“The Wishful Penny”

Adventures Of A One-Cent Coin

 

Written by January M. Akselrad ©2008/2012
(Based on the book by Jennifer Jo Young)

 

 

 

Scene 1: The Philadelphia Mint, 1943.

 

Opening Musical Number 1

“Working at the Mint”

Sung by ROSIE, MINNIE, MINT GIRLS

 

(The role of Foreman Johnson is an off-stage voiceover included on the performance track of “Working At The Mint” to help pace the actors’ lines within the musical number.)

 

VOICEOVER of FOREMAN: Okay, girls … keep it moving … lots to do ... we’re making pennies today… and remember, we’re using the zinc sheets instead of the copper ones … zinc only … only zinc!

 

MINT GIRLS:

      IT’S NOISY

      IT’S HOT

      BUT WE’RE WORKING HARD

      ‘CAUSE WE KNOW THERE’S A LOT

      OF BOYS SO FAR AWAY

      FIGHTING FOR US

      WE WANT THEM TO SAY…

      THAT WE’RE DOING

      OUR PART

      WE’RE FILLING IN

      ‘TIL THEY’RE HOME AGAIN

      WE’RE WORKING…WORKING AT THE MINT

 

(ROSIE wipes her face and sits down.)

 

MINNIE: Rosie! What are you doing?

 

ROSIE: I’ve just got to sit for a second.

 

MINNIE: If Mr. Johnson sees you, he’s gonna dock your pay!

 

ROSIE: Oh, I don’t care. It would be worth it just to rest.

 

VOICEOVER of FOREMAN: Come on, girls … no chatting … don’t forget … no copper sheets … only zinc sheets … zinc only!

 

MINT GIRLS:

      WE’RE HUNGRY

      WE’RE TIRED

      OUR FOREMAN IS MEAN

      WE’RE AFRAID TO GET FIRED

      OUR HEARTS ARE FAR AWAY

      WITH HUSBANDS AND BROTHERS

      WE WANT THEM TO SAY THAT WE’RE DOING

      OUR PART

      WE’RE FILLING IN ‘TIL THEY’RE HOME AGAIN

      WE’RE WORKING… WORKING AT THE MINT

 

ROSIE: Minnie, I miss my brother so much. I hope he’s Okay. My mom hasn’t gotten a letter in eight weeks!

 

MINNIE: I’m sure she’ll get one soon. Quick, the foreman’s coming back!

 

VOICEOVER of FOREMAN: All right girls, come on … no chatting … pennies girls, zinc pennies, there’s a war on … gotta save the copper for munitions, ya know … zinc only … only zinc!     

     

ROSIE: Oh no!  Minnie, look! (MINNIE comes over) Minnie… I used a copper sheet! I made some copper blanks! What should I do?

 

MINNIE: Uh … um … just pretend everything’s okay. Okay? Just act normal. Let them go to the next work station. Maybe no one will notice.

 

MINT GIRLS:

      IT’S ENDLESS

      IT’S ROUGH

      THE HOURS ARE LONG

      AND THE WORK’S REALLY TOUGH

      OUR HEARTS ARE FAR AWAY

      WITH ALL OF OUR LOVED ONES

      WE WANT THEM TO SAY

      THAT WE’RE DOING

      OUR PART

      WE’RE FILLING IN

      ‘TIL THEY’RE HOME AGAIN

      WE’RE WORKING…

      AND WE’RE DOING

      OUR PART

      WE’RE FILLING IN

      ‘TIL THEY’RE HOME AGAIN

      WE’RE WORKING…

      WORKING AT THE MINT

 

(MINT GIRLS continue working.)

 

ROSIE: That was a close one! Do you think anyone saw?

 

MINNIE: No. Don’t worry, Rosie ... there are a million copper cents out in the world.

 

ROSIE: Yeah, who is going to mind a few more?

 

MINNIE: They will probably go to the Federal Reserve Bank and then a local bank, just like any other pennies.

 

ROSIE: I guess you’re right. Let’s get back to work.

 

(End of scene)

 

 

Scene 2: At the bank counter.

 

BANK TELLER: Good day, Mr. Pup. How is the ice cream business?

 

MR. PUP: Fine. Fine. Thank you. I need three dollars in pennies, please, for change for my cash register.

 

BANK TELLER: Of course. No problem. The new zinc pennies have arrived.

 

MR. PUP: Oh, yes. I heard that President Roosevelt has said that the copper is needed for the war and that all new pennies are being made from something else.

 

BANK TELLER: That’s right - zinc-coated steel… (hands MR. PUP the rolls of change) …here you go.

 

MR. PUP: Gray pennies will be a strange sight indeed. Thank you.

 

BANK TELLER: Have a nice day!

 

(MR. PUP tips his hat and walks to his ice cream store, Pupsicles.  Pupsicles is in front of a park square with a fountain.  He breaks open one penny roll into his cash register.)

 

·  Coin Scene Sound (denotes change to non-human scenes – perhaps musical notes or a recording of jangling coins)

 

Scene 3:  COIN SCENE. In the cash register.

 

PENNY: Where am I?(Looking around) I guess I’m on my own now.

 

OLD PENNY 1: Wait a minute. What’s going on?

 

OLD PENNY 2:  They are gray!  (to NEW ZINC PENNY 1) Are you a nickel?

 

NEW ZINC PENNY 1: Um ... I ...

 

OLD PENNY 3: What’s happened here? They’ve mixed up the pennies with the nickels!

 

OLD PENNY 2: Or the nickels with the pennies! That makes them...

 

OLD PENNIES 2 & 3: PICKLES!!! (They break up laughing.)

 

OLD PENNY 2: (Joking around) Pleased to meet you, pickles!

 

OLD PENNY 1: (Pointing to PENNY)  Ah, now this copper one reminds me of myself when I was shiny and new. That was before I spent a decade inside a toolbox with only spiders for company.

 

OLD PENNY 2: I was buried in sand!

 

OLD PENNY 3: I fell into a sewer drain!

 

NEW ZINC PENNY 2: Oh dear!

 

PENNY: Hey - you’re scaring us!

 

OLD SCORCHED CENT: See my blackened face? I was in a circus fire! I was near melted into a tiny copper puddle.

 

NEW ZINC PENNY 1: Gee whiz! How did you survive?

 

OLD SCORCHED CENT: At the last second, a blast of water from a fireman’s hose saved my life.

 

PENNY: I can’t read your date!

 

OLD SCORCHED CENT: It’s not your date that matters. It’s how you feel that matters...and the adventures you’ve had!  And don’t let us scare you, Penny... remember, for every bad time ... there’s a good time!

 

(As the lights go to black, the “ka-ching” of the register is heard, followed by voiceovers...)

 

V.O. PENNY: Hey… what’s going on? I’m being picked up.

 

V.O. MR. PUP:  Here’s a shiny new penny to brighten your day, Mrs. Buttonbelly.

 

V.O. ALL CASH REGISTER PENNIES: Good luck shiny new penny!

 

 

(Lights up)

 

Scene 4: In front of MR. PUP’s store/pass-through window

 

MR. PUP: ...and that is your change for your tea, Mrs. Buttonbelly.

 

MRS. BUTTONBELLY:  Thank you, Mr. Pup! (Puts Penny in her purse) Come, Corinne. Let’s sit over there on that bench and do our knitting.

 

(They sit together, take out their knitting.)

 

CORINNE: I love this color.

 

MRS. BUTTONBELLY. It’s lovely. Your blanket is coming out very nicely. When we’re done with all of them we can send them to the Red Cross.

 

CORINNE: What will they do with them?

 

MRS. BUTTONBELLY: They will send them to our men and boys who are fighting overseas.

 

CORINNE: I hope that Daddy gets one of the blankets we made.

 

MRS. BUTTONBELLY: Maybe he will. Either way, everyone has to do their part for the war effort.

 

CORINNE: (Knitting a bit and then knots off the end. She holds it up.) Done!

 

MRS. BUTTONBELLY: Good job, Corinne!(Opening her purse) Here, Corinne - you have earned this penny.

 

CORINNE: Wow, thanks! What a beautiful, shiny penny! (She continues to study Penny, turning her over and over as MRS. BUTTONBELLY knits.)  Um… Mommy, can I use this penny?

 

MRS. BUTTONBELLY: Of course! It’s your penny. You’ve earned it.

 

(CORINNE walks over to MR. PUP’S counter.)

 

CORINNE: Hello, Mr. Pup. May I please have a cherry-chocolate ice cream cone? Here’s my shiny penny.

 

MR. PUP: Hmmm… ice cream cones are five cents. Do you have four more pennies, Miss Buttonbelly? (seeing CORINNE looking upset) Oh, dear … silly me, I almost forgot! We have a sale today. Ice cream cones are one cent today for first-time customers.

 

CORINNE: But I’m not a first-time customer!

 

MR. PUP: Well, it’s the first time you’ve come in with your own money.

(He hands her the cone. She hands him Penny. He continues to hold Penny and looks at her.)

 

CORINNE: Thanks, Mr. Pup!

 

(CORINNE sits down next to her mother to enjoy her cone. MR. PUP takes off his apron, puts on his cap and closes his store. He walks to center stage holding Penny. He takes Penny to his lips and closes his eyes and mouths his wish. CORINNE looks up and sees him.)

 

CORINNE: Mommy… what is Mr. Pup doing?

 

MRS. BUTTONBELLY: It looks like he has taken that shiny penny you gave him and he’s going to make a wish and throw it into the fountain.

 

CORINNE: Really?

 

MRS. BUTTONBELLY: Oh yes, people have been wishing on coins and tossing them into fountains for a long, long time.

 

CORINNE: Why is he closing his eyes?

 

MRS. BUTTONBELLY: I imagine he is trying to “see the wish.”  (She opens up her purse.) Here, take one of my pennies and I will take another and we’ll “see” our wishes, too…

 

(music up as CORINNE and MRS. BUTTONBELLY walk to the fountain)


Musical Number 2

“See the Wish”

Sung by MRS. BUTTONBELLY, MR. PUP and CORINNE

 

CORINNE: See the wish?

 

MRS. BUTTONBELLY: Oh yes… it’s the most important part of making the wish come true…

 

MRS. BUTTONBELLY:

      THERE IS SOMETHING EVERYONE CAN DO

      TO BRING THEIR HOPES AND DREAMS INTO VIEW

      CLOSE YOUR EYES AND WITH YOUR MIND

      FORM A PICTURE THERE, DON’T BE SURPRISED

      IF THE THING THAT YOU IMAGINE SEEMS SO REAL…

 

MRS. BUTTONBELLY (can be joined by Mr. Pup):

      SEE THE WISH

      FEEL ITS POWER

      IT’S RIGHT THERE FOR YOU EACH MOMENT

      EVERY SECOND EVERY HOUR

      SEE THE WISH

      HOLD IT DEAR

      KEEP THE IMAGE LIKE A PHOTOGRAPH

      THE COLORS BRIGHT AND CLEAR…

 

ALL (COMPANY can join in):

      AND IN TIME YOU’LL SEE

      THAT A WISH CAN BE

      A REALITY

      SEE THE WISH

 

(The following is spoken over the music instrumental…)

 

MR. PUP:  Times are so hard. My wish is that somehow I can keep my ice cream store open and have enough money to support my family.

 

MRS. BUTTONBELLY: I wish for my husband to stay safe and this war to end and all our fine boys to come back quickly.

 

CORINNE: I wish that my Daddy would come back real soon.

 

(They each toss their coins.)

 

ALL (COMPANY can join in):

      AND IN TIME WE’LL SEE

      THAT A WISH CAN BE

      A REALITY

      SEE THE WISH

 

(Lights out)

 

·  Coin Scene Sound

 

(Lights up inside the fountain)

 

Scene 5: COIN SCENE. Under the water inside the fountain.

 

DIME: Hey… check it out. (taunting PENNY)  Why are you pennies always facing the wrong way?

 

PENNY: Um ... uh ... I don’t know. It’s just the way I was born.

 

NICKEL: She’s just a penny. Leave her alone. She’s worth nothin’.

 

PENNY: What do you mean I’m worth nothing? Who do you think YOU are?

 

NICKEL: Me? I’m a nickel - worth five whole cents!

 

DIME: That’s not so special. I’m a dime. I’m worth 10 of you (pointing to PENNY)  and two of him (pointing to NICKEL)… so don’t mess with me!

 

QUARTER: Settle down. You’d need two of you (pointing to DIME) and one of you (pointing to NICKEL) to equal one of me!

 

(NICKEL and DIME look sheepish.)

 

PENNY: Is that really true? (Trying to do the math) If she’s worth 10 and she’s worth 5 and you need two dimes and one nickel then you’re worth… 25 cents?!?

 

NICKEL: (Impressed) Hey, not bad.  The kid can count.

 

DIME: Even if she ain’t silver like us.

 

QUARTER: No… (examining PENNY)  …she’s copper. That’s strange.  I heard they weren’t using copper anymore. Hmmmm.

 

PENNY: Well, how do I know what I’m worth?

 

NICKEL: Duh - you’re a penny.

 

DIME: You’re worth one cent.

 

PENNY: Yes… but what does that MEAN? I’m carrying someone’s wish. Isn’t that worth something?

 

QUARTER: We measure our value by what people can buy with us.

 

DIME: Yeah. With me they can get a loaf of bread!