Overview: ALL THAT DRAMA the musical is a current day story that reveals how a middle class African-American family, the Charles, lean on their deep rooted family values to get them through the challenges they experience every day. It’s a story about real world drama; bullying, lying, drugs, mental illness, and even death. It’s a heartfelt story about 16 year old Whitney Charles and the positive impact she and her family have on their neighborhood, her classmates and their new neighbors, the McCarthys. 16 year old Amanda, younger sister Molly and their mother, Sally McCarthy, have recently relocated from an upper-class, predominantly white community to a modest home next door to the Charles.
The entire musical takes place over 4 days, starting on Thursday night, the McCarthy’s first evening in their new home, and ending on Sunday at a rousing church service. It’s full of song, tears, joy, surprises and pure fun, exposing the audience not only to drama and conflict, but also to the power of community, self-discovery and hope.
The following pages summarize each Act and Scene.
SCENE 1: (at the homes of the McCarthy’s and the Charles’)
ALL THAT DRAMA begins Thursday evening with 16 year old Amanda McCarthy on her cell phone with a friend. Amanda is telling her girlfriend how much she misses the old neighborhood and that she hates the new one. Having recently gone through a tough divorce and losing her ex-husband’s income, Sally McCarthy and her two daughters have been forced to move from a gated community to this middle class, inner city neighborhood. It’s the McCarthy family’s first night at their new home and Amanda is clearly not happy about the move.
After Amanda gets off the phone with her friend, she goes into the house and that’s when the music to PROBABLY NOT begins. Two separate conversations take place in neighboring homes. The first discussion is in the McCarthy’s living room between Amanda and her mother, Sally. Amanda is reluctant to accept her new surroundings, dismissing most of her mother’s advice with “probably not”. The second conversation is next door between Whitney and her mother, Des’ree Charles. Des’ree recommends that Whitney helps Amanda see the positives in her new neighborhood. Whitney responds to her mother’s advice with “I’ll give it a shot”. Amanda finally gets the chance to vent alone outside, not knowing that Whitney overhears her airing her frustrations.
It’s now Friday morning and the McCarthy family is getting ready for their first day of school in the new neighborhood. Amanda hears a knock at the front door. It’s Whitney who, in the song HELLO, introduces herself as the next door neighbor and welcomes Amanda. Amanda, still upset with her new living arrangement, dismisses Whitney. Whitney is unwilling to accept Amanda’s attitude, letting her know that even though she understands her pain, she should at least acknowledge her welcome. Reluctantly Amanda finally says “hello”.
SCENE 2 (on school bus and at school entrance)
Whitney hurries Amanda onto the school bus as fellow classmates introduce Amanda to her new neighborhood in song. It’s a fun, hi-paced account of some of the people, places and events in the area, helping Amanda get a SNAP SHOT of her new community.
Arriving at Carter High, Whitney gets off the bus with Amanda and her classmates. They are immediately confronted by Tonya and her group of spiteful friends. They begin to give Whitney a bad time, introducing lots of drama in dialogue entitled MISS WHITNEY CHARLES. As Amanda and neighborhood classmates look on, Whitney brushes off the bullying, choosing to ignore all the hurtful accusations.
As Whitney walks away from Tonya and friends, she gathers Amanda and a few others to share her thoughts on how to handle all the distractions and drama at schools. She sings the title track, ALL THAT DRAMA. Whitney’s mother Des’ree, who is a Carter high school counselor, also chimes in.
SCENE 3 (at school)
As Whitney and Amanda enter their first class, inquisitive students have lots of questions about the new girl. The personalities of different students are put on display as Amanda finds herself in the middle of all their questions, voiced in the song WHO’S THAT GIRL? Whitney finally introduces Amanda, and then asks her classmates to back off and give Amanda a chance.
Having heard Whitney’s introduction of Amanda, Mr. Newsome welcomes her to his science class. The teacher then starts class with that week’s science presentation assignment. Whitney’s cousin and classmate Lamar, an aspiring MC, has decided to rap his science presentation, ADAPT OR MUTATE. It’s a hit. Mr. Newsome is very impressed with the content and the class loves the music.
As Amanda, Whitney and a few classmates are walking to their next class they overhear comments from several students, including Tonya and her friends. The remarks are mostly derogatory, degrading and overly dramatic. Whitney does her best to guard Amanda and her friends from most of the drama, but it’s impossible to keep them shielded from it all. Whitney grabs her friends and goes into an empty classroom where she asks Danielle to share her thoughts about all of the haters at school. WHAT HATERS DO is a whimsical but hard-hitting song about how to deal with bullying and negativity.
SCENE 4 (on bus home from school)
As the classmates head for the bus at the end of the school day, several boys try to get the attention of Whitney and her girlfriends. Matt, a classmate and neighbor, sees all the guys preying on his defenseless friends. Tonya seems to be the ring leader, urging the boys on. Matt hurries the girls onto the bus, leaving Tonya behind with the menacing boys. On the bus ride home Matt warns the neighborhood girls… DON’T GIVE IN… to all the boy’s lies and demands.
After Matt completes his advice, Amanda tries to make some sense out of everything she experienced her first day at Carter High, singing MY HEAD IS SPINNIN’. She kiddingly blames Whitney for exposing her to all the drama and craziness.
SCENE 5 (at the Charles home)
The scene starts with Des’ree on the phone with Sally, inviting the McCarthy’s over prior to the Friday night dance party. Sally accepts the offer.
As the McCarthy’s arrive at the Charles house, Brother Joe, a Charles family friend and preacher, shows up at the same time. He opens the front door to let them in. Des’ree is inside to welcome the McCarthy’s in song. Whitney’s 84 year old great grandmother, Momma Lucy, 12 year old sister Scarlett, cousin Lamar, Brother Joe, Des’ree and Whitney make for a dynamic cast of Charles characters. Together they join in singing MOMMA LUCY. The interaction is fun, playful and full of personality, showing their bond as a family. Sally McCarthy and daughter Molly are surprised by the family’s zany behavior, but Amanda is entertained by the interaction.
Brother Joe then asks Des’ree to share a family favorite with their new neighbors. It’s a poem originally written by Momma Lucy that Des’ree turned into a beautiful lullaby. She obliges by singing COMPLETE. The song is another glimpse into the deep seeded values of the Charles family.
SCENE 6 (Friday evening party in Blues Man Ben’s backyard)
At 7PM the entire neighborhood starts making their way to the backyard of Blues Man Ben’s house where the Friday night dance parties are held. Anticipation and excitement begin to fill the air the closer they get to Blues Man Ben’s house, with the beat building to FRIDAY NIGHT. Once they find themselves in the backyard, the music is at full volume as the co-emcees, Michael and Whitney, welcome all to the party. The kids in the neighborhood love these Friday night events, not only because they get to dance, but also because each week there are several live performances by talented neighbors.
Blues Man Ben, not just a wonderful neighbor, but a great blues singer, is the first to perform. He is introduced by emcee Michael and begins the evening’s festivities by singing a song about the temptations of drugs called DON’T BE A DOPE. It’s a playful tune that cuts deep into reality. The audience loves Blues Man Ben and is moved by the song. However, off to the side it is apparent that Tonya is mixed up with drugs herself.
Next up, neighbor Matt is introduced by emcee Whitney and performs a new song he wrote called IN MY OWN SKIN. The audience loves the song, clapping to the beat.
LET’S GET CRAZY is a dance craze the neighborhood has created that involves 3 to 5 neighborhood teenagers performing fun and spontaneous dance moves. The music is hi-energy, intense and the crowd loves it!
It’s finally time for everybody to get into the act. DJ DuJuan gets it going by playing the instrumental dance mix of I AM, as the entire neighborhood starts dancing. Brother Joe has never heard this track before and is inspired by its beat, so records it on his cell phone.
Away from the dancers Tonya is seen arguing with her girlfriends, exchanging more drugs with Kevin and then running off. Sirens and flashing lights cut the dance party short as police officers apprehend Tonya and take her away. The neighborhood is shocked!
SCENE 1 (at McCarthy’s home)
Saturday morning starts with Amanda once again on her cell phone with an old neighborhood friend. She tries to tell her friend all that happened the day before, but can barely get it all out. The tone of her voice has changed in the last 24 hours. She still misses her old neighborhood, but is actually starting to appreciate her new one. The call ends with a knock at the front door.
Des’ree is greeted by Sally at the front door of the McCarthy’s house and promptly invites Sally and the kids to spend the day with the Charles family. They have a full day planned with a van all packed up and ready to go. First they are scheduled to visit their older brother Bobby, who they see every Saturday afternoon. Then it’s off to an evening concert at the Majestic Amphitheater, headlined by huge international rap artist, Overflow. Des’ree makes it impossible for the McCarthy’s to say no as she sings YOU’RE COMING WITH US (part 1).
SCENE 2 (at City Mental Health)
The van arrives at a building just outside of the city. It’s a mental health facility where Whitney’s brother Bobby is living. The McCarthy’s had no idea that the Charles’ had such a serious family issues to deal with, leaving them speechless. The Charles family however, is excited to see Bobby. According to Des’ree, Bobby is doing better, but he clearly has issues.
As the Charles family says goodbye to their brother Bobby, Whitney can see the sadness in Sally, Molly and especially Amanda’s eyes. Whitney sits them down and shares the events that led Bobby to this place with a song called THE LIGHT. She reveals that three years earlier their father had unexpectedly passed away. It’s an uplifting story that shows the strength and determination of the entire Charles family…. especially Whitney. Amanda is amazed by Whitney and begins to realize that Charles’ issues are much more challenging than her own.
SCENE 3 (at Majestic Amphitheater)
Later that Saturday evening, the two families and several neighborhood friends arrive to a packed house for the “Overflow” concert at the Majestic Amphitheater. Lamar and Brother Joe won a music competition for a song they wrote and recorded. They received 30 front row tickets as part of their 1st place prize.
The lights come up and the Overflow concert begins with HIP HOP MUSIC. Following the screams of the crowd at the conclusion of the song, Overflow reminds everyone about the national music competition he sponsored and that the “winners are here tonight”. Overflow then invites Lamar and Brother Joe to the stage to perform their winning song, THIS IS YOUR TIME. Whitney and all her friends had no idea this was going to happen. The audience cheers. Lamar is blown away to be on stage with his idol. Overflow and his vocalist Mario join in with Lamar and Brother Joe as the audience goes wild. The song ends, the audience cheers and the lights go down… then off.
After the concert, Tonya is found by Tasha, Holly and Jody all alone and crying on a street curb. The girls notice that her clothing is torn and see blood dripping from her lip. All three girls, however, are very upset with Tonya. Earlier that day they heard rumors that Tonya had said some extremely derogatory things about them. Hearing that and after seeing her get taken away by police the night before, they had no interest in helping Tonya. The girls let Tonya know that she probably deserved what she got!
Tasha, Holly and Jody leave Tonya sitting on the curb, crying. Alone she sings WHO AM I?
SCENE 4 (at Charles home)
Whitney and Amanda arrive home after the concert, exhausted from the day. Before Whitney closes the front door, they hear crying outside and go to see who it is. They recognize Tonya sitting on the curb with torn clothes and a bloody lip. In a desperate state, Tonya let’s Whitney know that she didn’t know where else to go. Amanda sees how accepting and loving Whitney is, even with her so-called enemies. With no questions asked, Whitney takes Tonya inside, washes her face, takes off her shoes and lets her sleep on her bed. Tonya cries herself to sleep as Whitney lies down next to her on the floor.
Whitney finally falls asleep. Her deceased father, Dexter Charles, comes to her in a dream, singing BEST OF THE BEST.
Tonya wakes up the next morning and thanks Whitney for taking care of her the night before. In the song YOU’RE COMIN’ WITH US (part 2), Whitney convinces Tonya to stay and join the family for Brother Joe’s church service.
SCENE 5 (at neighborhood church)
The neighborhood comes to church Sunday morning for Brother Joe’s weekly service. The excitement, anticipation and music are felt by all as the choir sings FEEL THE LIGHT.
Brother Joe begins his service by welcoming all and acknowledging a request from a new member of the congregation. Amanda is invited to come up to the podium to share a song. FLY HIGH is about self-discovery and dreaming big. These are lessons Amanda has recently learned from Whitney and her family. The choir, full of Amanda’s new friends, joins her in song.
Brother Joe then invites Momma Lucy, who turns 85 that same day, to come up and say a few words. She delivers an earthy but extremely powerful message that stresses the importance of family and belief in one’s self. The congregation is mesmerized by Momma Lucy’s poem, knowing that every word she speaks is the truth. Then the music to I AM starts as Brother Joe delivers his final thoughts in song.
Everyone gets into the act as Brother Joe invites all to sing along. The emotions and excitement go sky high as the music and singing crescendo. Whitney, Amanda and Tonya can only smile and sing along.
End of Musical
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