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Much Ado About Milo - synopsis

by tom 

Posted: 03 March 2005
Word Count: 1017
Summary: This is a synopsis for a comedy musical I wrote for a school production a friend is putting on next week. The actors will be aged between 8-11 years old. The songs are provided by my friend, whose a bit of a musical nut.

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Much Ado About Milo (a school play in 6 scenes)

A dark and windswept night. Two guards to the Duke’s castle are on duty, watchful for the Duke’s nanny who has escaped from prison. She has been put there under suspicion of attempting to steal the Duchess’s jewellery.

Suddenly there is a cry in the dark from on high; the Duchess’s baby son has been kidnapped. The Duke, together with a band of men, rush into the darkness in pursuit.


10 years later. In the town orphanage the steward (Sackpole) brings the boys to order and reads the register. Milo Much, as ever, rebels. In anger Sackpole sends the other boys to work without breakfast and takes Milo to be punished by the orphange's director Mr. Childless. Milo cannot talk but he remains stubbornly defiant when questioned by Childless and is locked away.

The bell rings. A woman and three men come in to see Mr. Childless. She introduces herself as Imelda Picasso, owner of the ‘Circus Picasso’, and her three sons; Ferdinand, Fritz and Felix. She wants to buy a child ‘that can be seen but not heard’. She offers Childless a bribe (30 silver pieces) to hasten the process; Childless gives her Milo.


Milo is taken back to the circus. His duties are explained to him; he is to look after the animals and make sure they are fed well. If he fails in his duties the preening Ferdinand (the resident lion tamer) threatens to beat him.

Maria, the beautiful trapeze artist, enters. Ferdinand struts around her, flirting with her. He offers Maria a necklace from his pocket as a gift; but warns her she should not wear it until they arrive in the next city. He leaves; Maria can’t resist putting the necklace on.

Maria is kind to Milo; she introduces him to the clown Sancho and to the old, bumbling magician ‘The Great Castro’. Milo learns that Castro once was owner of the circus but when times were bad sold out to Imelda.

Imelda returns, together with a police detective. He is investigating a series of large-scale robberies that have plagued the region in the last few months. He claims two of his best men are on the case. Then he notices the necklace; Ferdinand fumbles an excuse and Imelda explains that the necklace is in fact a fake. She insists that the others take the detective to see their quarters and complete the search. Maria is now furious with Ferdinand for giving her a 'fake'. Alone with her sons Imelda berates Ferdinand for putting their gang in danger (the necklace is part proceeds of a recent robbery) – she reminds them all that next week they will pull off the greatest crime of their careers; stealing the Duke’s fabulous collection of jewellery. She gives each of them a job and sends them on their way.

Castro and Milo see off the detective. Then Castro introduces Milo to the circus animals. These are:

Genghis the Indian tiger
The Dancing Hens – Chantelle, Estelle and Anabelle
Desdamona the elephant
3 performing terriers – Curly, Larry and Mo
Spartacus and Cleopatra – the circus lions

Milo begins to cry; he's hungry and exhausted. Castro tries to cheer him up with a sequence of tricks, all of which go wrong. Finally he hits upon the idea of casting a spell on Milo so that he can talk. Apparently this fails.

Imelda enters and pours scorn on Castro. Milo is left to feed the animals; dejected he falls asleep.

The animals talk amongst themselves. What are at first animal sounds slowly turn to words. Milo wakes up and discovers that Castro was half-successful – Milo can talk to the animals but not people. Milo discovers through the animals that Imelda cheated Castro out of the circus. Milo and the animals resolve to right matters. The dogs will tail each of the brothers to try and discover Imelda’s plan.


The next morning Sancho wakes Milo. Felix returns from the city with a horse that he bought at Imelda’s request. It’s called Esmarelda; it walks funny and looks odd. Sancho offer to make breakfast for Milo and Maria. However while Sancho is away Ferdinand tempts Maria into a trip to the city, promising her a new scarf. When Sancho returns Ferdinand humiliates him infront of Maria and Sancho is left heartbroken when she leaves with Ferdinand for the city.

Milo and the animals resolve to make Sancho look a hero in Maria’s eyes; that way she will fall in love with him. They pressure Genghis into pretending to want to eat Maria. However the plan goes wrong. Maria thinks at first that Genghis is being playful and tickles him. When, after fierce prompting from the other animals, Genghis tries again Ferdinand enters first and Milo watches horrified as Maria claims Ferdinand as her hero.

The terriers return with details of the plan. Milo and the animals make a plan to stop Imelda.


In the city everybody is excited. For the first time in 10 years the castle will be open to the public. The centrepiece of the celebrations will be a circus performance.


The performance begins. Various elements are on show. Finally Maria begins her act. While everyone is watching her death defying stunts the Picassos start their robbery. At a call from Milo the animals rebel. Suddenly the horse Esmarelda is revealed to be two detectives in disguise – this is why Milo could not talk to it. In the struggle Ferdinand grabs Maria and threatens to break her arm if he cannot escape. Sancho knocks him out. Imelda is revealed as the Duke’s old nurse – she has been planning revenge for 10 years after being falsely accused of the original robbery (the castle butler did that one!).

Milo is revealed to be the long lost son of the Duke and Duchess. Reunited with his mother he finds his voice again. The circus is returned to Castro and the animals retire to the castle garden always to be with Milo.

The End.

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Comments by other Members

Dee at 07:38 on 03 March 2005  Report this post
Tom, this is lovely. I wouldn’t normally read anything written for children, as I have no experience of it. Also, I don’t know if a synopsis for a play should differ from a novel synopsis. However, as a synopsis, I think this works very well.

Just a couple of points:

Sancho is heart broken when Maria leaves and Ferdinand humiliates him in front of Maria.
Perhaps this would be more logical the other way round?
Ferdinand humiliates Sancho in front of Maria and Sancho is heart broken when she leaves.

the Castros start their robbery
I thought they were called Picasso?

Neither of these points will affect the production, though. It’s action-packed and has lots of interesting characters. The play has a strong fairy-tale atmosphere which lifts them out of the risk of stereotypes.

Good luck with it. I’m sure the children will enjoy putting it on.


tom at 08:32 on 03 March 2005  Report this post

You are of course right - the Castros are the Picassos!

The switch is also very much better. I will adjust accordingly.

When I was writing the synopsis I too was a little concerned about how itshould differ from one for a piece of fiction. I'm not sure if one shouldn't include a hints at stage action - but I decided to avoid them if possible. The wholes issue of time on stage is different from in a novel.

Thank you for your comments and saying you enjoyed it. Writing for the kids in school is always a pleasure. If you saw the quality of most school plays/musical you would cringe.


Harry at 10:27 on 03 March 2005  Report this post
Hi Tom,

This looks good. I particulary like the opening paragraphs, which open up the world you are writing about very well and show us the style of the piece.

I think you're right not toinclude stage action, it could be become a little messy.

Best of luck with the production.


tom at 10:44 on 03 March 2005  Report this post
Thanks Harry.

One of the things I decided to do with this is have some fun. Hence the characters names and one or two of the scenes. The opening scene uses the same characters as Hamlet (minus the ghost!) and you'll probably have spotted that I tried to fit in as many rebels as I could. Originally I was trying to find a part for 'Che' but it didn't quite work - sometimes you have to let go an idea before you strangle it.

I should also note that the Duke and Duchess are named Romeo and Juliet - thus resurrecting two characters from the dead! Sancho slips in from Don Quixote and in a good production Castro should smoke a cigar (as you can tell I'm not very PC!).


Sue H at 23:55 on 11 March 2005  Report this post
Tom - this is lovely. Lots of fun for children. I can imagine the antics with the animals. The baddies are not too bad but enough for a lot of booing and hissing! Milo is wonderful and it's great that he can talk to the animals.

Presumably it's been done now. Hope it went well!


PS - I thought the layout was just right. You can see the action without having to put it in.

bigAL at 10:01 on 14 March 2005  Report this post

Milo cannot talk but he remains stubbornly defiant when questioned by Childless
Found that a little confusing, making me unsure as to whether he's mute or doesn't talk for a reason.

I went to see a play for children of a similar age. I laughed at all the wrong parts, it was that bad. I wish you'd written one for them.

Being an avid avoider of all theatre, this was a pleasant surprise. I'm not qualified to say how good it is, but i like it.

Good luck,

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