Great Americans of the 20th Century

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Great Americans of the 20th Century

An Easy-to-Use Contemporary History Play for Elementary and Middle School

Grades 3-8
30 minutes
$39.95
(2 or more Book/CD sets @ $30 each)

In Stock.

Includes script, teacher's guide, and audio CD. The CD has all the songs recorded twice: first with singing, so you and your students can learn the songs, and then without voices so your students can perform without us singing along.

And if you ever have any trouble or questions, you can contact us at any time for help.

 

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For individual teachers/classes:
Book/CD - $39.95 for 1, $30/ea for 2+
Hint: order 1 for each teacher. (details)

For 3+ teachers or whole schools:
Site License - $75.00
Comes with 3 copies of book/CD plus unlimited photocopying rights (details)
School/site name:

Musical extras:
Piano/Guitar Score - $9.95 (details)
Extra/Replacement CD - $9.95

Or order by phone, fax or PO

This 30 minute musical play can be done as a complete play, skits, reader's theater, or you can just sing songs. No music or drama experience needed!

It's the greatest awards show ever seen on TV, for the greatest Americans of the 20th century! Statesmen, artists, athletes, musicians, scientists, and many more are honored in a prime-time presentation (complete with commercials). The Wright Brothers, Rosa Parks and M.L. King, Georgia O'Keefe, Louis Armstrong, and Cesar Chavez all win awards. Backstage interviews take us behind the scenes as Teddy, FDR, and Eleanor duke it out for "favorite Roosevelt," and Babe Didrikson and Babe Ruth compete for Best Athletic Babe. Where else can you see Henry Ford rap? Students are introduced to many of the major figures in modern American history in a fun and tuneful show.

Great Americans of the 20th Century is a great complement to your curriculum resources in social studies. And, like all of our plays, this show can be used to improve reading, vocabulary, reading comprehension, performance and music skills, class camaraderie and teamwork, and numerous social skills (read about it!) -- all while enabling students to be part of a truly fun and creative experience they will never forget!

Author: Ron Fink (Composer) and John Heath (Book and Lyrics)
ISBN: 978-1-886588-25-7
© 2002 Bad Wolf Press, LLC

"Wow! When I introduced the play, my students were so excited I could hardly believe it. They even painted pictures like Jackson Pollack and Georgia O'Keefe. They really enjoyed every minute of it, and now when one of the 'Great Americans' is mentioned somewhere, they relate to our play."

---Kristen Braunreiter, 3rd Grade Teacher, Dibble Elementary, Jackson, MI

"This was my first year of doing a musical play. 'Great Americans' was perfect because it fit so wonderfully well into the unit that I do after Christmas vacation. My students learned so much, even about Americans who aren't so well-known by sixth graders. Kids are still mentioning the names of people from the show as they hear or head about them. And the parents loved it!"

---Lisa Atchison, 6th Grade Teacher, Bertrand Community School, Bertrand, NE

"It's hilarious and the music is TERRIFIC. The melodies are beautiful and for the most part, very easy for the kids to sing. Thank you so much! You're my first place too look for creative, engaging, funny musicals!"

---Blake Leister, Teacher (music, 1-5), Dawson Elementary, Holden, MA

"The students are really enjoying it. As a teacher, I love that it is educational and fun! This is a great way to teach the cast, and school, about some great Americans." --Megan Bennett, Teacher (3-6th grades), River Bluff Elementary, Fresno, CA

"This play is fabulous for exposing students to lesser known Americans whom they can research while they learn the show. It's so much fun you won't be able to stand it!"

---Betty Carlson, Teacher (5th grade), Westview Elementary, Champaign, IL

"My class performs this play as part of a biography unit, and not only do my students learn so much about the people in the play, but they also become so much more confident in their speaking ability!"

---Gina Rafael, Teacher (6th grade), Leal Elementary, Cerritos, CA

"It got rave reviews! We did it on a very small budget too. "

---Jane Bader, Teacher (5th grade), East Woods School, Oyster Bay Cove, NY

"It was SPECTACULAR. Every single student was pumped, whether they were in the chorus, or on the stage. We all had to work on literacy and learn how to pronounce substantive vocabulary. The students lit up like light bulbs as they sang, acted, danced, chased, and otherwise dazzled us. So, thanks. You really do create the best material "

---Betty Carlson, Teacher (5th grade),Westview Elementary, Champaign, IL

Casting

Flexible casting from 11-40 students.
Use as many Workers, Musicians, etc. as desired. There are a lot of characters
in the show, but many of them have just a few spoken lines. One student can easily
play several roles, although the following roles are so substantial that we recommend
the actors playing them do not take on any other parts: Angelica, Wally, Hemingway,
Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt. Note that all roles can be played by either boys or girls;
see our comments on page 38 of the Teacher's Guide .

Script

This is the first one-third of the script:

CHARACTERS:
Announcer (offstage voice)
Angelica, the emcee
All-American Dancers
Wally, the roving reporter
Martha Graham
Wilbur Wright
Orville Wright
Ernest Hemingway
Rachel Carson
Walt Disney
Martin Luther King
Rosa Park Singers
Teddy Roosevelt and his Entourage
FDR and his Entourage
3 Spokespersons (for Stars in Your Pantry)
Jackson Pollack
Musicians
Louis Armstrong
Andy Warhol
Georgia O’Keeffe
Cesar Chavez
Henry Ford and his Workers
2 Guys in white coats
Eleanor Roosevelt
Albert Einstein
Thomas Edison
Babe Didrikson
Babe Ruth
and a CHORUS comprised of all students who are not playing roles on stage
at the time

(Outside an auditorium—this can be represented simply as the very left of the stage.
A woman, elegantly dressed, holds a microphone. People, also dressed up, walk
by on a red carpet towards the right side of the stage. Other people are standing
behind ropes. Some might shout out things like “There she goes!” and “I just LOVE
your cars, Mr. Ford!” After a few seconds of this, we hear from offstage:)

VOICE: Five seconds to air, Angelica.

(Angelica turns to the audience, primps her hair a bit and speaks.)

ANGELICA: Good evening! Thank you for tuning into our fabulous awards show.
Tonight we celebrate great Americans of the 20th century. And best of all, it
features…me!

(As the music begins, several “All-American Dancers” could jump across the stage
in silly “award show” fashion. These dancers can return during the brief musical interlude
after the first chorus. ANGELICA sings:)

Song 1 - Listen now!

We’ve got scientists and heroes
We’ve got entertainers too
And there’s even politicians
There was nothing we could do.

We found athletes and artists
And a business man or two
And we’ve brought them all together
Just to celebrate with you.

ANGELICA and CHORUS:
The greatest
The greatest
The greatest Americans.
The greatest
The greatest
The greatest Americans—
of the twentieth century.

DIFFERENT MEMBERS of CHORUS:
#1: There are lots of great musicians

#2: And there’s folks in civil rights

#3: We’ve got some who play with baseballs

#4: Some who play with ’lectric lights.

#5: We’ve got labor movement leaders

#6: And a woman who paints flowers

ANGELICA:
And there’s ME, your host all evening
Hope the show goes on for hours!

ANGELICA and CHORUS:
The greatest
The greatest
The greatest Americans—
The greatest
The greatest
The greatest Americans—
of the twentieth century.

ANGELICA: It’s so exciting. Brilliant and talented people from all walks of life are
entering the auditorium. Let’s go to our roving reporter, Wally Walters, who’s standing
just outside the doors.

(We see WALLY now, who also holds a microphone on the other side of the stage.
An elegant woman walks by him.)

WALLY : Thank you, Angelica. It’s fantastic to be part of such an evening. Wait,
here comes somebody. I think, yes, it’s, uh, somebody famous. Excuse me, ma’am.

MARTHA GRAHAM: Yes?

WALLY: Who are you?

MARTHA GRAHAM: I’m Martha Graham.

WALLY: THE Martha Graham? Fantastic.
(WALLY has no idea who she is.)
This is Martha Graham, ladies and gentleman, the famous…er…inventor of the
graham cracker. I just love graham crackers.
(TO GRAHAM)
There’s something we’re all dying to know.

GRAHAM: Yes?

WALLY: How do you get all those little perforations in the crackers?

ANGELICA (cutting in): Wally, you idiot!
(catching herself, turning to audience, trying to forget what she just said) I mean,
Wally, what a kidder! Everyone knows Martha Graham, the great dancer
and choreographer.

(GRAHAM exits)

WALLY (sees WRIGHT BROTHERS walking up carpet): Wait a minute! Here
come a couple of guys who must be brothers. Just look at them! Hey, are you two
the Brothers Karamozov?

WILBUR: No. They’re fictional characters out of Russian novel.

WALLY: Wait, don’t tell me. The Luden Brothers? I knew it. Ladies and gentlemen,
these guys discovered cough drops.

ORVILLE: No, you’ve got the wrong brothers.

WALLY: Okay, I give up. Who are you?

WILBUR: We’re the Wright brothers.

WALLY: Well of course you’re the right brothers if you’re not the wrong brothers.
But what’s your name?

ORVILLE: Really, we’re the Wright Brothers.

WALLY (a bit frantic): Don’t play games with me! I’ve got an infected hangnail
and my shoes caught on fire this morning. I’m not feeling well.

ORVILLE and WILBUR: But it’s true: we ARE the Wright Brothers!

Song 2

BROTHERS:
We are the Wright, Wright Brothers
We are the Wright, Wright Brothers
If you want to fly
Give the clouds a try
If you want to fly we’re the Wright Brothers.

ORVILLE:
I remember well that daring flight
I was cool as I flew out of sight
The things below looked just like ants to me.

WILBUR:
Well they WERE ants you saw below
You were only up ten feet or so
But that was news in nineteen hundred three.

BROTHERS:
We are the Wright, Wright Brothers
We are the Wright, Wright Brothers
If you want to fly
Give the clouds a try
If you want to fly we’re the Wright Brothers.

We Americans got off the ground
Hundred years and we are not back down
Yeah flying drew new maps and changed the clock.

You can fly to Rome, you fly in space
This whole world’s become a tiny place
It started way back there at Kitty Hawk.

BROTHERS and CHORUS:
We are the Wright, Wright Brothers
We are the Wright, Wright Brothers
If you want to fly
Give the clouds a try
If you want to fly we’re the Wright Brothers.
If you want to fly
Give the clouds a try
If you want to fly we’re the Wright Brothers.

(THEY exit. ANGELICA enters the stage of the auditorium and stands at a podium
or a microphone stand.)

ANGELICA: Welcome, honored guests and nominees. Let’s get straight to our
first award.

(ERNEST HEMINGWAY enters suddenly, much to the surprise of ANGELICA.)

HEMINGWAY: Thank you, thank you.

ANGELICA: Ernest Hemingway!

HEMINGWAY: I’m honored, of course. Where’s that award?

ANGELICA: Mr. Hemingway, I’m sorry, but this is not your category.

HEMINGWAY: It isn’t? Are you sure?

ANGELICA: You’re not supposed to be out here.

HEMINGWAY: Well, since I’m already here, we could talk about me for a
few minutes.

ANGELICA: Not now.

HEMINGWAY: What if we just mention a few of my novels? It won’t take long.

ANGELICA: No. I’m sorry.

HEMINGWAY: I could mime the titles.

ANGELICA: Ernest, please.

HEMINGWAY (exiting): Farewell, then. Farewell…To Arms! (laughing because
he snuck in the title of one of his novels) Ha ha ha ha! (exits)

ANGELICA (collecting herself, speaks to audience). I’m sorry about that. Now,
back to the awards. To present our Humanitarian award, I am proud to introduce
two great Americans in their own right, Rachel Carson and Walt Disney.

(THEY enter, CARSON holds an envelope)

DISNEY: Rachel, it’s an honor to be here with you. Your book, Silent Spring,
about pesticide poisoning, pretty much started the whole environmental movement.

CARSON: Thank you, Walt. And who would have thought that at the same time I
was fighting with chemical companies, trying to make the United States a safer place,
you would be changing the world with an animated rodent?

DISNEY: Life’s a mystery, eh, Rachel? But enough about us. We’ve got an important
award to hand out. There were so many inspiring humanitarian leaders in twentieth-century
America. Our panel of judges had a very difficult time selecting just one winner. But they
did, and let’s find out who it is.

CARSON (opens envelope, reads): For his work in civil rights, for leading the non-violent
march towards equality for black Americans in the most difficult of times, the winner is
Dr. Martin Luther King.

KING (entering with ROSA PARK SINGERS. HE speaks at podium): I am honored,
but I can’t accept this award alone. I want to acknowledge the bravery of one woman.
On December fifth, 1955, Rosa Parks was riding on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama.
She was sitting in the fifth row of the bus—in what was called the “colored section.”
Blacks were not allowed in the front, and we were required by law to give up our seats
to any white person who wanted it. But on that day Rosa did not give up her seat. Rosa
did not move to the back of the bus. Rosa did not accept second-class citizenship. By
that one simple and brave gesture, the civil rights movement was galvanized. Thank you,
Rosa Parks.

Song 3

ROSA PARK SINGERS:
Rosa Parks
You stay in your seat
Rosa Parks
Not just tired feet
You know, you know
There’s gonna be a fuss
But you’re not movin’ to the back of the bus.
No, you’re not movin’ to the back of the bus.

Rosa Parks
You’re under arrest
Rosa Parks
Now here comes the test
Is it legal or just ludicrous?
To make you move on to the back of the bus?
To make you move on to the back of the bus.

M.L. KING (spoken as music continues): So we organized a bus boycott. It lasted
382 days. Rosa refused to pay the fine, and her case made it all the way to the Supreme
Court. In December of 1956, the Supreme Court declared that the segregation in the
south was unconstitutional. And through it all Rosa never wavered.

ROSA PARK SINGERS, KING, CHORUS:
Rosa Parks
Equality stalled
Rosa Parks
And you took the call.
An example still to all of us
By not movin’ to the back of the bus.
By not movin’ to the back of the bus.

(THEY exit. ANGELICA steps up to microphone.)

ANGELICA: To present out next award for outstanding American statesman of the
twentieth century, please welcome the famous aviator and adventurer, Amelia Earhart.
(SHE looks offstage—no one comes. After a pause:)
ANGELICA: Apparently Amelia is missing. Well, I’m sure she’ll show up soon—
she can’t be lost forever. I guess we’ll just move on…

HEMINGWAY (shouting from offstage): Bring back Hemingway!

ANGELICA (speaking in his direction): Ernest, be quiet!
(to audience)
I guess I’ll do the honors.
(Picks up envelope)
And the winner of greatest statesman is…Roosevelt.

(FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT enters, with ENTOURAGE behind)

ANGELICA: Congratulations, President Roosevelt.

(TEDDY ROOSEVELT comes racing in, his ENTOURAGE behind)

TEDDY: Now hold on a minute there. You’ve got the wrong Roosevelt. That there
is Franklin Delano Roosevelt. FDR is a fine man, no doubt, but I’m sure that award
was meant for me, Teddy Roosevelt.

FDR: Oh, Teddy, you were a good president, all right. Panama canal. American
internationalism. Nobel Peace Prize and all that. But that was way back in the first
decade of the century. And you weren’t elected president four times.

FDR’s ENTOURAGE (like cheerleaders chanting):

FDR
I’m his fan
Four elections
He’s the man!

TEDDY: Franklin, That New Deal of yours—the government programs to get us
out of the Great Depression in the 1930s—it didn’t exactly work, did it?

FDR: It gave millions of Americans a job and enough money to survive. I gave
them hope.

TEDDY: And I gave them a new political party—the Bull Moose Party!

ENTOURAGE (swinging hands over head): Moose, Moose, Moose, Moose!

TEDDY: No, sirree, you can’t beat a moose.

FDR: I led our country through World War II.

TEDDY: I’m talking a MOOSE, Franklin. A BIG moose.

FDR: I have a Presidential Memorial in Washington D.C.!

TEDDY: My face is on a mountain in South Dakota!

TEDDY’S ENTOURAGE: Rushmore, Rushmore, Rushmore!

Song 4 - Listen now!

In nineteen hundred one
This country’s time had come
And Teddy knew just how the people felt

TEDDY:
Speak softly, that’s the trick
And carry one big stick.

TEDDY’S ENTOURAGE:
We love this guy—
Our fav’rite fav’rite fav’rite Roosevelt.

FDR’S ENTOURAGE:
In 1932
The country was so blue
The depression had us tight around the belt.

FDR:
Your government is here
You’ve nothing now to fear.

FDR’S ENTOURAGE:
He gave us hope—
Our fav’rite fav’rite fav’rite Roosevelt.

BOTH GROUPS:
Let’s all cheer
Now you’re here
We are gonna stand tall

TEDDY’S ENTOURAGE:
Yeah it’s Teddy

FDR’S ENTOURAGE:
Yeah it’s Franklin

BOTH GROUPS:
He’s our fav’rite fav’rite fav’rite fav’rite Roosevelt of all.

FDR’S ENTOURAGE:
When hope was wearing thin
Our FDR stepped in
And he made sure his grand New Deal got dealt

TEDDY’S ENTOURAGE:
Our Teddy’s strong and tough
Goes swimming in the buff

TEDDY:
Australian crawl—

BOTH GROUPS:
Our fav’rite fav’rite fav’rite Roosevelt.

BOTH GROUPS and CHORUS:
Let’s all cheer
Now you’re here
We are gonna stand tall

TEDDY’S ENTOURAGE:
Yeah it’s Teddy

FDR’S ENTOURAGE:
Yeah it’s Franklin

BOTH GROUPS and CHORUS:
He’s our fav’rite fav’rite fav’rite fav’rite Roosevelt of all.

TEDDY’S ENTOURAGE:
Yeah it’s Teddy

FDR’S ENTOURAGE:
Yeah it’s Franklin

BOTH GROUPS and CHORUS:
He’s our fav’rite fav’rite fav’rite fav’rite Roosevelt of all.

(THEY ALL exit, still arguing. ANGELICA steps up to microphone.)

(This concludes the first one-third of the script.)

Sample Songs

Click on the song name to hear samples. Please note that internet song samples have low fidelity and rest assured that the CDs we sell sound much better! (This player requires Flash. If you have any trouble hearing the samples, just contact us for help.)


Full Song List

1. "Greatest Americans"
2. "We Are the Wright Brothers"
3. "Rosa Parks"
4. "Fav'rite Roosevelt"
5. "Too Much Fun"
6. "I Paint Flowers"
7. "Assembly Line"
8. "Fav'rite Roosevelt" (reprise)
9. "They Call Me Babe"
10. "Greatest Americans" (reprise)

Common Core and Other National Standards

History/Social Studies

Language Arts

Fine Arts

  • National Music Standards 1, 2, 6, 7, and 8 for K-4th, Standard 1 for 5th-8th
  • National Theater Standards 2, 3, 6, 7, and 8 for K-4th, Standards 2 and 6 for 5th-8th
  • National Dance Standards 1 and 2 for K-4th

Vocabulary

fabulous
roving
perforations
choreographer
hangnail
daring
nominees
humanitarian
pesticide
environmental
rodent
equality
galvanized
fuss
ludicrous
organized
unconstitutional
wavered
statesman
aviator
sponsors
impersonators
canvas
masterpiece
improvise
revolutionary
“fifteen minutes of fame”
stout
lily
poppies
produce
democratized
unique
zig zag
barbarian
mate
viable
incandescent
decathlon
pentathlon
gents
billiards
cinch

Historical Terms

civil rights
labor movement
Brothers Karamazov
Kitty Hawk
non-violent
colored section
second-class citizenship
bus boycott
segregation
Panama Canal
Nobel Peace Prize
Great Depression
Bull Moose Party
World War II
Mt. Rushmore
“Speak softly and carry a big stick.”
New Deal
Casablanca
United Farm Workers
Presidential Medal of Freedom
profit sharing
Model T
mass production
assembly lines
dealer franchise system
the special theory of relativity
the general theory of relativity
quantum theory
phonograph
Iwo Jima
Normandy
Korean War
Vietnam War

Books by Hemingway:
Farewell To Arms
The Old Man And The Sea
The Sun Also Rises
A Moveable Feast

People Not Mentioned In Cast List

Amelia Earhart
Fred Astaire
Ginger Rogers
Charlie Chaplin
Lucille Ball
Bob Hope
Frank Sinatra
Elvis Presley
John Wayne
Ingrid Bergman
Neil Armstrong
Jesse Owens
Jim Thorpe

Vocabulary From Stage Directions

auditorium
represented
elegantly
primps
podium
entourage
struts