Tennis Musical - Christopher Turner
Tennis Ball Wimbledon Lawn Tennis

“TIE BREAK”

Music, Lyrics & Book by CHRIS TURNER
Additional Lyrics by PETER ERVIN KRAUS & ANTHONY BARLOW

© JULY 2009 DRAFT Intellectual Property Protected by Copyright
© Registered at “Stationers’ Hall Registry”
Registration Certificate No. B10/1534/40532

‘TIE BREAK’…
… A conventional book musical consisting book, music and lyrics;
Centred on the game of TENNIS;
Set in the late 1970s and into early1980s,
Employing a main cast of 8, Supporting Cast,
and 7 to 10 Piece Band,
Consisting Contemporary Popular Music & Song …

… Exploring ‘Class Distinction’ by exposing Human Nature
in terms of dilemmas such as
RICH verses POOR, and CHEATING verses HONESTY & FAIR PLAY
through
Life in general, and in a Competitive Sporting Environment!


General Synopsis
Character Analysis
Song & Scene Breakdown

STORY OUTLINE back to top
Two Sons, Three Parents, Four Friends and a Tennis Coach!  

The winner may take all … but is there ever a true winner?

Set against the backdrop of amateur club and professional tennis, the story follows the friendships, relationships and rivalries of two boys who are destined to compete against each other emotionally and professionally throughout their lives. They undergo the pressures of ‘First Love’ relationships, whilst juggling school education on the one hand, with training as performance tennis players on the other.

In a world of extreme competition they aspire to be champion tennis players, but the road to success is strewn with the challenges of humanity, which will test their friendships, and strength of character right up to their nail biting TIE BREAKER finale –
But the last call and deciding point is a “SPIN”? … Who will win?

The opening scene joins NICK and BEN, aged 18 or 19, preparing for their climactic confrontation at a Major Grand Slam, or Davis Cup Final. The umpire spins a coin and, just as their match begins, the action freezes to a blackout and the story flashes back 3 years. Aged 15 or 16, we follow Nick and Ben’s life experiences on court and off, at local club level, on the junior tennis circuit, through county training and selection. They eventually develop into full-time tennis players competing on the professional circuit, bringing us back to the opening scene where NICK and BEN face each other across the net in their first major tournament final.

UNIQUE SELLING POINT (U.S.P.) No 1:
ALTERNATIVE ENDING

The Finale opens during the closing stages of the only actual real tennis match to be played on stage. This is between the hero Nick, and his rival Benjamin in their first major tournament final.

The scene begins at the start of the match-deciding tiebreak in the final set. The two players actually compete in a real, not simulated, tiebreak (average length about 10 min), the result of which is unknown, by anybody, until the outcome of match point.

The cast have rehearsed two different final scenes, and are prepared for either result, each Performance.
(Please see MINI - TENNIS EXPLAINED next page!)


UNIQUE SELLING POINT (U.S.P.) No 2:
TENNIS LEGENDS TO PERFORM

It is intended that the role of one of the ‘TENNIS LEGENDS’ will be played by one of a selection of actual real live Tennis Legends still competing, part time, on the veteran’s circuit. These natural performers, some of whom are already accomplished actors, singers, and/or musicians, would be ideally suited! Trick shots, etc, would be encouraged so that each individual player can customize the part to their own unique talents.

MINI-TENNIS EXPLAINED
Mini-Tennis is approved and endorsed by the LTA & BTCA who use this innovative sport to introduce 4 to 8 year olds to the game of tennis. Their nationally standardised junior county training scheme includes mini tennis leagues and tournaments from local school level up to the National mini tennis competition played at Wimbledon.

Imagine a badminton court with the net lowered, so that the bottom of the net touches the ground.

Imagine a small duplicate tennis racquet.

Imagine a tennis ball made of foam or sponge so that, no matter how hard it’s struck, it absorbs the power and slows down during its flight-path to suit the shortened length of the court, yet still bounces at the correct height, and still responds to spin. Also brightly coloured and spectator-friendly.

In other words, imagine the game of tennis in miniature, proportionally reduced, but otherwise as realistic as the full-scale game, employing all the shots & tactics of tennis so that a match between Andy Murray and Roger Federer would still be as spectacular and exciting as if it were played on Centre Court at Wimbledon.

PUT SIMPLY ……THE COURT SIZE CAN BE ADAPTED TO SUIT THE SIZE OF THE STAGE !

BACKGROUND TO THE ERA
The 1970s was a very entertaining and exciting era in the evolution of the game of tennis as a hugely popular Spectator Sport worldwide. Many characters and crowd-pullers were in competition. Legendary veterans such as Laver & Rosewall, Newcombe & Smith, Court & Casals were approaching their latter years, still driven by the prospect of victory, and eager to put in their place newcomers and upstarts such as McEnroe, Connors & Borg. Chris Evert battled to take Billy Jean King’s crown while a young Martina Navratilova was on their heels, to later dominate the lady’s circuit throughout the 80s. Other contemporaries included tennis legends such as Nastase, Tanner, Villas, Tracy Austin & Yvonne Cawley (Goolagong).

The British contingency included Cox, Taylor, Wade, Barker, Mottram and, of course, the Lloyd brothers with their famous Davis Cup battles. Big money was invested into the game. Tennis was fast becoming a world leader in spectator sport.


STAGING
TIEBREAK the musical is intended at 2 hours’ length with a 20-minute interval.

The set is a green tennis court laid flat on the stage.

It may be more practical not to stage the work in a conventional proscenium-arch theatre with a picture-box stage, but to use instead theatre-in-the-round, with the audience surrounding the set on three sides. (This does not, however, preclude the use of the more conventional style of theatre!)

This opens up two interesting concepts in terms of potential venues. At a major level, theatres could be used that have been designed along the lines of The Crucible Theatre, Sheffield.
Also, we must not rule out the possibility of using actual Sporting Arenas such as one of the show courts in any of the 4 major Grand Slams! ) US, Australian, French and Wimbledon).
On a smaller scale, tours could be organised of studio theatres, and, where banks of portable seating are available, sports halls and school halls. This certainly opens up the potential of working in partnership with sporting, educational and training organisations.

Up to the finale, (the tiebreak duel), the net is only suggested by a line shadow across the middle of the court, brought in at times of dramatic conflict. For the finale itself, a real net is erected and a real game played.

Up to that point, the flat-floor rectangular set provides the appropriate arena for the dramatic movement that arises from the interactions of characters and situations within the context of the game of tennis.

The sensation of the passage of time is created on the clock and scoreboard on the audience-free side.

Throughout the show, there would be one Tennis court or Tennis area permanently set upstage, but moveable as and when necessary!

To portray different times and places, the sets, scenery and backdrops would change around the court area!

CHARACTER ANALYSIS back to top

NICK (the Hero): Honest, working-class, hard-working, sense of fair play. A likeable, cheeky youngster, who matures into a handsome, strong athlete. The main story revolves around Nick as he searches his heart, being forced to prioritise between his tennis, his schoolwork and his girlfriend, Emma! Which of the three will he decide to neglect?
He is driven to succeed and wants to become a world-class player. His dream is to win one of the 4 Grand Slams, especially Wimbledon. His life revolves around tennis, practising daily for at least three hours, more on the weekends. Nick does not have much time for friends, girlfriends, or his schoolwork, but he is good academically. His love of tennis is becoming more and more of an obsession, a fact that has not gone unnoticed by his girlfriend, Emma, his mother, and his coach, friend and mentor Danny. He is falling behind at school and becoming a thoughtless boyfriend.

BEN (the Rival): Nick’s archenemy from childhood, a spoilt rich kid, smug and a cheat throughout Act I. His character improves during Act II, as he matures and rebels against his father, POTTS, who is the real antagonist. BEN and NICK eventually become friendly rivals – or do they?
An only child, Ben and Pott’s relationship is less ‘father-and-son’ and more ‘Dr. Frankenstein-and-Igor’! Ben does as he is told and tries hard to impress his father but nothing ever seems to be good enough. He secretly despises his father. Ben is jealous of Nick's natural talent and drive, and is intimidated by his good looks. Ben also fancies Emma. By being cocky, he pretends that he is very confident, but deep down, this is a cover because he is very insecure. He is the sort of person that could be nice, but chooses to be cocky and manipulative, in order to make himself feel, and supposedly look better.

EMMA (the Heroine): Nick’s best friend from childhood. Without realizing it, she and NICK have always been in love, and this love grows stronger. Emma is always there to support Nick, but Nick often does not realize or reciprocate this!
Emma is a kind-hearted girl with the typical insecurities and worries of a girl her age. She is tall for her age with blonde hair and English Rose pretty good looks. Recently, Emma has developed much stronger feelings for Nick. She trains hard and dreams of becoming a dancer. She does well at school and enjoys playing tennis, although she is not very good. Emma has a best friend called Laura, in whom she confides, and tells all her dreams and secrets to.
EMMA is reaching an age where she wants to lavish her attention on one man and have that attention and care lavished back upon her. Nick has been her beau for many years, but childhood is a simpler time, and his worsening obsession with tennis is creating a chasm between them, which she is not mature or selfless enough to bridge alone. She eventually gives into the advances of the manipulative Ben, but who could blame a teenage girl for following the path of doomed romance?

LAURA GLADYS BETHAN (Emma’s friend): Comical Welsh character, short & dumpy with a strong Welsh accent. Sexually experienced and admits to it. A practiced schemer and manipulator. A tart with a heart, who secretly fancies Nick, but settles for Ben. A Likeable, humorous character.
Laura is Emma’s closest friend. She is much more sexually experienced than Emma, often ridiculing Emma for still being a virgin, and not yet having taken the ‘plunge’ with Nick! With regards to the relationship between Nick and her best friend, she acts like a diplomatic cupid – somehow managing to navigate a successful course through the teaming rapids of their relationship and hopefully delivering them to a happy ending. She is used to living in Emma’s shadow. Laura has never been a pretty one, and is not particularly talented at anything. Although a little bit jealous of Emma, she tries to be the best friend she can!

DANNY (the Tennis Coach): Early 40s, liked and respected by all; former world-class contender who never quite realised his full potential (his career high was reaching the Wimbledon semi-final many years ago). Dedicated to passing on his vast experience and knowledge to the club’s juniors, he continually battles with Potts over their rights as club members, (e.g. court time, coaching hours, facilities, etc,)! He is incredibly passionate about the game, and is Nick’s, and all the juniors’ hero.
His quiet strength, warmth, and benevolence make him a natural leader and a born coach. He has enough accolades and support to take up a position much higher in the world of tennis, but there are a few things keeping him in this provincial town: firstly, he has found a prodigious talent in Nick, and wants to nurture him, and pass on his experience and expertise; and secondly, he is in love with Nick’s mother, Molly. Danny’s passion lives on through coaching the juniors. Danny acts as the play's narrator, and is a likeable, jolly, but determined character.

MOLLY (Nick’s Mother): Earthy, gutsy, working-class hero. A single parent, always struggling to get by and make ends meet! Kind Hearted and dedicated to her son and his well-being. Now good friends, She and Danny are former lovers who nearly married years before, but Danny left the area to pursue his tennis career! Molly has never really forgiven Danny for what she sees as abandoning her!
Molly is simultaneously fragile and reluctant to offend and yet strong and stubborn. She has a Socratic ability to affect the thoughts and actions of those around her, whilst appearing to submit to them. She is the moral compass of the plot, a moral measuring stick against which Danny and Nick are forced to measure themselves. She is an immensely loyal person with love and devotion to her only child, Nick. It is difficult for her to let go of her bitter memories and accept her true feelings of love for Danny… but she manages in the end!

Mr POTTS, PAUL (Ben’s Father): Rich, upper-class social climbing twit. Always pulling strings. Thinks he can buy everyone and everything. He is Secretary of the Tennis Club, but longs to become Chairman! Not a supporter of the club’s junior contingency, he is continually battling with Danny, the Coach, over the juniors and their rights as club members! He has always bullied his son Ben, constantly pulling him down and disapproving. He has always advised his son to cheat and be underhanded, just like he is. Ben’s father becomes the real antagonist, as Ben turns against him during Act II.

Potts is also an LTA Official, and represents and reflects all that was negative about the LTA in this era. (ie: Snobbery, Arrogance, Nepotism, Closed Shop, etc).
POTTS is an unscrupulous and cold-hearted businessman who is secretly trying to oust Danny and the local children from the club so that he can turn it into a member’s only club for the affluent members of the local community. He is a repugnant character, who tries to frame Danny for his own crime of embezzling funds from the club!

Mrs POTTS, FRANGELICA (Ben’s mother): An upmarket, sophisticated woman. Always a little tipsy, she is constantly ridiculing and mocking her husband, whom she has grown to despise! She secretly sympathises with, and admires Nick’s mother. She can be quite humorous and has a good heart. She constantly flirts with other men, especially DANNY, much to her husband’s annoyance and frustration. Her catchphrase is ‘Call me Frangelica, PLEASE! In fact YOU can call me anytime!’
A bit of a snob, she enjoys throwing brunches for her upmarket friends and feels like she is doing good deeds by mixing with people beneath her social stature.

TV/RADIO COMMENTATOR (doubles as sports agent?)
SPECTATORS & PRESS double as TENNIS PLAYERS, TENNIS GROUPIES, LINESMEN/WOMEN;
BALL-BOYS & BALL-GIRLS double as JUNIOR PLAYERS;

Supporting Cast Members
BORG, McENROE, CONNERS & NASTASE: Caricatures of the four tennis legends, who appear at the start of Act II during a practice session which includes trademark idiosyncrasies such as McENROE’s “You cannot be serious!” and CONNORS’ grunt. These ‘catch-phrases’ evolve into a comedy song and ‘Soft Shoe Shuffle’.

TV/RADIO COMMENTATOR
SPECTATORS & PRESS double as TENNIS PLAYERS, TENNIS GROUPIES, LINESMEN, etc;
BALL-BOYS & BALL-GIRLS double as JUNIOR PLAYERS;

SONG ANALYSIS/SCENE BREAKDOWN back to top

ACT I
(Click on underlined songs to listen to music or click on lyrics to read them)

SCENE CHARACTER(S) SONG STYLE CONTENT

1) Beginning at the end, a TV commentator talks live on air as Nick & Ben (Aged 18), warm up for their Final confrontation! The Umpire Spins a Coin... The action Freezes as Danny enters.

DANNY'S OPENING SOLILQUOY
BLACKOUT
VIDEO SCREEN DISPLAYS RELEVANT EVENTS & DATES IN REVERSE FLASHING BACK 3 YEARS!
Scene Change - Local Tennis Club      
2A) Local Tennis Club Danny & Full Cast Fundamental 5 Jive (lyrics)

Fast Rhythm R & R

Explains basic Tennis Techniques
2B) Nick, Danny, Emma, Laura & Molly discuss Nick's forthcoming match against renowned cheat Ben!
2C) Local Tennis Club

Emma, Potts, Nick & Club Players

All Down the Line (lyrics) Comedy
Jazz-Waltz

Macabre, Mocking
Club Players

3) County Junior Champs Nick & Ben, The Potts & Emma Cheat to Win;Don't Cheat to Win! (lyrics) Duet: On Court
Dual/Battle Song
Cheating versus Fair Play
Scene Change - Nick's Home      
4A) Nick's Home Danny & Molly Golden Summer Days (lyrics) Bright Latin Rhythm Reminiscing on former Tennis Years
4B) Nick's Home
Potts unexpectedly and pompously calls Nick's Mother to discuss Nick's tantrum & display of bad conduct during his match against Ben. That, and his poor school exam results, could jeopardise his LTA Funding!
4C) Nick's Bedroom Nick Breakin all the Rules (lyrics) Slow Prog Rock Reflective - Questioning his future
Scene Change - High Street Boutique

Dialogue between Emma and Laura discussing Emma and Nick's 'up and down" relationship!

5) High Street Boutique Emma & Laura 'Little Red Dress' Tango Sexy & Flirty

Scene Change - Clubhouse Bar & Potts's Office
Split Stage Right - Clubhouse Bar

Split Stage Left - Potts's Office
All supporting characters are present,enjoying the party! Potts is in his office. Mrs. Potts is flirting with Danny (both tipsy!) Danny makes an announcement about Nick's successful scholarship and then sings the song .....
6A - SR) Clubhouse Dance Danny Next New Kid in Town (lyrics) Up-Beat Country Swing Reflective / Reminisces about his tennis days
6B - SL) Pott's Office Mrs Potts 'Call me anytime' Raunchy/Bluesy Dislike for Potts & Flirtatious manner
6C - SR) Emma and Laura enter, Emma looking gorgeous in her new red dress! All head's turn to Emma, who is shy and coy, but Laura is the one brazenly lapping up the attention! After some dialogue, the Cast freezes except for Emma, Molly, Laura & Mrs. Potts. Each of the 4 girls wears a colourful frock underneath their clothes! The frocks are shown only as each character rips off their top clothes, as they stand to sing their verse!
Clubhouse Dance
Emma, Molly, Laura & Mrs. Potts 'After all this time' Ballad Describes each girl's feelings about their beaus

Danny overhears Pipe’s telephone conversation! Potts is about to scupper Nick’s Scholarship chances
and also get Danny sacked, by accusing him of stealing from the club’s coaching proceeds!
Danny challenges Potts! Potts denies everything, but finally admits his scheming, mockingly challenging
Danny to prove it! They almost come to blows! Danny realises that he can’t prove any of Potts’s schemes!
Cliff-hanger ending to Act I, as the two men sing .....

6D - SL) Potts's Office

Danny & Potts 'I'm Gonna Finish You' Upbeat Rock/Rap The 2 men aggressively challenge eachother
6E - SR) Club House Bar - Emma, Molly, etc. reprise last chorus of .... 'After all this time"

END ACT I

ACT II

SCENE CHARACTER(S) SONG STYLE CONTENT
1A) A Tennis Court Full Cast Production No. 'Tie-Breaker' Funk/Rock Establishes the Theme
2) Grand Slam Practice Courts Mc.Enroe, Conners, Nastase & Borg
McEnroe Borg Conners Nastase
The Performance Factor 4
(lyrics)
Comedy Soft-Shoe Ensemble, Famous Catch phrases of Fab 4.
Scene Change - Changing rooms & Emma's Bedroom
Split Stage Right - Changing Rooms
Split Stage Left - Emma's Bedroom
3A -SR)) Nick has drawn one of the Fab 4 in the first round (probably McEnroe)
Changing Rooms before the match Nick & One of the Fab4 Showdown Time (lyrics)

Slow Prog Rock Duet

Youth/Enthusiasm vs Experience/Treachery
3B - SL) Scene re-establishes Nick & Emma's ON/OFF relationship for the past 3 years,and the fact that Emma still loves him and wants to get back together ... for real this time!
Emma's Bedroom Emma & Laura Standing in the Wings (lyrics) Duet/Ballad Reflective Emma's love for Nick
Nick wins the Match and instantly becomes the 'People's Hero'
3C - SR) Changing Rooms
After the Match

Danny

Sign on the Dotted Line (lyrics) R&B/Rock

Establishes Nick's new found fame & fortune

Scene Change - Clubhouse
4A) Scene portraying Emma and Nick getting back together again, and their new found maturity! Also portrays Ben’s improving attitude & character and his growing rebellion towards his father and his underhandedness! Also establishes his new found friendship and admiration for Nick! Ben and Laura get together!
Clubhouse Nick & Emma
Ben & Laura
Forgive and Forget (lyrics) Ballad Reconciliation
4B) Danny tells Molly that he has always loved her, and that he wants to marry her and take care of her, and become Nick’s full time manager. Molly reciprocates positively and tells Danny that Nick is his son!
Clubhouse Molly & Danny 'I'll Love You Once Again' Ballad Romantic Duet
4C) Ben sees his father for what he really is for the first time in his life! He stands up to him and challenges his father’s unscrupulousness! Danny & Nick, Ben & Potts sing …
`Into The Zone´
Clubhouse Danny & Nick
Potts & Ben
'Into the Zone' (lyrics) Rock Cheating v Honesty
4D) Potts is arrested! Danny is cleared of stealing money from the Club Funds! He is offered his old coaching job back at the Club! He accepts, but explains that Nick is his first priority, and he will be his full time coach, mentor, manager and father from now on. Ben shows signs of his new and improved good character by congratulating Danny! Ben sings a short reprise of … `Breaking All The Rules´
Scene Change - Grand Slam Fianls Day
5A) Comedy Scene & Song
'RAIN STOPS PLAY'

5B) Scene portraying Nick & Ben's route to the final!

Reprise 'TIE BEAKER'
Scene Change - Centre Court. Grand Slam Finals Day
6A) Centre Court
Grand Slam Finals Day
THE TIE BREAK IS PLAYED BETWEEN NICK AND BEN.
6B) Centre Court
Grand Slam Finals Day
Nick or Ben 'Victory is Sweet' Fast Rhythm
Jive/Rock'n'Roll
Victory Celebration
6C) FINAL SONG FULL CAST ‘PLAY THE GAME’ ANTHEM CELEBRATION

NB. Whatever the outcome of the Tie Break, Nick and Emma end up together, as do Danny and Molly, and Ben & Laura! Mrs Potts ends up with a young Toy Boy!

END ACTII

Book Synopsis