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SYNOPSIS OF “AMERICANS ALL”
After the Overture, Act I, Scene I is set in the kitchen or family room of a male high school teacher’s house on the first day of school. Teacher and his wife discuss the upcoming day in which the teacher wants to help his students expand their horizons and live fuller lives. He explains by singing “How Can I Help Them to Be?”
Act I, Scene II in the high school classroom with all of the students present but before the arrival of teacher. The basketball jock talks with his classmates about how unimportant an education is because he is going to “make it” in basketball. He explains by singing the rap song “Who Cares?” and is joined by his classmates. But he is also joined in the number by “Smart Guy,” who is a nerdish student who loves to learn, and he recites the accomplishments of the U.S. presidents in chronological order.
Then teacher enters the classroom, and while talking sees a student drop some trash on the floor. This action is converted into the song “Pick It Up” by the teacher and the class, which not only discusses picking up the trash in one’s life, but also your spirits, your attitude and even your friends. After this a “lady’s man” or “man’s woman” tells the teacher that it is fine to “eschew mediocrity” and things like that, but what really gets the eye of the ladies or the men is how you walk and talk and how you strut your stuff, which turns into the song “You Gotta Have Style,” which is joined by the class and the teacher, who also shows the class that your style is inside, and that it is stylish to work, etc.
One other student then sings the song “Do You Know Their Names?” which addresses the numbers of people in our society who are custodians, wait on our tables or have mental disabilities, and who blend into the background and are ignored. Then, while the teacher is spreading his “pearls of wisdom,” two students drift to stage left and stage right and daydream about their future, singing the song “Every Day.” The female student dreams about her future and how she will be able to make her life “count,” but in the meantime feels all alone. The male student dreams about finding someone, because inside he is handsome and he is strong, but until he finds her he also feels all alone.
To end the first act, the teacher sings the lesson that “It Just Takes One” with regard to things like finding a college, finding a profession and finding a mate. And also it just takes one bad move to lose your life or critically injure yourself or others. Act I culminates with the song “The Dream Lives On,” and which reprises the song “Every Day,” in which the entire class sings that if you are a real friend, you are never really alone.
After the Overture, Act II opens once again in the teacher’s house, where the wife feels her husband is so wrapped up in his students that she is being ignored. Teacher is concerned and asks for a further explanation. So wife sings “Love Is Not Enough,” in which she says that it is not enough just to have your love, what I really need is you. This song gets teacher’s attention, and ends with them both singing about the importance of family, and then further evolves into teacher singing about his love for his wife in the song “It’s Been a Long Long Way to You.”
Act II, Scene 2 addresses the class’ project of “Project Pro-ject,” in which the class is required to demonstrate the concept that anything that is worth doing is worth doing well. It begins with one student reading about a history of a flush toilet in the stammering and boring way that most students read. Then the second student “pro-jects” by reading the same passage with enthusiasm and interest.
At this point, the class gets into an assignment to sing about the concept of peace in different countries and cultures around the world. First a student sings a song about things that take away from peace in a song entitled “Hate Spoils the Sauce.” Then students from a Mexican, then Jewish and then Arab heritages sing about the concept of peace in songs entitled “Viva El Trabajo y la Paz,” “Live, Love, Laugh, Shalom!” and “Salam,” and as the last of these songs is ending, all of these students join together in a folkdance, arm in arm.
At this point, Smart Guy gives a presentation about the importance of staying in school and getting an education. Among other things, people will pay themselves over the course of their lifetimes a minimum of $117 per hour for every hour spent in high school if they only stay in school long enough to graduate, and then that pay more than doubles if they get a college degree! At this point the class realizes that it is “Smart Guy’s” birthday, and join in singing their salutations to him/her in the song “Happy Happy Birthday.”
Project Pro-ject draws to a close as part of the class sets forth the type of life they want to live in a poem entitled “Cast A Glance Around You.” Then teacher steps forward and talks to the class about how so many people in our world have become “victims,” and accents that by having the class join him in the song “Playin’ the Blame Game.”
The class ends with all of the students singing a song that some of them have written about what it is to be an American in the song entitled “We Call Ourselves Americans.” That is followed by a curtain call, with the participants taking their bows while the cast sings a short passage from the songs that they sang, and then comes the Finale, as the entire ensemble sings the song “Americans All.”