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Elvet

Prince of Rock and Roll
A Musical Tragedy

based on
Hamlet
Prince of Denmark
A Tragic History (A Historical Tragedy)
by William Shakespeare

Matthew Lederman
250 W 103rd St.
New York, NY 10025

(M) 917-520-4127
(H) 212-316-6023
(E) lederman@panix.com

Cast List for Elvet (39 roles total, 33 men, 6 women, 6 non-
speaking – 4 men, 2 women)

ELVET - ELVET is a twenty something musician
whose career is just about to really
take off. He is already known as the
Prince of Rock and Roll and there are
indications that his fans will soon
make him King. Unfortunately, his
father, VERNON, has recently
disappeared and his career is now being
managed by THE COLONEL, who may also
have taken up sexually with ELVET’s
mother, GLADYS. ELVET is slim,
handsome, and dynamic, but he is also
confused by the events around him and
his inability to respond to them in a
way he thinks is suitable. He starts
the play depressed, but sane but
becomes more stoned and irrational and
is thought to be insane by the end.

THE COLONEL - THE COLONEL is a proud, forceful and
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prominent man in his fifties who
manages ELVET’s career and business
interests. Since ELVET’s father - THE
COLONEL’s one time good friend - has
disappeared, he is acting as CEO to
ELVET’s company ElvEntCo (Elvet
Enterprises Corp.). The implication is
that THE COLONEL may have had something
to do with VERNON’s disappearance,
which leads to strained relations with
ELVET.

PHINEAS - PHINEAS is an accountant at ElvEntCo
and a close adviser to THE COLONEL as
well as the father of LAMAR and
PRISCILLA. He is in his fifties. He
is pedantic and repetitive, obsequious
to those he thinks are above him and
peremptory with those he thinks are
beneath him.

HORACE - HORACE is ELVET’s friend from before
ELVET was famous. He is now much more
deferential to ELVET than he used to be
and ELVET apparently preferred him the
old way. His is ELVET’s age,
approximately in his twenties.

LAMAR - LAMAR is PHINEAS’ son and a rising star
on the business side of ElvEntCo. He
was a musician in his youth (like
everyone else in the music business)
and still thinks that he could have
been a bigger star than ELVET. He is
in his twenties.

PRISCILLA - PPRISCILLA is PHINEAS’ daughter and a
sometime girlfriend of ELVET. She is
slightly younger than ELVET (perhaps in
her late teens). She is ELVET’s love
interest, and she represents a purer
version of love than GLADYS’ unbridled
lust. She starts out sober (and normal
relative to most of the rest) but
spends the last two acts stoned and is
eventually committed to a psychiatric
hospital.
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GLADYS - GLADYS is ELVET’s mother (and ELVET has
some confused Oedipal issues about
that). She is in her forties and she
is extremely sensual, in fact almost
every conversation she is in borders on
seduction (except when she talks to
PHINEAS, who is bothered somewhat by
the lack of attention).

MARK - MARK is a low level ElvEntCo employee
who guards the mansion in Act I. He is
in his twenties.

BERNIE - BERNIE is a low level ElvEntCo employee
who guards the mansion in Act I. He is
in his twenties.

FRANK - FRANK is a low level ElvEntCo employee
who guards the mansion in Act I. He is
in his twenties or thirties.

VERNON - Vernon is ELVET’s father. He spends
the play drunkenly wandering back to
the mansion enlisting ELVET’s help in
his revenge. He is in his late forties
or early fifties. He appears in Acts I
and III.

VOLTIMAND - VOLTIMAND is an ElvEntCo executive in
his thirties. He appears in Act I and
Act II.

CORNELIUS - CORNELIUS is an ElvEntCo executive in
his forties. (He is preferably a black
actor for the one throwaway Don
Cornelius/Soul Train joke in Act I.) He
appears in Act I and Act II.

RHONDA - RHONDA is PHINEAS’ mistress who PHINEAS
sends to Los Angeles to spy on LAMAR in
Act II, Scene 1. She is somewhat hard,
but eager to please. She is in her
twenties.

ROSENCRANTZ - ROSENCRANTZ is a school friend of
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ELVET’s. He is an obsequious sell out.
He is in his twenties. He appears in
Acts II, III, and IV.

GUILDENSTERN - GUILDENSTERN is a school friend of
ELVET’s. He is also an obsequious sell
out. He is in his twenties. He
appears in Acts II, III, and IV.

First Musician - The First Musician is one of the
members of the band, “The Tragic Flaws”
who appear in Acts II and III He is in
his twenties.

Emcee - He introduces “The Tragic Flaws” at
the performance in Act III. He is in
his forties or fifties.

Male Singer - He sings the country opera, “Thirty
Years” in Act III.

Female Singer - She sings the country opera, “Thirty
Years” in Act III.

LUCIANUS - He’s the evil singer in the country
opera (story song) “Thirty Years” in
Act III.

JOHNNY FORTINBRAS - JOHNNY FORTINBRAS is a record company
executive at Midnight Sun Records, a
subsidiary of General Entertainment,
and the son of ELVET’s father’s
nemesis. He is in his twenties. He is
aggressive and powerful the
counterpoint to ELVET’s stoned
indecision. He appears in both Acts IV
and V.

Attendants - A group of people who THE COLONEL
orders off to search for PHINEAS’ body
in Act IV (non-speaking). They are
made up of people without roles in that
scene.

Gentleman - He talks to GLADYS about PRISCILLA’s
drug problem in Act IV and the arrival
of LAMAR in Act IV.
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Thug - He is LAMAR’s muscle in Act IV.

Servant - He introduces the cab driver in Act IV.

Cab Driver - He delivers ELVET’s letter to Horace in
Act IV.

Messenger - He delivers ELVET’s letter to the
Colonel in Act IV.

First Orderly - He makes the bed and talks to ELVET in
the psychiatric hospital in Act V.

Second Orderly - He is the present at the psychiatric
hospital in Act V.

Psychiatrist - He talks to LAMAR at the hospital in
Act V. He is in his forties or fifties.

Catatonic Patient 1 - She walks across the stage in Act V
(non-speaking).

Catatonic Patient 2 - He walks across the stage in Act V
(non-speaking).

Lenny Yorick - He walks across the stage in Act V
(non-speaking). He is in his forties
or fifties.

OSCAR - OSCAR is a low level ElvEntCo employee
who talks to Horace and Elvet in Act V.
He is pompous and dull and can be any
age (20 – 40).

Flunkie - He summons ELVET to the duel in Act V.

Executive - He is an assistant to JOHNNY FORTINBRAS
in Acts IV and V. He is in his forties
or fifties.

Woman - ELVET tosses the sweaty scarf to her
and she swoons in the “fight” scene in
Act V(non-speaking).
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The front porch of an imposing mansion. Midnight (ACT I SCENE
I).

The stage is almost dark. FRANK stands
watch on the front porch. He paces
aggressively and looks around intently,
looking determined and angry. BERNIE
strides onto the stage, also aggressive
and determined. BERNIE sees FRANK and
challenges him.

BERNIE
(Shouts)
Hey! Who’s that? You! On the porch!

FRANK
(Shouts back angrily)
The heck with that! Who the hell are you?

BERNIE
Long live the Prince!

FRANK
(Friendlier)
Bernie? Is that you?

BERNIE
Yup.

FRANK
You’re cutting it close. It’s almost midnight.

BERNIE
Nope. It’s already past midnight. Go get some shuteye, Frank.

FRANK
Thanks. I’m cold.
(Pause)
And I’m bummed out.

BERNIE
Why? Something happen?

FRANK
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Nope. Quieter than a whorehouse on a Sunday morning.

BERNIE
Well, goodnight. And if you see my partner, Mark, tell him to
get his lazy butt here.

FRANK
I think I hear him.
(Shouts)
Hey! Who’s that?

Enter HORACE and MARK.

HORACE
(Sarcastically)
Your ex-wife.

MARK
And her lawyer.

FRANK
(Disgusted)
I can’t believe I have to work with such a bunch of clowns.
Good night.

MARK
Good night, you old dog. Bernie here yet?

FRANK
He beat your lazy ass here. Good night.

Exit FRANK.

MARK and BERNIE act boisterous, trying
to conceal their fear over what has
been happening on their watch recently.

MARK
(Shouts)
Yo! Bernie!

BERNIE
(Shouts back)
Yo! Did you bring Horace with you?

HORACE
(Extending his hand to shake)
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Part of me, anyway.

BERNIE
Hey, guys. How you doing?

MARK
Not bad.
(Pause, then seriously)
So, has he been back?

BERNIE
Not yet. But, I just got here.

MARK
Old Horace says we’re just imagining things. And, he says if the
bum shows up, he’ll prove it’s not Vernon.

HORACE
(Contemptuously)
I’ll show you ladies how to handle a drunk.

While they talk, VERNON is stumbling
drunkenly toward them in the darkness,
but they do not notice him.

BERNIE
We know what we’ve seen the last couple of nights. And I’ll be
glad to tell you about it again.

HORACE
Please, don’t. Not again.

BERNIE
(Ignoring him)
Last night. Around one in the morning,
(Checks his watch)
Which is right about now –

Enter VERNON, staggering drunkenly.

MARK
(Pointing at VERNON and shouting)
Look! Here he comes.

Once they see VERNON, they get very
agitated, shouting and pointing at him
and jostling each other.
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BERNIE
(Pointing to VERNON)
Except that he’s a stumblin’ drunken mess, it’s the spittin’
image of the Prince’s father.

MARK
You knew him better than we did, Horace. Talk to him.

BERNIE
Doesn’t it look like Vernon? Even if he does stink like cheap
wine.

HORACE
I’ll be damned. It looks just like him.
(Pause)
Amazing.

BERNIE
Come on, Horace. Talk to him.

MARK
Yeah, Horace. Ask him something.

HORACE
(Tentatively, summoning up his courage)
Vernon? Is that you?
(No answer)
What the hell are you doing, hanging around the Mansion at this
time of night?
(No answer)
Damn, I even recognize your suit, though it was a lot cleaner
and smelled a lot better the last time I saw you in it.
(No answer)
Come on, Vernon. Speak to me.

MARK
He’s pissed.

BERNIE
He’s stumbling off.

HORACE
(Bolder)
Hey! Wait! I’m talking to you.

Exit VERNON.
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MARK
Well, he’s gone. And he wouldn’t talk to you.

BERNIE
So you still think we’re imagining things?

HORACE
(Shaking his head)
I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it myself.

MARK
It did look a lot like Vernon, didn’t it?

HORACE
As much as you look like yourself. And I swear that was
Vernon’s best suit, the same one he wore when he had his big
showdown with the president of Midnight Sun Records. Man, this
is really weird.

MARK
He was wearing it the other nights, too. It wasn’t any cleaner.
And it sure the hell didn’t smell any better. And old Vernon
wasn’t walking any better either.

HORACE
I wonder what he’s up to?
(Pause)
And, I’m not sure this is gonna be a good thing.

MARK
Do you think Vernon’s the reason we’re guarding the Mansion?
They got so many of us watching now, it’s got to be more than
just keeping the fans away from the Prince.

HORACE
I don’t know. You’ve got to remember that it wasn’t real long
ago that Prince was just a truck driver and Vernon was working
in a factory. When the Prince cut his first single, he got
famous overnight, but instead of getting rich, he was working
like a field hand and the suits at the record company and the
concert promoters and the lawyers and the accountants and
everyone else kept driving newer and bigger Cadillacs. Well,
anyway, the rumor is that old Willie Fortinbras, who was the
president of Midnight Sun Records, was playing hardball with
Vernon on the Prince’s recording deal because he thought old
Vernon wouldn’t stand up to him. But the Colonel showed Vernon
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a loophole in the contract and Vernon put on his best suit and
went down there and fought back and ended up getting the Prince
out of the deal without even taking them to court. Well, that
cost Midnight Sun millions. So General Entertainment, who owns
Midnight Sun, shitcanned old Willlie Fortinbras and brought in
some young turks and one of those turks was his kid, Johnny
Fortinbras. And the kid and the turks hooked up with a bunch of
gangsters. Anyway, before Vernon could make a new deal with
another record, he disappeared. Some folks say that Johnny
Fortinbras’ thugs got to him. Other people say he ran off with
a waitress from Tupelo. Some people even say the Colonel had
him killed. Anyway now that Vernon’s out of the picture, these
dudes want the Prince back at Midnight Sun. And they don’t
think the Colonel’s got the stones to stop them.

BERNIE
So you think Vernon’s come back to help the Prince?

Re-enter VERNON who stares at them.

HORACE
I don’t know. Maybe. Or maybe the waitress kicked him out and
he just wants back on the gravy train.

They notice VERNON.

HORACE
(Continued)
Hey! He’s back. I’ll make him talk to me.
(To VERNON)
Hey. Wait up. What do you want? I may be able to help you,
Vernon. If you are Vernon, that is.

VERNON pushes his hat back and opens
his mouth as if to speak, but abruptly
turns and starts to leave.

HORACE
(Continued)
Come on. Tell me what’s going on. Talk to me. Hey! Mark!
Stop him.

MARK
Should I grab him?

HORACE
Yeah. Grab the old goat.
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BERNIE
(Grabs at VERNON)
Got him!

VERNON eludes him.

HORACE
(Grabs at VERNON)
Got him!

VERNON eludes him.

Exit VERNON.

MARK
He’s pretty shifty for an old drunk. It must be Vernon.

BERNIE
I think he was about to talk to us.

HORACE
You’re right. He was going to say something and then he
stopped. Almost like he sobered up for a second and he knew who
we were.

MARK
Yup. A lot of drunks don’t do well with a long space between
drinks.

HORACE
That’s true. He’s in pretty rough shape.
(Pause)
Well, I’ve seen it and I believe it. It was definitely Vernon.
Should we tell the Prince that his daddy’s back?

MARK
Let’s. I know where we can find him in the morning.

Exeunt.

A room in the mansion. The next day (ACT I SCENE II).

THE COLONEL and GLADYS lead PHINEAS,
LAMAR, VOLTIMAND, and CORNELIUS on to
the stage. THE COLONEL is talking as
if he is conducting a walking business
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meeting. GLADYS is draped on his arm,
pawing at him seductively, as if he
were charming her. PHINEAS, VOLTIMAND
and CORNELIUS hang on every word.
LAMAR is a little more reserved and
somewhat nervous.

THE COLONEL
Damn, I miss Vernon. I wish I knew what happened to him and I
sure hope he’s alright. I don’t know why he’s gone and I don’t
know where he’s gone, but if he went on his own, I’m sure he had
a good reason. But if I find out that someone is responsible in
any way for taking him from us, I’ll make sure we find them and
we punish them.
(Pause)
And while Vernon’s gone, we’ve got to make sure that all his
good work doesn’t get undone.
(To VOLTIMAND and CORNELIUS)
I want you to go and assure the boys at General Entertainment
that we can still work with them under the right conditions.
Vernon did a great job in getting the Prince out of that
contract with Midnight Sun, but if they’re willing to deal with
us honorably, we’ll be glad to make a new deal with them. Young
Johnny Fortinbras thinks we’re weak without Vernon and,
unfortunately, he’s right. But if Johnny Fortinbras thinks he
can intimidate us with his thugs, he’s got another think coming.
The Prince of Rock and Roll won’t roll over for bunch of guys
with pinkie rings and gold chains. I want you to tell the
people at General Entertainment that they had better control
their dogs at Midnight Sun, or the Prince of Rock and Roll will
go elsewhere for his new deal.
(To CORNELIUS)
And, Don, this is the only business I want you to discuss with
them. I don’t want to hear that you’ve been pitching your Soul
Music television idea on my nickel again.
(To VOLTIMAND and CORNELIUS)
Now, go and get this done, guys. OK?

Enter ELVET.

ELVET wanders onto the stage,
despondently and watches the meeting
from a distance.

CORNELIUS
VOLTIMAND
You can count on us, Colonel.
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THE COLONEL
I know I can. Get going.

Exeunt VOLTIMAND and DON CORNELIUS.

THE COLONEL
(To LAMAR)
And Lamar, your father tells me you’ve got an idea? You know
how much I value your father’s opinion. And how much I like
you, too. What’s the deal, son?

LAMAR
(Nervously and intently)
Colonel, I really want to go out to Hollywood and see if we can
get the Prince a movie deal. Movies are a natural way for us to
exploit the Prince’s talents and if nothing else, it will give
us a little leverage with General Entertainment. It would be
good if they thought we had other options. I want to try and
make that deal.

THE COLONEL
What does your father think?
(To PHINEAS)
Well, Phineas?

PHINEAS
(Pompously)
I’m still skeptical of the whole movie idea. I don’t know if
the Prince can act and, if he can’t, I don’t know if Hollywood
can devise a project for him that doesn’t require him to act.
It is almost inconceivable. I mean, what is the concept of a
virtually plot less vehicle driven by songs.
(Pausing to stroke his chin ponderously)
However, Lamar has convinced me of the need to show General
Entertainment that we’re exploring other arenas and that we have
a contingency plan in place. I believe that we should at least
investigate this idea to the point where it’s it can be
determined if the movies are a feasible avenue for exploiting
the talent and name recognition of the Prince that we have
invested so much time and money in to date. Moreover—

THE COLONEL
(Cutting him short)
Enough. Enough. You win. Well then do it. Let’s see if we
can make the Prince a movie star.
(To ELVET)
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Hey! Elvet, my boy. How you doing, son?

ELVET
(Surly, glum)
A lot more interested in being a star than a son.

THE COLONEL
(Crossly)
What’s with the dark mood?

ELVET
Me, Colonel? Any darkness you see is a suntan.

GLADYS rushes over to ELVET and starts
to fuss over him, straightening his
hair and clothes in a decidedly sexual
manner. ELVET does not respond, but he
does not resist either.

GLADYS
Oh, Elvet, you really must stop wearing back all the time. I
know that it’s very fashionable, and very slimming, but it makes
you look like you’re mourning. And your father is just missing.
It’s not like he died or anything.

ELVET
Maybe.

GLADYS continues to touch ELVET, almost
inappropriately, while she speaks to
him.

GLADYS
I really don’t understand why you’re letting it bother you so
much. It seems to me that you still have your mama. And the
Colonel.

ELVET
Seems that I do. And, you two seem to be comforting each other
quite well. But, I don’t need you or anyone else to tell me how
to miss my father.

THE COLONEL
Missing your father is understandable, heck it’s even
commendable. But don’t lose sight of the fact that we all lose
people. It’s the way of the world. Your father lost his own
father and his father lost his father all the way back to the
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beginning of time. And your father and his father and his
father’s father got over it and you’ve got to get over it, too.
It’s time you grew up a little. Be a man. I know you want to
chuck it all and go back to school. And I think that driving
the big rigs is an honorable profession. But, you’re the Prince
of Rock and Roll. You can’t escape that by hiding out at the
Wittenberg School for Truck Driving. You’re a star now. Act
like one.

GLADYS clutches ELVET almost
desperately at this point.

GLADYS
Please don’t go back to Wittenberg. I’d worry about you all
alone on the roads.

ELVET
You know I’d never disobey you, mama.

THE COLONEL
That’s a good boy. Come on Gladys, we’ve got some entertaining
to do tonight.

Exeunt all but ELVET.

ELVET
Damn, mama and the Colonel are starting to really creep me out.
(SONG 1)
Well, since my daddy left us
It’s been a living hell
I’ve been so damn unhappy
I want to end it all
(REFRAIN)
Got the broken home blues, baby
Thought that I was too old
Got the broken home blues, want to die
(VERSE)
Wish that I would melt away
Evaporate in the sky
Nothing left to live for
I wish that I would die
(VERSE)
My mama’s got a new man
Got something I want to tell
He’s not the man my dad was
I wish he’d go to hell
(VERSE)
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I wish she missed my daddy
Even half the way I do
She still had me to love her
Doesn’t need him, too

Enter HORACE, MARK, and BERNIE.

HORACE
(Shouts)
Yo! Prince!

ELVET is very happy to see them and
immediately switches from his gloomy
demeanor to an exuberant one. In
contrast to his earlier scene where he
is depressed, here he is very normal.
They clap each other on the back and
punch each other’s arms like juveniles.

ELVET
Hey! Horace. How you doing, man?

HORACE
Not bad.

ELVET
Mark? Hey it’s a Wittenberg reunion.

MARK
(Moving his hands as if steering a truck)
Driving the big rigs—

ELVET
Man it’s great to see you. But what gets you out of the cab?

HORACE
Oh, I got a few too many points on my license.

ELVET
No way. You’ve never got a ticket in your life. What really
brings you here? And don’t make up some terminal case of
hemorrhoids, jive. We’ll be spending a good deal of time on
barstools while you’re here and I’ll know you’re lying.

HORACE
Actually, I came back when I heard your father was missing.
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ELVET
Don’t bullshit me, man. You came back when you heard my mama
was single.

HORACE
Well, they did kind of happen at the same time.

ELVET
But he’s still gone and she’s not single.
(Pause)
You know, sometimes I think I see the old man around.

HORACE
(Shocked)
Where?

ELVET
Diners. Truck stops. Gas stations. But it’s really all in my
head.

HORACE
He was a good man.

ELVET
You’re right, he was a good man. You don’t see many like him.

HORACE
(Tentatively)
Prince. I think I saw him last night.

ELVET
What?

HORACE
Your father. Vernon.

ELVET
(Excited, ELVET grabs HORACE)
My father?

HORACE
It’s a long story.

ELVET
I’ve got some time.

HORACE
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You know Mark and Bernie have been guarding the Mansion at
night. Well, they saw a man hanging around after midnight. And
when they went to throw him out, they thought he looked like
your father. He’d been drinking and he hadn’t bathed in a
while, but he was wearing what looked like you daddy’s best
suit. They didn’t know your daddy as well as I did and they
were scared to tell your mama and the Colonel, so they asked me
if I could help. So last night, I stayed with them and, sure
enough, a man who looked just like your father showed up—

ELVET
(Interrupting)
Where?

MARK
Right in the driveway. We were standing on the front porch.

ELVET
Did you speak to him?

HORACE
I tried to. I asked him what he wanted, but he wouldn’t answer.
Once it looked like he was going to speak, but he never said a
word.

ELVET
Damn. This is seriously weird, man.

HORACE
I know Prince. But we had to tell you.

ELVET
Thank you. Thank you very much.
(Pause)
You guys guarding the mansion again tonight?

MARK
BERNIE
Yes. We are.

ELVET paces around the stage thinking.

ELVET
He was wearing his best suit?

MARK
BERNIE
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Yup. The same one he wore to meet with General Entertainment.

ELVET
Did he have his hat on?

MARK
BERNIE
Sure did. Pulled down low as usual.

ELVET
Then you never saw his face.

HORACE
Yes, we did. He pushed the brim back when he was about to speak.

ELVET
Did he look angry?

HORACE
Nope. If anything, sad.

ELVET
His face. Was it pale or red?

HORACE
Very red. He’d been drinking.

ELVET
He looked right at you.

HORACE
Absolutely. As well as he could anyway.

ELVET
Man, I wish I had been there.

HORACE
It would have blown you away.

ELVET
I don’t doubt that. How long did he stay?

HORACE
He was in no hurry. A minute or two.

MARK
BERNIE
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Longer than that.

HORACE
Not last night.

ELVET
Had he shaved?

HORACE
Not for a couple of days at least. Prince, he’d been drinking.

ELVET
I’m coming with you tonight. Maybe he’ll be back.

HORACE
I think he will.

ELVET
If it really is my daddy, I’ll speak to him. And, hey, don’t
tell anyone about this. I’ll see you on the front porch, before
midnight.
(Pause)
And thanks.

All
Tonight, Prince.

ELVET
Tonight, friends.

Exeunt all but ELVET.

My father hanging around the Mansion drunk and wearing his best
suit. Something’s not right.

Exit.

A room in Phineas’ house (ACT I SCENE III).

Enter LAMAR and PRISCILLA.

LAMAR
I’ve got to catch a plane to LA, but I wanted to have a quick
word with you.

PRISCILLA
About what?
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LAMAR
About Elvet.
(Pause)
I’m a little worried about you two.

PRISCILLA
There’s nothing going on between us.

LAMAR
Maybe, maybe not. And even if you think there’s anything going
on between you, he might. And even if he really likes you, even
if loves you, now, things can change quickly. He’s the Prince
of Rock and Roll. You could fall for him in a second. Heck,
every other girl in the country already has. And it would
pretty easy for you two to hook up. But don’t do it. It won’t
work. The Prince is expected to date actresses and singers and
models. You’re just a pretty girl whose father works for his
manager. The Colonel makes sure he lives up to what the press
expects and they don’t expect the Prince to date commoners.
And, more than that, he’s a mama’s boy. And I don’t know if his
mama thinks you’re good enough for him.

PRISCILLA
(Slightly angry)
I appreciate your concern, but, the Prince won’t take advantage
of me. I won’t allow it. And he wouldn’t let his mama tell him
who to marry. Not the Prince of Rock and Roll. And, don’t tell
me to behave unless you’re planning to behave too. Especially
on the day you leave for Hollywood.

LAMAR
Don’t worry about me. I know how to act. But, I gotta go.
Look. Dad’s here.

Enter PHINEAS.

LAMAR
(Continued)
Goodbye. And, goodbye again, dad.

PHINEAS
What are you still doing here? You’re going to miss your
flight.

LAMAR turns to leave, but PHINEAS grabs
his sleeve.
23

PHINEAS
(Continued)
But I’m glad I caught you. Listen, before you go, I want to
remind you how to act in Hollywood. Remember, you’re
representing not only the Prince, but all the Prince stands for
as well. And, these people will judge the Prince and the
Colonel and even me, your father, based on the impression you
make on them. You have to be familiar, but don’t be crude.
They’ve already heard every dirty joke. Make friends, but don’t
do it at the expense of the friends you already have. Don’t
argue. Remember, they may even be right. Listen. It isn’t
always necessary that you speak. And what’s said at the meeting
isn’t nearly as important as what’s written in the contract
afterwards. It’s alright if they criticize you, but try not to
criticize them.

PHINEAS examines what LAMAR is wearing.

PHINEAS
(Continued)
By the way, I like your suit. It’s conservative, but expensive
looking. And that’s the definition of class. But get rid of
the gold chain. It’s too flashy. When you go to restaurants,
pick up as many checks as you can. Don’t let anyone else get
them. And never let anyone split a check. Keep all your
receipts, but be casual about it. Don’t look too cheap or too
extravagant. But above all, if something seems false or sleazy
or to good to be true, it probably is. Now go.

LAMAR
Yeah. Hey, I gotta go.

PHINEAS
(Impatiently)
Go already.

LAMAR
Good bye, Priscilla. Remember what I said.

PHINEAS looks over at Priscilla to see
her reaction to this.

PRISCILLA
(Crossly)
Always.
24

PHINEAS looks back at LAMAR wondering
what LAMAR said that angered PRISCILLA.

LAMAR
Goodbye.

Exit.

PHINEAS and PRISCILLA watch LAMAR
leave, then PHINEAS turns to PRISCILLA.

PHINEAS
What was it that he said to you?

PRISCILLA
Oh, nothing, just a little advice about Elvet.

PHINEAS
Speaking of that, I think the Prince has been paying you a
little too much attention recently. And, you’ve been a little
too receptive. What’s going on between you, exactly?

PRISCILLA
(Angry)
He has been very attentive, lately. He’s even told me that he
loves me.

PHINEAS
Love? Do you believe him?

PRISCILLA
I don’t know.

PHINEAS
Well, I’ll tell you, then. Be careful with love. You could end
up living in a trailer with a baby.

PRISCILLA
(Shocked)
No. He’s been an absolute gentleman.

PHINEAS
It always starts out that way.

PRISCILLA
He’s even talked about marriage.
25

PHINEAS
Of course he did. But talk is cheap, my dear. Don’t let him
fool you with promises. Even if he believes them himself.

PRISCILLA
Of course, daddy.

Exeunt.

The front porch (ACT I SCENE IV).

Enter ELVET, HORACE, and MARK.

ELVET
Damn, it’s cold.

HORACE
Like the proverbial witch’s tit.

ELVET
What time is it?

HORACE
Just before midnight.

ELVET
No. It’s after midnight. I heard the church bells a while ago.

HORACE
Really? I missed them. Well, he should be here soon, then.

A gunshot is heard.

HORACE
(Continued)
What the hell was that? A gunshot?

ELVET
The Colonel’s entertaining some of his business associates.
They get a little rowdy when they’re away from their wives.
They whip out their pistols cause they can’t whip out their
peckers.

HORACE
They do this often?

ELVET
26

All the time. People around here think it shows a little style,
but the rest of the world thinks we’re a bunch of drunken
rednecks. Every time a hear one of those gunshots, it reminds
me that those crackers have been shooting holes in my career
ever since my daddy’s gone. Daddy had plans, big plans. The
Colonel and his flunkies just want to do the same old crap, over
and over again, as long as the money’s coming in. Heck, they
might as well just shoot me.

HORACE
Look, Prince! Here he comes.

Enter VERNON.

ELVET
I’ll be damned. It is him.

VERNON beckons ELVET.

HORACE
He wants you to go with him. It looks like he wants to talk
with you alone.

MARK
Damn. He almost looks sober when he waves to you. Don’t go.

HORACE
Yeah. Stay right here.

ELVET
I’ve got to go talk to him.

HORACE
No, Prince.

ELVET
I’m not afraid. Hell, as rough as he looks, I think it’s my old
daddy.

HORACE
What if he rolls you in an alley? What if he throws you in the
trunk of a car? What he leads you to a tabloid photographer?

ELVET
I’ve got to talk to him.

MARK
27

(Grabs ELVET’s arm)
No!

ELVET
(Pulls out a knife)
Let go of me.

MARK lets ELVET go when he sees the
knife.

HORACE
No. Stop.

ELVET
(To MARK and HORACE)
I’ve got to go.
(To VERNON)
OK. Lead on.

Exeunt VERNON and ELVET.

HORACE
He’s nuts.

MARK
Yeah. Absolutely crazy. We should follow him.

HORACE
Why do you want to do that?

MARK
Something stinks in the city of Memphis.

HORACE
Leave him alone.

MARK
No. We have to follow him.

Exeunt.

The front yard (ACT I SCENE V).

Enter VERNON and ELVET

ELVET
28

Where are you taking me? Talk to me or I’m not going any
farther.

VERNON
(Drunk, desperate)
Listen to me.

ELVET
OK.

VERNON
My time’s almost up. My liver’s aching. My stomach’s on fire.
And I’m sobering up fast. I’ve got to be moving on soon.

ELVET
Hey. I’m sorry.

VERNON
Don’t pity me. But listen. Carefully.

ELVET
Talk to me.

VERNON
I need your help.

ELVET
What can I do?

VERNON
(Drunk, disjointed)
Look at me. I’m what’s left of your father. I had to leave
home and I can’t come back. Ever. I’m doomed to wander for the
rest of my life because of some stupid mistakes I’ve made. My
life is a living hell. I spend part of my time in the gutter
and the rest of my time in a bottle. I’m too embarrassed to
tell you how low I’ve sunk. I trusted the wrong people and I’ve
done some bad things. But I’ve been wronged, too. You may not
believe what I say, but hear me out. It’s a horrible story and
you’re the only person I can tell. If you ever loved me,
please, hear me out.

ELVET
Damn.

VERNON
I’ve been betrayed.
29

ELVET
Betrayed?

VERNON
By a regular Judas Iscariot.

ELVET
Tell me. I’ll help you.

VERNON
I’m sure you will. You’re the man I hoped you’d become, even
though the music people, the promoters, the agents, the fans,
everyone tried to corrupt you. Listen to me. He poisoned my
wife’s - your mother’s - mind. He tricked me. He set me up.
And then that snake whispered lies into her ear and because I
couldn’t stay around to defend myself, she believed them. And
he stole her and he stole the Company.

ELVET
I knew it! The Colonel!

VERNON
Yeah, that lying, cheating bastard, the Colonel. Well, it’s
like this. The Colonel and I were skimming cash from the
Company. It was his idea – I didn’t want to do it – but he
assured me we were just taking a little bit that no one would
miss – no one , not the investors, the record companies, the
concert promoters, the employees, the government. But the
Colonel made it look like I was the only one skimming and once
he had all the evidence he needed, he threatened to go to the
law and rat me out, unless I left, ran away, disappeared. I
thought about fighting, but he swore it would destroy you and
your career and I think he was right. So I just snuck off one
night and hid in a bottle of hooch. And then that lying
cheating bastard stole Gladys from me, too. He told her I had
been stealing and that he caught me and I ran away. And she
believed him. And when I lost her, I lost almost everything.
I’m just hoping I didn’t lose you, too. So, son, please don’t
punish your mother. But get that bastard Colonel for me.
Goodbye.

Exit.

ELVET
(SONG 2)
I know I didn’t give you
30

As much respect as you deserved
I didn’t always obey you
Even when I gave my word
I thought you’d always be around
Couldn’t be another way
(REFRAIN)
I never thought that you’d be gone
I wish I’d never done you wrong
(VERSE)
I know I let you down
Sometimes I didn’t really try
And you wouldn’t even frown
Now all I can do is cry
I thought you’d always stay with me
Till my final dying day
(VERSE)
Got a chance to really help you
Another thing I didn’t earn
And I’ll try to bring your fight to
The ones who did you this bad turn
I know you can’t really help me now
I’ll just have to find my way

ELVET
(Continued)
Damn the Colonel. I’ll get him. I’ve sworn it. And, I’ll
teach mama a little lesson, too.

MARK
HORACE
(Offstage)
Prince! Prince!

MARK
Prince!

HORACE
God help him.

ELVET
Yeah. God help me.

HORACE
Prince! Prince! Where are you?

ELVET
Right here, man.
31

Enter HORACE and MARK.

MARK
Was it your daddy?

MARK
What did he want?

ELVET
Man, this sucks.

ELVET
Prince! What happened?

ELVET
No. I can’t. You’ll spill it.

HORACE
No. Please, tell me.

MARK
We won’t tell.

ELVET
You sure you’ll keep quiet?

HORACE
MARK
Of course.

ELVET
He told me that there’s a dirtbag in Memphis.

HORACE
That’s not exactly front page stuff, Prince.

ELVET
That’s true. But what makes this bastard special is. It’s
really none of your business and I can’t tell you about it.
Look I’ve got to think about this. I’ve got to get out of here.

HORACE
You’re talking crazy, Prince.

ELVET
I just can’t talk about it. No offense.
32

HORACE
None taken.

ELVET
Someone’s been offended, alright. I’m just glad it’s not you.
Look, my daddy may be a bum now, but he’s an honest bum. I
can’t tell you what he told me, but I’ve got to ask a favor.

HORACE
Anything, Prince.

ELVET
Don’t tell anyone about what happened tonight.

HORACE
MARK
Of course not.

ELVET
Swear?

HORACE
On a stack of bibles.

MARK
On my mother’s grave.

ELVET
On my guitar.

MARK
We’ve already sworn.

ELVET
On my guitar.

VERNON
(Beneath)
Swear.

ELVET
Listen. My daddy wants you to swear on my guitar.

HORACE
OK.
33

ELVET
I will not tell anyone about this. Swear on my guitar.

VERNON
(Beneath)
Swear.

ELVET
Come on. Swear on my guitar.

VERNON
(Beneath)
Swear.

ELVET
Come on guys. You’ve got to do this for me.

HORACE
This is seriously weird.

ELVET
There are a lot of things that you see in real life that you
wouldn’t believe if you read them in a book or heard them is a
song or saw them in a movie or even a play.

VERNON
(Beneath)
Swear.

ELVET
Go. Sleep it off, daddy.

They swear.

ELVET
(Continued)
Guys. Thank you. Thank you very much.

Exeunt.

A room in Phineas’ house (ACT II SCENE I).

Enter PHINEAS and RHONDA.

PHINEAS
34

(Handing a manila envelope to RHONDA)
I want you to bring these contracts to Lamar in Hollywood.
(Handing a think white envelope bulging with
cash to her)
And I want you to slip him this cash when you’re there.

RHONDA
(Checking the cash, wistfully as if she’d
like to keep it)
Yes. I’ll take care of it.

PHINEAS
I know you will. But, before you go and see him, I want you to
ask around. See what he’s up to? See how he’s acting.

RHONDA
Of course.

PHINEAS
See who we know in Los Angeles, especially anyone from Memphis.
Concentrate on the guys. They’re easier. They always want to
talk to a beautiful woman. Find out if they know him. Tell
them that you know Lamar’s family and friends. They’ll open up
to you as long as they don’t think you’re prying.

RHONDA
Sure.

PHINEAS
Pretend you’re interested in him socially, with just a little
hint of sex. They’ll tell you anything they know just to
discourage you. They’ll tell you how much he drinks, how much
he swears, how much he gambles, how much he whores around just
to get into your pants.

RHONDA
I know. But some men will just make up anything to shoot
another guy down. I’m sure someone will tell me he’s gay. Or
he’s into whips and chains. Or little girls. Or even little
boys.

PHINEAS
Some of it may be lies, but somewhere in there you’ll have a
good idea of what he’s been up to.

RHONDA
(Sarcastically)
35

Men lying? Imagine that.

PHINEAS
(Ignoring the sarcasm)
Then see what the women have to say. You know how to do that
better than I do.

RHONDA
If you say so.

PHINEAS
You know. Find out who he’s dated. See what they have to say
about him.

RHONDA
Do you want to know if he’s a good dancer or do you want to know
if he’s good in bed?

PHINEAS
(Flustered, a little angry)
I want to know everything. All the details. But I want you to
be discreet. Don’t just ask how big his dick is. Tell them
that you’re jealous, in a nice way, that they went out with him.
Flatter them. Tell them you’re sure he asked them out because
they’re so beautiful. Or tall. Or slim. Or talented. Because
when people think you admire them, or envy them, they open up to
you. More than if you ask them something straight out.

RHONDA
I know that.

PHINEAS
Just don’t overdo it.

RHONDA
I’ll be careful.

PHINEAS
Most people have a pretty good bullshit detector. And while
they want to be flattered, they know when you go over the line.
It’s as simple as not admiring a short person’s height. They
know they’re not tall. Find another feature. And make sure
that feature is one that they like. All men go for girls with
big tits and small consciences, tight dresses and loose morals.
But those girls like to think that men admire their sense of
humor or something, anything, else.
36

RHONDA
Yes. I get it.

PHINEAS
So get out there. Have a good flight.

PHINEAS and RHONDA embrace, showing
that RHONDA is PHINEAS’ mistress.
RHONDA, however, scowls at his touch
showing that, for her at least, the
relationship is professional.

RHONDA
Goodbye.

PHINEAS
And remember. Watch him yourself.

RHONDA
I’ll know everything by the time I’m done.

PHINEAS
(Vehemently, as if he fears it)
But I don’t want you to sleep with him.

RHONDA
(Sarcastically, as if she intends to)
Of course not.

PHINEAS
Now go!

Enter PRISCILLA.

PRISCILLA is obviously agitated. She
looks like she is on the point of
tears. PRISCILLA notices RHONDA on her
way out and recovers long enough to
glare jealously at her. RHONDA returns
a smug self-satisfied smile.

Exit RHONDA.

PHINEAS
(Continued)
Priscilla! What’s wrong?
37

PRISCILLA
Daddy! Daddy! I’m terrified.

PHINEAS
What’s wrong?

PRISCILLA
I was watching TV in the kitchen and the Prince came in. His
shirt was unbuttoned. His hair was even messed up. He was
white as a sheet and he looked like he was plumb crazy. And he
came right at me.

PHINEAS
(Uncomfortable with mentioning sex or rape)
Did he try to--? Try to--? You know, did he try to--? You
know, sex.

PRISCILLA
No. He didn’t try that. But it looked like he might have
wanted to.

PHINEAS
(Relieved)
Did he say anything?

PRISCILLA
He grabbed my wrists and held them hard. Look! They’re
bruised. He looked at my face and into my eyes for a long time.
He shook his head like a drunk, but he hadn’t been drinking, at
least he didn’t smell like it. Then he sighed and staggered
outside, bumping into the furniture and walls like a blind man.

PHINEAS
Let’s go find the Colonel. He’s got to be told before this goes
too far.
(Sternly)
Did you say or do anything to provoke this?

PRISCILLA
No, daddy. I haven’t seen or spoke to him. Just like you said.

PHINEAS
I guess that made him mad, crazy even. I’m sorry I put you in
that position. I didn’t know he was that far gone. Let’s go
tell the Colonel. He’s got to know

Exeunt.
38

A room in the mansion (ACT II SCENE II).

Enter THE COLONEL, GLADYS, ROSENCRANTZ,
GUILDENSTERN.

THE COLONEL
Rosencrantz! Guildenstern! Welcome. Welcome. And thanks for
coming so quickly. Elvet’s been so down recently. He’s been
acting strangely, too. See if you can cheer him up a little.
I’m not exactly sure what’s wrong, but, maybe you can figure
what’s going on.

GLADYS is all over ROSENCRANTZ and
GUILDENSTERN as she talks to them,
stroking their cheeks, arms and chests.
They, in turn, are entranced.

GLADYS
Thank you both for coming. He thinks so highly of you. And
thank you so much for helping us. We’ll never forget it.

ROSENCRANTZ
We’re flattered that you asked us.

GUILDENSTERN
And we’re glad to help.

THE COLONEL
Thank you. Thank you.

GLADYS
Thank you. Now, please, go find the Prince before he gets any
worse.

GLADYS kisses them both on the cheek as
she sends them off.

GUILDENSTERN
We’ll do our best.

GLADYS
I know you will.

Exeunt ROSENCRANTZ, GUILDENSTERN.

Enter PHINEAS.
39

PHINEAS
Cornelius and Voltimand are back from General Entertainment and
they look happy.

THE COLONEL
Great! I need some good news.

PHINEAS
(Smugly triumphant)
More than that Colonel, I now know what is making the Prince
behave so strangely.

THE COLONEL
Tell me.

PHINEAS
Let’s hear the good news from General Entertainment. My
information will be the cherry on the top.

THE COLONEL
Then bring them in.

Exit PHINEAS.

THE COLONEL
(To GLADYS)
He tells me he knows what Elvet’s problem is.

GLADYS
(With her hands all
over THE COLONEL)
I don’t think it’s any more than his father’s disappearance.
And you and me, baby.

THE COLONEL
We’ll see.

Re-enter PHINEAS, with VOLTIMAND and
CORNELIUS.

THE COLONEL
(Continued)
Hey! So what happened at General Entertainment?

VOLTIMAND
40

It went as well as can be expected. They did think we were
vulnerable when the Prince’s daddy disappeared so we had to
convince them that the Prince and you are personally very close.
We also explained to them that you and Gladys are really close
and they know how much his mama means to him. So they’re pretty
confident now that we can keep him in the fold. We assured the
people at General Entertainment that we are still interested in
working with them, but they will have to control Johnny
Fortinbras and his people at Midnight Sun. We insisted that we
be treated honorably and that we would have nothing to do with
his gangsters and thugs. They pretended not to know about those
unsavory guys on their payroll and we pretended to believe them.
But they did agree that they would exile Johnny Fortinbras to
the Jazz division as long as the Prince is under contract to
General Entertainment or its subsidiaries, which will keep him
out of our hair.

They hand some papers to THE COLONEL.

VOLTIMAND
(Continued)
They sent along this preliminary agreement, which also provides
them with an option on the next several recordings and in
exchange they will provide us with a large sum of cash. They
would like you to go over it and return it as soon as possible
with your comments.

THE COLONEL
Excellent! I’ll read it and run it by the lawyers, but it
sounds like a good start to me. Go take a load off, guys.
You’ve done well and we’re going to celebrate tonight.

Exeunt VOLTIMAND and CORNELIUS.

THE COLONEL
(To PHINEAS)
So what about the Prince?

PHINEAS
Let me get straight to the point, because as the Bard says,
“Brevity is the soul of wit.” I think that the Prince is losing
his mind. What I mean by that is that the Price is actually
going crazy, or perhaps I should that the Prince is going insane
or even descending into madness or lunacy. Now, I don’t want to
define insanity or madness, as I’m not qualified medically, but
I’ve been around a little and I think I know madness when I see
it—
41

GLADYS
(Impatiently)
Please, Phineas. Get to the point.

PHINEAS
I assure you that I’m at the point. It’s true that he’s mad.
And it’s a shame that he’s mad. And it’s a shame that it’s a
shame that it’s true that he’s mad. Listen to this letter
(Reads)
To the muse of my soul and the soul of my music, the most
beautiful Priscilla
(To the COLONEL)
I’m sorry, Colonel, but I’m glad he put that in a letter and not
a song. It’s downright awful. But listen-
(Reads)
Your milk white smooth skin
Covers the pure soul within
(Comments to THE COLONEL and GLADYS)
And does he use the word “soul” enough? Maybe the critics are
right. There is too much colored influence here. But wait-
(Reads)
I dream of you at night
Not stopping at day light

GLADYS
(Interrupting)
Elvet wrote that? That’s horrible.

PHINEAS
There’s more. And it gets worse.
(Reads)
I cannot wait the hours
Until privacy is ours
My heart contains a flame
Fueled by your name
(Comments to THE COLONEL and GLADYS)
I can’t read any more. It’s too painful. He’s insane.
Insanely in love with my daughter, Priscilla.

THE COLONEL
Does she love him?

PHINEAS
(Almost insulted)
Do you think I would betray the trust you have in me?
42

THE COLONEL
(Thinks for a little too long)
No. You’ve always been straight with me.

PHINEAS
Good, because I told Priscilla that she could have nothing to do
with him. He’s the Prince of Rock and Roll and she’s a humble
accountant’s daughter. He should be dating actresses and models
and singers, not ordinary people. And because she’s a good girl
and knows her place, she did what she was told. But Elvet
didn’t take it well. I guess the Prince isn’t used to hearing
girls say no, and, really, he shouldn’t be, but it started there
and got worse.

THE COLONEL
Do you think so?

GLADYS
(Skeptically)
It’s possible.

PHINEAS
Have I ever been wrong in the past?

THE COLONEL
(Thinks again)
Not that I remember.

PHINEAS
Just kick me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure I’m not.

THE COLONEL
Is there a way we can be sure?

PHINEAS
You know, sometimes he walks around the front porch for hours.

GLADYS
That’s true.

PHINEAS
The next time he does, I’ll bring Priscilla around. We’ll hide
in the shrubbery and watch. If he’s not madly in love with her,
you can send on the next tour as a roadie.

THE COLONEL
Sounds good.
43

GLADYS
Here he comes.

PHINEAS
Go you two. I’ll deal with him.

Exeunt THE COLONEL, GLADYS.

Enter ELVET, reading.

PHINEAS
(to ELVET)
Elvet! How’s it going?

ELVET here is acting stoned. He is
manic, barely coherent and stumbles
around while he talks to PHINEAS.

ELVET
Well, Lord have mercy!

PHINEAS
Don’t you recognize me?

ELVET
Of course, I do. You’re a pimp.

PHINEAS
No, I’m an accountant.

ELVET
You looked more honest than that.

PHINEAS
Honest?

ELVET
Yes. A rare trait, especially in the financial industry.

PHINEAS
That’s unfortunately very true.

ELVET
Do you have a daughter?

PHINEAS
44

As a matter of fact, I do.

ELVET
Keep the sun off her.

PHINEAS
Is that some sort of pun?

ELVET shrugs.

PHINEAS
(Continued)
What are you reading?

ELVET
Words, of course.

PHINEAS
About?

ELVET
About nothing! Exactly a book full of them.

PHINEAS
I meant what is the book about.

ELVET
It’s a pack of lies. I believe them all, of course, but that
doesn’t make them true.
(Looks at PHINEAS)
You’d be about my age, if you were a little younger.

PHINEAS
There is some truth in that. Take a walk with me, Prince.

ELVET
I’m off to die.

PHINEAS
That’s new. And somewhat different, no matter how you interpret
it. Elvet, I must be going.

ELVET
There is no one I would rather go more than you. Except, of
course, me.

PHINEAS
45

See you around.

ELVET
(Sanely)
Oh, no, these morons.

Enter ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN.

PHINEAS
If you’re looking for Elvet, he’s over there

ROSENCRANTZ
(To PHINEAS)
Thank you sir.

Exit PHINEAS.

GUILDENSTERN
Prince!

ROSENCRANTZ
Prince!

ELVET
(Back to his stoned act, but less so than
with PHINEAS)
Hey. How’re you guys doing?

ROSENCRANTZ
Not bad.

GUILDENSTERN
But not too good either. Lady Luck’s hasn’t exactly been kissing
us.

ELVET
But has she been kicking you in the teeth?

ROSENCRANTZ
Not half that bad.

ELVET
She’s not kissing and she’s not kicking. So your faces are
buried in her lap?

GUILDENSTERN
More like she’s sitting on them.
46

ELVET
I always knew she was a cheap tramp. So what’s up?

ROSENCRANTZ
Nothing. We’re just keeping out of trouble.

ELVET
Now that’s a sign of the apocalypse. But, what did you do in
your childhood, that God’s punishing you for by sending you to
Memphis?

GUILDENSTERN
Punishment? Memphis?

ELVET
If you look up cruel and inhuman in the dictionary, you’ll get
driving directions to here.

ROSENCRANTZ
If you think Memphis is a punishment, you must not have been on
tour recently.

ELVET
There are a lot of lousy places, but Tennessee generally, and
Memphis particularly, is the worst.

ROSENCRANTZ
No way. Have you ever been to Buffalo, New York?

ELVET
Well, maybe it’s not the worst, but it is right up there.

ROSENCRANTZ
Well, it’s your own hang-ups that are making it into a
punishment.

ELVET
I could be playing a roadhouse and think I was in the Hollywood
Bowl if it weren’t for my hang-ups.

GUILDENSTERN
You’d know it was a roadhouse when you saw how little they paid
you.

ELVET
47

I wouldn’t have to know how little they paid me. I’d know that
just by seeing how unhappy the Colonel was with his cut.

ROSENCRANTZ
But his diminished cut would only be a reflection of yours.

ELVET
I don’t know about that. I’ve got to go see the Colonel. This
conversation is making my head hurt.

ROSENCRANTZ
GUILDENSTERN
We’d be glad to take you there.

ELVET
No. Please don’t. I’ve got plenty of people around to go with
me. But, seriously, what brings you to Memphis?

ROSENCRANTZ
We just came to see you.

ELVET
I appreciate that. Really, I do. But I’ve got to know. Did
you come on your own? Or were you sent for?

GUILDENSTERN
What makes you ask?

ELVET
I just want to hear you say it. I know you were sent for. I
know that my mama and the Colonel called you here.

ROSENCRANTZ
Why would they do that?

ELVET
You know that better than I do. But if had to guess, I’d say
they want you to straighten me out. Cheer me up. Something
like that. So tell me, did they send for you?

ROSENCRANTZ
(Aside to GUILDENSTERN)
Should we tell him?

ELVET
Don’t lie to me.
48

GUILDENSTERN
Yes, Prince, the Colonel and your mama sent for us.

ELVET
I knew it! And I’ll tell you why. Recently, I’ve been really
bummed out. I’ve given up karate. I don’t rent out the movie
theater or the roller rink anymore. I don’t shoot cans in the
back yard. The pink Cadillac hasn’t been out of the garage in
weeks. The ground seems barren. The air seems stale. I’m
surrounded by beautiful women. They smell like flowers, they
sing like birds, they move like dancers, they fuck like bunnies
and I care as much about them as I do about last week’s fried
peanut butter and banana sandwiches. Hey! You look like you
don’t believe me?

ROSENCRANTZ
Of course I do.

ELVET
Then why did you laugh when I compared women to stale lunches?

ROSENCRANTZ
Well, if you’ve lost interest in women, what will the band we
brought sing about?

ELVET
(Excited)
You brought a band? That’s great. Musicians are always
welcome. A well played guitar is always a pleasure to hear. A
drum beat can fill in for my missing heart beat. I can do
without a singer telling me how to feel, unless of course they
sing the blues. But, hey, what band did you bring?

ROSENCRANTZ
They’re called “The Tragic Flaws.” You remember them. They
played at that tavern right by Wittenberg. The Colonel’s
thinking of representing them.

ELVET
Interesting. They’re pretty good. I’m surprised they don’t
already have representation.

ROSENCRANTZ
They’re a little out of style right now.

ELVET
Out of style? How did that happen?
49

ROSENCRANTZ
Audiences are fickle.

ELVET
What happened? Are they losing it?

ROSENCRANTZ
No. They’re still pretty good. But people really like the new
bands, you know, the well-scrubbed handsome young boys who
harmonize. Choreography and presentation are more important
than words and music right now.

ELVET
Who are these new bands? Are they children? Who writes their
songs? And why would they?

ROSENCRANTZ
They’re just manufactured by the record companies. They get
their songs and their dances and their clothes and they’re off.
But the public seems to like them.

ELVET
I can’t believe it.

GUILDENSTERN
It’s been in the trades a lot.

ELVET
I don’t read that crap. Journalists and critics are a bad joke.
People shouldn’t take them seriously.

ROSENCRANTZ
But they do. Against all reason.

ELVET
Strange. I guess you can sell anything to anybody.

GUILDENSTERN
Here comes the band.

ELVET
That’s great. Well, I’m glad to see you guys anyway. I’m sorry
I was so hard on you. And I’m sorry I look like such a mess. I
would’ve cleaned up, but I’m running a little scam on the
Colonel and my mama.
50

GUILDENSTERN
A scam? What do you mean?

ELVET
(Conspiratorially)
I’m only blue when the sky is too. I’m only up when the Sun is
down.

Enter PHINEAS.

PHINEAS
Hello, gentlemen.

ELVET
Watch out for this guy. He likes to wear diapers, if you know
what I mean?

ROSENCRANTZ
Well that’s common in old age. And in certain kinky circles.

ELVET
I bet he’s coming to tell me about the band.
(to PHINEAS, with an insane grin)
Why? A duck?

PHINEAS
Prince, I have an announcement.

ELVET
I have an announcement too. One if by land, two if by sea-

PHINEAS
The band is here.

ELVET
Arf! Arf!

PHINEAS
Hey!

ELVET
Then each musician came in on his ass-

PHINEAS
This is one great band.

ELVET
51

What prize did you win?

PHINEAS
What?

ELVET
One good-looking daughter.

PHINEAS
(Aside)
Not this again.

ELVET
Am I not right?

PHINEAS
I’ve got a daughter that I love very much.

ELVET
I’m not sure that follows.

PHINEAS
What does then?

ELVET
The thing that’s behind, of course.

Enter four or five Musicians.

ELVET
(Continued)
Hey! How you all doing? I’m so glad to see you all again.
Let’s have a song.

First Musician
What do you want to hear?

ELVET
I heard you sing something once that I don’t think was ever
recorded. I thought it was great, but those dumb crackers at
the roadhouse didn’t get it. It was about a man who couldn’t
make up his mind. It went something like this—
(SONG 3)
Can’t tell day from night
Can’t tell wrong from right
Don’t know black from white
Should I run or fight
52

PHINEAS
Well sung, Prince, well sung.

First Musician
(Sings)
Drank a quart of booze
Washed it down with beer
What I want to lose
Is this God damn fear
(VERSE)
Got a funny feeling
Running in my head
I may be living
But I could be dead

PHINEAS
No. That’s too depressing

ELVET
That’s why they call it the blues.

First Musician
(Sings)
Went out to the shed
With a loaded gun
Aimed it at my head
Couldn’t shoot no one

ELVET
“Couldn’t shoot no one?”

PHINEAS
That’s good. “Couldn’t shoot no one” is good.

First Musician
(Sings)
Went up to the stove
Turned on all the gas
Lit myself a smoke
Didn’t fry my ass

PHINEAS
Stove? Smoke? It’s brilliant. Please, no more.

ELVET
Yes, it’s brilliant.
53

PHINEAS
I’ll find somewhere to put them up.

ELVET
(Angrily)
Come on. Put them up in the Mansion. We’ve got plenty of
guest rooms.

PHINEAS
(Chastened)
Come. I’ll show you to your rooms.

ELVET
Go with him. We’re gonna hear some music tonight.

Exit PHINEAS with all the Musicians but
the First.

ELVET
(Continued)
Hey do you guys know the old ballad, “You Thievin’ Bastard?”

First Musician
Of course.

ELVET
I’ve got some stuff along those lines. Why don’t you see if we
can put it into your act?

First Musician
Great.

ELVET
OK. Why don’t you find your band mates and old Phineas. And,
don’t give him a hard time.

Exit First Musician.

ELVET
(Continued)
I’ll see you guys later. Make yourselves at home.

ROSENCRANTZ
Great, Prince.
54

ELVET
Later.

Exeunt ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN.

ELVET
(SONG 4)
I ain’t worth a damn to no one
Worrying bout this stuff
I can’t get out of my own way
Nothings ever good enough
(REFRAIN)
I never done nothing that amounts
to more than a pile of snuff
(VERSE)
Well, I try to live my life good
Shouldn’t really be that tough
Getting simple things done right
Isn’t supposed to be so rough
(REFRAIN)
I never done nothing that amounts
to more than a pile of snuff
(VERSE)
Well, even when I’m playing cards
And I got a hand of means
Some quick fingers sharpie’s
Always got more Kings than I got Queens
(REFRAIN)
I never done nothing that amounts
to more than a hill o beans

A room in the mansion (ACT III SCENE I).

Enter THE COLONEL, GLADYS, PHINEAS,
PRISCILLA, ROSENCRANTZ, and
GUILDENSTERN.

THE COLONEL
So can’t you get him to tell you why he’s behaving so strangely?

ROSENCRANTZ
No. He admits there’s something wrong, but he won’t say what it
is or why.

GUILDENSTERN
55

And he’s careful to keep his true feelings hidden behind this
crazy mask.

GLADYS
(Touching ROSENCRANTZ)
Was he glad to see you?

ROSENCRANTZ
Oh, yes. Very.

GLADYS reaches out and gets a hold of
GUILDENSTERN, too.

GUILDENSTERN
But he had to work at it a little.

ROSENCRANTZ
He was as open as could be expected.

GLADYS
Did you get him to do anything?

ROSENCRANTZ
Luckily, we brought a band that he remembered from the old days
in Wittenberg. He was very happy to see them and he got
involved in their performance.

PHINEAS
Yes. That’s true. And he really wants you two to come also.

THE COLONEL
I’m glad he’s found something to get interested in. Keep up the
good work.

ROSENCRANTZ
We will.

Exeunt ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN.

THE COLONEL
Gladys, you’ve got to excuse us. We’ve sent for Elvet. We’re
going to have him run into Priscilla “accidentally” so we can
see if she’s the cause of his strange behavior.

GLADYS
(takes THE COLONEL’s arm)
Of course.
56

GLADYS reaches out and strokes
PRISCILLA seductively.

GLADYS
(Continuing)
And Priscilla, I do hope that your beauty is the cause of his
madness, because if it is I’m sure your goodness can cure him of
it.

GLADYS kisses PRISCILLA inappropriately
and then kisses the COLONEL.

GLADYS
(Continuing)
Bye. Bye.

PRISCILLA
Oh, I hope so.

Exit GLADYS.

PHINEAS
Priscilla, Come here, please. We want set this up so we can see
you from our hiding place.
(To PRISCILLA)
Here. Read this book. That will give you an excuse for sitting
alone. I’m sorry about this. It seems that one more time, our
deeds have caught up with our words. And though we usually say
the right thing, we often do the wrong thing.

THE COLONEL
(Aside)
Ouch! That was like a twelve gauge gut shot.

PHINEAS
(Excited)
Here he comes. Let’s hide.

Exeunt THE COLONEL and PHINEAS.

Enter ELVET playing the guitar and
singing to himself.

ELVET
(SONG 5)
Should I live or should I die?
57

Is there any point in fighting?
Should I even bother try.
(REFRAIN)
Should I try to keep on living?
Should I fight or should I give in
Doesn’t matter which I choose
End up dead, win or lose
Either way I’m in a coffin
(VERSE)
If I die will I still dream?
Will they ever stop their crying?
If there’s pain will I still scream?
(VERSE)
Am I still afraid of dying?
The simple question on my mind
Should I even keep on trying?

ELVET sees PRISCILLA and addresses her
nicely.

ELVET
Hi, Priscilla.

PRISCILLA
(Politely, but guarded)
Prince, how are you doing on this beautiful day?

ELVET
Very well, thank you. Thank you very much.

PRISCILLA
Prince, you gave me some presents that I want to return to you.

ELVET
I never gave you anything.

PRISCILLA
(Hurt)
Of course you did. And you know it. And you spoke so sweetly
when you gave them to me that I treasured your words even more
than your gifts. But take them back now. They just remind me
of how kind you were to me then.

ELVET
(Flippant, suddenly)
Do you put out?
58

PRISCILLA
(Surprised, offended)
What? How dare you ask me that?

ELVET
(ELVET is not bothered by her reaction.)
Do you think you’re good looking?

PRISCILLA
(Guarded, suspicious)
What are you getting at?

ELVET
Well, if you don’t put out, it doesn’t matter if you’re good
looking.

PRISCILLA
Is that the way it is with looks? And men?

ELVET
No. We prefer good looking women, but we always end up with the
easy chicks. Especially when it starts getting late and we’ve
had a few beers.
(Pause)
You know I used to love you.

PRISCILLA
You certainly made me think so.

ELVET
You shouldn’t have believed me, because I didn’t really love you.

PRISCILLA
Well then you fooled me.

ELVET
You know, you should just go gay. Really, all you women should
just become lesbians. I’m a pretty stand up guy, especially
compared with other men, but I’ve done all sorts of lousy things
to women. It’s a guy thing. We’re just incapable of treating
women fairly. We just can’t. How do you know if a man is lying
to you?
(PRISCILLA does not answer.)
Well?
(PRISCILLA does not answer.)
His lips are moving. Seriously, just make it with chicks. I
recommend it. Really.
59

(ELVET notices PHINEAS and THE COLONEL, but
does not let on.)
Hey! Where’s your father.

PRISCILLA
At home, Prince.

ELVET
Lock him inside. See if the idiocy can be contained. Goodbye.

PRISCILLA
God help him.

ELVET
You know if you do get married you’re doomed. You should really
go gay. Seriously, become a lesbian. It’s your only hope. If
you have to get married, be smart and marry a dumb guy. That
way you can cheat on him. Especially with chicks. Go gay.
Seriously. Now. Goodbye.

PRISCILLA
No.

ELVET

I know all about you women. You put on make up. You shake you
hips. You wiggle your ass. You play dumb. Is it any wonder we
lie to you? Forget it. If it wasn’t for that whole sex thing
we’d have no need for women at all. Go on. Do the lesbian
thing.

Exit.

PRISCILLA
(PRISCILLA looks toward PHINEAS and THE
COLONEL and then picks up the telephone and
dials)
Doctor? Hi. It’s Priscilla. I hope I’m not bothering you.
(Pause)
I just saw the Prince.
(Pause)
He’s crazy. Last month he was the Prince of Rock and Roll. He
was polite, brave, smart, handsome, witty. Everyone looked up
to him. He was always well dressed. Now, he’s a mess. He’s
rude and unpleasant. He looks like a bum and he’s getting
pudgy.
(Pause)
60

Oh no. This is too horrible.
(Pause)
I could really use some medication, you know, some sedatives.
Something to calm me down.
(Pause)
Thank you, doctor. I’ll be there as soon as I can.

Re-enter THE COLONEL and PHINEAS.

THE COLONEL
Love! No way. Whatever it is that’s bothering him, it’s not
love. And this could spell real trouble for me. I’ve got to
get the Prince into rehab. Yeah, that’s it. What do you think?

PHINEAS
That’s not a bad idea, but I still think that this whole thing
started from unrequited love. You don’t have to tell us what
happened, Priscilla, we heard it all. I know you’ve got to do
what you think is right, Colonel, but I think that before you
send him to rehab, you should have his mama talk to him. Maybe
he’ll tell her what’s wrong. I’ll listen in and tell you what
they say. And after that, if you want to send him to rehab,
we’ll do it.

THE COLONEL
Do it. But keep an eye on him. A sharp eye.

Exeunt.

A hall in the mansion (ACT III SCENE II).

Enter ELVET and Musicians.

ELVET
(Sober, earnest)
Sing it the way I told you to, with feeling, real feeling. If
you’re going to mumble it, I’d rather have my hound dog sing it.
And don’t bump and grind while you’re doing it. That’s my act,
don’t steal it. Besides, it’s not appropriate here. And don’t
overdo it ether. Be passionate, but don’t ham it up.

First Musician
I got it.

ELVET
61

But don’t be too low key, either. Think about what you’re
singing and let the lyrics guide you. Don’t smile when you’re
singing about dying. And listen to the music, too. Sing a
dirge like a dirge.

First Musician
I think I’ve got a handle on that.

ELVET
And make sure the band is tuned in as well. I don’t want a lot
of dancing when they’re playing the blues. And I don’t want to
see them smiling at each other and detracting from the
performance.

Exeunt Musicians.

Enter PHINEAS, ROSENCRANTZ, and
GUILDENSTERN.

ELVET
(Stoned)
Hey, guys, is the Colonel coming to listen to the band?

PHINEAS
And your mama.

ELVET
Get the musicians ready.

Exit PHINEAS

ELVET
(To ROSENKRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN)
Go. Get them.

ROSENCRANTZ
GUILDENSTERN
Of course, Prince.

Exeunt ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN.

ELVET
Hey! Horace!

Enter HORACE.

HORACE
62

Yes, Prince.

ELVET
You the man.

HORACE
No. You the man.

ELVET
(Sober, earnest)
No. You are. And I’m not sucking up to you. I don’t have to.
I’m the Prince of Rock and Roll. I’m rich, famous, important.
There’s nothing you can give me that I haven’t already got. But
do me one favor. I’ve written a song about my daddy’s
disappearance and all. I want you to keep an eye on the Colonel
and see how he takes it. See if his guilt shows in his face.

HORACE
I’ll watch him like a hawk.

ELVET
Here they come. Get a good spot to watch the Colonel from.

Enter THE COLONEL, GLADYS, PHINEAS,
PRISCILLA, ROSENCRANTZ, GUILDENSTERN,
and others.

THE COLONEL
How are you doing, Prince?

ELVET
(Stoned)
I feel good, Colonel. I just had a bowl of dog food and a few
bites of air.

THE COLONEL
What are talking about? I can’t make any sense of what you’re
saying?

ELVET
Nor can I.
(To PHINEAS)
You played a little guitar in your youth. And sang, too, didn’t
you. Come on, everyone in the music business is some kind of
failed musician. Even most of the musicians are failed
musicians.
63

PHINEAS
Yes I did. And I got some good notices?

ELVET
What did you play?

PHINEAS
Country Western mostly. A little Bluegrass.

ELVET
(Sarcastically)
Ah, we lost a real talent when you went to business school. Is
the band ready?

ROSENCRANTZ
They’re waiting on you.

GLADYS
(Seductively)
Oh, Prince, please sit with me.

ELVET
Sorry, mama, but look at this babe.

GLADYS is briefly downcast, jealous of
PRISCILLA, but soon starts nuzzling THE
COLONEL and smiles again.

PHINEAS
(To the COLONEL)
See!

ELVET
(Teasing)
Can I sit on your lap?

Lying down at PRISCILLA's feet.

PRISCILLA
No.

ELVET
How about if I put my head on your lap?

PRISCILLA
If you must.
64

ELVET
I must. Don’t you think?

PRISCILLA
I don’t think, Prince.

ELVET
(ELVET points at her crotch)
Not there, anyway,

PRISCILLA
(Offended)
What?

ELVET
Never mind.

PRISCILLA
You’re in a good mood.

ELVET
Me?

PRISCILLA
Yes, you.

ELVET
Why shouldn’t I be in a good mood? Look how happy mama is, and
her husband’s been missing for hours now.

PRISCILLA
No. He’s been gone for months.

ELVET
That’s comforting. That means the search for a loved one might
even go on for six full months.

The band enters. They play a moody
depressing piece.

Exeunt.

PRISCILLA
What was that all about?

ELVET
(Depressed momentarily)
65

Nothing. Nothing at all.

PRISCILLA
I hope that doesn’t set the mood for the rest of the performance.

Enter Emcee.

ELVET
We’ll know soon. You can always rely on singers to open their
mouths.

PRISCILLA
Will they tell us what that was all about?

ELVET
And anything else you care to know.

PRISCILLA
Thanks. I guess I’ll just listen myself.

Emcee
Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the “Tragic Flaws.”

Exit.

ELVET
What kind of a name is that?

PRISCILLA
A short one.

ELVET
Like a woman’s attention span

Enter two Singers, Male and Female

Male Singer
(Song 6)
I’ve had a couple flings
And I’ve done some stupid things
But I been as true to you as I could be
I’ve had a couple beers
And I’ve caused a couple tears
But I made a decent life for you and me
(REFRAIN)
Thirty years. Thirty years.
That’s a lot of time together
66

I think it’s been pretty good
I’d only make it better if I could

Female Singer
(SONG 6 - Continued)
I’ve always known you cared
And I wasn’t ever scared
That you were ever really false to me
I didn’t mind the beers
And I haven’t cried for years
You were the best that you knew how to be
(REFRAIN)
Thirty years. Thirty years.
That’s a lot of time together
I think it’s been pretty good
I’d only make it better if I could

Male Singer
(SONG 6 - Continued)
We’ve had a little fun
And we didn’t hurt no one
Didn’t even break a lot of rules
I got little rash
And I skimmed a little cash
Thought the law was wrote for other fools
(REFRAIN)
Thirty years. Thirty years.
That’s a lot of time together
I think it’s been pretty good
I’d only make it better if I could

Female Singer
(SONG 6 - Continued)
I would have run with you
If I had only knew
What you did and why you ran away
And if you went to jail
You know I wouldn’t fail
To be outside waiting on your get out day
(REFRAIN)
Thirty years. Thirty years.
That’s a lot of time together
I think it’s been pretty good
I’d only make it better if I could

ELVET
Lies.
67

Female Singer
(SONG 6 - Continued)
A silly petty crime
And a little bit of time
Wouldn’t change the way I think of you
If I had known the story
Wouldn’t mattered none to me
I know that I’m the only one for you
(REFRAIN)
Thirty years. Thirty years.
That’s a lot of time together
I think it’s been pretty good
I’d only make it better if I could

Make Singer
(SONG 6 - Continued)
I made a big mistake
Listened to a snake
Thought that he was looking out for me
Fell for all his tricks
Then I had to hit the bricks
The law wanted to end my liberty
(REFRAIN)
Thirty years. Thirty years.
That’s a lot of time together
I think it’s been pretty good
I’d only make it better if I could

Female Singer
(SONG 6 - Continued)
You should’ve trusted me
I’ve tried so hard to be
The only girl you needed in your life
Anything happens to you
I know what I will do
I’d be as good a widow as I was a wife.
(REFRAIN)
Thirty years. Thirty years.
That’s a lot of time together
I think it’s been pretty good
I’d only make it better if I could

ELVET
That’s quite a promise to break.

Male Singer
68

(SONG 6 - Continued)
I did the best I knowed
Yeah I had to hit the road
A whiskey bottle’s where I lay my head
I’m gonna take my time
Revenge one day is mine
If I got to come back from the dead
(REFRAIN)
Thirty years. Thirty years.
That’s a lot of time together
I think it’s been pretty good
I’d only make it better if I could

Female Singer
(SONG 6 - Continued)
I really miss you, dear
Passing time has made that clear
What can I do to bring you back to me?
Our son’s already grown
And I feel so all alone
Can’t you help me end this misery
(REFRAIN)
Thirty years. Thirty years.
That’s a lot of time together
I think it’s been pretty good
I’d only make it better if I could

Exit.

ELVET
How did you like that song?

GLADYS
It was pretty, but I think the lady is lying.

ELVET
Oh I’m not sure.

THE COLONEL
Do you know this song? Seems a little crude?

ELVET
No. Unpolished maybe, but not offensive.

THE COLONEL
What’s it called?
69

ELVET
The Mousetrap.

Enter LUCIANUS.

ELVET
This is the good part.

PRISCILLA
You’re a regular Dick Clark.

ELVET
I’m working on a show called “American Bedstand” that just
involves looking through your keyhole.

PRISCILLA
In your dreams, Prince.

ELVET
No. I can’t dream because I can’t fall asleep. Your moaning
keeps me up.

PRISCILLA
I think that’s groaning.

ELVET
Moaning, groaning. Orgasm, headache. Either way, you’re
faking it to fool men.

LUCIANUS
(SONG 6 - Continued)
I took my own sweet time
And I framed him for the crime
He thinks of doing time and then he flees
Then I stole his wife and kid
Never guessing what I had did
Easy as baiting a mousetrap with some cheese
(REFRAIN)
Thirty years. Thirty years.
That’s a long time to be waiting
But I really fixed him good
I’d only done it sooner if I could

ELVET
Great. Did you get how the bastard steals his wife.

THE COLONEL leaps to his feet, enraged.
70

PRISCILLA
The Colonel is getting up.

ELVET
I guess he didn’t like the song.

GLADYS
What’s wrong?

Noticing THE COLONEL’s anger, PHINEAS
leaps to his feet also.

PHINEAS
Stop playing! Stop the music! Stop singing!

THE COLONEL
Turn on the lights! Come on! Lights! Now!

Exeunt all but ELVET and HORACE.

ELVET
(Scornfully)
Let him go cry. Some people like music. Some people like
quiet.
(Smiling)
You know, if my career goes to hell, I could be a songwriter.

HORACE
I wouldn’t give up my day job, Prince.

ELVET
I already did.

HORACE
I’m not sure you ever had a day job.

ELVET
Well, I guess my daddy didn’t get that whole betrayal idea out
of a bottle. Did you see the Colonel?

HORACE
Oh yeah.

ELVET
He winced when they sang about skimming cash, but the frame up
really set him off.
71

HORACE
It was amazing.

ELVET
That worked out well. Let’s play our own music now.

Re-enter ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN.

GUILDENSTERN
Got a second, Prince?

ELVET
You can have an hour.

GUILDENSTERN
The Colonel, Prince –

ELVET
(Interrupting, angrily)
What of him.

GUILDENSTERN
He’s really out of it.

ELVET
Drunk?

GUILDENSTERN
No, Prince. Pissed.

ELVET
(Angrily)
You should go tell someone who gives a damn, because if I had my
way he’ll be even more pissed.

GUILDENSTERN
Prince, just calm down a little and listen to me.

ELVET
I am calm. What’s on your mind?

GUILDENSTERN
Your mama is in a bad way, too. And she sent me to see you.

ELVET
And now you’ve seen me. Thanks.
72

GUILDENSTERN
Your mother sent me to speak to you. Please give me a straight
answer.

ELVET
I can’t.

GUILDENSTERN
What, Prince?

ELVET
I can’t give you a straight answer. I’m really gone.

ROSENCRANTZ
She’s shocked.

ELVET
How cool is that. It’s positively electric.

ROSENCRANTZ
Your mother would like you to come see her before you go to bed.

ELVET
Yeah. Yeah. Is that all?

ROSENCRANTZ
We were friends once.

ELVET
We still are I think.

ROSENCRANTZ
Why won’t you tell me what’s bothering you.

ELVET
I have no prospects.

ROSENCRANTZ
(Shocked)
How can you say that? You’re the Prince of Rock and Roll. You
might be the King someday.

ELVET
I might be dead someday, too.

Re-enter Musicians with guitars.
73

ELVET
(To Musicians)
Hey! Give me one of them guitars.
(To GUILDENSTERN)
Seriously, are you trying trick me into something.

GUILDENSTERN
No. I’m not trying to trick you. I’m just worried about you.

ELVET takes a guitar from one of the
musicians and extends it to
GUILDENSTERN.

ELVET
Here, play this guitar.

GUILDENSTERN
I can’t.

ELVET
Please.

GUILDENSTERN
Really. I can’t.

ELVET
You have to.

GUILDENSTERN
I don’t know how to play the guitar.

ELVET
It’s as easy as lying. Just strum with your right. Use your
left up here.

GUILDENSTERN
But I don’t know any chords.

ELVET
If you can’t even play a guitar, what makes you think you can
play me so easily? You think I’m dumb?

Enter PHINEAS.

Hey!
74

PHINEAS
Your mama would like to speak to you. Now.

ELVET
(Stoned)
Look at that cloud. Doesn’t it look like a skunk?

PHINEAS
I suppose.

ELVET
Maybe a weasel.

PHINEAS
I can see that.

ELVET
Maybe a snake?

PHINEAS
You’re right. A snake.

ELVET
Tell my mama I’ll be right there.

PHINEAS
I will say so.

ELVET
It’s easy to say ‘So’. But if I know you, it’ll probably take
you a while.

Exit PHINEAS.

ELEVET
(Continued)
Everyone. Out.

Exeunt all but ELVET.

(SONG 7)
The sun set a long time ago
The good people are in bed
Leaving the forests and the town
To the evil and the dead
(REFRAIN)
Witching Time
75

Witching Time
Time for the bad things to start
(VERSE)
Too late to do anything proper
Who’s up this time of night?
Besides the sinners and the imps
And the creatures of the night

ELVET
(Continued)
Let’s see what mama thinks about her boyfriend now.

Exit.

A room in the mansion (ACT III SCENE III).

Enter THE COLONEL, ROSENCRANTZ, and
GUILDENSTERN.

THE COLONEL
I don’t like this crazy shit. It’s dangerous and it could get
very expensive. He’s obviously insane. And if he’s not insane,
he’s stoned. We’ve got to get him out of Memphis. The police
here are too used to just bringing him home when they find him
drunk or stoned. They cover up for him every time he screws up.
Just last year they arrested a guy because the Prince ran him
over in his pink Cadillac. And the guy was walking on his own
front lawn at the time. And any doctor in town will write him
any prescription he asks for. Let’s get him to New York. They
don’t like the way he talks there. They don’t even like his
music there. Well, some of the kids may, but the adults don’t.

GUILDENSTERN
We’ll take care of that. Too many people depend on you for us
to let the Prince jeopardize your position.

ROSENCRANTZ
We can find a way to make this happen.

THE COLONEL
Set this up. We’ve got to get this situation under control.

ROSENCRANTZ
GUILDENSTERN
Consider it done.
76

Exeunt ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN.

Enter PHINEAS.

PHINEAS
Colonel, the Prince is on his way to see his mama. I’m going to
hide in the closet and listen to what he has to say. I’ll be
back to let you know what I hear.

THE COLONEL
Thanks.

Exit PHINEAS.

THE COLONEL
(to himself)
Damn, damn, damn. The Prince is getting close. Am I going to
get away with this?

THE COLONEL picks up the telephone and
dials it.

COLONEL
(to phone)
Doctor? This is the Colonel.
(Pause)
Fine, thank you. No, I’m not. I don’t feel well. I’m a little
depressed.
(Pause)
Maybe it’s guilt.
(Pause)
I don’t know. Maybe I feel guilty that I haven’t found Vernon.
Or that I haven’t found out what happened to him.
(Pause)
Maybe I feel bad because I can’t seem to get through to the
Prince. I’m letting Gladys down on both counts, her husband and
her son.
(Pause)
Yes. Something to help me sleep would be great.
(Pause)
You don’t have to bring it over.
(Pause)
Really? Thanks.

Enter ELVET.

Retires and kneels.
77

ELVET
I should shoot this bastard right now. Except that would be too
quick and I want him to suffer. And no one would know what he
did.

(SONG 8)
Should shoot this bastard now
Put a bullet in his brain
Watch the blood drip out his ear
Gonna revel in his pain
(VERSE)
That’s just too quick a death
I’ll let him beg for life
And listen for a while before
Slitting his throat with a knife
(VERSE)
He’ll crumple in a heap and
I’ll let him bleed real slow
He’ll look up me in fear
But, I’ll just watch him go
(VERSE)
He’s really got to hurt
Got to suffer for his crime
I’m gonna make him pay
I only get revenge this one time
(VERSE)
They’ll put me in the chair
Strap me down real good
Put electrodes on my temples
Put my head under a hood

Exit ELVET.

THE COLONEL
Damn. I can’t believe how bad I feel. Well, at least I got a
prescription.

Exit.

The TV room (ACT III SCENE IV).

Enter GLADYS and PHINEAS.

PHINEAS
78

He’s on his way, Gladys. Now listen, you must be firm with him.
His behavior is completely unacceptable. It’s hurting the
Colonel and it’s hurting the business. I’m going to hide in the
closet and listen. OK?

ELVET
Mama. Mama.

GLADYS
Hide. Here he comes.

PHINEAS hides in the closet.

Enter ELVET.

ELVET
Mama? What’s the matter sweetie?

ELVET and GLADYS hug. GLADYS kisses
ELVET in a decidedly sexual, as opposed
to maternal, way.

GLADYS
You’re tearing the family apart.

ELVET
I didn’t think there was a big enough piece left to rip.

GLADYS
That was downright disrespectful, sweetie.

GLADYS strokes ELVET’s face, chest and
arms, seductively.

GLADYS
(Continued)
That’s not the way I raised my boy to treat his mama.

ELVET
Then start acting like my mama.

GLADYS
What do you mean by that?

ELVET
I mean you’re behaving like a tramp.
79

GLADYS
How dare you speak to me like that? Have you forgotten who I am?

ELVET
No, though I’ve tried. You’re my father’s wife. And his
partner’s girlfriend. And, unfortunately, my mother.

GLADYS
No. Wait here while I get the Colonel.
(GLADYS lets go of ELVET
reluctantly.)
I’m going turn on the television to calm you down.
(GLADYS walks over to the TV
and turns it on.)
I’ll be right back.
(GLADYS moves away.)

ELVET
(ELVET grabs GLADYS’ wrist. They
struggle.)
No. Sit down. You can’t go. And you can’t turn on that idiot
box to drown out what’s happening here.

ELVET pulls out his gun and shoots at
the television.

GLADYS
(Terrified)
What are you doing? Are you going to kill me?

PHINEAS
(Behind)
Help! Help!

ELVET
Vermin!

ELVET shoots through the closet door.

PHINEAS
Oh! I’m hit!

Falls and dies.

GLADYS
What have you done?
80

ELVET
(Stunned)
I don’t know. Is that the Colonel?

GLADYS
You killed him. What a horrible thing to do.

ELVET
(Sarcastically)
Compared to framing your partner for a crime and stealing his
wife? Yeah, maybe a little worse.

GLADYS
Framing a partner? Stealing a wife?

ELVET
That’s what I said.

Opens the door and discovers PHINEAS.

ELVET
(Scornfully)
That meddling fool.

GLADYS hugs ELVET and starts to stroke
him sensually again.

GLADYS
What are you accusing me of anyway?

ELVET
Ugh! It’s too disgusting to think about.

GLADYS
And what exactly was that?

ELVET
Think about my daddy. Tall. Strong. Proud. Quiet. Think
about the Colonel. Shot. Weak. Craven. Loud. Daddy wasn’t
the businessman the Colonel is. He had a soul. The Colonel
has a wallet. And, you, rooting around in the Colonel’s bed
like a two bit whore.

GLADYS hugs and strokes and kisses
ELVET even more sexually.
81

GLADYS
Stop. Don’t say that. That’s not true. Don’t talk to your
mama like that.

ELVET
It would make it tough to wallow in your immoral pig sty—

GLADYS
Stop it.

ELVET
A crook and cheat. You traded a king among men for an insect
among beasts. You traded a self made man for a man who made
himself up.

GLADYS continues to paw ELVET.

GLADYS
No. No. I didn’t. Stop.

ELVET
A patchwork man. Made up of pieces of other men’s lives.

Enter VERNON.

ELVET
(To VERNON)
Hey. Help me. What do you want me to do?

GLADYS looks over at VERNON, does not
recognize him and continues to hold
onto ELVET.

GLADYS
(To ELVET)
Are you crazy? Why are you talking to that bum? Who let him in
here?

ELVET
(To VERNON)
Did you come to criticize me? Do you think I’m going too
slowly? This whole vengeance thing ain’t easy, you know. Look
at my mama.

VERNON
(Slurring drunkenly)
82

She’s in shock. Speak to her. Don’t hurt her. You know who
the bad guy is.

ELVET
Mama?

GLADYS
(Angrily)
Get rid of that bum right now.

ELVET
(Stunned)
You don’t recognize him?

GLADYS
I’ve never seen this man before.

ELVET
Look closer. See under the stubble and the dirt. Sniff past
the stench.

GLADYS
Under that bum is a drunk. That’s all I see.

ELVET
Didn’t you recognize his voice?

GLADYS
(Contemptuously)
I only hear the slurred words of Jim Beam. Not even Jack
Daniels.

VERNON stumbles toward the exit.

ELVET
Look! He’s going. You offended him.

Exit VERNON.

GLADYS hugs and strokes and kisses
ELVET even more, practically to the
point of obscenity. ELVET does nothing
to stop her.

GLADYS
Don’t bring vagrants into the mansion anymore.
83

ELVET
You can still get back with him. It’s not too late. Go to
church or something. And stay away from the Colonel.

GLADYS continues to molest ELVET.

GLADYS
You’ve broken my heart.

ELVET
If that’s what it takes to heal you.
(Pointing to PHINEAS)
I’m sorry I killed him. I really didn’t mean to.

GLADYS
(Still hanging onto ELVET)
What shall I do?

ELVET
Just stay out of the Colonel’s bed. Past that I can’t help you,
mama.

GLADYS
(GLADYS buries her head in ELVET’s
chest, sobbing.)
I can’t believe you talk to your mama that way.

ELVET
I’m being sent to New York, you know. The Colonel says I’ve got
to go see the record company.

GLADYS
Yes. I know.

ELVET
There are some new contracts. And there’s some foolishness with
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, who I trust about half as far as I
could throw either one of them. I’m sure they’re up to no
good, but I don’t care. Let them try something, because I’ve
got some ideas of my own.
(Looking at PHINEAS)
Shooting him will speed things up, though. I’d better put the
body somewhere a little less conspicuous. You know it’s funny,
that he’s so quiet and serious now, because when he was alive he
a blithering idiot.
(They kiss each other, again more sexually
than appropriate.)
84

Well, good night, mother.

Exeunt severally; ELVET dragging in
PHINEAS.

A room in the mansion (ACT IV SCENE I).

Enter THE COLONEL, GLADYS, ROSENCRANTZ,
and GUILDENSTERN. GLADYS is obviously
upset.

THE COLONEL
(Concerned)
What’s the matter Gladys? Where’s the Prince?

GLADYS
(To Rosencrantz and Guildenstern)
Will you excuse us, please?

Exeunt ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN.

GLADYS
You won’t believe what just happened.

THE COLONEL
What’s wrong, Gladys? And what’s with Elvet?

GLADYS
He’s completely crazy. He’s a wild as a twister. And even less
predictable. He heard a noise in my closet and shot Phineas
dead.

THE COLONEL
What? I bet he would have killed me if I had been there, too.
He’s a threat to us all. We’ve got to stop this. We’ve got to
restrain him. Where has he gone?

GLADYS
He’s hiding the body. But he regrets it. He’s truly sorry for
killing him.

THE COLONEL
No. Gladys. It’s too far gone. We’ve got to commit him or
something. Hey! Guildenstern! Rosencrantz!

Re-enter ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN.
85

THE COLONEL
(to ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN)
Elvet’s killed Phineas and he’s taken the body and hidden it.
Go find him and the body and bring them back here. Now.

Exeunt ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN.

THE COLONEL
(to GLADYS)
Come on, Gladys. We’ve got to get this spun right. We’ve got
to get the word about to the people we trust, so that the truth
about what happened gets out before a lot of ignorant people
start to speculate. Let’s go.

Exeunt.

Another room in the mansion (ACT IV SCENE II).

Enter ELVET.

ELVET
That’ll keep.

ROSENCRANTZ
GUILDENSTERN
(Within)
Elvet! Prince! Elvet!

ELVET
(Shouting)
Who’s that? Who wants me?
(To himself)
Oh, those two.

Enter ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN.

ROSENCRANTZ
What have you done with the body?

ELVET
I’m converting it to fertilizer. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust,
shit to shit.

ROSENCRANTZ
86

You have to tell us where you hid it. We have to bring it to
the Colonel.

ELVET
Be very skeptical.

ROSENCRANTZ
Skeptical of what?

ELVET
(Contemptuously)
Be skeptical that I would trust you with anything. Besides,
it’s degrading to be questioned by a parrot?

ROSENCRANTZ
A parrot?

ELVET
Yes. That repeats anything it thinks that some one wants to
hear.

ROSENCRANTZ
What do you mean?

ELVET
Forget it. It’s not worth repeating.

ROSENCRANTZ
Prince. You’ve got to tell us where you hid the body and you’ve
got to come with us to the Colonel.

ELVET
What does he need Phineas’s corpse for? He’s a powerful man,
can’t he make one himself? What does he want my body for?
Doesn’t he have one of his own?

GUILDENSTERN
Make a corpse?

ELVET
It’s not that hard. I did it by accident. Let’s go.

ELVET sprints off the stage.
ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN run after
him.

Exeunt.
87

Another room in the mansion (ACT IV SCENE III).

Enter THE COLONEL.

THE COLONEL
(To himself)
Where the hell are they? How goddamned hard can it be to find a
body? It’s not running, is it?
(Shouting off stage)
No one leaves the mansion until we get this under control. And
no one talks to the police or the press except me. Got it?

Enter ROSENCRANTZ.

THE COLONEL
(Continued)
Did you find him? Where’s the body?

ROSENCRANTZ
We found him, but he won’t tell us.

THE COLONEL
Where’s the Prince?

ROSENCRANTZ
We have him outside under guard.

THE COLONEL
Bring him in.

ROSENCRANTZ
(Shouting)
Yo! Guidenstern! Bring in the Prince!

Enter ELVET and GUILDENSTERN.

THE COLONEL
Now, Prince, what have you done with Phineas?

ELVET
I took him to dinner.

THE COLONEL
Dinner? Where did you eat?
88

ELVET
Oh we didn’t eat. I fed old Phineas to the worms.

THE COLONEL
Oh no.

ELVET
You can dig up a worm that munched on the body of James Dean.
And you can use that worm to bait a hook and catch a fish. Then
you can fry it up and eat the fish that ate the worm that ate
James Dean.

THE COLONEL
Yes? What the heck does that mean?

ELVET
Just that any old person can crap out anybody. Even James Dean.
(Threatening)
Even you.

THE COLONEL
Where is Phineas?

ELVET
(Angrily)
Why don’t you just go to hell and look for him yourself.
(Calmer)
Or you can wait here a while and just sniff him out. He’ll
start to smell pretty soon.

THE COLONEL
(To some Attendants)
Go look for him.

ELVET
Don’t worry. He’s not going anywhere.

Exeunt Attendants.

THE COLONEL
Elvet. Listen. We’ll keep this quiet for as long as we can,
but once it comes out, it will mean trouble. The police will
want to talk to you. Hollywood won’t. Record sales will
plummet.
(To himself)
Or maybe not.
(To ELVET)
89

This could be great publicity. You’ve got to go to New York,
get into the studio and record a new album.

ELVET
(Stoned)
Yeah. New York. The studio.

THE COLONEL
Great, Elvet.

ELVET
Right.

THE COLONEL
You are so, so right.

ELVET
I’m out of here. Farewell, mama.

THE COLONEL
(Grimly, correcting him)
Your acting father.

ELVET
Father? Mother? What’s in a title?

Exit.

THE COLONEL
Follow him. Get him to New York as quickly as you can.
Everything is ready. Move.

Exeunt ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN.

THE COLONEL picks up the telephone and
dials.

Listen! Don’t say my name. I want you to do exactly what I
tell you.
(Pause)
I need to have the Prince committed once he gets to New York.
He needs drug rehab. And we can’t do it here in Memphis.
Everyone knows him. We can’t keep it secret. And don’t tell
him. I’ll send someone over for the paperwork right now. Got
it?

THE COLONEL hangs up.
90

Exit THE COLONEL.

General Entertainment Headquarters in New York (ACT IV SCENE IV).

Enter JOHNNY FORTINBRAS and an
Executive.

JOHNNY FORTINBRAS
(Angrily)
What the hell are Elvet and his flunkies hanging around for? How
the hell am I suppose to produce jazz if all my goddamn
employees are fawning over the goddamn Prince of Rock and Roll.
Entertain him. Amuse him. And then get him the hell out of
here. I don’t want to see his goddamn face.

Executive
(Obsequiously)
Will do, Mr. Fortinbras.

JOHNNY FORTINBRAS
(More calmly)
Be discreet.

Exeunt FORTINBRAS.

Enter ELVET, ROSENCRANTZ, and
GUILDENSTERN.

ELVET
Nice place you got here? What do all these people do?

Executive
They all work for Midnight Sun Records.

ELVET
And what exactly do they do?

Executive
Most of them are in A and R – artists and repertoire.

ELVET
And who’s in charge.

Executive
Johnny Fortinbras runs this whole operation.
91

ELVET
What kinds of music are they working on here?

Executive
This is the new Jazz division. Some people believe that it’s
the future of the music industry, but I don’t think the numbers
support it. Rock and Roll will never die. And this division is
already stillborn.

ELVET
Then General Entertainment will never fund it.

Executive
They’ve already signed off.

ELVET
All these people working on Jazz records? That’s nuts.

Executive
Go figure.

Exit.

ROSENCRANTZ
Are we ready to go?

ELVET
Go ahead. I’ll catch up in a minute.

Exeunt all except ELVET.

ELVET
(SONG 8)
Time to get in gear
Drive away the car

ELVET
I’ve got to get this revenge thing back on track.

Exit.

A room in the mansion (ACT IV SCENE V).

Enter GLADYS, HORACE, and a Gentleman.
92

GLADYS
I won’t see her.

Gentleman
She’s in really bad shape.

GLADYS
What does she want?

Gentleman
She’s talking about her father a lot. But she’s not making a
heck of a lot of sense. One thing is clear, though, she’s
sadder than she is crazy. She’s stoned out of her gourd.

HORACE
You should probably speak to her. If other people hear what
she’s saying, they make incorrect assumptions about what really
happened. And what if a reporter hears her? Especially one
from one of the tabloids—

GLADYS
(Resigned)
Oh, let her in.

Exit HORACE.

GLADYS
Oh. This is horrible.

Re-enter HORACE, with PRISCILLA.

PRISCILLA
(Stoned)
Oh! Where is the sainted mother of Elvet?

GLADYS
Hi, Priscilla. How are you, dear?

PRISCILLA
(Sings)
How will I know my own true love?
The man I love so much
By his words and by his acts
And by the hand in my crotch

GLADYS
93

What?

PRISCILLA
No. Listen to this.
(Sings)
He has died and left me here
They put him in a hole
He’s no longer seeing me
He’s got himself a mole

GLADYS
No, Priscilla.

PRISCILLA
Listen. Please.
(Sings)
His shroud’s as white as a virgin’s ass –

Enter THE COLONEL.

GLADYS
Oh, Colonel, please come here.

PRISCILLA
(Sings)
Flowers piled on the grave
Sobbing mourners gather round
The corpse doesn’t wave

THE COLONEL
How are you doing my dear?

PRISCILLA
Well, what would Walter Winchell say? Some people say she’s got
her father’s eyes. Well, he’s not using them.

THE COLONEL
She’s obsessed with her father.

PRISCILLA
Let’s not speak about this. But if somewhat asks you what it
means say this:
(Sings)
Won’t you be my Valentine?
I’ll give you lots of sweets
After lunch we’ll celebrate
Grunting underneath the sheets
94

(Sings)
After that I’ll take a walk
A nice relaxing stroll
And find myself a strange new man
And have another roll

THE COLONEL
Oh, Priscilla.

PRISCILLA
Wait! Listen to the ending:
(Sings)
I’m told to play with dolls and such
And not to play with boys
But between their hairy legs
They’ve got the nicest toys
(Sings)
They’re mean and rude, the little snots
Their heads are full of rock
But all their faults are overcome
Each one’s got a cock

THE COLONEL
How long has she been like this?

PRISCILLA
I hope everything works out. We must be patient, but I still
have to cry. To think that they buried him in the cold, cold
ground. I’ve got to tell my brother – he’s still with us, isn’t
he. Thank you for your advice. I really appreciate it. Where’s
my limo? The white one. The long white one. Good night
ladies. Good night gentlemen. Good night members of the press.
The academy. Good night.

Exit PRISCILLA.

THE COLONEL
Keep an eye on her.

Exit HORACE.

THE COLONEL
Grief is a poison. And it all comes from her father’s death.

There are the sounds of a commotion
outside.
95

GLADYS
What’s that?

THE COLONEL
Where are my body guards? Hey! See what’s going on.

Enter another Gentleman.

THE COLONEL
What’s happening?

Gentleman
It’s Lamar. He’s got some thug with him and they’re terrifying
the employees.

GLADYS
(Feeling up THE COLONEL)
Unbelievable. Why don’t they stand up to him? Who do they
think signs their paychecks?

THE COLONEL
He’s inside.

Noise offstage.

Enter LAMAR and the Thug.

LAMAR
Colonel?
(To the Thug)
You, out!

Thug
(Threatening)
Don’t tell me what to do.

LAMAR
(Forceful)
Please. Leave us alone.

Thug
Okay. Okay.

The THUG retires without the door.

LAMAR
Thanks. Guard the door. Now, Colonel, where’s my father?
96

GLADYS starts stroking LAMAR’s arm and
chest seductively.

GLADYS
Calm down, Lamar.

LAMAR
(GLADYS is still all over him)
I’m as calm as I can be under the circumstances.

THE COLONEL
What’s your quarrel? Gladys, leave him be.

LAMAR
Where is my father?

THE COLONEL
I’m sorry. He’s dead.

GLADYS
But the Colonel didn’t kill him.

THE COLONEL
Let him ask his questions.

LAMAR
How did he die? Don’t bullshit me. I’ve got no loyalty to you
now. I don’t care what happens to me anymore. I will revenge
my father. Completely.

THE COLONEL
I won’t stop you.

LAMAR
And no one else will either.

THE COLONEL
I’ll tell you who’s responsible for your father’s death, but you
better be sure you want to know. Are you ready to kill them?
Even if they’re your friends?

LAMAR
They’re my enemies now.

THE COLONEL
You sure you want to know who killed your father?
97

LAMAR
Yeah. I do. I have to know.

THE COLONEL
That’s better. I want you to know I’m completely innocent in
your father’s death.

Thug
(Within)
Send her inside.

LAMAR
What’s that?

Re-enter PRISCILLA.

LAMAR
Priscilla! Are you alright?

PRISCILLA
(Sings)
They threw his corpse into a box
Nailed down the lid, nailed down the lid
And dropped the box into a pit
Under the dirt it’s hid

LAMAR
(Sadly)
You couldn’t me more persuasive if you weren’t stoned. We’ll be
revenged.

PRISCILLA
(Sings)
Now you must sing a song
And you must dance a dance
Now we sing together
Who’s getting in my pants?

LAMAR
Why is she ranting about sex?

PRISCILLA
The blue pills make you happy, the red ones calm you down, the
white ones ease the pain and the green ones make you dream.

LAMAR
98

And drugs. A veritable pharmaceutical catalog.

PRISCILLA
You take these pills to give you a boost, but when you get up
there you take these to bring you back down. My father used to
tell me not to take drugs, but ever since he died he hasn’t been
around much. Or he’s been very quiet at least.
(Sings)
All my joy comes in a jar.

LAMAR
Even in her drug-addled stupor, that’s a touching memory.

PRISCILLA
(Sings)
Where do all the dead ones go?
Does anybody really know?
Rot they in the earth?
Wait they for rebirth
Then fall upon us like the snow?
(Sings)
Burning in their personal hell
Decaying with a pungent smell
Pity the wretched ghost
Now forgot by most
Tales the dead men cannot tell

PRISCILLA
And did you know that God make these really cool mushrooms?

Exit.

LAMAR
Has she seen a doctor?

THE COLONEL
We’ll get her the best we can. Let me help you. Your father
and I were very tight. Ask around. You know everyone here.
Ask if I was responsible, directly or indirectly, for your
father’s death. And if you find out I was in any way guilty,
I’ll take full responsibility - Legally, financially and
morally. But if you find out I’m innocent, you have to let me
help you punish the guilty.

LAMAR
Fair enough. I’ll find out how my father died. And why it was
covered up.
99

THE COLONEL
Great. Satisfy yourself and we’ll make sure justice is done.
Let’s go.

Exeunt.

Another room in the mansion (ACT IV SCENE VI).

Enter HORACE and a Servant.

HORACE
Who wants to see me?

Servant
A cab driver, sir. He says he has a message for you.

HORACE
Send him in.

Exit Servant.

Cab driver? It almost has to be from Elvet.

Enter Cab Driver.

Cab Driver
Hello, sir.

HORACE
And hello to you. What can I do for you?

Cab Driver
I have a note here from a man I just dropped off a the Peabody.

HORACE
(Takes the note and reads)
Horace, When you’ve read this, send this guy to the Colonel. He
has notes for him, too. Here’s the deal. After we got to New
York, we stopped to get some recreational pharmaceuticals
(sometimes I need a little pick me up or a calm me down or a
turn me around) and I was sitting in the back seat of the car
sampling some product, but the police were watching us and when
they turned on their lights, the driver freaked and took off.
Well they chased us a few blocks before we hit a delivery truck.
100

Well, the officers took the driver in, but I explained to them
that I was doing some personal undercover work (everyone knows
how opposed to drugs I am) and they were big fans of mine and so
I gave them autographs and promised them concert tickets and
they gave me a badge and let me go. The New York cops are just
as good as the Memphis cops even if they do have funny accents.
But a lot happened before that and I’ll tell it all to you when
I see you. This guy will show you where I am. Elvet.
(To the Cab Driver)
Let’s go.

Exeunt.

Another room in the mansion (ACT IV SCENE VII).

Enter THE COLONEL and LAMAR.
THE COLONEL
So you see I am blameless in your father’s death.

LAMAR
Yes. But why are you covering it up?

THE COLONEL
Two reasons, actually. First, I don’t want to hurt his mother.
I love Gladys. Second, I think his fans will revolt against us.
I don’t want to go broke by doing the right thing.

LAMAR
(Scornfully)
So my father’s dead and my sister’s a drug addict and you’re
worried bout selling records. Don’t worry. I’ll get my revenge.

THE COLONEL
Don’t lose any sleep over it.

Enter a Messenger.

THE COLONEL
What do you have?

Messenger
Letters, sir. From the Prince. One for the Colonel, one for
his mother.

THE COLONEL
From the Prince? Who brought them?
101

Messenger
A cab driver.

THE COLONEL
Thank you. That will be all.

Exit Messenger.

THE COLONEL
(Reads)
Colonel. I have to see you tomorrow, alone, to tell you why I
am not going into the studio. Signed. Elvet.
(to LAMAR)
What does this mean?

LAMAR
Is that his handwriting?

THE COLONEL
It is. And why does he want to see me alone?

LAMAR
Beats me.

THE COLONEL
Will you do as I say?

LAMAR
Yes. Up to a point.

THE COLONEL
We’ve got to make it look like an accident. For the insurance
company and his mother.

LAMAR
Fine. Just let me cause the accident.

THE COLONEL
That could work. I remember someone talking about you recently
and it made the Prince very jealous of your ability.

LAMAR
My ability?

THE COLONEL
(Trying to remember)
102

There was this one Jew here a few months ago negotiating a
concert deal. . . He was such a genius, I swear he did
arithmetic in his head that Einstein, who was another really
smart Jew, couldn’t have done in a week with an adding machine.
You know the Jews are excellent businessmen. They have a fine
instinct for talent and they drive a really hard bargain—

LAMAR
(Interrupting)
A Jew, you say?

THE COLONEL
A Jew.

LAMAR
That must have been Izzie Rosenberg.

THE COLONEL
That’s right. I knew it would come to me.

LAMAR
I know him well. He’s a genius. And about as white as a Jew
can get.

THE COLONEL
Well he was saying that when he met with you on another deal,
you just took out a guitar and played a lot of the songs for him
and that you were better than the Prince himself. As a guitar
player for sure and as singer, too.

LAMAR
That was kind of him, but how can we use it?

THE COLONEL
Did you love you father?

LAMAR
Why are you asking?

THE COLONEL
Did you really love him enough to kill his killer?

LAMAR
I’d slit his throat in church.

THE COLONEL
103

That’s what I want to hear. Now listen. Tomorrow, I’ll trick
the Prince into jamming with you, you know, a friendly little
contest of guitar playing. We’ll be drinking and laughing and
I’ll mention how highly Rosenberg spoke of your playing. I’ll
even wager on the outcome. We’ll rig his guitar to electrocute
him when a particular chord is played. You just lead him into
it and it will look like a horrible, tragic accident.

LAMAR
Brilliant. I’ll do it. I know just the song and I know just the
chord. And I even know an electrician who’ll rig it for me.

THE COLONEL
And, here’s the backup plan, just in case anything goes wrong.
I’ll prepare a drink for him with a lethal dose of all his
favorite narcotics. If the shock fails to kill him we’ll get
him to drink it. Presto. Tragic accident.

Enter GLADYS.

THE COLONEL
Hi, sweetheart.

GLADYS
(GLADYS starts to stroke LAMAR again)
Oh I hate to be the one who keeps giving you bad news, but our
sister has overdosed.

LAMAR
Overdosed? Where? On what?

GLADYS
In her bathroom. On prescription medicine.

LAMAR
Is she alive?

GLADYS
In a coma. At the hospital.

LAMAR
I’ve got to go see her. Good bye.

Exit.

THE COLONEL
104

Let’s go too. It took a lot to calm him down. I’m afraid this
will get him all worked up again.

GLADYS starts to stroke THE COLONEL.

Exeunt.

A psychiatric hospital (ACT V SCENE I).

Enter two Orderlies.

First Orderly
(Angrily)
How can those quacks commit a drug addict? I thought we were
supposed to a psychiatric hospital. We shouldn’t be mixing up
the drug addicts with the kooks.

Second Orderly
Well, they’re committing her. They’ve decided she’s crazy, I
guess.
First Orderly
I just don’t buy it. If someone takes drugs, they have chosen
to be crazy. If they’ve chosen to be crazy, they can’t be crazy.
(Pause)
Unless her craziness made her take drugs.

Second Orderly
That must be what they’ve decided.

First Orderly
The only way that works is if they’re so crazy, they don’t
realize what the drugs do. The next thing they’ll do is start
committing drunks and letting all the queers out. Unless they
queered someone when they were drunk, of course.

Second Orderly
No. Listen—

First Orderly
(Demonstrating with his hands)
No, you listen. Here’s the pill. Here’s the woman. If the
woman’s sane and sees a pill and takes it, she’s a drug addict.
If the woman’s insane and sees a waffle instead of the pill and
takes the pill, she’s insane.

Second Orderly
105

What’s the difference?

First Orderly
The difference is what the doctor says it is.

Second Orderly
So the truth is that if she weren’t rich or connected, she’d be
a drug addict.

First Orderly
That’s true, and it’s really unfair that rich people are excused
for their drug addiction. And all their other vices too. We’re
just as good as they are, in the eyes of Jesus, anyway, even if
he couldn’t get us hospitalized for taking drugs.

Second Orderly
Was Jesus a doctor?

First Orderly
I think he might have been the first.

Second Orderly
No. The Romans must have had doctors.

First Orderly
Bad ones if they had any. They couldn’t bring Lazarus back to
life. But let me ask you a question.

Second Orderly
Yeah?

First Orderly
Who’s got it best: A surgeon or a psychiatrist?

Second Orderly thinks.

Second Orderly
The psychiatrist because his patients never die.

First Orderly
And they never get better either. They’re a veritable annuity.
Ask me one.

Second Orderly thinks for a bit.

Second Orderly
106

Three women apply for a job at a doctor’s office. One’s a
registered nurse, one’s a practical nurse, and the third types
one hundred words per minute. Which one does he hire?

First Orderly
I don’t know. What job are they applying for?

Second Orderly
It doesn’t matter. Any job.

First Orderly
They don’t have the same qualifications.

Second Orderly
There are a lot of things to do in a doctor’s office.

Enter ELVET and HORACE, at a distance.

First Orderly
Then he hires the one with big tits. Go get me a beer.

Exit Second Orderly.

First Orderly sweeps and sings.

First Orderly
(Sings)
They rant, they rave, they sing, they shout
Some even think they’re God
But compared to all who think they’re sane
They aren’t even odd

ELVET
How cruel is that guy? Listen to the song?

HORACE
I don’t think the audience understands the significance of the
song. Or anything for that matter.

ELVET
Still, it’s insensitive at best.

First Orderly
(Sings)
They scream, they shriek, they wail, they howl
They make an awful racket
We give them pills and bind them up
107

In a tight straight jacket

First Orderly leads Catatonic Patient 1
(female) across the stage.

ELVET
Look at that poor lady being herded like a cow. That bastard
might as well be singing “Get along little dogies.”

HORACE
You’re right.

ELVET
She looks a little like my old piano teacher. I could owe my
whole career to that woman.

HORACE
Could be.

ELVET
And look at her now. Worse than a cow. Drugged into a stupor
maybe. Without even the hope of a quick trip to the
slaughterhouse.

First Orderly
(Sings)
They cry, they laugh, they groan, they bark
It’s obvious to me
That the way to make them all behave
Is lobotomy

First Orderly leads Catatonic Patient 2
(male) across the stage.

ELVET
Look at that one. I bet he was a lawyer. You can tell by the
shape of his head. It’s just pointy enough for some brains but
it doesn’t have any room for a conscience. That and he’s got
cloven hooves.

HORACE
He’s not a lawyer any more.

ELVET
If he could dress himself and find his way into court, they’d
never know the difference.
108

HORACE
Yup.

ELVET
(To Orderly)
Whose bed is this?

First Orderly
Mine, of course.
(Sings)
They sob, they sing, they bitch, they moan
They often wet their beds
We change the sheets and give them drugs
We mess their little heads

ELVET
I don’t want to know who lies about it. I want to know who lies
in it.

First Orderly
Well, the person who lies in it doesn’t own it any more than the
person who makes it owns it.

ELVET
I don’t care who owns it or makes it. I just want to know who
sleeps in it.

First Orderly
Have it your way, but I do sleep in it when no one’s watching.

ELVET
You win. Who is the man you’re making it for?

First Orderly
I’m not making it for a man.

ELVET
What woman, then?

First Orderly
Guess again.

ELVET
Which person are you making this bed for?

First Orderly
109

Oh, a woman will be sleeping in it, but I’m making this bed for
my paycheck.

ELVET
Well that was long way to a straight answer. How long have you
been working here?

First Orderly
I started here the same day that Rock and Roll was born.

ELVET
And when was that?

First Orderly
Don’t you know? I started on the same night that the Prince of
Rock and Roll was on the Ed Sullivan show. You know, the crazy
guy they sent to New York.

ELVET
Why did they send him to New York?

First Orderly
Because he’s gone crazy, of course. We were hoping he’d show up
here. We’re very popular with the rich and famous, you know.
But New York is a good choice even if he doesn’t get better.

ELVET
Why is that?

First Orderly
Because nobody will notice that he’s crazy there. Everyone in
New York is nuts.

ELVET
Exactly what is the Prince’s problem?

First Orderly
Some people say he’s gotten too deep into his medicine cabinet.

ELVET
Is that a form of insanity?

First Orderly
It is here now. And it’s very good for business.

ELVET
How long has that been going on?
110

First Orderly
Oh, a whole day at least.

ELVET
Tell me, how long can someone be committed before the world
forgets them?

First Orderly
Most people are forgotten before they get here. But celebrities
get visitors even after they die.

ELVET
Why do you think that is?

First Orderly
I think they spend so much time before they get here attracting
attention, they don’t seem to be able to stop, even after
they’re dead. Look at that one over there.

ELVET
Who’s he?

First Orderly
He was a big time son of a bitch once. You don’t recognize him?

ELVET
I’m afraid not.

First Orderly
When he first got here, that bastard threw a drink at me when I
didn’t move fast enough to suit him. He’s Lenny Yorick, the
comedian? Look at him now.

ELVET
Really? He’s a mess.

First Orderly
Yup.

ELVET
I wondered what happened to him.

Walks up to him.

ELVET
111

He opened for me a few times early on. County fairs and such.
He was really funny, both onstage and off. And, he knew how to
find a girl and a drink anytime and anywhere. Heck, he could
get drunk and laid at a revival meeting. Then he went to
Hollywood. Made a couple of films and vanished. Tell me
something, Horace.

HORACE
What, Prince?

ELVET
Do you think I’ll end up like that?

HORACE
If you’re lucky.

ELVET
And smelling so bad, too?

They walk away from Yorick.

HORACE
I don’t think they bathe much here.

ELVET
I don’t like looking at my future.

HORACE
It is kind of creepy.

ELVET
I hope this isn’t what happens when you step off the stage. I
like being the performer, not the audience. Look! There’s the
Colonel.

Enter Psychiatrist, PRISCILLA on a
gurney, LAMAR, THE COLONEL, GLADYS.

ELVET
What the heck are they doing here? Let’s spy on them.

Retiring with HORACE.

LAMAR
How are you planning to treat her?

ELVET
112

That’s Lamar, Priscilla’s brother.

LAMAR
How are you planning to treat her?

Psychiatrist
Well, now that we have her detoxified, we’ll keep her sedated.
She really doesn’t belong here, you know, as this is strictly a
psychiatric hospital, but we’ll keep her on medication so she
cannot hurt herself further.

LAMAR
Is there nothing more you can do?

Psychiatrist
(Pompously)
This is a psychiatric hospital, not a heath spa. To do more
would be unprofessional.

LAMAR
(Angrily)
Unprofessional? You psychiatrists have less compassion and
integrity than the sleaziest lawyer, let alone my sister.

ELVET
What? That’s Priscilla!

GLADYS
Goodbye, sweetheart.
(Placing flowers on the bedside)
I always thought I would be bringing flowers to your wedding,
not a few to brighten up a gloomy hospital room.

LAMAR
Damn you, turn off the drip so I can talk to her once more.
Give her a little less sedative so she can make a little sense.

Jumps on the gurney.

LAMAR
Either take her off the drip or put me on it.

ELVET
(Advancing)
No. Put me on the drip.

Mounts the gurney from the other side.
113

LAMAR
Bastard!

ELVET and LAMAR start to wrestle.

ELVET
Get your hands off me.

THE COLONEL
Break it up.

GLADYS
Prince! Prince!

HORACE
Prince! Calm down.

They are parted, and they come off the
gurney.

ELVET
This fight’s not over.

GLADYS
What are you angry about?

ELVET
I love Priscilla. More than army of brothers put together could.

THE COLONEL
He’s insane.

GLADYS
Please, forgive him.

ELVET
What are you gonna do? Want to cry? Want to fight? Are you
trying to show me up? You’re all talk. And I can rant with the
best of them.

GLADYS
This is insanity. Please be patient. It will pass.

ELVET
Why are you doing this to me? I loved you like a brother.
114

Exit.

THE COLONEL
Please, Horace, keep an eye on him.

Exit HORACE.

THE COLONEL
(To LAMAR)
Remember our plan. Gladys, keep an eye on your son.

Exeunt.

A room in the mansion (ACT V SCENE II).

Enter ELVET and HORACE.

ELVET
Well the hospital wasn’t a total waste of time. At least I
replenished the medication I used to get rid of Rosencrantz and
Guildenstern. Did I ever tell you how did that?

HORACE
No. How?

ELVET
Well, I knew the whole recording plan was a scheme to do me
wrong, but I couldn’t figure out what they were up to.

HORACE
I’m with you there.

ELVET
I snuck a look into their briefcases and I found committal
papers for a sanitarium – drug rehab for me. Can you believe
it? I mean I like recreational pharmaceuticals as much as the
next guy, maybe even the next two guys, but I can’t believe the
Colonel was trying to pull that.

HORACE
Really?

ELVET
Here are the papers. So you know what I did?

HORACE
115

Please tell me.

ELVET
So I just slipped some amphetamines into Rosencrantz’ briefcase
and a little cocaine into Guildenstern’s jacket pocket and I
dropped a dime on them. And you want to know what I told the
cops?

HORACE
Yes. Please.

HORACE
I told them that they were the front men for a South American
drug cartel. And that they were carrying samples and there was
lot more hidden in town somewhere if they could beat it out of
them.

HORACE
Did you give them your name?

ELVET
No. I put on a funky Spanish accent, too.

HORACE
So Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are no more.

ELVET
That’ll teach them to cross the Prince.

ELVET
By selling him out to a Colonel.

ELVET
The rank bastard who stole my mother.

HORACE
Does he know about his flunkies yet?

ELVET
No, but he will shortly, I’m sure.

HORACE
Hey! Who’s that?

Enter OSCAR.

OSCAR
116

Hello, Prince.

ELVET
Hi.
(to Horace)
Do you know where they keep the drugs around here?

HORACE
No. Sorry.

ELVET
That’s probably a good thing for you. Everyone who does know
where it is seems to be stoned all the time. But after we talk
to this guy you’ll really feel like taking some.

OSCAR
If you’ve got a minute, I’ve got a message from the Colonel.

ELVET
From the Colonel? A message? Please let me have it.

OSCAR
Thank you. It’s extremely important.

ELVET
Trust me. It’s not.

OSCAR
You may be in the position to decide whether the Colonel’s
message is important or not. As for me, if he says it’s
important, that’s good enough.

ELVET
Important to him, anyway.

OSCAR
Very important to him. And possibly to you. The Colonel told
me that he’s put a lot of money on you.

ELVET
(To HORACE)
More likely a price on my head.

OSCAR
Lamar is good man.

ELVET
117

Of course he is.

OSCAR
You speak highly of him.

ELVET
What’s the point here?

OSCAR
The point?

HORACE
The point.

ELVET
Why did you bring him up?

OSCAR
Lamar?

HORACE
Yes. Lamar.

ELVET
Yes. What of him?

OSCAR
I’m sure you know—

ELVET
I know a lot of things, but what you’re sure of remains a
mystery.

OSCAR
You know Lamar’s talents—

ELVET
I’m sure he has many fine points.

OSCAR
I was referring to his artistic gift.

ELVET
Artistic gift?

OSCAR
Singing and guitar.
118

ELVET
That’s two, but who’s counting.

OSCAR
The Colonel bet Lamar that he can’t outplay you on the guitar.

ELVET
What did he bet?

HORACE
Can I get a transcript of this?

OSCAR
He bet him a new Cadillac.

ELVET
I hope the Colonel bet one of his own Cadillacs and not one of
mine.

OSCAR
The Colonel bet that Lamar can’t play something that you can’t
duplicate and improve on and that you can play something that
Lamar can’t. It’s that simple. And if you accept the
challenge, we can settle it right now.

ELVET
What if I say ‘No’?

OSCAR
To what?

ELVET
Fine. We can do it right now if the Colonel will send for some
guitars. I’ll win if I can, but if I can’t, I’m gonna lose a
lot more than the Colonel’s bet. The Prince of Rock and Roll
would have been outplayed be a commoner.

OSCAR
Can I tell the Colonel that?

ELVET
And anything else you care to.

OSCAR
Thank you, Prince.
119

ELVET
No. Thank you. Thank you very much.

Exit OSCAR.

ELVET
I thought he’d never leave.

HORACE
He had to eventually, because his mind left long ago.

ELVET
I don’t care how fast he chases it, he’ll never catch up.

Enter a Flunkie.

Flunkie
The Colonel wants to know if you’re on your way to the mansion
to play Lamar.

ELVET
Yep. I’m on my way.

Flunkie
The Colonel and your mother are both attending.

ELVET
Great.

Flunkie
Your mother would like you to apologize with Lamar before you
play.

ELVET
That’s a good idea.

Exit Flunkie.

HORACE
You could lose this bet, Prince.

ELVET
I don’t think so. The rules favor Lamar a little, but I’m still
the Prince of Rock and Roll. And it’s just like boxing, ‘You’ve
got to knock the champ out to win’.

HORACE
120

(Doubtfully)
I don’t know, Prince.

ELVET
This is kid stuff. Stop being a girl about it.

HORACE
If you have any doubts, just tell me and I’ll go blow it off.

ELVET
No. I can handle this now as well as I can later. And since
it’s already now, let’s not wait for later.

Enter THE COLONEL, GLADYS, LAMAR,
OSCAR, and Attendants with guitars, etc.

THE COLONEL
Come, Prince, shake hands with Lamar.

THE COLONEL puts LAMAR's hand into
ELVET's.

ELVET
Forgive me, Lamar. I’ve done you wrong. But, you’ve got to
believe me, I really didn’t mean to.

LAMAR
(Coldly, insincerely)
Apology accepted.

ELVET
Great, man. Give me a guitar. Let’s rock.

LAMAR
Yes. Let’s.

ELVET
Let’s see if you’ve got the teeth to play with the big dogs.

LAMAR
Don’t let your mouth write a check that your ass can’t cash.

ELVET
Don’t worry about that. And stop checking out my ass.

THE COLONEL
Give them the guitars, Oscar. Turn on them amplifiers.
121

ELVET
Good thing you gave this boy a handicap.

THE COLONEL
You’ve got a better reputation, but I think the kid can play.

LAMAR
I don’t like this one. Give me another guitar.

ELVET
This one’s OK.

They prepare to play.

OSCAR
Are they all tuned?

THE COLONEL
Pour some drinks for these gladiators.

ELVET
Here we go.

Plays.

ELVET
(To LAMAR)
Your turn.

LAMAR
How’s this.

Plays.

ELVET
That’s mine.

LAMAR
No way.

ELVET
Judges?

OSCAR
The Prince wins that one.
122

LAMAR
Beat this.

Plays.

LAMAR
(To ELVET)
Well?

THE COLONEL
Here, Prince. Wet your whistle.

ELVET
After this.

Plays.

ELVET
(To LAMAR)
Got you again.

LAMAR
Yeah. You win that one.

THE COLONEL
The Prince is going to smoke Lamar.

GLADYS
He’s looking a little fat. And he’s panting. And I’ve never
seen him sweat so much. Here, Prince, use my scarf.

GLADYS hands ELVET a white scarf. He
mops his brow and throws it to a Woman,
who swoons. GLADYS takes ELVET’s glass
and prepares to toast him.

GLADYS
Here’s to your victory.

ELVET
Thank you. Thank you very much.

THE COLONEL
Gladys. No!

GLADYS
Don’t be silly.
123

GLADYS downs the whole drink.

THE COLONEL
No! No!

ELVET
Not yet, mama, I’ll drink with you after I dispose of Lamar.

GLADYS
(Already stoned by the spiked drink,
slurring her words)
Come here sweetie. Let mama wipe your face.

LAMAR
I’ll get him now.

THE COLONEL
Do it if you can.

THE COLONEL hands ELVET another drink
and ELVET downs it in one gulp.

LAMAR
(Aside)
I almost feel bad about it.

ELVET
Come on, Lamar. Let’s hear what you’ve got.

LAMAR
Match this.

LAMAR plays. ELVET follows.

OSCAR
Pretty damn good.

LAMAR
Try this.

LAMAR plays, hitting the chord that
they have rigged ELVET’s guitar to
electrocute him. ELVET matches and is
shocked, but not killed.

THE COLONEL
124

(Pretending he didn’t know about the trap.)
What was that?

ELVET
Nothing. Just a short.

GLADYS falls over.

OSCAR
Look!

ELVET spins around to see what the
problem with GLADYS is, inadvertently
hitting LAMAR with the guitar and
electrocuting him. LAMAR and ELVET
fall over. LAMAR goes into cardiac
arrest, but ELVET is only stunned.

HORACE
Prince! Are you all right?

OSCAR
Lamar? You OK?

LAMAR
(Dying)
I can’t believe I was caught in my own trap.

ELVET
Mama? How’s my mama?

THE COLONEL
She fainted when you fell.

GLADYS
No. The drink. It was poisoned.

Dies.

ELVET
Hey! Who killed my mama?

LAMAR
(Dying)
You’re dead, too. We rigged the guitar to electrocute you. And
we spiked your drink with enough drugs to kill a horse. Me.
And the Colonel.
125

ELVET
You did this?

Shocks the COLONEL with the guitar.

Bastard.

THE COLONEL
Hey! Get that damn thing away from him. He’s liable to hurt
someone. Like me.

ELVET
You bastard! First my father. Then my mother. Now me. Die,
you bastard.

THE COLONEL collapses.

LAMAR
I’m sorry Prince. Please forgive me. I didn’t know what I was
doing.

LAMAR grabs the electrified guitar and
shocks himself again and dies.

ELVET
Of course I forgive you. That scheming bastard got you just
like he got my daddy and my mama. My chest is killing me, man.
I’m having a heart attack or something. How come you can only
find a doctor when you need a prescription?

HORACE
There’s more of that drugged cocktail here, Prince. That might
ease the pain.

ELVET
Give me a glass, man. I ready to end it all.

Noises outside.

ELVET
What the hell is that?

OSCAR
It sounds like Johnny Fortinbras.

Takes a long drink of the drugged wine.
126

ELVET
I’m dying Horace. I want you to tell the world what happened.
I want the world to know what a miserable, lying, cheating
bastard the Colonel is. Call the guy from the Enquirer.
Promise them an exclusive at my funeral if you need to—

ELVET takes another drink.

ELVET
You know I’m feeling a little better.

Takes another drink.

Maybe I’m not gonna die after all. Hold that call Horace.

ELVET passes out.

HORACE
(Checks ELVET’s pulse)
He’s just sleeping. Good night sweet Prince.
(Stands up and shouts)
The Prince has not left the building.

JOHNNY FORTINBRAS
What the hell’s going on here?

HORACE
What do you want to see? We’ve got some drugs. We’ve got
plenty of dead bodies.

JOHNNY FORTINBRAS
Look at this. What a tragedy. This could cost us millions.

Executive
We came as soon as we heard that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern
were in jail. We knew something was going on here.

HORACE
The Prince is passed out over there, but he’ll be all right once
he sleeps it off. The Colonel didn’t account for his tolerance
for narcotics. A dose that would kill a horse is barely enough
to give the Prince a buzz. In fact it probably stopped the
heart attack he thought he was having when he got electrocuted.

JOHNNY FORTINBRAS
127

Well, when he comes to, tell him that I’m the new president of
General Entertainment and he’s under contract to us for a long
time. I’m not going to let this ruin his career. We have too
much invested in him. I don’t care if we have to keep him
sedated for the rest of his life, he’s going to keep on
recording and keep on performing until I say otherwise.

HORACE
If that’s the way it has to be.

JOHNNY FORTINBRAS
(To the Executive)
Go out to the limo and get those white jump suits. I want to
change the Prince’s whole act. We’re going to move away from
those teenagers and go Las Vegas. That’s where the money is.
Let go of the Colonel. He’s more important than he ever was.
Look at him. Sleeping like a baby. Today he’s a Prince. When
I get through with him, he’ll be the King. Get him on his feet.
C’mon, we’ve wasted enough time.

ELVET is helped to his feet.

FORTINBRAS
Good. Get him in that jumpsuit.

ELVET is dressed.

FORTINBRAS
Give him some speed.

Someone gives ELVET a handful of pills.
He gulps them down.

FORTINBRAS
Give him some water.

Someone hands ELVET a glass of water.
He gulps it down.

FORTINBRAS
Give him a microphone.

Someone hands ELVET a microphone.

FORTINBRAS
Hit it.
128

Musicians pick up their instruments and
start to play. ELVET blinks
uncertainly, then starts to sway and
then starts to sing. A full Vegas
production. THE COLONEL struggles to
his feet and beams on.

ELVET
(SONG 9)
Don’t want to play no county fairs
No more honky tonk bars
I don’t want to drive old trucks and jalopies
Just brand new Cadillac cars
I don’t want to sleep with the girls next door
Talking to common people is a lot like a chore
Their puny little problems are really a bore
(REFRAIN)
Long live white jump suits, long live white jump suits
(VERSE)
I’m going to play at all the big stadiums
I’m going to fill them with my fans
I’m going to pack all the famous arenas
Front row filled with girls who got big cans
I’ll cross the country in private jets
Sitting in back smoking funny cigarettes
Banging away at all the starlets
(REFRAIN)
Long live white jump suits, long live white jump suits
(VERSE)
My fans will buy any old crap I record
Take them home and dance like apes
And besides all of the vinyl I move
I might even sell some eight track tapes
They’ll hear my music on their radios
They’ll come and see me playing all the casinos
We’ll be minting money however it goes
(REFRAIN)
Long live white jump suits, long live white jump suits
(VERSE)
Me and the Colonel going to make a mint
We’ll have all the money
Snorting white powder from morning till night
Hey! My nose is runny.
Musical talent doesn’t mean a thing.
People will pay to see a monkey sing
I play may cards right, I’ll be the King
(REFRAIN)
129

Long live white jump suits, long live white jump suits
Long live white jump suits, long live white jump suits

THE END

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