Micah Pizza was walking across the upper deck of the Hippodile cruise ship on his way to meet his friend Al Diet at their favorite restaurant, The Dog's Hot. He arrived to hear a familiar scream from Cricky, the cricket who was the head waiter on the Hippodile. Al was showing Cricky pictures on his phone from the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Cricky was terrified of the pictures. As Micah tried to calm Cricky down, he, Al and Cricky all received a text from Mr. Pizza & Mr. Diet telling them to come to the Captain's quarters for an important announcement.
The Hippodile ship is the largest cruise ship in the Noah's Ark Animal Cruise Line and it sails in the Pacific Ocean. The cruise ship is co-run by the Diet and Pizza families who are best friends. Mike and Kathy Pizza have two children. Micah who will turn 13 in three days and Hippy who is 11. Rodney and Harriet Diet have two children also. Their oldest son is Al and he just turned 13 one month ago. They also have a daughter named Victoria who is 11. The Diet and Pizza children have jobs to help the ship run smoothly.
If you are going to continue reading this story, there is something you need to know. The Pizzas' are hippopotamuses and the Diets' are alligators. It may seem strange that these mammals are best friends, but they are.
When the boys and Cricky arrive at the Captain's quarters Victoria and Hippy were already there. The girls were deep into one of their discussions about the Nancy Drew PC Adventure Games. Micah sighed as he thought about how the girls didn't really solve the mysteries, but merely "hinted" their way to a solution.
Mr. Diet and Mr. Pizza called the meeting to order. Mr. Diet said, "Thanks for coming so quickly. We have fantastic "old"s."
Mr. Pizza said, "The Noah's Arc Animal Cruise Line just approved our request to launch a cruise to", he paused for effect.
"Australia," both sets of parents said together.
"And we leave next week," said Mrs. Diet.
Mrs. Pizza said, "Cricky, Micah, Al, Hippy and Victoria, your assignment on this cruise will be to work in the Devonshire Country Theater. You will be responsible for coming up with a show. That includes picking a show, choosing all the actors and actresses and directing it.
Micah said, "I already have an idea. Let's do a takeoff of The Incredibles!"
"Yeah," replied Al.
Victoria said, "Why don't we do a takeoff of Frozen instead?"
"Yeah", Hippy agreed.
"Oh no," replied Cricky, "The Devonshire Country Theater can't feature a show for hooligans."
The next moment, Cricky received a text. "Oh dear," he said. "My family will be joining us on this cruise." Then he passed out.
Splish! Micah revived Cricky with a bucket of water in the face.
Cricky spluttered and then said, "I could have drowned. Now, what was I talking about before I, I well, you know."
"Passed out?" Hippy said. Cricky frowned at Hippy.
"Let's not dwell on Cricky's incident. We need to brainstorm for ideas for the show. Let's meet at Pop Your Eyes Out Popcorn in one hour." said Micah.
In one hour the kids arrived at the Hippodile's snack shop called, Pop Your Eyes Out Popcorn. Micah said, "I hope you guys have had a chance to brainstorm and come up with some good ideas for the show." They all nodded that they had. "Where is Cricky? He's never late."
"Maybe he went for a swim?" said Victoria.
"Maybe," said Micah. "Well, let's get started without him. I think we should do a takeoff of The Incredibles."
"That would be so cool," Al chimed in.
"Naw, that's for boys. I think we should do a takeoff of Frozen," Hippy said.
"Well that's for girls," Al said.
Micah offered a compromise and said. "How about we do both?"
A look of confusion came across everyone's face. Then Cricky walked into the snack shop, looking very flustered.
"Hey, you're late," said Micah. "I hope you had a chance to think about the show and have some suggestions."
"My apologies for being late. It couldn't be helped. I just received a phone call from my parents," Cricky replied. "They have the perfect suggestion for the show," he continued. "My family is known all over the world for being superior Shakespearean actors and actresses. When I told them I had been assigned to work in the Devonshire Country Theater on this cruise, they all got very excited and couldn't help making a suggestion. I couldn't agree with them more. They would love to see a rendition of 'Antony and Cleopatra' while they are on the high seas. What do you think?"
The four children looked dumbfounded. Finally, Micah said, "That sounds like a great idea." Al, Victoria, and Hippy still looked dumbfounded.
Just then, Cricky's phone rang. "Oh, it's my parents again. I better go take this."
"Okay. Don't worry, we'll work your suggestion into the show," said Micah.
"Thanks," said Cricky as he left the snack shop beaming.
"Micah, are you crazy?" they all said at once.
Micah replied, "No. Here's the plan. Let's let Cricky think we are going to do Antony and Cleopatra, but instead we will make the show be a combination of The Incredibles, Frozen and Antony and Cleopatra. And," he continued, "Let's make it a musical comedy."
"How do you think you are going to pull that off," said Victoria with a skeptical tone.
"It's easy," Micah replied. "We'll have two sets of scripts. Cricky will have one and everyone else will have the other 'real' script."
Micah and the gang dismissed Cricky first from rehearsals and always bounced it off saying, "Oh you've worked so hard and you have all your lines down perfectly. Why don't you go spend some time with your family." Cricky bought it all up and would leave grinning from ear to ear. After Cricky left, the real work started.
Micah called everyone together for a meeting before the opening show tomorrow. "Props," said Micah.
"Check," replied Hippy.
"Costumes," said Micah.
"Check," replied Al.
"Lights and sound," said Micah.
"Check," said Victoria.
"Remember everyone at the battle scene we will surprise Cricky with the 'real' show," said Micah. "And the most important part, and we have all been doing this for a long time is, don't spill the baked beans and let Cricky think anything is unusual. The day of the show, Cricky had a luncheon with his parents, aunts, uncles and cousins.
"What show are you doing, Cricky," asked his Mother.
"Oh, Mother we are doing Antony and Cleopatra. It's simply marvelous.
I knew it was my destiny to act in this drama."
"I assume you are playing Antony, my dear boy," said his Father.
"Yes, Father," he replied.
"Who is playing opposite you as Cleopatra," his Mother inquired.
"Hippy is playing Cleopatra," he responded.
"Isn't that your hippo friend," his parents chimed in together.
"Yes it is," he said.
"This should be so elegant," said his Father.
"Oh, I'm so excited. I can't wait to see your debut. How much longer until the show?" asked his Mother.
"About six hours. Oh, I better run, Hippy and I want to run through our lines one more time," said Cricky.
The evening of opening night everyone had the jitters. Cricky's family had box seating. He was so nervous. All the other actresses and actors and set crew came up to him and mischievously wished him good luck and told him to "break a leg".
The first half of the show was flawless. Cricky's parents came backstage at the intermission and told him they were so proud of their little boy.
During the second half of the show, Cricky entered stage left for the final battle scene. He drew his sword for a carefully choreographed fight scene. The army marched toward Cricky. Cricky moved a little to the right. The army adjusted with him. Cricky moved a little to the left. Again, the army adjusted with him. Instead of him running forward into battle, they unexpectedly charged him. He didn't know what to do. This was not what they had rehearsed.
Cricky found himself about to be stepped on by a huge foot when Victoria came out dressed as Violet Parr from the movie the Incredibles. Violet has the superpower of being able to create a protective force field around someone. Violet put a bubble around Cricky just in time to stop him from being squashed.
Micah appeared next on stage dressed as Mr. Incredible and he was also wearing a jet pack. While Violet was protecting Cricky in the bubble, Micah swirled toward the army backing them off stage. When the stage was cleared, Violet ceased her power with the bubble. Cricky was so stunned he looked like a deer in the headlights.
The next thing he knew, the set was replaced with what looked like the Ice Palace from Frozen.
Hippy entered stage right dressed in a teal blue ball gown. Cricky panicked when he heard music playing. It sounded like "Let it Go" from the movie Frozen. He could hardly keep himself from passing out when Hippy started to sing along to "Let it Go". He just wanted to run off the stage and hide but he was frozen.
When Hippy finished singing the song, the audience clapped and cheered. Cricky was reeling. He was afraid to look up at his parents in the box, but he decided he would take it like a cricket and look. He couldn't believe the look on their faces when he saw his parents.
Mr. and Mrs. Woodhouse were roaring with laughter and applauding with the rest of the crowd. Cricky ran off the stage (and as he would put it later, "He ran off the stage in agony." But really, he ran off the stage in embarrassment.).
As the cast was called back to the stage for their final bow, Cricky refused to put even a half a centimeter of his foot out.
Micah, pulled Cricky aside and said, "What's wrong with you Cricky?"
Cricky replied, "Oh, the shame. Oh, the discomfiture. Oh, the humiliation. I'll never be able to set a paw upon the stage again. What a cruel, malicious, vindictive joke."
"Cricky, look at your parents," said Micah.
"No, I can never show my face to them again," he said.
Micah just pointed at the box the Woodhouses' were sitting in. Cricky peeked out and was shocked to see his parents celebrating with the audience. Cricky went out on stage and everyone, including his parents, gave him a standing ovation.
The next morning, news of the production had spread throughout the entire Noah's Arc Animal Cruise line. The phone also started ringing off the hook with calls from Broadway in New York City and Hollywood in California.
Toward the end of the cruise, the Diets, Pizzas and the Woodhouses celebrated the success of the show.
Micah said, "Cricky, we could never have pulled this off with you."
“Hey, let’s call it, Inc – Cle – Fro”, said Cricky!