the day -- outrageous tabloids of melodrama and romance, murder
One extraordinary night, two competing papermongers use a
pastiche of broadsides both old and new to improvise the saga of
an orphan girl whose life is almost destroyed by "great
expectations" of status, fortune and love - a tale that, we
discover in a last-minute twist, has inspired a young writer
named Charley Dickens.
If a larger cast is desired, without doubling, the cast of
named roles expands to Nine Women, Nine Men. Additional
crowd members and passers-by are optional.
The show is flexible in its scale of production. While the tale
told is epic, the way it is told invites intimacy and an
London, 1830. The bustling city is lit with
gas. Orphans wander the streets without hope.
Working people, seeking escape from their dreary
daily lives, gather around the PAPERMONGERS
to hear the latest "broadsides."
Broadsides -- the tabloids of the era -- sell news
of murders and romances, scandals and humor, all
liberally embellished by a fertile imagination. A
crowd gathers as fierce competition between two
Papermongers -- one touting a "Poor Orphan In The
Graveyard!" and the other a "Convict On The Run!" --
creates a new fable, not of an orphan boy, but of an
orphan girl, who becomes...
But wait! Let the competing Papermongers tell the
story with an improvised pastiche of broadsides both
old and new. And let the street people of London
transform themselves into the characters of the
A homeless female street waif claims our attention
as we are taken to...
... a lonely churchyard, where 7-year-old PIP
meets and befriends a pregnant CONVICT, escaped from
a nearby prison. Pip races home for food, and is abused by
her cold-hearted older SISTER, who intends to send
Pip to work as a maid at the nearby castle. Despite Pip's
attempts to help her, the Convict is captured and
transported to Australia.
Pip is a virtual slave at the castle, where she meets
STEPHEN, the haughty, lonely ward of the household, and
LORD GAYLE, the spiteful, wheelchair-bound master. As
the years pass, Pip and Stephen become friends in mutual
loneliness, playing in secret until caught by Lord Gayle and
Pip is fired.
When she is 18, Pip receives an unexpected visit from
MATTHEWS, Lord Gayle's attorney, who announces she is
heir to the fortune of a secret benefactor. She will be
transformed, elevated to the finest circles of society. Who
knows what the future holds for her?
The Papermongers do! For now all of London is
teeming with quickly-printed, contradictory
broadsides about the orphan Pip -- she's a "hit" on
every street corner! But amid the commotion, "our" Papermongers and street people continue the "true"
story of Pip...
Pip makes her society debut at Lord Gayle's castle.
Stephen has become a wealthy, genteel cad. He admits that
when they were children, Pip was the only person who made
his life bearable, but he warns her against losing her heart
to him, for he has none to give in return. Pip flees her
debut, shattered by such a cold rebuke of her offered love.
A startling visitor appears at Pip's door -- the Convict,
returned to England, who reveals herself as Pip's secret
benefactor. To repay Pip's kindness, she became a
prostitute, scrimping and saving every penny to buy a better
life for the caring child who had befriended her so many
Pip angrily confronts Lord Gayle, who had coolly encouraged
her to believe that he was her patron. The Convict comes to
the castle and is revealed as Stephen's birth mother. To his
horror, he learns that he is the bastard of a convict whore,
adopted as a baby by Lord Gayle. Stephen repudiates the
deceitful Lord Gayle who, humiliated and despairing, sets
the castle ablaze and dies in the fire.
Their wealth and social status now equal, Pip and Stephen
have no great expectations left, only a small and simple one
-- to live out their own story in the real world.
As the Papermongers clean up their broadsides
and the street crowd disperses, we discover that the
young nineteen-year-old who played Stephen in the
tale has been inspired by the evening's experience
to pursue a literary life. His name? Charley
# # #
DAVID H SCHROEDER
(Book, Music and Lyrics)
Born and raised in Ohio, David Schroeder graduated magna cum
laude from Yale University in 1977 with a B.A. in music
composition, studying with Jonathan Kramer and David Mott. His
original musical comedy adaptation of James Thurber's The
Thirteen Clocks was produced at Yale in 1978.
Throughout the 1980s, Schroeder designed and programmed home
computer games for both the popular Apple II and Atari 400-800
systems which were produced and sold nationwide (and ripped off
in Hong Kong!) Two of his titles made industry best-seller
lists, as well as a compilation of "All-Time Best 100 Home
Computer Games" in the mid-80's.
At the same time, he continued to pursue his avocation by
contributing musical parodies and comedy broadcast over National
Public Radio, including the programs All Things Considered and
Morning Edition. His award-winning novelty song, I'm Looking
for a Sex Partner, was distributed by Azra Records in 1987.
As a designer and program manager for Microsoft Corporation in
the early 1990s, Schroeder was awarded a U.S. Patent (No.
5,481,667) for "Cue Cards" -- a computer-based tutorial system
used in many Microsoft products.
songs to a local production of Cinderella --
The Real True Story, Schroeder was motivated to concentrate on
his passion for music, and created the book, music and lyrics
for his first show.
ALKMENA, an authorized adaptation of the play
Amphitryon 38 by
Jean Giraudoux, has had a lengthy and successful history. First
produced in 1998 by Bare Boards & Passion in Port Townsend, it
was performed in concert two years later by the Peninsula
Chamber Singers of Port Angeles, Washington. Two additional
productions followed: by the Port Townsend High School Players
and the Changing Scenes Theatre Northwest of Bremerton,
The show was a semi-finalist for The Stanley Drama Award in
2000, and a Finalist at the Stages 2000 Festival, New Tuners
Theatre, Chicago. It received Honorable Mentions at the McLaren
Memorial Comedy Playwriting Competition two years in a row (1999
Schroeder "expects" to follow that success with his current
project, EXPECTATIONS, an original show freely adapted from
novel, Great Expectations, for which Schroeder
wrote the book, music and lyrics.
In 2004, EXPECTATIONS was honored by being selected to
participate in the annual ASCAP Foundation / Disney Musical
Theatre Workshop (Artistic Director, Stephen Schwartz).
A reading of the full work was presented at Coronet Theatre, Los
Angeles, in 2006, directed by Randy Brenner.
A CD of songs from the score was recorded in Los Angeles in 2008
by a cast of Actors Equity members.
Over the past ten
years, Schroeder has been writing musical parodies published
by The Door, a national Christian humor magazine. He
has collected classic radio programs since college, and
annually produces a local show called A Golden Age Radio
Christmas, a mock broadcast of radio comedy and holiday song.
He and his wife, author Margaret D. McGee, live in Port