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THE “NEW” LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD
By Jack Neary
A bare stage.  A number of girls wearing their regular clothes but also wearing something that might identify them as Little Red Riding Hood--mostly red capes and bonnets--roam around the stage, holding scripts, as if they are working on lines for a play.  There is a loud murmur going on as all these girls prepare for what appears to be an audition.
After a moment or so, ROBBY, the Stage Manager, enters.
ROBBY
All right, ladies!  All right!  Settle down!  Settle down!  We’re just about ready to go.   Settle down!
The ladies do.
ROBBY (cont’d)
Thank you.  As you all know, you are here for a very special audition.  Little Red Riding Hood--the REAL Little Red Riding Hood--is retiring from the fairy tale business...
(the girls react with excitement)
Settle down!  Settle down!
(they do)
And you are here to audition to be her replacement.  We are looking for the NEW Little Red Riding Hood.
More crazy excitement from all the girls.
ROBBY (cont’d)
Settle down!  Settle down!
MARGOT enters.  As Margot.
MARGOT
Excuse me, is this the audition for GOLDILOCKS?
ROBBY
No.  Little Red Riding Hood.
MARGOT
Oh.  Sorry.  I wanted to audition for Baby Bear.  I’ve played the role before, you see, and...
ROBBY
You see any bears here?
MARGOT
Not in costume.
ROBBY
Look, as far as I know, Goldilocks is not retiring, so we don’t need replacements.
MARGOT
I was very good as Baby Bear.
ROBBY
I’m sure you were.
MARGOT
(pulls out clippings)
I have all my reviews right here...
ROBBY
(looks at them)
Who cares about the Lawrence Eagle Tribune?
MARGOT
I think you’ll find that I’m...
ROBBY
Look...You see the red, you see the hoods? You see any porridge anywhere in the vicinity? This is Little Red Riding Hood.
MARGOT
Oh.
ROBBY
One wolf. No bears. This is a bear free zone.
MARGOT
I could be a baby wolf.
ROBBY
We got all the wolves we need.  I think Winnie the Pooh is considering taking a sabbatical.  Why don’t you try over there?
MARGOT
Thanks!
(and she starts to leave, and returns)
I’ll just leave my headshot.
(she does, and leaves)
ROBBY
(shaking his head)
Actors...All right, now, let’s see....
MEREDITH
(one of the little girls)
Excuse me, I just want to get this straight.  This audition is not for a play or anything, right?  This is for real, right?  

Whoever gets this part is the next real Little Red Riding Hood.
ROBBY
That’s right.
MEREDITH
In real life.
ROBBY
In real fairy tale life, yes.
HANNAH
I get to BE Little Red Riding Hood.  With the wolf and grandma and everything.
ROBBY
If you are selected, yes. You get the whole deal.  The basket.  The goodies.  The woods.  “Oh, what big teeth you have.”  
(makes scary noise)
Woo Woo. Scary Scary. The whole ball of wax.
SANDRA
But why is she retiring?
ROBBY
She’s pooped.  Enough already with the over the river and through the woods to Grandma’s house. She’s tired of all the skipping.  But you don’t have to worry about that.  All you have to worry about is whether you’re Little Red material.  Focus!  Keep your eye on the prize, all right sweetheart?
SANDRA
I’ll do my best.
ROBBY
I know you will.  Okay!  Right now, I want you to meet the character you’ll be reading with today.  You have to understand, he’s a little shaken up with all this, so be nice to him.  He really doesn’t like what’s happening, but he’s a professional, he knows that in fairy tale land, this kind of turnover goes on all the time.  So I’m going to bring him out now.  He’ll be reading your audition scenes with you. Put your little red hands together for the REAL Big Bad Wolf!
BIG BAD enters.  He is really bummed out.  He is nowhere near his usual rambunctious self.
BIG BAD
(walks by the girls, without enthusiasm)

Hi.  Hello.  How are you?  Nice to meet you.  Hi.  Hi.  Nice hat.  Hi.  Hello....
BRITTANY
(surprised)
You’re the Big Bad Wolf?
BIG BAD
Yes.  Hello.  Nice to meet you.
BRITTANY
Well...how are we supposed to audition with him?
SANDRA
He’s all...you know....sad and grumpy.
HANNAH
And dumpy!
MEREDITH
His teeth aren’t even that big!
BIG BAD
I’m sorry, girls.  I’ll do the best I can.  I just...never thought this day would come.
BRITTANY
But you’re supposed to hate Little Red Riding Hood!
HANNAH
Yeah!  You’re supposed to want to eat her up!
SANDRA
After you eat up her grandmother!
BIG BAD
I know.  I know.
(breaks down sobbing)
Boy, I miss those good old days so much!!!!!
The Girls react badly and loudly to this.
ROBBY
All right!  All right!  Settle down! Come on, BB, pull yourself together! Be a man!
BIG BAD
I’m a wolf.
ROBBY
So be a wolf man!
SANDRA
Good movie!
ROBBY
(to girls)
Okay, let’s get down to business here!  Girls, sit over there by the wall!
The Girls all move to a row of chairs over to the side.

As they do, DENNIS, an efficient and brusque actor’s manager, enters in a hurry, and moves to Robby.  He is always followed by CYNTHIA, who always carries a notebook.  She is constantly scribbling notes in the notebook.
DENNIS
Okay, she’s ready.  Word of warning, though....she’s in a mood.
ROBBY
What kind of...mood?
DENNIS
You’ll see.  Just....well, you’ll see...
CYNTHIA
Boy, will you see!
DENNIS
Never mind, Cynthia!  Just take notes!
CYNTHIA
Yes, Dennis. My pencil is poised!
ROBBY
Okay.  Bring her out.
CYNTHIA
Wait! Dennis!
DENNIS
First, we have to read the rules.
ROBBY
Oh, yeah.  I forgot.
DENNIS
(to ladies)
All right, now when Miss Riding Hood gets out here, it’s important that you abide by the following rules.
(reads from paper)
Stay seated in her presence.  
ROBBY
Seated?
DENNIS
Seated.
CYNTHIA
No autographs.  
DENNIS
No idle conversation.  
CYNTHIA
Do not, under any circumstances, make eye contact with her.
DENNIS
And make note:  She has eyes in the back of her head!  Finally, if she sneezes when you get within three feet of her...
CYNTHIA
Leave the room immediately!
MEREDITH
Why?
DENNIS & CYNTHIA
You don’t want to know.  
DENNIS
Okay, she’ll be right out.
Dennis hands the rules sheet to Robby, and then dashes off with Cynthia.
BIG BAD
Robby...Robby....
ROBBY
What is it, Big Bad?
BIG BAD
I need my Wolfettes.
ROBBY
Oh, no...really? The Wolfettes? Again? Isn’t that gettin’ kinda old?
BIG BAD
They’re my life’s blood. They’re my soul, my inspiration, my...
ROBBY
Okay... All right...Did they come with you?
BIG BAD
They’re in the green room.  Yes.
ROBBY
And you absolutely need them?
BIG BAD
Yes. 
ROBBY
Now.
BIG BAD
Yes.  Desperately.  Please...call them out here.  I’d call myself, but...I’m just....too weak...
(and he breaks down crying again.)
ROBBY
Okay, whatever you say, BB.
(starts away, stops)
You know, I remember when you had a backbone.
BIG BAD
(weeping)
Me too!
ROBBY
(calls off)
Wolfettes, front and center!
The Three Wolfettes, PHOEBE, MONICA and RACHEL enter, each with head bowed down, each walking sadly and solemnly. 
WOLFETTES
(glumly)
Wolfettes, front and center, sir!
BIG BAD
Sound off.
ROBBY
Do we have to do this?
BIG BAD
It’s a tradition.  Sound off Wolfettes!
Each sounds off glumly, stepping forward one at a time.
MONICA
Wolfette Monica reporting, sir!
PHOEBE
Wolfette Phoebe reporting, sir!
RACHEL
Wolfette Rachel reporting, sir!
BRITTANY
That’s pathetic!
WOLFETTES
(share the various responses)
We know, sir.  Ma’am.  Whatever. Sorry. My bad.
And they step back in line.  Robby points them to chairs in a different part of the room.  They sit.
As they do, Dennis re-appears with Cynthia.
DENNIS
Here she comes!
CYNTHIA
Here she comes!
DENNIS
I said that already!
CYNTHIA
I emphasized!
DENNIS
(motioning to girls)
SitSitSitSitSitSitSit...
And the real LITTLE RED Riding Hood enters.  She is fully wardrobed as LRRH.  She’s also become a somewhat annoying celebrity.  She steps to the center of everybody, stops, and poses.
LITTLE RED
Why...is no one standing?
ROBBY
Uh...it’s in the rules, here, you said...
LITTLE RED
I’m changing the rules!  Everyone stand!
And everyone does.  Big Bad has a rough time getting to his feet.
LITTLE RED (cont’d)
Good.  Now I’m changing the rules back.  Everybody sit!
And everybody does.
LITTLE RED (cont’d)
Where is my table?
DENNIS
(showing her to table)
Right over here, Miss Riding Hood.
LITTLE RED
(as she reaches table)
This isn’t teak!  I told you I wanted a teak table for this!
CYNTHIA
(waving paper)
It’s in the contract...
ROBBY
Uh...we don’t have a teak table, Red.
Instantly, Little Red looks to Dennis, who is in great shock. To Robby...
DENNIS
Uh...Miss Riding Hood.  You have to call her Miss Riding Hood.
ROBBY
You’re serious?
CYNTHIA
(waving paper)
In the contract.
ROBBY
We don’t have a teak table, Miss Riding Hood.
LITTLE RED
How terribly inefficient of you.  Dennis...make a note. 
DENNIS
Cynthia, make a note!
CYNTHIA
Making a note!
LITTLE RED
(to Robby)
What is your name?
ROBBY
Robby.
LITTLE RED
Robby....goes on the list.
ROBBY
What list?
DENNIS & CYNTHIA
You don’t want to know.
LITTLE RED
Let us begin!  Show me my potential replacements!
ROBBY
Uh....girls?  Step over here, please?