'The Tombstones' The Musical - Synopsis
9 Male, 6 Female
Chorus – Students
8 piece : Keys 1, Keys 2, Guitar, Bass Guitar, Kit, Trumpet, Trombone, Woodwind
Sunnyfields College is an ‘Ivy League’ school somewhere in America. The students gather as the new semester begins (Song 1 : Sunnyfields C). Here we meet Alex, a failing history student, his two best friends Stevo and Ritchie and their girlfriends Tamsin and Ellie. During their first lecture of term their History tutor Dr. Knightly explains that during the year they will be creating a centennial book commemorating 100 years of the founding of Sunnyfields College (Song 2 : This Term) and all are assigned to find out about a particular story of their interest. Professor Bradley is also introduced as the bumbling old professor who still works at the College. Knightly goes to speak to Bradley and leaves the class alone. Ritchie and Stevo begin to embarrass Alex about his ‘crush’ on Dr. Knightly and this leads to the class mocking Alex about his crush (Song 3 : In Love With the Teacher). After the class Knightly holds Alex back, much to the class’s amusement, but Alex is told that he is failing and his grades will have to improve to keep up the course. Dejected Alex finds his friends at ‘J’s Diner’ where they try to cheer his mood (Song 4 : You’ve got to believe in yourself). Alex, though grateful, leaves the friends for the evening and makes his way back to his dorm. On the way he bumps into a girl, Sophie, who he’s not met before but knows who he is. His mood changes from down to smitten. When she leaves he wonders how something can change a mood so quickly (Song 5 : Who’s that Girl).
The scene changes to a Crypt where are family are talking. They are ‘The Tombstones’. There’s a Mother, Father, Grandfather, Crazy Aunt, and two sons, one, Billy, is around 22, the younger is Eddie, who is 16. They discuss how the new students have arrived and what’s been good and bad about the day before Sophie arrives and joins the family. Her father says that the ‘Topsiders’ are always rushing around and never take time to enjoy themselves (Song 6 : You’re a Tombstone when you Die).
We find Ritchie, Stevo and Alex in the grounds of the collect discussing the fact that Sophie isn’t around before they are disturbed by Prof Bradley and Billy having an argument – Bradley is asking Billy to leave him alone, Billy won’t – Ritchie, Stevo and Alex intervene as a 21 year old shouldn’t be bullying an 80 year old – Billy leaves and the lads take Bradley away to his room, Bradley is shouting about the Zombies – the lads just think he’s losing his marbles. Sophie reprimands Billy for his behaviour, but Billy says he won’t stop. Back in the history class Dr Knightly explains about a family who were killed in mysterious circumstances back before the college existed and that there are rumours of ghosts in the campus (Song 7 : The Family). Alex sees a photo of the family and is surprised that the girl he met looks very much like the girl that’s in the picture. He wonders if they’re related and next time he sees her he decides to show her the picture to see if she knows anything about them. She explains a little (Song 8 : The Girl in the Picture) before surprising Alex with the fact that she is the girl – and that she is a Zombie. He is somewhat taken aback but after gathering himself decides it changes nothing and he still wants to be around her. Back in the Crypt Auntie is brewing a potion to have some fun, (Song 9 : Do It Like A Tombstone). Back in the history class Sophie has told Alex many stories of what happened to the family and he surprises everyone by being the best in the class on the day. In the Diner later the friends are gathered and Alex has told them that he’ll explain how he became the best student overnight. He arrives with Sophie and explains who she is. The whole group is stunned, but she seems ‘normal’ so the friends have a million questions. (Song 10 : What’s It Like To be A Zombie). After the questions Alex and Sophie leave and find the interest of the other friends most amusing. They are very taken with what is going on (Song 11 : I Believe In You). Billy though, is watching on. Once Alex has left he approaches Sophie and begins questioning her and why she is doing this. This develops into a full blown argument by the time the two arrive back at the crypt. Without realising Billy and Sophie’s argument is overheard by Father who is enraged. He tells Sophie she will not see Alex anymore and that this cannot happen (Song 12 : You’re Just Not Living Anymore).
Sophie is sat in the Crypt the next morning. The ladies of the family along with Eddie try to make her feel better (Song 13: Don’t You Cry). Eddie asks Sophie whether she is going to end the relationship with Alex, to which she says that she has no other choice, he vows to take care of her (Song 14 : Big Sister).
At the diner in the evening the mood is vibrant and jovial. Everything, as far as the students are concerned, seems to be going well, there is much ‘toasting’ and raising of glasses. (Song 15 : Doin’ the best I can). Sophie enters and asks Alex if they can talk. When the two are alone she tells him that she is forbidden to see him. She rushes off leaving Alex in a state of shock. He tries to go after her but she has gone and he is alone in the courtyard of the college. He comes up with a plan (Song 16 : The Girl In The Picture (Reprise)) that if he kills himself he can be with her again. Just as he strings his loose tie from his neck onto the statue he is stopped by Professor Bradley.
Bradley demands Alex tell him what’s going on. When Alex does Bradley starts to explain. First off, if Alex was to kill himself, he’d have to rely on several hopeful factors i.e. not being cremated, and also being buried close to the College, which doesn’t happen anymore. Bradley also starts to explain that many years ago he, himself, was in love with Sophie. Alex is shocked, and Bradley continues to explain how he, back in 1949, fell in love with Sophie and that he was too scared of what was happening and let her go. (Song 17 : 1949 (The Legend)). This explains why the Father is so opposed to Alex’s relationship with Sophie. But Bradley also says that there is an answer, Alex just has to find it.
In class the next day Alex is completely in a daze about everything but Dr. Knightly is delighted by his work and asks him if he can do a little more research on The Family. Alex is not sure he can do any more, but Ellie sees this and offers that his friends will help him discover more. Later that evening the friends drag Alex to the library to do some more research, not that he’s in the mood for it. The friends set about finding more answers during which Alex discovers a letter tucked away in one of the books that explains how the family died (Song 18 : Shhhh!). Eddie has been watching what’s going on, after the song Alex is determined to tell the family what happened, Eddie says he’ll take everyone to the Crypt. This excites the friends very much, although Ritchie is somewhat edgy about the idea. When they all arrive at the Crypt the Father is mortified with Eddie but Eddie explains that they have very important information. Alex then reads the letter he has found which explains how Robert Granville Wilson, in his attempt to woo Sophie back in 1888, managed to kill them all accidentally in a photographic accident. Whilst, at first, enraged, it is not long before the Father and the family see the funny side of the incident and that they are all still together so it’s not all bad. The Father is still concerned about Sophie’s relationship with Alex though, as it still can’t work because she is a Zombie and he is a student and he will eventually move on, as Bradley did before him. Then the Aunt makes a suggestion. When Bradley was in love with Sophie back in 1949 she had created a potion to bring Sophie back to life but before she could mention it Bradley had left. But she still has the potion. Father, again, is baffled and enraged by the idea, but Sophie likes the idea and Mother explains to Father that surely it is Sophie’s decision, as one day she can return when the time is right. Whilst the mother and father discuss the Aunt fetches the potion and before the Father can stop her she takes it. For a moment she drops down ‘dead’, and all are horrified. After some moments of concern she takes a breath, and is alive. The students and family celebrate as Sophie begins her new life. (Song 19 : Fresh New Breath Of Air)