SPOILER ALERT! Below is the ENTIRE plot of Creative License. If you’ve arrived here by accident, click the logo above to get to the main page now! You have been warned!
All Content Copyright (c) 2013 Kevin Cirone.
Our story begins in the apartment of Casey Denison, bar employee and would-be writer/composer. Casey tries in vain to compose a musical. His girlfriend Lilian tries to distract him with amorous advances and draws him into the bedroom. Meanwhile, Casey’s childhood friend Bethany is getting ready for work when she is accosted by her roommate Candace, who chides her for her asexual relationship and reminds Bethany that she and Casey haven’t spoken for a year to the day and Bethany explains why (“Bethany’s Reasons”). While Bethany is getting flack for asexuality, back in Casey’s apartment, Casey and Lilian’s attempt at sex has gone awry. Lilian maligns Casey’s distractedness and leaves him, acknowledging that something that was fun was now getting in Casey’s way. After she leaves, Casey then laments his mediocrity while Bethany is both hopeful of her new life and sentimental about Casey (“What Are We Here For? Part 1 and 2”). We move to Denison’s Pub, where Casey’s brother and boss Jason asks about Lilian’s whereabouts, Candace arrives for her shift, and their co-worker Perp is not speaking to Casey while crushing hardcore on Candace. The quartet in the bar and Bethany at her apartment sing about their individual journeys (“What Are We Here For? Part 3”).
In the bar, Casey talks with Jason about his problem doing anything meaningful and trying to compose something powerful, while Jason complains about the poor business a the pub of late. Casey is envious of his old stoner roommate Shane Palmer, who is a hit on Broadway with a show called MacDuff, a retelling of MacBeth from MacDuff’s point of view. Jason receives a phone call on Casey’s behalf from Winchester Hospital about a doctor’s appointment for Bethany, as she still had Casey listed as an emergency contact and they could not reach her. Casey manages to get Bethany’s work number from Candace and learns that she now works for his old drama professor, Dr. Seth Hardy DFA. He concocts a plan to enlist Hardy as a mentor, but Candace reminds him that he would have to get Bethany to make an introduction. Jason convinces Casey to tell Bethany about the call as an olive branch to mend fences with his childhood friend (“You Got Game”).
Bethany is getting ready for a night out when Casey arrives at her apartment. After repeatedly getting the door slammed in his face, Casey connives his way into the apartment, where he is met with the iciest of icy receptions from Bethany. After trying unsuccessfully to charm her, Casey eventually tells her about her doctor’s appointment and attempts to get her to set up a meeting with Dr. Hardy. This results in a shouting match where each accuses the other of being unrealistic and crazy (“Delusional”). After the argument, the two are slightly reminded of how it feels to go toe-to-toe with each other, and Bethany finally agrees to set up a meeting for Casey, if only to see how it blows up in his face.
The next afternoon Casey arrives late for his meeting at the administrative office of UMass to meet Dr. Hardy. Bethany mentions to Casey that Dr. Hardy has become a little eccentric since Casey knew him last, at which point the good doctor makes a grand entrance in sorcerer’s garb and quoting from Act 4 of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Bethany exits, embarrassed. Hardy explains that he was dressed up for an academic seminar and is not as crazy as he may seem, although occasionally during the conversation appears a bit daft. Casey asks Hardy for some guidance in writing an original work. Hardy offers Casey some scotch and explains that the journey is nigh impossible. Hardy confronts Casey with an old story fragment that Bethany had provided, and is encouraged that Casey understands that good work is about the words and not just the music (“The Play’s The Thing”). In so doing, Hardy shows Casey a thick binder – Hardy’s “magnum opus”, an original work. When he reads from the binder Casey is moved beyond words. While both are under the influence, Casey makes a deal with Dr. Hardy – he’ll help him produce the masterwork in exchange for some mentoring. He then suggests Casey enlist Bethany’s help with the production, and exits in a Shakespearean flourish. Casey does attempt to get Bethany on board, and she reluctantly agrees before driving Casey’s drunk ass home.
Back at his apartment, Casey receives a phone call from Jason, who explains that Denison’s Pub is going under due to some late loan payments. Casey is struck with the idea that Dr. Hardy’s magnum opus might be able to raise some money to cover the bar’s debts if they can put a production together in sixty days.
Later, back at the bar, Perp shows Jason a picture in his wallet of his favorite video game avatar, who bears a striking resemblance to Candace. Jason, annoyed at Perp’s pussyfooting around the issue, urges Perp to man up and tell Candace how he feels. Perp shyly approaches Candace with some awkward small talk and finally manages to ask her out (“Kinda Sorta”). Candace stammers noncommittally and Perp exits to the kitchen, embarrassed. Meanwhile Casey enters, pacing as he has been waiting for Bethany and Dr. Hardy to return from a meeting with some potential investors in the show. Bethany and Hardy finally arrive, carrying the binder, and Bethany explains that she managed to not only score some investment capital, but also put a deposit on a venue that was available in time to put up the show. The group celebrates, while a pre-emptively inebriated Dr. Hardy spills the contents of the binder on the floor. When Jason shows Hardy upstairs to his apartment to sober up, Casey and Bethany are left alone to clean up the pages. Bethany looks at the pages and makes a shocking discovery – they seem to be nothing but illegible scribbles on the back of a photocopy of another hit show – Shane Palmer’s MacDuff. The pair have succeeded in mounting a production of a show they can’t legally produce, and have already tied up the money they raised in the process. They realize that Dr. Hardy’s apparent dementia goes deeper than they realized. Casey determines that this is still the only hope they have of saving the family business, which represents his parents’ life’s work and his brother’s future, and decides they have to put on the show anyway. Bethany won’t let them risk criminal and civil prosecution and refuses, and even though she wants to believe in Casey, leaves him to put on the show himself. Casey compares his situation to the stories he wants to write and that he doesn’t have the capacity of the heroes in those stories, but knows he has to try to hold on (“This is Not That Story”).
We open at auditions at the bar in front of Jason, Casey and Dr. Hardy. Auditioning is Chad Darrien, who sings a dragtastic glam-rock original audition song (“Put Your Love In Me”). The trio praises Chad’s singing acumen, at which he excitedly asks to bring in his girlfriend to say hi – and Bethany enters. While the others entertain Chad, Bethany asks Casey again to please drop the plan of mounting the illegal show. Casey asks Bethany to help him figure out a way out of this mess; Bethany says she won’t unless Casey tells everyone else what’s going on so they can help too. Bethany leaves and auditions continue; Perp auditions to attempt to impress Candace but fails when she enters. It is revealed that things have been awkward between them lately, and Candace yells at Jason for urging Perp to ask her out. At this point Lilian enters. Casey and Lilian talk alone, and Lilian offers to help Casey market the show, as she is sentimental about the pub and Casey as well. Casey accepts her help.
After the auditions, Casey talks with Dr. Hardy outside the bar alone. Casey repeats the passage from Dr. Hardy’s “magnum opus” back to him, which is original and about his late wife, and tells Hardy that he has put together what has happened: that Dr. Hardy became eccentric around the time his wife died, and what he believed to be a spate of writing his masterpiece about his love was actually deluded scrawling on the back of a photocopy of MacDuff, and the passage came from Hardy’s mind as a stream of consciousness. Hardy mourns her loss and reflects on the vulnerability of living with his addled mind (“More and More”). Bethany calls Casey and tells him that she has come up with a plan to solve their problem and to get the group together at the bar the next day.
The next day Candace and Jason are waiting at the bar when Perp enters. Candace yells at Perp to stop being awkward, then asks about his video game character. Perp explains that she isn’t real, but represents everything he’s not, and that flaws are what make a person real. Candace is touched by this, and shyly asks Perp to hang out (“Kinda Sorta Reprise”). They exit, as Casey and Jason enter, waiting for Bethany and acknowledging that Dr. Hardy is apparently MIA. Lilian arrives and surprises Casey with a newspaper article about their show, which is problematic given it is illegal. Casey yells at Lilian for doing this without telling him. Lilian fires back that if Casey had told her about the show she wouldn’t have done it. Casey apologizes and the two hug. Without warning Lilian kisses Casey, just as Bethany enters. Casey is unable to speak, and Bethany, shocks and saddened, exits. Casey turns to Jason, exclaiming that everything has gone wrong. Jason invokes some family wisdom to get Casey to see things through to the end (“Irish Eyes”).
Casey arrives at Bethany’s apartment but she will not let him in, saying through the door that it’s okay when clearly it is not. Casey breaks through the door and shuts Bethany up. At length he tells Bethany that the only reason he’s trying to create art in the first place is because she inspires him to do it. The tension dissipates somewhat. Candace enters partly naked, having heard some commotion. She tells Casey and Bethany to turn around while she dresses, at which point Perp sneaks out of her room and exits silently, giving Candace some clothes in the meantime. Candace exits to give Casey and Bethany some privacy. Having addressed their relationship for the moment, Casey asks what Bethany’s big idea for solving the problem was. Bethany reminds Casey that they are allegedly mounting an adaptation of Macbeth, which is a public domain work, and that anyone could create another adaptation. Her idea: Casey should write a completely new musical MacDuff and mount it in place of the Broadway one. While the idea is crazy, it has a hint of genius, and Casey reluctantly agrees as long as Bethany will help him. Bethany tells Casey she would never let him do it without her (“Things Seem Different”).
We cut to an overture of a Shakespearean variety, and lights up on Chad as MacDuff, singing about his hatred for Macbeth. Suddenly the song bursts into an overproduced, upbeat dance number, replete with a projection of the show title: MacDuff!, a farcical parody of Macbeth (“The Show (Duffin’ It)”). The show features the trio of MacDuff, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, with backup singers and dancers played by the whole cast.
We cut to the bar, with the group celebrating the show, as they have barely raised enough money to save the pub. Candace shows in Dr. Hardy, who has a card for Casey to celebrate his big night. Lilian also arrives, apologizing to Bethany for not realizing there was still history with Casey, and Bethany accepts, mentioning that the press release Lilian made was easy to modify with the addition of an exclamation point to the title. The group filter into the kitchen where champagne is being poured, leaving Jason and Casey alone. The brothers talk about how their parents would be proud about what they had done. Jason mentions Casey should write something about what just happened sometime, and exits. Finally inspired, Casey begins to sing. Hearing the music, the group filters in and join in the song to end the show (“What Are We Here For Reprise”).