The Twelve Days of Christmas

Why is someone singing “Come on Get Happy” in a pear tree?  Why are three hens wearing little French maid outfits? And why do eight maids need more cow bell?  The answer is that Duke Dimm is giving Princess Anne a gift for each day of the twelve days of Christmas.  And with every gift, a different table joins in singing about that gift.  Luckily, everyone knows the song. Easy to produce and lots of fun, The Twelve Days of Christmas is full of whimsy, wordplay, and wit.

Cast size: 3 Males, 3 Females, 4-9 Extras (M/F)

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CAST OF CHARACTERS

JESTER (M) the professional funny-man of the court

FIONA (F) a servant who hopes to cash in on Princess Anne’s lack of love for Duke Dimm

TOWN CRIER (M) the announcement-maker of the court

KING (M) the richest man in the kingdom who’s impressed with other rich men

QUEEN (F) married to the richest man, also impressed with other rich men

PRINCESS ANNE (F) daughter to the King who is not so impressed with old, rich men

EXTRAS (M/F) responsible for off-stage sound effects

   PARTRIDGE (M) male singer
   3 FRENCH HENS (M/F)
   4 CALLING BIRDS (M/F)
   GEESE (M/F)
   COWS (M/F)
   9 DANCERS (F) 9 ladies if done on-stage; if off-stage, numbers won’t matter.
   LORDS (M/F)
   PLUMBERS (PIPERS) (M/F)
   DRUMMERS (M/F)

SAMPLE PAGES

FANFARE AND WELCOME

(When the guests have been seated, a second BRASS FANFARE will signal all entertainers to clear the hall. Lights up on main stage and Royal Table. JESTER enters and greets guests from the main stage.) 

JESTER: God rest ye merry, gentlemen! Ladies here and good folk all!  Welcome to our banquet hall! ‘Tis the season of mirth and good cheer. (Enter FIONA.) And merry greetings to you, Fiona!

PARTRIDGE: (Off-stage, sings a couple of lines of the Partridge Family theme song.)
Hello, world, hear the song that we’re singin’
C’mon get happy! 

JESTER:  (Looks side-stage.) Who’s that singing? 

PARTRIDGE: (Continues off-stage.)
A whole lot of lovin’ is what we’ll be bringin’
We’ll make you happy!

JESTER:  That’s kind of a catchy tune.

FIONA:  Not if you’ve been listening to it for 11 days.

JESTER: 11 days? Who is he?

FIONA: It’s Keith Partridge, singing in the pear tree.

JESTER:  What’s he doing in a pear tree?

FIONA:  It’s below Princess Anne’s window. He is a gift to her.  On the first day of Christmas my true love sent to me . . . (Looks to Table 1. See PRODUCTION NOTES.)

TABLE 1:  A Partridge in a Pear Tree.

JESTER:  (Looks at Table 1.) I didn’t know the nobles could sing.

FIONA:  You can thank Oswald of Kent for that. He’s started his own singing group: the Oswald of Kent Chorale. He calls it the OK Chorale for short.

JESTER:  The OK Chorale?

FIONA:  Their performance is . . . uneven.  Sometimes their singing is good.  Sometimes it’s bad.  Most of the time, their singing is . . . okay.  They burst into song at odd times, and certain words seem to cue them.  Let me show you. “On the first day of Christmas, my true love sent to me” – (Looks to Table 1.)

TABLE 1:  A Partridge in a Pear Tree.

FIONA:  See?

JESTER:  They sound like Ragnar the cook. He bursts into song all the time. Mostly battle songs about berserker rage and lopping off heads.

FIONA:  That’s because he’s butchering chickens.

JESTER:  But he’s looking at me.

FIONA:  (Sarcastically.) I can’t imagine why. (Beat.) Hey, Jester, would you like some candy?

JESTER:  I love candy!

FIONA: You are in luck.  I’ve got two pieces of candy (Hands them to JESTER.) made with chocolate, caramel, and pecans.

JESTER: Dove chocolate!  I didn’t know they made turtles.  Where did you get them?

FIONA: Princess Anne didn’t want them. They were also a gift. On the second day of Christmas, my true love sent to me . . . (Looks to Table 2.)

TABLE 2:  Two Turtle Doves.

(JESTER & FIONA look to Table 1.) 

TABLE 1: And a Partridge in a Pear Tree.

JESTER:  You’re right. The singing is very  . . . uneven. (Beat.) So, who is sending these presents to Princess Anne?

FIONA: Duke Dimm. He is clearly not her true love, so Princess Anne has been passing his gifts on to me.

JESTER: How fortunate for you!  But I’ll have to pass on the turtle doves.  I’ve got nut allergies.

FIONA:  And the caramel sticks to my teeth.  What should we do with them?

JESTER:  I know: why don’t we give them to the OK Chorale?  Maybe the caramel will make their teeth stick together.

FIONA:  And they won’t be able to sing.  Good idea.  (JESTER & FIONA cross to Table 2 and give them the two turtle doves.)  These are for you. Go ahead and divide them among yourselves. Consider them a gift.

JESTER: But try not to sing and eat at the same time.

FIONA: Yes, we don’t want you gagging.

JESTER:  Although that’s what you sounded like, just now.

(Enter TOWN CRIER. JESTER & FIONA return to stage.)

FRENCH HENS: (Off-stage three singers repeat “Bon, Bon, Bon Jour.”  But they are clucking like a chicken.  The “Bon” is like a cluck and the “Jour” is like a cackle.  We know you’ve got this.) 

TOWN CRIER:  What is that irritating noise?

FIONA:  A gift from Duke Dimm. He sent hens to Princess Anne.

FRENCH HENS: (Off-stage “Bon, Bon, Bon Jour.”)

TOWN CRIER:  (Looks side-stage.) Why are they dressed up in little French maid outfits?

FIONA:  Because, on the third day of Christmas, my true love sent to me . . . (JESTER & FIONA look to Table 3.)

TABLE 3:  Three French Hens.

(JESTER & FIONA look to Table 2.)

TABLE 2: Two Turtle Doves.

(JESTER & FIONA look to Table 1.)

TABLE 1: And a Partridge in a Pear Tree.

TOWN CRIER: (Looks at the tables.) The OK Chorale is here tonight? They sound a bit—

JESTER/FIONA: Uneven?

TOWN CRIER: Yes. That’s the word.

FRENCH HENS: (Off-stage “Bon, Bon, Bon Jour.”) 

JESTER: (Beat.) So . . . French hens?

FIONA:  A lot of good they’ve done for me. Even with those French maid outfits, they haven’t cleaned a thing.

JESTER:  I’m pretty sure that chickens are supposed to be cleaned then dressed.  Those chickens have it all backwards.

FIONA: Not if Ragnar catches them.

FRENCH HENS: (Off-stage “Bon, Bon, Bon Jour.”)

TOWN CRIER: The noise they make is pretty irritating.

FRENCH HENS: (Off-stage “Bon, Bon, Bon Jour.”)

FIONA: (Irritated, shouts to off-stage.) Maybe it’s time for some chicken and dumplings. (FRENCH HENS go silent.) I’m going to find Ragnar. (Exits.) 

(BRASS FANFARE.) 

JESTER: Ah, the King is arriving. I must get ready! (Exits.)

TOWN CRIER: (To audience.) It’s time to begin!
(To the back of the hall.) Ready the meal and heat the wassail!
Bring forth the meat and the finest of ale!
Blow the clarion!  Singers appear!
The King and his Court are drawing near! (Exits.) 

After the main course has been served . . . 

KING: Ah, there you are, Jester! What do you have for this evening’s entertainment?

JESTER: Well, your majesty, I thought I’d start off with—

CALLING BIRDS: (Off-stage. In best parrot voices, keep repeating the lines.)
#1 Hello?
#2 It’s me.
#3 I was wondering if
#1 after all these years
#4 you’d like to meet. 

QUEEN: What on earth is that racket?

ANNE: (Sighs.) It is a gift, mother.

CALLING BIRDS: (Off-stage.)
#1 Hello?
#2 It’s me.
#3 I was wondering if
#1 after all these years
#4 you’d like to meet.

QUEEN: Are you sure?

ANNE: Duke Dimm sent them.

QUEEN: Duke Dimm? How wonderful!

ANNE: Not wonderful, mother. I can’t stand him.

CALLING BIRDS: (Off-stage.)
#1 Hello?
#2 It’s me.
#3 I was wondering if
#1 after all these years
#4 you’d like to meet.

KING: Nonsense! He would be a good match, Princess Anne. His estate is vast.

ANNE: So is his age: he’s 25 years older than I am! It would be like marrying my father. (Beat.) Or Uncle Donald.

CALLING BIRDS: (Off-stage.)
#1 Hello?
#2 It’s me.
#3 I was wondering if
#1 after all these years
#4 you’d like to meet.

QUEEN: I still don’t understand the gift.

JESTER:  Those four birds? Why it is easy, my Queen. On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me . . . (Looks to Table 4.)

TABLE 4:  Four Calling Birds. (JESTER looks to Table 3.) 

TABLE 3: Three French Hens. (JESTER looks to Table 2.) 

TABLE 2: Two Turtle Doves. (JESTER looks to Table 1.) 

TABLE 1: And a Partridge in a Pear Tree.

QUEEN: What a wonderful surprise! Is that the OK Chorale?

JESTER: It is indeed, my Queen.

KING: They sound a bit . . . uneven.

CALLING BIRDS: (Off-stage.)
#1 Hello?
#2 It’s me.
#3 I was wondering if
#1 after all these years
#4 you’d like to meet.

KING:  Why do the birds keep repeating the same words?

JESTER:  They are restricted to 140 characters.

QUEEN:  Whatever do you mean?

JESTER:  It’s a tweet.

QUEEN: Jester, I have no idea what you are talking about.  Where did the Duke get those annoying birds?

JESTER:  From a farmer.  You know, the farmer in a dell (Adele.).

CALLING BIRDS: (Off-stage.)
#1 Hello?
#2 It’s me.
#3 I was wondering if
#1 after all these years
#4 you’d like to meet.

QUEEN: Someone make them stop!

CALLING BIRDS: (Off-stage.)
#1 Hello?
#2 It’s me.
#3 I was wondering if—

KING: (Looks to side-stage.) Guards! Take them to the call center! (BIRDS stop suddenly.) If they are going to be calling birds, they can at least be useful.

CALLING BIRDS: (Off-stage.)
#1 Hello?
#2 It’s the RNC.  (Or DNC. Take your pick.)
#3 Would you take a quick survey
#1 about who you’d vote for
#4 if the election were held today?

QUEEN: That’s more like it. . . .