“Tales from the Crib” – About the Play

A fun dramedy by Milo Shapiro, available in one-act or
two-act versions, featuring five to seven actors

What’s the play about?  Ask the main character:   Hi, I’m Lucy.  Okay, sure, things haven’t been all-that-great with my husband, Jack, lately. Happily, I have some good news to come home with.  Not so happily, when I blurt out I’m pregnant again, in the same breath Jack interjects, “I want a divorce.”  Ummm…now what?

Jack, very much wanting to be a fully-invested Dad, suggests we save money by living together and “co-parenting” as friendly roommates.  Is he nuts? 

I’m 39, still care for Jack, have the grandest, most self-absorbed mother in New York, my best-friend/cousin means well, but overshadows me with her successes, my attempts to write fall flat, I have a crush on someone I’ve never met, and suddenly my whole social life seems to be the other breast feeders from La Leche League!  

Can the two of us survive this co-parenting thing as we try to get on with our lives and even…dating?  Tune in for the hope, heartaches, and hilarity as yours truly, Jack, and my crazy family try to balance it all. 

The history:  In 2006, Jennifer Coburn released her third hit novel, Tales from the Crib.  In 2022, actor and theater-reviewer Milo Shapiro asked Jennifer if he could turn her first book, The Wife of Reilly, into a play.  She’d already sold the rights to that one, but suggested that she always thought that Tales from the Crib would make a good play.  Milo gave it a re-read, fully agreed, and dove right in.

So much of what Milo loved in the book was Lucy’s thoughts, which don’t make sense for her to say aloud in scenes.  Rather than lose that richness, Milo had an idea:  What if we see Lucy in the scenes (at age 39) and also see her outside the scene, in her 60s, reflecting on this time in her life and commenting on it, much like Ebenezer Scrooge visiting his past with the ghost.  This way, we know what younger “Lucy-in” is thinking and, in some cases, the older “Lucy-Out” advances the plot.

The staged reading:  In summer of 2023, Milo shared the script with connections at Wildsong Productions in Ocean Beach. They surprised him with an offer to cast it for a five-hour blocking effort in November, followed by a one-time-only straight run-through the next day.  Direction had to be minimal with so much blocking to do, but everyone involved seemed to really enjoy the script, encouraging Milo to take it further. 

The SD Fringe Festival:  In April of 2024, Wildsong contacted Milo to ask him if he might be able to create a one-act version of it for the San Diego Fringe Festival.  Milo originally said, “There’s just too much material there to shrink it further!”  But then, realizing that the two acts are quite distinct, he came back with an idea:  “What if we did the opening scene and then the narrator character (the older version of Lucy) caught the audience up on the main idea of Act I and we just move forward with Act II?  It turned out to be quite doable and the one-act version was written, approved, and produced for five well-received showings in the Fringe.  !   Rehearsals are going well and it will be staged at the following times in 2024 with the following cast:

Does this show require seven actors?:  Not necessarily.  “Tales” was originally written for five actors with “Man” and “Woman” playing multiple parts, crossing gender, and it certainly could be produced with five.  Co-director Shaun Lim recommended after the staged reading, though, that the show might be stronger if Jack were one specific actor and Milo agreed.  In casting for the Fringe, Milo was so taken with Kelly’s audition as Natalie that, even though she couldn’t be in every show, he asked if she would take on just that role, previously one of the roles played by “Woman”, for three of the five nights.  This allowed Woman (Caroline) and Natalie (Kelly) to both understudy for each other, recombining the roles if necessary.  Likewise, Jack and Man could understudy for each other.  And all of that said, there’s no reason a company couldn’t include more actors, breaking down the roles played by Man and Woman further, giving more understudies a place in the cast.

About each of the seven main roles:

♥  Lucy-Out:  60-65 (older version of Lucy-In; Lucy-Out acts as a narrator of sorts).  Ideally, cast believably looking like she could be Lucy-In later in life.  We get much of Lucy’s thoughts and dreams through her.  Hollywood dream casting:  Tina Fey, playing a little older.

♥  Lucy-In:  39, sharp-witted and likely to use humor as a defense against what she’s really feeling.  The steady, logical one in a family of wacky people. Aspiring writer. Hollywood: Emma Stone.

♥  Anjoli:  early to mid 60s, but takes her looks seriously to pass for younger.  A grandiose, new-agey Auntie Mame who hasn’t a clue that she’s self-centered.  In the closing scene, many years later, she’d briefly be in her mid 80s.  Hollywood: Kim Catrell

♥  Jack:  39, Lucy’s husband. Tender, but still a guy.  Both sensitive to and clueless to Lucy’s needs.  Hollywood:  John Krasinski

♥  Natalie 28, Jack’s girlfriend, later in the show.  Sweet, naive, well-meaning, and likeable, but not a strong person.   Hollywood:  Elle Fanning, like in this role

♥  Man:  Plays several parts, mostly men, though also Aunt Rita.  Biggest role is a soliloquy with the feeling of a gay preacher.   Note: Could be the same actor as Jack as originally written, but better if Jack is his own actor; each could understudy for the other if re-combined into one actor.  Hollywood:  Young Jim Carey.

♥  Woman:  Playing several parts, especially Lucy’s cousin/best-friend, Zoe, and a 29 year old teacher named Natalie.
Needs to believably pass for late twenties, though also plays up to late 70s.  She will also play Eddie is a sexy, early 20s, dumb stud, inspired by two of John Travolta’s best-known roles: the 70’s TV character Vinny Barbarino (see him at https://tinyurl.com/vinniebarbarino and Danny Zuko from Grease).  Woman, as Zoe, sings briefly in a later scene; doesn’t have to be amazing, but able to carry a tune.  Hollywood:  Young Kate McKinnon.


Shown above:  Lucy in labor toward the end of Act I in our staged reading.

Shown above:  Cast of the Fringe Festival at the final curtain call


Copyright 2024, Milo Shapiro.  All rights reserved.