Girl Who Would Be King


Girl Who Would Be King
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The Girl Who Would Be King is a gender-bending fractured fairy tale for adults about a girl secretly raised as a boy so she can become King of all Flugelhorn. And she likes it that way! But when she travels to the castle to claim the crown, things get complicated— what with a beautiful princess and her own dark secret, treachery and deceit at almost every turn, and a rapidly growing gender identity crisis!

2019 SETC/Stage Rights Ready to Publish Award Finalist.


The story unfolds like a fairy tale being read aloud to the audience by the Storyteller, who sometimes interacts with the characters or comments on the action. Her tale is about a girl named Basil raised secretly from birth as a boy by her tyrannical father, the Duke. It’s the only way the Duke can secure the kingdom for himself. His son will be crowned King once the current King, Heimlich, passes away. The Duke’s wife, the Duchess, is frightened of him and can only watch in dismay as her daughter is transformed into a boy.

As for Basil, she loves being raised as a boy. It gives her power and status. When she goes to Heimlich’s castle for some “pre-job training,” however, she unwittingly falls in love with Heimlich’s daughter, Princess Madeline. Madeline, an extremely naïve girl, had been secretly seduced by Count Charisma shortly before Basil’s arrival. She pines for Charisma, who took the King’s treasure to go fight a war but promised he’d be right back to return the money and marry the Princess. While she waits, Madeline now finds herself falling for Basil. Basil decides she must cruelly spurn the Princess because she cannot reveal she is a girl and risk losing the crown. King Heimlich falls ill and is at death’s door, so Basil is crowned King early. At the coronation, the Princess is discovered to be quite pregnant. This is a crime punishable by death for an unmarried Princess. Out of fear for her own life and as revenge for Basil’s having spurned her, Madeline publicly accuses Basil of being the father!

What’s the secret girl-king to do? Even while she’s in agony over her own growing female nature, she must buy time to keep the Princess from being executed, hold off her father, the Duke, who has moved into the castle to enjoy all the privileges of being “father of the king,” and keep her own love for Madeline from being discovered. Doing all this requires some reinterpretations of laws in the kingdom (fortunately nobody has ever written them down). Then there are interventions by Basil’s mother, the Duchess, and King Heimlich (who didn’t die). Madeline has her baby and reveals to Basil that she knows Basil is a girl and loves her even more because of it. The Duke is unmasked as the villain he is and banished from the kingdom. The Storyteller rewrites a bit of the tale to help things along and Basil accepts herself as a woman and comes out to one and all. Her reward is discovering the power and wonder of love: for herself, her beloved, and her country, where she is promptly named Queen!


…loads of laughs and no dull moments.

– Backstage

5 Women:

The Storyteller – (30s to 60s) She is engaging, and lively. Knows how to tell a good story and has no problem showing how she feels about certain characters.

Basil – 20 (also plays herself at 5, 12, 14) Daughter of the Duke and Duchess. Raised since birth as a boy to become King of Flugelhorn. Arrogant and willful, she knows she’s a girl but wants desperately to live as a man. Headed for some serious gender identity challenges!

Madeline – 20s Lovely, winsome daughter of Heimlich. Intelligent and assertive but a bit too naïve— and too eager— when it comes to love.

Duchess of Lesser Flugel – (40s to 50s) A timid and obedient product of her unenlightened times. Loves her daughter Basil but feels powerless to help her.

Lady in Waiting #1 and #2 – Either bossy or prone to hysterics or both. Also, Master of the Guard, Master of Protocol, or Lawyer as needed (all played by one versatile actress!).

4 to 5 Men (one actor can double):
Duke of Lesser Flugel – (40s to 50s) Arrogant, strong-willed, manipulative. Becomes more villainous as the tale progresses.

King Heimlich – (40s to 60s) Great King of all Flugelhorn but now looking forward to retirement so he can feed the ducks. Loves his daughter dearly but is not a good judge of other people’s characters.

Count Charisma - (20s to 30s) A handsome, oily, narcissistic count from the Kingdom of Picolo. Comes to Flugelhorn to woo and wed Princess Madeline. Beware!

Heinz – (can be played by same actor who plays Count Charisma) A Young Guard in Heimlich’s castle. Loyal but not very bright.

Old Guard – Cranky.
Messenger – Pompous but easily confused.
Chancellor – Even more pompous and not at all confused. (All played by one versatile actor!)

A Storyteller’s nook. Settings within the tale (rooms and halls within the castles, exteriors) are indicated principally through lighting, props, and simple set pieces.

Note: The play is meant to be in the theatrical, commedia dell’arte style and actors should remain onstage throughout to create music and sound effects and comment on the action where appropriate. They also shift set pieces around as needed.

Performance Royalties for AMATEUR and EDUCATIONAL Groups, please fill out an application for your personalized quote.

Performance Royalties for PROFESSIONAL Theaters will be quoted as a box office percentage, with a minimum guarantee based on ticket prices and theater particulars. Please fill out an application for your personalized quote.

Authorized Materials must be purchased from Stage Rights as a part of your licensing agreement (see Materials).

Billing responsibilities, pertinent copyright information, and playwrights' biographies are available in the show rider that comes with your license agreement.

“Instead of berating an audience with political and social ideologies, Jan O’Connor’s [play] uses humor and charm in a fairy tale setting to get across its opinions about gender roles and same sex-relationships.” –Backstage

“The cast and crew are spot-on, as is Richard Tathm’s direction which allows us to peek at the layers underneath this superficially simple society.” –LA Weekly

“you should support this outing” – Stage and Cinema

“A delightful and charmingly lighthearted romp”; “high up on anybody’s ‘must see’ list.” –Review Plays

Authorized Materials must be purchased from Stage Rights as a part of your licensing agreement. Your materials will be sent to you digitally by your Licensing Representative.

The Authorized Materials/Production Package for The Girl Who Would Be King are all fulfilled digitally and consist of:

Acting Edition

Stage Manager Script

Director’s Script