book, music & lyrics by Amy Clare Tasker
At the Seaside Ukulele Festival, music brings a community together – but first, there are long-standing rivalries, family dynamics, and exploding egos to sort out. Think Pitch Perfect meets Much Ado About Nothing. Ukulele Days is a new musical for 8 actor-musicians and the world’s cheeriest instrument.
At the 15th annual Seaside Ukulele Festival, hosts June and Jeremy are launching their new label, Seaside Records, with a song contest for ukulele players. The grand prize: an album deal.
Longtime rivals Ben and Bibi are among the contestants. Sparks fly between them as they reconnect, years after splitting up their ukulele duo on the cusp of their big break – and breaking off their engagement. Their well-meaning friends June and Jeremy meddle in their relationship, trying to engineer the conditions for reconciliation.
Stella and Orion, a hot new duo by the name of Cosmic Echo, also have their hearts set on winning the contest with their unique “neo-ukulele sci-fi electro-pop” style. Fresh from an award-winning debut on the international festival circuit, they’re adjusting to success and life on the road, battling their own egos and drug abuse.
Joy, the teenage daughter of June & Jeremy, doesn’t want to be at the ukulele festival. Her friends have gone to Spain for the weekend, but her parents have declared these friends a bad influence and kept Joy at home.
Robin, a bright, enthusiastic young YouTuber holds all these stories together, with live-video interviews projected in the theatre. Their energy is the foil for Joy’s opposite cynicism. They’re driven by formative experiences of being an outsider, and finding a sense of belonging in the ukulele community.
There is a first draft of book, music and lyrics ready to be workshopped with a director/dramaturg and a musical director/arranger/orchestrator.
4 & 5 February 2023: Into the Works scratch night at VAULT Festival, curated and produced by Music Box Theatre.
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Follow on social media: @UkuleleDaysMusical on Instagram & @UkuleleDays on Twitter
SEASIDE UKULELE FESTIVAL – June and Jeremy welcome the festival attendees with a sing-a-long song. “Let’s get away for the weekend. Close your eyes and breathe the sweet sea air.”
I HOPE YOU’RE HAPPY NOW – Bibi rehearses a snarky blues song, revealing her history with Ben. “Take a good look as I walk away. I’d have loved you to my dying day, but hey.”
DAD JOKES – Jeremy embarrasses Joy by singing a song full of terrible jokes and a heart-felt reflection on fatherhood. “How do you tell the difference between a regular joke and a dad joke? It’ll become apparent.”
THE KIDS ARE NOT ALL RIGHT – Robin introduces Joy to the idea of ukulele rap, and she unleashes an impressive torrent of ideas about Generation Z. “Born too late and paying the price, and the doomsday clock is at midnight”
SCARBOROUGH FAIR GOES WRONG – tricked into leading a workshop together, Bibi and Ben try to out-do each other with fancy ukulele finger-picking. The old folk song about lovers asking impossible things of each other hits a little too close to home. “She once was a true love of mine.”
CAN YOU FEEL THE MUSIC – Robin brings us back from the interval with a joyous song about finding a home in the ukulele community. “Can you hear my heartbeat? Can you feel the spirit in my song?”
SUPERNOVA – Stella and Orion sound check with a song about their struggle to adapt to success. “What happens to a star when it burns out?”
HOLD ON TO ME – the song contest kicks off with Cosmic Echo’s nerdy love song. “Our bond will only grow stronger, we’ve got perfect chemistry.”
TIME TO HEAL – Ben’s song contest entry is an expectedly mature jazzy apology to Bibi. “I’m still holding on to hope, but I know old wounds take time to heal.”
I CONFESS, I LOVE YOU – Bibi impulsively changes her song contest entry, inviting Ben to join her on stage and sing one of their old songs. Lyrics inspired by Beatrice & Benedick from Much Ado About Nothing: “I love you with all of my heart. Not one single part is left to protest.”
KEEP ON STRUMMIN’ – June and Jeremy close the festival (and the show) with a farewell song, joined by the whole ensemble and audience. “Keep on strummin’, for all our happy ukulele days.”