Illustrated by: Judy Glasser
Published by: Harper & Row, 1984
Copyright © Marilyn Singer 1984

The Case of the Sabotaged School Play

Chapter One

“‘Sink me, if it’s not Jean La Fleet, the pirate king,'” Mary Ellen Moseby read in a bad British accent.

Dave Bean stifled a yawn.  Mary Ellen’s plays always put him to sleep.  He wouldn’t be in them–or in the Drama Club for that matter–if he didn’t like to act so much.  Acting was great.  Putting on a false nose, a wig, a tunic, a sword. Standing on stage in front of an audience.  Dave loved it.  He even thought he might become an actor when he grew up.  That is, if he didn’t become a private eye.

Mary Ellen switched to an equally awful French accent.  “‘The same.  And your weesh, Sir Hugo, is my command.  Gentlemen, sink zis sheep.'”

Joel Mazzara, president of the Drama Club, turned to Dave and whispered, not very quietly, “Baaaa.”

Mary Ellen’s already pink skin turned pinker.  Her upturned nose pointed to the ceiling as she said, in a snooty voice, “The trouble with you, Joel Mazzara, is that you have no taste.”

Joe stood up, hands on his hips.  “Well, then, there must be a lot of other people who don’t either, because nobody ever comes to your plays except the parents of the kids who are in them.”  He sighed and changed his tone.  “Look, Mary Ellen, you can write all right, but people don’t want to see stuff like this.  It’s corny.”  He turned to the rest of the club.  “What I think we should do is tell Ms. Kirby we want to put on a famous musical.  Something that everyone will like. Something like Grease.”

Grease!  The kids in the club began to murmur excitedly.  “I wanna be Danny.” “You’d be great as Sandy.”  “How about Donna as Rizzo?”  “My brother has this T-shirt I could wear.”

Dave was excited too.  “I could slick my hair back and wear a leather jacket and Mom couldn’t even complain,” he said to Sam.

Sam grinned and nodded.  He was shyer than Dave and went in more for sports than acting.  But he was thinking that if they put on Grease even he might ask Ms. Kirby, the director, if he could be in it, instead of working the lights as usual. It would be fun to jump around on a hot rod and act tough.

Then, a thin blond girl named Ginger Janowitz piped up.  “Ms. Kirby won’t let us put on Grease. You all know she thinks we should perform plays that students have written instead.  Besides, I like Mary Ellen’s play.  I think it’s…original.”

“Well, I don’t,” Donna Jordan put in.  “I think Joel’s right.  The Merry Pirates is–”

“A very fine play,” a grown-up voice said.

All heads turned to the doorway.  Standing there was Ms. Kirby, the drama teacher and director of the play.  “Now, I know some of you have been disappointed about the size of the audiences for our last productions, but I’m sure with a little more publicity, we’ll get a full–well, a fuller–house this time.  Mary Ellen’s put a lot of work into this play and we are going to put it on.”

“Not if I can help it,” Dave heard Joel mutter.

Other people sighed and shifted uncomfortably in their seats.

“I’ve chosen the cast,” Ms. Kirby went on.  “Joel, you will play Jean La Fleet. Dave, you’ll be Sir Hugo.  Donna will play Brigitte De Tour and Mary Ellen will be Brigitte’s maid, Fifi.  Jim, Sharon, Andy, Steve, Ron, Mike and Lois will be the pirates and Sir Hugo’s crew.”

“But Ms Kirby, you didn’t mention me,” Ginger Janowitz called out.

“I’m sorry, Ginger.  There aren’t any other roles. But you–and everyone else who didn’t get a part–can work on sets, costumes or the props.  We all have to pitch in to make this the best production we’ve ever had.  Here are your scripts.  See you tomorrow for the first rehearsal.”

Ginger got up to leave, and as she passed Donna, she gave her a nasty look.  Joel did the same to Mary Ellen, who had stopped smiling and appeared lost in thought.

Dave turned to Sam.  “Whew, I have a feeling this play isn’t going to go so smoothly.”  Sam nodded.  But neither one of them knew just how much trouble there was going to be.