Ash Fork Madness©️
Nana Cook and Charlotte Madison
copyright 2019 Nana Cook and Charlotte Madison
Scripts and Songs
I decided to parallel the five acts of Salt Spring Madness as closely as possible to Ash Fork Madness, but frequently I was cast adrift, as there is only so much an island and a desert town have in common. However, with the rousing music and the original show’s framework, I developed five strong acts, each of which was introduced by three seedy, old rock doodlers reminiscing.
ACT I THE SETTLERS:
It was in the first act that I was best able to parallel the Salt Spring production with a simple opening song that would gradually swell to a rousing crescendo and which would include the voices of the audience.
The curtain rises on contemporary pioneers. A father and his two children sitting in the moonlight tend a cook-fire out in the Juniper ranch land. The little boy is frightened by shrieking coyotes, so his father tells the children the story of Ash Fork: Yavapai Indians who lived on the land, miners from Jerome, the Santa Fe railroaders, ranchers and cowboys who worked the range, Latino and Anglo families who settled the town and worked the flagstone deposits, and finally dust bowl Okies, truckers and tourists who drove Route 66, thus adding much needed income to the little town.
As the father describes the arrival of the succession of original inhabitants they emerge as visions from the darkness and are called over to join the man and his children around the fire.
Songs: Freedom Song, Things for Everyone, Friends and Neighbors*
ACT II THE BRIDES:
In the nineteen-forties, a mail order bride arrived in Ash Fork — by bus. When she discovered that her intended kept pigs in his house the bride left on the next bus out of town. I took poetic license to justify turning the bus into a stage coach and having an excited group of brides dressed for the altar pour out of it.
The stagecoach, brimming with mail order brides, is welcomed by the prospective grooms, the saloon’s habitués and the town’s floozy — boa and all.
Song: Here Come the Brides
ACT III THE HARVEY GIRLS:
After considerable research and interviews with surviving Harvey Girls, I chose to use the strictness of the housemothers who watched over Harvey Girls day and night, juxtaposed against the natural vivacious restlessness of young women.
They appear in camisoles and bloomers, and then change into vintage Harvey Girl uniforms, which were loaned to us by Al White, from Grand Canyon National Park.
Song: Harvey Girls
ACT IV ROCK DOODLERS
This act was a struggle for me. How does one turn the unique rugged breed of rock doodlers into thespians, dancers and singers? In the midst of my struggle I decided to use that very point and have the rock doodlers in the quarry dancing and prancing as they ridicule the townsmen who are appearing in a musical centennial show. The upbeat tempo of the song Ichose for this act was perfect for the raucous rock doodlers, and the lyrics came easily once the theme was set.
Song: Doodlers’ Rock
ACT V THE ASH FORK WOMEN’S VOLUNTEER FIRE BRIGADE:
This act was to be a confrontation at a fire between the ridiculously feminine Ash Fork Women’s Volunteer Fire Brigade and an equally ridiculous group of Arizonians, the Kaibab Women’s Volunteer Fire Brigade, which included a strong retired military presence, and who with their Chief, were willfully pushing to join Ash Fork’s fire brigade.
I cast a petite, outspoken and effervescent individual, Pat, as Ash Fork’s fire chief, a woman who in reality was ahead of her time. Pat had tried to join our men’s brigade and had been firmly rejected — despite having been a corpsman in the U.S. Navy. I knew Pat would put her heart and soul into her role. When that fire bell rang they appeared in whatever attire they were wearing. As it turned out, a great deal less when Pat dropped her huge bath towel to reveal a hot pink bikini.
I turned to a tall, powerful and delightfully joyful, retired Lieutenant-Colonel, Sally, for my Kaibab fire chief and for appropriate military commands. Although I had only seen the enthusiastic happy side of her in the gas station, I knew, being a lieutenant-colonel she must be able to belt out orders with authority.
The two women were perfect antagonists as opposing Chiefs and I decided to have each one cast and direct her own brigade. I had a strong feeling that if any brigade members were introverts to begin with - subordinate to these two women — they would be extroverts by the chorus-line finale.
For the final kick-line, the women grabbed their bucket filled with confetti, held it on one shoulder, and following the last kick, they would throw the contents toward the nearest audience.
SONG: We're the Ash Fork Women's Fire Brigade