(ADAM is onstage.)
Until she mentioned it in her piece earlier tonight, I had forgotten how long Aprille has been performing at No Shame. I remember when she first started, and I can't believe it's been ten years.
When Jamal and I founded No Shame in 1986, it was primarily a venue for amateur boxing. For years, No Shame was nothing but hot, rough man-on-man action.
One Friday night in 1991, that era came to a close. It was our fault. We never should have let two obviously injured fighters stay in for fifteen rounds. Jeff Goode died on the stage. Todd Ristau was carried out on a stretcher and died two days later at UIHC.
After that, the Theatre Department forced Rule Three on us. We weren't allowed to punch each other in the face anymore. We began experimenting with sketch comedy to replace the boxing. We had a few good years, but in 1996 we suffered another tragedy. Officially, Megan Gogerty died of a drug overdose, but many of us don't believe there was ever a real investigation. Only two people could know what really happened that night: Megan didn't survive, and JC Luxton isn't talking.
Jamal and I needed a new star. We needed someone young, blond, and funny. We needed someone America could fall in love with. We needed thirteen-year-old runaway Aprille Hershlag. We found her on the Pedmall, gave her a sandwich, washed peroxide through her Jewy black hair and Jewy last name, and made her the center of the Little Aprille series.
I thought it might be fun to stage a couple of scenes from one of the original 1996 Little Aprille scripts as a kind of rerun from the golden age of No Shame.
We don't have the No Shame Orchestra anymore, so I need you guys to help me sing the Little Aprille theme song. If you know the words, join right in.
(singing) Little Aprille, Little Aprille, She'll never break your heart.
Little Aprille, Little Aprille, She loves Jelly beans!
(Enter FATHER and APRILLE)
Little Aprille! I'm home!
Hi, foster daddy. Wanna play?
Little Aprille, I don't have time to play. I need to tune my guitar and get to The Mill.
The Mill? Do we have a show tonight?
We don't have a show, little Aprille, I have a show.
Oh, foster daddy, can't I please be in the show tonight?
No Little Aprille, this is a very important open mic performance.
(she will run back and forth as she talks) But foster daddy, I wanna be in the show. I can dance, and I can sing, and please can I be in the show? You can play guitar, and I can dance. Wouldn't that be a great show, foster daddy? Wouldn't it? I bet The Mill would love us, and we could come back every week--
Ap-RILLE! I'll go to The Mill, and you'll stay here with Mammy. That is final.
(crushed) Yes, foster daddy.
That's right, Miss Little Aprille. You need to stay with me. I'm convinced this house is haunted, and we need to stick together and protect each other from spooks!
Oh, geez. You're going to be in a show, and I'm stuck here with a superstitious darkie.
(Exit APRILLE, FATHER)
When this was written, no one thought it was racist to refer to an African American household servant as Mammy, darkie, or house nigger. Most of you are too young to remember the nineties, but it was a different time, a younger America. The Clinton years.
As a black woman, I was more comfortable then. Interactions with white people were demeaning, but I always knew my place.
Before we implemented the Second Rule, scripts ran as long as half an hour. This one is typically formulaic: superstitious Mammy starts lighting candles to chase away ghosts or something while Father tunes his guitar. Then clumsy old Father burns his hands and temporarily blinds himself with candle wax. He stumbles off to The Mill, but he has no chance of a successful performance. Little Aprille knows she can help if she can get out of the house, so she comes up with a plan to spook Mammy and escape.
(running across the stage) G-g-g-GHOSTS!
For the conclusion, we dissolve to The Mill while the orchestra plays a refrain of the Little Aprille theme song.
(FATHER enters with guitar, groping blindly.)
(setting one chair and exiting) Little Aprille, Little Aprille, blond hair and dimples.
Little Aprille, Little Aprille, not afraid of bullies!
Hello, Mill. I am in indescribable pain.
(FATHER plays, badly. AUDIENCE boos. Enter APRILLE.)
Oh, no! Someone needs to save this show.
(APRILLE dances a plucky dance. AUDIENCE cheers. LUIGI rises from the audience.)
Stop-a the show!
It's-a me, Luigi! I'm-a the booking agent for The Mill Ristorante. I like-a what I see, and I'll pay-a you the big money to come back once a week. You just-a have-a to promise-a me to bring-a back your loveable dancing runaway girl. She's-a so cute!
Lovable dancing runaway? Ap-RILLE!
Performed by Adam Hahn, Aprille Clarke, Bobby Evers, Michael Tabor, Brian Lenth.