In the Soup
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In the Soup

In this musical version of the folktale, "Stone Soup", hungry itinerant musicians show villagers how to work together.

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In the Soup

In this musical version of the folktale, “Stone Soup”, hungry itinerant musicians must sell their instruments to buy food. They show villagers how to make soup from a stone and the villagers show them they have talent of which they were unaware.

Author:    Judy Wolfman

Composer:    David Reiser


In this musical version of the French folktale, Stone Soup, itinerant musicians have been traveling through a land ravaged by a drought. Unable to find work the musicians are forced to sell their instruments to buy food and must make the musical sounds with their voices.

They come to a village and ask for food but the citizens are unwilling to share what little they have. Undaunted, the musicians start boiling water in which they drop a stone, telling the curious villagers they are making stone soup. The villagers begin to contribute various foods until there is a large pot of delicious soup which all enjoy at an impromptu feast.

In a classic case of can’t see the forest for the trees, the musicians are made aware that their voices, which they’ve been using to make instrument sounds, are lovely, and are encouraged to enter an area music contest at which they could win enough money to get back on their feet financially.

In the Soup


Adapted from the French Folktale, “Stone Soup” 



Music and Lyrics 


David Reiser

In The Soup

Copyright 2003

by Judy Wolfman and David Reiser

All Rights Reserved

CAUTION: Professionals and amateurs are hereby warned that IN THE SOUP is subject to a royalty.  It is fully protected under the copyright laws of the United States of America, the British Commonwealth, including Canada, and all other countries of the Copyright Union.  All rights, including professional, amateur, motion picture, recitation, lecturing, public reading, radio broadcasting, television, and the rights of translation into foreign language are strictly reserved. 

The amateur live stage performance rights to IN THE SOUP are controlled exclusively by Drama Source and royalty arrangements and licenses must be secured well in advance of presentation.  PLEASE NOTE that amateur royalty fees are set upon application in accordance with your producing circumstances.  When applying for a royalty quotation and license please give us the number of performances intended and dates of production.  Royalties are payable one week before the opening performance of the play to Drama Source Co., 1588 E. 361 N., St. Anthony, Idaho 83445, unless other arrangements are made. 

Royalty of the required amount must be paid whether the play is presented for charity or gain, and whether or not admission is charged.  For all other rights than those stipulated above, apply to Drama Source Company, 1588 E. 361 N. St. Anthony, Idaho 83445.

Copying from this book in whole or in part is strictly forbidden by law, and the right of performance is not transferable.

Whenever the play is produced, the following notice must appear on all programs, printing and advertising for the play, “Produced by special arrangement with Drama Source Co.”

Due authorship credit must be given on all programs, printing and advertising for the play.

No one shall commit or authorize any act or omission by which the copyright or the rights to copyright of this play may be impaired.

No one shall make changes in this play for the purpose of production without written permission.

Publication of this play does not imply availability for performance.    Both amateurs and professionals considering a production are strongly advised in their own interests to apply to Drama Source Company for written permission before starting rehearsals, advertising, or booking a theatre.

No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, by any means, now known or yet to be invented, including mechanical, electronic, photocopying, recording, videotaping or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher. Characters 

NOTE:  Some character names are both masculine and feminine to assist in casting.


Jack/Jackie – The leader of the band, self-assured; plays the trumpet.

Patrick/Patricia – Rather arrogant member of the band; plays drums.

Chris/Christine – Mild-mannered, quiet individual; plays the clarinet.

Dan – (Male only) Naïve and sentimental, who collects stones as reminders of their travels; plays the tuba.

Jerry/Gerry – Intelligent and clever band member; plays the trombone.

Bob/Bobbie – A worrier, often troubled, and argumentative; plays the flute.

(The trumpet, clarinet, and flute should be played by females, unchanged male voices or adult males who can sing a good, strong falsetto. The tuba should be played.) by a male with the lowest/strongest voice. The trombone and drum can be played by either a male or female.)

VILLAGE CHILDREN (any age desired; typical children.)







Child in House #2 – shy


Old Woman – sweet, kindly

Man – hard-working farmer, thoughtful and sympathetic to others 

Teen-age Girl – flirtatious, a bit wistful and romantic

Teen-age Boy – tries hard to be macho

Young Lady – overburdened with kids, trying to cope with life

NOTE:   Additional adults and children may be cast to fill a scene if desired.


Scene I On the Road, evening – in front of the curtain

Scene 2 A Small Village – the next day

Scene 3 A Small Village – the following morning


  Although the script calls for six band members, there can be more, doubling the various  instruments. The proper way to “”play”” each instrument is as follows:

  TRUMPET. Left hand in front, about six inches from chin, “”grasping”” the bottom of the trumpet valves. The right hand is directly above with the first three digets “”fingering”” the valves; elbows close to the body. Should be strong female or unchanged male voice (or strong male falsetto) making nasal, rather piercing “”taah”” sound.

  CLARINET. Left hand (closest to the chin) and right hand at a 45-degree angle from the mouth with fingers slightly curled and thumbs underneath. Should be female or unchanged voice (or male falsetto) making a mellow “”doo”” sound.

  FLUTE. Left hand (closest to the chin) and right hand making 90-degree angle to the right of the chin. Fingers of left hand point toward the back, fingers of right hand point toward the front; fingers slightly curled with thumbs underneath. Should be female or unchanged male voice making a bright “”dee”” sound.

  TROMBONE. Index and middle finger of left hand form a “”v”” directly under mouth, with rest of fingers and thumb clenched under chin. Right hand  moves “”slide”” back and forth a bit less than a 90-degree angle from the mouth.  Should be strong male voice making a nasal “”tah”” sound.  

  TUBA. Hands placed similar to that of the trumpet, but elbows out and back slightly hunched as if carrying heavy weight. Should be lowest/strongest male voice making a hollow “”bmm”” sound.

  DRUM. Arms against side of torso, forearms out front at 90-degree angle. Left hand “”plays”” by rotating wrist; right hand by moving entire forearm up and down. (NOTE: this is an older drumming technique since our play is of earlier times; today both hands are played like the right hand.) Can be male or female; sound should be a crisp “”rmm-tmm”” with the “”r”” rolled if possible.


Overture   Instrumental

Opening March     Band Members

Stones      Dan and Band

Games     Village Children

Now’s the Time to Wake Up!      Band Members

Stone Soup    Jerry, Woman, Teen Boy, Teen Girl, Lady, Jack

Soup’s (Almost) On           Carl, Lady, Alice, Sam, Jean, Villagers and 

Band Members

The Schottische              Jerry and Band Members

Friendship        Band Members

Stones (Reprise)           Dan, Band Members

Now’s the Time for Leaving (Reprise)   Band Members

Bows   Instrumental


Costumes should be simple in style, not too modern.

Scene I is played in front of the curtain with one tree.

Scene 2 and 3 – 6 house fronts, a few bushes and/or trees on the set


Scene 1 – stone on the ground near where DAN will sit; pouch or sack of stones (DAN); half a slice of bread (JERRY); small cookie (PAT);

Scene 2 – ball (ALICE); sticks (CHILDREN); matches (JACK); pot (CARL); onions (WOMAN); carrots (BOY); celery (GIRL); potatoes (LADY); assorted vegetables (VILLAGERS); spoon (A VILLAGER); salt & pepper shakers (CHILD); cut-up beef (MAN); assorted tables, tablecloths, newspaper, chairs, benches, bowls, spoons, mugs, glasses, napkins (VILLAGERS AND CHILDREN); dipper (WOMAN); stack of 6 bowls and spoons (MAN); plate of rolls (BOY); plate of butter (GIRL); jar of jelly (CHILD); two jugs of cider (WOMAN); plate of cookies (LADY);

Scene 3 – stone on ground near DAN’S foot (DAN); rabbit’s foot (MAN)



As the show opens, a group of musicians enter from the back of the auditorium, or from one side of the stage.  Each BAND MEMBER “plays” an imaginary instrument (clarinet, trumpet, flute, tuba, drum and trombone.)  Each will sing, imitating a particular instrument’s sound, while making the motions of playing that instrument.  (See “Playing” the Various Instruments.)  The BAND plays/sings until reaching CENTER STAGE, in front of the curtain.  CHRIS (clarinet) stops playing, sits;  DAN (tuba) stops playing; one by one the other players stop, leaving only JACK (trumpet) and PAT (DRUM) playing.

JACK (Stops playing.):  Hey, what’s going on?  Why did you quit playing?

PAT:  Come on, keep going.

CHRIS:  It’s no use.  This is just not working. All we’re doing is fooling ourselves.

DAN:  Yeah.  How can we sound like a real band if we don’t have any real instruments to play?

JERRY:  We’re not blaming you, Jack.  We know this isn’t your fault.

BOB:  The heck it isn’t!  Who told us to sell our instruments?  (Points to JACK.) – You!

JACK:  Wait a minute.  Let me refresh your memory.  We didn’t have any work. We didn’t have any food.  We didn’t have any money.  Remember?

BOB:  Yes, I remember.  But if we had kept our instruments, at least we’d be able to use them if a playing job would have come along.  

JERRY:  Not much chance of that happening.  We’re in the middle of a drought. Nobody can afford to hire a band.

JACK:  That’s what I mean.  (Speaking in a slow, definite manner.) With no jobs we had no money.  No money, no food.  So we had to sell our instruments so we had money to buy food.  Get it?

BOB:  Yeah, I got it.  But I still wish I had my flute. It’s so much fun to play, especially since I can play so much higher than the rest of you.  (BOB demonstrates playing the flute, playing a little bit of “Opening March.”) I especially like this tune.

CHRIS:  Me, too.  Wasn’t that the folk tune we learned when we were in Ireland?

BOB:  Yeah.  It’s one of their folk songs, “The Rakes of Mallow.”  It was fun watching the folks dancing the jig while I played.

DAN:  It was more fun watching you run after that little boy dressed in green that you thought was a leprechaun.

BOB:  Well, he looked like a leprechaun.  I wasn’t going to miss my chance of finding a pot of gold.

JACK:  (To BOB.)  Well, you may be able to play higher, but I can play a lot louder.  Remember when we played at the festival in Germany?   Everyone in the crowd was clapping and marching around while I blasted away, fingering those valves (Flutters the first three fingers of his right hand.) faster than I ever did before in my life!   It took me many years of practicing to get that good.  Now that I can’t play every day, I’ll get rusty. (Sighs.)  

DAN:  Remember when we were in England, standing in front of Buckingham Palace?

BOB:  Yeah, I remember.  We were trying to make the guards smile, but we couldn’t make them even blink.

DAN:  So I started playing my tuba – lower and lower, and as the notes got lower, so did I – (Demonstrates, making tuba sounds going lower as he physically gets lower.) until I was on the ground.  You were hysterical, but the guards still didn’t crack a smile.  Boy, I miss my tuba.

JERRY:  And I miss my trombone.  You know, the tuba might go lower and the other instruments might go higher, but I can do something none of you can.  (Demonstrates a glissando while “moving the slide” back and forth.)

DAN:  I remember you doing that in Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower.  I can still see you bending forward and back and moving your slide back and forth.  It’s too bad the guard called the gendarmes.

JERRY:  Those French police were pretty excited.  They thought I was going to fall.  But before long, they were bouncing up and down to my playing just like the rest of the crowd below.  Playing the trombone isn’t easy, even when you’re on the ground.  It took many years to know where to stop the slide to get the right pitch.  

PAT:  Remember when the owner of the “Wicky Wacky Club” almost kicked you out of the band?

OTHERS:  What?

PAT:  Yeah, he thought you were letting things slide!  (Laughs hysterically at his own joke.  Others frown at him and do not laugh.)

CHRIS:  (Getting back on track.)  You people on the brass instruments have it easy.  All you have to worry about is three valves or a slide.  I’ve got to use all my fingers to play.

BOB:  Me, too.  And you play your brass instruments so loud you drown out us woodwinds.

CHRIS:  (To BOB.) But at least you flute players don’t have to contend with reeds.   They’re always splitting or chipping – usually at the worst possible time – like in the middle of a song.

JACK:  Wait a minute, friend.  If you think it’s easy playing a trumpet . . .

DAN:  Or a huge, heavy tuba . . .

JERRY:  Or a slide trombone – you’ve got another think coming. 

PAT:  Hey, what about me?  A drum isn’t so easy to play either.

JACK:  At least you don’t have to worry about hitting the right pitches.  All you have to do is beat your sticks on a drum.

PAT:  There’s more to it than just “beating the sticks”.  It takes a very delicate wrist action to play the many different rhythms.  Like this (Demonstrates the flick of the wrist.) and you have to always keep a steady beat, or else you’d all be playing at different tempos.  (Breaks into “drumming,” making appropriate sounds.)

JERRY:  Yeah, but drummers are lucky,

PAT:  Why do you say that?

JERRY:  ’Cause when they want to leave in a hurry, they just take their drum and beat it! (Laughs hysterically.)  Gotcha back!

DAN:  (Sighs.)  All this talk about playing our instruments makes me really miss my tuba.  

BOB:  And I want my flute back.  Jack, this is all your fault!  I know, I know – we had to sell them to get money, so we could . . .

JACK:  . . . eat!  Looks like you have a big problem with this, Bob, and I’m sorry.  I really am.  Does anyone else have a problem with this?  (No one answers.)  Good.  Then let’s get on with it.

PAT:  Get on with what?  Practicing our make-believe instruments with our voices?

CHRIS:  I think Jack means get on with our lives – make a plan.  Am I right,  Jack?

JACK:  Yes!  Anyone have any ideas?

DAN:  I don’t have any ideas – yet.  But I’d like to know what went wrong?   We were really hot!

JERRY:  Good choice of words, Dan.  If you remember, this summer has been the hottest on record.  

BOB:  With no breaks in the heat.

PAT:  And no rain.  Just one long drought.

CHRIS:  Crops didn’t grow, and what did grow soon died.

JERRY:  With no rain there are no crops, no food . . .

PAT:  . . . no money, no jobs

JACK:  .. . .and the people who hired us couldn’t pay us, so we got caught in the middle.

BOB:  Yeah – and now we’re here – somewhere in the country – with nothing except the clothes we’re wearing.  What a fine kettle of soup we’re in.

JACK:  Fish.

BOB:  Huh?

JACK:  It’s a fine kettle of fish – not soup.

BOB:  Whatever.  We’re still in a mess.

JERRY:  We sure had it good for a while though, didn’t we?  Playing at some of the biggest events in Europe.

DAN:  (Picks up a stone from the ground and pulls a pouch from his pocket.)  This is beautiful.  (He rubs the stone.)  And so smooth – why it doesn’t have any sharp edges at all.  Look – (He shows it to the others.)

CHRIS:  I don’t get it – you carry a heavy bag of stones around with you all the time.  What’s the big deal with a bunch of stones?

DAN:  They’re my memories.  Each stone reminds me of the places we’ve been.  (MUSIC CUE:  “Stones.”  DAN takes some stones from the sack, examines them.  Sings.)

Each stone brings back a memory

Of the way that it used to be

In the days we played throughout the land.

Each from somewhere that we appeared;

Oh how loudly the people cheered –

Ev’rybody loved to hear our band!

(DAN holds up a stone for each place he refers to)

I got this stone in London, where we played before the king.

I picked this up in Spain while I was in a bullfight ring.

I found this stone in Switzerland while climbing up a mountain

And this, from Rome, was in the water of the Trevi fountain.

This one’s a little piece of an Egyptian pyramid

I could keep going on about these stones, but if I did

I know I’d start to feel so very sad,

Rememb’ring all the happy times we had.

(DAN puts stones back in sack)

So these stones I will put away

And just hope for a better day;

We will try to get by until then –

And pray those happy days will come again.


Each stone brings back a memory.

DAN:  (Holds up the new stone.) This new stone is my wishing stone.  Since we don’t know where we are, it will have to be a memory for on the road.  So, I’ll just wish that we’ll find food, a bath, real beds to sleep on, and get home – soon. 

JERRY:  (Pulls out half a piece of bread and holds it up.) This is the last of my food, so I hope your wish will come true.

PAT:  This is it for me!  (Pulls out a small cookie from a pocket.)

BOB:  I liked the part about the bath.  (Scratches his head and body.)  I itch all over.  Oh, to soak in a tub of hot water!

CHRIS:  I’m hungry and dirty, too, but what I want more than anything is a soft bed.  I’m tired of sleeping on the hard ground with ants and bugs crawling into my ears every night.  (Looks at the ground around him.)  Wouldn’t you know it?  I’m right near an anthill!  

PAT:  (Begins to giggle.  Puts both hands up to mouth to stifle laugh.)

CHRIS:  Now what?

PAT:  Is an ant hill anything like an uncle hill?  (Breaks into gales of laughter.  Others groan and ignore Pat.)

CHRIS:  Enough’s enough.  I don’t see anything funny about sitting on an ant hill.(Moves to a tree and leans against it.)  Maybe I’ll be okay here.  (Yawns, stretches, closes his eyes.)  The sun is going down, and I’m bushed.  I don’t know about you , but I’m going to get some shut-eye.

JERRY:  Good idea.  It’s been a long, tiring day for all of us.  Good night, everyone.

JACK:  ’Nite.  (Looks around for a spot to lie down, then looks into the distance.)  Hey, look!  (Points STAGE RIGHT.  Everyone looks in that direction and gets excited.)

JERRY:  Lights twinkling!  And they’re too low to be stars.

BOB:  Maybe it’s a town or a village.

JACK:  Let’s get a good night’s sleep, and first thing in the morning, we’ll head for civilization!

PAT:  And food!

BOB:  A bath!

CHRIS:  A real bed!

DAN:  My wishing stone worked!  My wish is starting to come true!

(They all find their resting place and go to sleep as the lights go to BLACK.  All that can be heard is a variety of snores)


As the curtain opens, children are sitting or lying around in various positions, in three groups, looking bored.

ALICE:  I’m bored.

CARL:  Me too.  Let’s do something.

ALICE:  What do ya wanna do?

CARL:  I dunno.  What do you wanna do?

ALICE:  (Picks up a ball that’s next to her, bounces it a few times.  MUSIC CUE:  “Games.”  Sings:)

Bounce the ball,

Bounce the ball

On the ground

Or off the wall (Bounces ball off the wall.)

CARL:  You would have (Grabs ball.) a lot more fun, if you’d play with everyone. (Bounces ball to another child who bounces it to another, etc.) 

(Music continues; ball is bounced from child to child until SAM says.)

SAM:  I’m tired of playing ball.  (He sings.)  Let’s play hide and seek (covers eyes with hands, one eye uncovered.)

JEAN:  Hey!  No fair to peek!

SAM:  I’ll cover my eyes and count to ten – (Covers eyes fully this time.)

JEAN:  And I’ll be out of sight by then! (Hides behind something; other children could run and hide, too.)

(Music continues until MIKE sings.)

MIKE:  Tag, you’re it! (Hits STEVE hard on shoulder.)

STEVE:  (Holds shoulder as if in pain.) Ouch!

MIKE:  It didn’t hurt a bit!

STEVE:  Oh, yeah?  I’m gonna hit you worse –

MIKE:  But you have gotta catch me first!   (Starts running followed by STEVE.)

(Music continues while STEVE chases MIKE for awhile, then song is sung in counterpoint with the each group redoing its staging.)

*More than six children can be involved; six is the minimum number needed.  

(At one point, ALICE throws the ball to CARL, who misses and chases it STAGE RIGHT, and picks it up.)

CARL:  (Shouting.) Some people are coming!  (All the kids stop what they’re doing and slowly look to where CARL is pointing.)

ALICE:  Who are they?

CARL:  I don’t know, but they’re making strange sounds.

STEVE:  What kinda’ sounds?

CARL:  Sorta like music – but . . .

SAM:  No one ever comes here.  We’re miles from nowhere.

JEAN:  I know who they are!


JEAN:  They’re strangers!

EVERYONE:  (Excited and scared.) Strangers?  (They babble about the strangers.)

MIKE:  We better go home.  My mother said if ever I see a stranger, I should go home right away.

STEVE:  Me, too.

(All of the children run – some go inside their homes; some hide behind their homes; some hide behind a tree or wherever else they can.)

(BAND begins singing “Now’s the Time to Wake Up” OFFSTAGE RIGHT and enter as they sing:)

Now’s the time to wake up, wake up, wake –

It’s breakfast time, c’mon, get out of bed!

We’re so very hungry, we can’t take it! Could you maybe spare a loaf of bread?

PAT:  (Sings.)  And some eggs…

BOB:  (Sings.)  And some ham…

JERRY:  (Sings.)  And some…

JACK:  Where IS everybody? You’d think they would’ve heard us.

DAN:  Yeah, we’re not being very subtle.

PAT:  They’re probably all inside their homes – eating a hearty meal.  (He licks his lips and rubs his stomach.)  Sure wish I could join them.

CHRIS:  Maybe we can, if we knock on a few doors and ask them.

JERRY:  Chris is right – nothing ventured, nothing gained.  I say we each take a house and give it a go.

JACK:  I’m with you.  (Points to the end house STAGE LEFT.)  I’ll take the house at the end of the street.  The rest of you pick a house and put on your charm.  This will be our meeting spot.  (He points to where he’s standing.)  Now go – and good luck!  (E

In the Soup

Author: David Reiser
DAVID REISER (composer/lyricist) has written 50 musicals, 30 of which have been published and are in continuous production throughout the U.S., Canada and — occasionally — abroad. Some of Mr. Reiser’s more significant productions include MOLINEAUX, at Theatre Row Theatre in New York City; BALLET RUSSES at Rosemary Branch Theatre, London; BEN at the National Theatre (Helen Hayes stage) in Washington, DC.; and MRS. SCROOGE at the Athenaeum Theatre in Chicago. Author: Judy Wolfman

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