Gary has his sights set on Cheryl, the most beautiful girl in school. However, Gary is a bit of a recluse, obsessed with being a magician, and has a strong love of food… you could say his chances of winning her over are slim. In a last ditch effort to win his true love, Gary plans to execute Harry Houdini’s most dangerous escape at the school talent show, but can he pull it off? And can his friend Penelope talk some sense into him before it’s too late?! Winner of the 2013 Stage Rights/NYMF Publishing Award, a program of The New York Musical Theatre Festival, Gary Goldfarb brings you back to those rather awkward years and conjures up the magic, foolishness, and hilarity of high school.
Winner of the 2013 Stage Rights/NYMF Publishing Award, a program of The New York Musical Theatre Festival.
Gary Goldfarb performs dazzling illusions to an awe-struck and delighted crowd (“Gary Goldfarb: Master Escapist”). But alas, it is just a dream. In reality, Gary is an overweight, Jewish 17-year-old from Ronkonkoma, Long Island, who happens to have overslept. Although he is rushed to get ready for school by his slightly overbearing mother Gilda, Gary is excited. It is Monday. The day to sign up for his school’s annual Talent Show. Gilda shows concern for his weight and sends him off to school, where he is teased by his fellow school mates. Gary is accosted by Tyler Toolman, a bully and amateur magician, rejected by Cheryl Samatasinghar-Stein, and ridiculed by the smarmy Coach Rimsore (“Fat Kids/ There’s No Future In Fat”). Gary is left alone in the hallway and dreams of becoming world renowned like his idol (“Harry Houdini”). Gary shares a brief exchange with Penelope Spry, a sweet girl with a stutter and confined to a wheelchair, and we segue to the cafeteria.
Ms. Salmonelli, the haggard cafeteria lady, welcomes all to her kitchen (“Gary Loves My Tater Tots”). Gary is approached by Tyler, who reprimands him for signing up for the talent show, and insists that he’ll never find an assistant. Gary asks Cheryl to fill the position, to which she eventually refuses (“Will You Be My Assistant?”). Penelope vents her frustration for Gary’s ill treatment. Gary responds with the perfect cure for his daily doldrums (“With A Little Bit of Magic”). Penelope offers to take the spot as Gary’s assistant. Gary politely declines, as they are laughed at by Tyler and Cheryl. Penelope insults the bullies, leaving them to reflect on their social position at school (“Losers”).
Gary awakens from a nightmare. Gilda comes hurrying to rescue. She comforts him and insists he tells her what is troubling him (“Lullaby”). We return to the cafeteria, where Ms. Salmonelli tempts Gary with her famously disgusting mac ‘n cheese. As Gary colors away in his coloring book, Penelope presents him with a muffin. They are interrupted by Tyler, Cheryl, and Coach Rimsore, who come bearing bad news. According to the school‘s talent show rule book, there can only be one magic act in the talent show each year. And since Tyler was on the sign up list first, it automatically takes poor Gary out of the running (“Rules Of The Talent Show”).
A frustrated Gary reflects on how life will be once he has left high school. The others join in wondering how things will be in (“Twenty Years From Now”). Tyler returns and taunts Gary, forcing him to perform an illusion. Gary does, but due to his nerves, unfortunately fails. Penelope insists that she will find a way for Gary to win the contest. Upset and embarrassed, Gary scurries off, leaving Penelope to privately disclose her feelings for him (“Piece Of Me”).
Gary is back in his bedroom. Gilda disrupts him, and discovers him practicing magic tricks. Gary questions her bizarre aversion to magic, to which she exposes a secret (“Daddy Delved In Magic”). Gary is thrilled at the prospect of having inherited the magic gene from his dead father. Gilda shares her philosophy on parenting (“Jewish Mothers”). Gary is suddenly interrupted by an ethereal voice. Much to his surprise and enjoyment, he is visited by the ghost of his father, Mort. Mort recommends that Gary finds himself an image and attempt Harry Houdini’s Chinese Water Torture Cell Illusion so he can impress the entire school (“What’s Your Schtick?”).
It’s the night of the talent show (“Talent Show Sequence”). Cheryl, our host, dances a schizophrenic number which combines traditional Indian dance with highlights from what might be Fiddler on the Roof. Tyler performs his slightly creepy Techno-inspired magic act, with the assistance of Cheryl. He is interrupted by Penelope, who chases him off the stage, running him over with her wheelchair. We hear loud crashes and a scream. A disheveled and confused Cheryl returns to the stage. Just before she does an encore of her dance, Gary enters sheepishly and requests he get to do his act. Cheryl succumbs and introduces his act. Gary performs a few successful illusions, climaxing with the Chinese Water Torture Cell. However, the latter illusion fails. Gary is revealed dead and floating in the tank.
The scene shifts to an unworldly plain. Is this heaven? Gary sees himself in the tank. Penelope enters, and they confess their attraction for each other (“Walk All Over Me”). Mort interrupts what might be a kiss, and introduces Gary to numerous famous magicians, including Gary’s number one idol, Harry Houdini. Gary is star struck and insists he doesn’t belong among the magical greats. Houdini lectures him and persuades Gary to believe in himself (“Mangosteen”). Gary is suddenly sent back to reality, surrounded by his mother and the others. Cheryl, now having seen a different side to him, is sexually yet disturbingly intrigued and attempts to seduce him. Gary sees through her scheme and decides to remain at Penelope’s side instead. The characters all share a common belief, secluding an angry Cheryl. Gary makes her disappear in a puff of smoke. Gary and Penelope are left alone, where they finally share a tender kiss.
Bliss and a half —tremendous fun!
–The New York Times
Gary Goldfarb – Gary is a lovable, overweight, Jewish 17-year-old from Long Island, New York. He is bullied by his peers and smothered by his mother. (Tenor.)
Penelope Spry – Quirky yet grounded. Calming yet feisty. An adorable nerd you love to love, who is restricted to a wheelchair. (Soprano with belt.)
Gilda Goldfarb – Zaftig and brassy. Ethel Merman meets Sylvia Fine from The Nanny. She tends to reprimand, but ultimately loves her son. (A Broadway belter.)
Character Man – A versatile comic to portray Coach Rimsore; a smarmy high school gym teacher, Miss Salmonelli; the Tim Burton-esque Cafeteria Lady, Mort Goldfarb; Gary’s Borscht-Belty father. (Baritone.)
Cheryl Samatasinghar-Stein – The hottest Indian/Jewish girl in school. And she knows it. (Mezzo mix/belt with strong pop ability.)
Tyler Toolman / Harry Houdini – The high school pretty boy and Gary’s main tormentor. (Tenor with strong pop/rock ability.)
Setting: Present day in Gary’s home and high school.
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“Bliss and a half…tremendous fun…imagine High School Musical with cruelty, cynicism…and knives.” –The New York Times
“In fact, the show is the kind of feel-good musical that will make most audiences…titter and smile.” –Theatre Is Easy
Winner of 2013 New York Musical Theatre Festival Award for Excellence in Writing (Lyrics)
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The Authorized Materials/Rehearsal Package for Gary Goldfarb: Master Escapist includes: