|Virtual Synopsis||Click on the blue
links to enjoy video
excerpts of the songs from Nickel & Dime.
|At its heart, Nickel & Dime is a story about the
value of family…and the worth of a woman.
Act One of our musical introduces us to Tony and Sheila Fratello. Tony is a minor league baseball scout who’s on top of his “game” while on the road, but at home, he often stumbles by taking his wife for granted. Though he’s always lovable around his daughter and young son, Tony’s perhaps a bit too much “old school” towards Sheila when it comes to her role in the home. He loves to put in his nickel, so to speak, and then stand there expecting her dime.
By chance, Sheila comes upon an opportunity to enter an outlandish television singing contest for talented middle-aged mothers. The show is called “My Momma the Diva” and is hosted by an irrepressible and somewhat goofy entrepreneur known as “The Big Stu.” When Tony learns that Sheila has advanced to the finals in Las Vegas without his blessing, he selfishly balks at her participation. But her dream has always been to sing, so serious strife ensues at home. Will his reluctance to value and support his wife threaten the foundation of their family?
While scouting their last game of the year before heading home for the off-season, Tony Fratello and his fellow scouts (Wade and Justin) point radar guns at the pitching mound. As the minor league game progresses, the three share the delight of their profession to us in a song.
Back at home now, Sheila gets little Thomas and Angelica, his older sister, off to school. Tony wakes up and has some fun with them before they head off. Needing some help around the house, Sheila watches her husband plant himself down into his favorite recliner to watch TV. He’s oblivious to her needs. With his ill-fitting, worn out gym shorts and t-shirt revealing a touch of a plumber’s butt, Sheila turns in annoyance to the audience. She tries to explain her frustrating back-and-forth relationship with Tony to us in a song.
One of Sheila’s friends slips her a newspaper ad about local tryouts for an odd talent contest for mothers who are thirty-five years or older. The show is humorously called “My Momma the Diva.” Sheila thinks it’s a big joke, but her friend’s encouragement is serious. Ultimately, Sheila shares that she’s afraid of what her husband will think.
While shopping later with her daughter, Sheila is torn about whether or not to enter the bizarre contest. Angelica is so very excited about her mother’s opportunity to win “My Momma the Diva,” but Sheila is concerned that her time away from the family will only anger the “old school” nature of Tony. Just what should she do?
Back at home, Tony tries to set up his new High Definition TV and Home Entertainment system. Far too proud to actually follow written directions, Tony is left sitting in frustration amid a pile of tangled cables, torn packing materials, and satellite boxes.
He’s a man who really does want to love his wife in the way she deserves, but he keeps messing up and falling back into his selfish ways. Like many of us, he can’t break out of the vicious cycle of his failures, and now he sits in his messy pile of cables a broken and pathetic man. Tony laments his inadequacies as he sings.
When Sheila and her daughter arrive home, Angelica breaks the exciting news that Sheila has decided to enter the “My Momma the Diva” talent contest. As expected, Tony reacts rather unfavorably to the idea. Sheila goes to the contest anyway and watches as the quirky entrepreneur, “The Big Stu,” makes his grand entrance and wows the ladies.
As Sheila is next in line for her audition moment, she steps aside and encourages herself with a song. It explains her motivation to sing because of a promise once made.
When she comes home and Tony learns that she has advanced to the finals in Las Vegas, a major fight ensues. His stubbornness becomes apparent, and it hurts Sheila to the core. The children are awakened and observe the fight as well. It all ends with little Thomas’ piggy bank getting smashed to the floor by his sister.
While Sheila’s off to Las Vegas, Tony decides to sulk in his misery by going golfing. Wade arrives and tries to set their male-centric universe back in proper order.
In Las Vegas, the “My Momma the Diva” finalists get a night out on the strip. It’s the ladies’ turn now to day dream about this contest which will show the world that they still have so much to offer despite their age.
While Tony’s having it rough caring for the kids at home, Sheila begins her dress rehearsal. She’s stunned to find that it’s a farce.
“The Big Stu” feels he’s about to lose Sheila and her amazing talent. He explains the method to his “madness” and comes clean on the show’s financial obstacles.
Tony and the kids are setting up a booth at their town’s annual street fair. The kids are by themselves for a moment and begin to sing about their belief that they are the ones who have caused the strife at home. Tony overhears it and is shamed, knowing it is solely his fault. Sheila chimes in as well in a parallel thought while she waits in Las Vegas.
Tony’s Hispanic friend Carlos passes by their booth. He tries to encourage Tony to take his lumps and support his wife’s dream by meeting her in Las Vegas.
Sheila and “The Big Stu” agree to a truce and meet for a casual glass of wine. But their evening ends at the entrance to Stu’s hotel room. They’re both a bit tipsy and Stu reveals a sensitive side. Sheila is enticed, and now we are not sure what is going to happen next. Scene fades to black.
The next morning, Tony arrives in Vegas singing of his high hopes as he reaches the rehearsal hall door. But as he is about to enter, he overhears two stagehands discussing a rumor that “The Big Stu” has slept with “that Sheila contestant.” By the end of the song, Tony is so enraged that he leaves without meeting his wife and heads back home to his children.
Later that morning, we learn that “The Big Stu” did spend the evening with a contestant…but it wasn’t Sheila. We find that Sheila ultimately made a faithful decision, but was shocked to learn that Stu had a backup lady planned. Will she still continue with the contest finals that evening?
Back at home on the front porch, Tony and the kids sit in misery. They all huddle together as Tony admits his harm to the family and promises to make things right. As little Thomas holds their hands in a prayer, Sheila shows up with her luggage and is moved to sing because of the sight. Then she explains all. Tony is overjoyed and vows to be the man she needs him to be.
In the end, the Fratello family walks hand in hand as they enter their home. There will be no more “nickel and diming” for Tony. He’s finally learned what his precious wife Sheila is truly worth.