The Prince and the Pauper (1999)


adapted by Anne Coulter Martens
based on the novel by Mark Twain

produced with permission of The Dramatic Publishing Company Woodstock, Illinois

ACT I’s 48th production, “The Prince and the Pauper,” is based on a novel by Mark Twain and uses real characters mixed with fictional ones. The central characters are Edward, the Prince of Wales, son of England’s King Henry VIII, and the fictional Tom Canty, a boy from the London slum Offal Court. In real life, Prince Edward became King Edward VI of England in 1547 at the age of nine after the death of his father. Intelligent and well educated, the boy king was sickly all his life and died in 1553 at the age of 15.

The set for “The Prince and the Pauper” was created by designer Sarah Zimmerman, technical director Kevin Bookmeier, and their crew in the fellowship hall of Wesley United Methodist Church in Vinton for performances May 8 and 9. The split, semi abstract playing area depicted both the elegance of Hampton Court Palace and the dismal decay of the slum, Offal Court.

The Story

London, 1547

A crowd gathers outside the palace of King Henry VIII. Among them is Tom Canty, a poor boy the same age as Henry’s son, Prince Edward. Tom set off from his home in the London slum Offal Court in hopes of getting a glimpse of the prince, who arrives as he waits outside the Palace.

Prince Edward arrives and the crowd falls on their knees as he passes through the palace gates.

The guard pushes back the crowd and throws Tom Canty to the ground. The prince takes offense at the guard’s actions and orders that Tom be allowed into the palace.

The guard orders the kneeling Tom into the palace

Inside the palace, Edward and Tom talk about their different lives. For Tom, life in the splendid seems an exciting adventure, and for Edward Tom’s life on the streets seems equally exciting, to be able to do as he likes without being constantly hovered over by the court. Edward discovers that Tom is well educated, having studied Latin and other subjects with a priest named Father Andrew. The boys decide to trade clothes just for fun.

They duck behind a screen as Edward’s cousin Lady Lane Gray comes into the room. She is quickly joined by Lady Gwen and they discuss the king’s grave illness.

Jane and Gwen are soon joined by Edward’s uncle, The Earl of Hertford, Lord Protector

When the others are gone, the boys come back into the room, this time wearing each other’s clothes. They are amazed by the difference. As they look at themselves in the mirror, they are amazed by their resemblance to each other.

Suddenly, Prince Edward, dressed as Tom, is thrown out of the palace by the guard when Tom as Edward is briefly out of the room, and the boys become trapped in each other’s identities.

Tom, startled by the appearance of Lady Jane

Tom finds the whole court of England at his beck and call, though none of them, including his cousin, Lady Jane, his uncle, Lord Hertford, Lady Gwen, and Bumble, the Prince’s whipping boy, believe that he is not the prince.

Lord Hertford asks Tom for the Great Seal of England which the King had given the prince the day before, but Tom knows nothing about it. Believing that Tom is really the prince, they believe his mind has become ill and worry about the impending death of King Henry.

Meanwhile, Prince Edward is having an less than easy time of it on the streets of London among the low life of the city. When he declares himself to be the prince, he is mocked by the people on the street.

Miles Hendon, a down and out nobleman who has recently escaped from a foreign prison, comes to Edward’s aid and defends him against the crowd.

Suddenly, a woman named Old Biddy arrives. It is Old Biddy with whom Tom and his family live, and, thinking Edward is Tom, tries to drag the prince home with her.

Edward says he has never seen the woman before, and Miles Hendon promises him protection. Miles advises Old Biddy to leave the boy alone. A scuffle ensues, and as Miles fights off men in the crowd with his sword Old Biddy makes off with Edward.

Old Biddy takes Edward home with her, where Tom’s mother and sister Bet also believe that the prince is really Tom.

Old Biddy leaves and Tom explains to Mrs. Canty and Bet who he really is, but they think Edward is just Tom, who is now sick in his mind.Bet tells her mother that the trouble is that Tom reads too much. The exhausted prince falls asleep in Tom’s home, as Mrs. Canty and Bet hover over him and begin to suspect that perhaps he isn’t really Tom. Mrs. Canty tests the sleeping boy by startling him to see if he turns his hand in a certain way that Tom always does when surprised. He doesn’t move his hand the way Mrs. Canty hopes he will, and so Tom’s mother begins to realized that this boy in her home isn’t her son.

Later, Edward slips out of the Canty home and seeks refuge in the hut of the Old Hermit, a strange Holy man. The Old Hermit claims to be an archangel and Edward soon realizes the man is deranged.

The Hermit, a religious fanatic, despises King Henry having taken over the Catholic Church in England. He plans to kill Edward as a sacrifice for “the sins of his father.”

But Miles, searching for Edward, comes to the Hermit’s hut in time to save the prince.

Miles rescues Edward from the Hermit and saves the boy’s life.

Miles takes Edward to his home at Mrs. Hobb’s rooming house. He is irritated by Edward’s insistence that he is the prince. The boy demands that Miles treat him with proper royal respect, and confers knighthood on him for his kindness. Miles is sure the boy has lost his mind.

Mrs. Hobbs urges Miles to take care of the boy and humor him by treating him like a prince if that’s what he believes himself to be.

Edward further irritates Miles at dinner, when he insists that Miles not sit in the presence of royalty

A friendship between Edward and Miles grows. Edward confers knighthood on Miles and gives him the right to sit in his presence.

But Old Biddy has been searching for Edward and finds him, forcing a chicken she has stolen into his possession.

Soon after, a crowd in the street wails that King Henry is dead. Edward realizes that he is now the king, but seconds later he is arrested by a constable for stealing the chicken Old Biddy had thrust into his hands. Miles tries to protect Edward from the constable and is also arrested.

At the palace preparations are made to crown the new king, but it’s the pauper who about to be crowned. Lady Jane tries to distract “Edward” from the impending coronation with a game of chess, but Tom continues to insist he is not king. He sets about to prove his claim.

With both boys desperate to correct the situation before the coronation, Tom, forced to play the role of Edward, sends Bumble to find Old Biddy.

He hopes Old Biddy will recognize him, but she, too, believes he is the new king. Old Biddy tells “The Prince” — really Tom, that “Tom” and Miles have been arrested for Tom’s theft of the chicken, and are being held in the King’s Jail. Unable to go himself, Tom sends Lady Gwen and the whipping boy, Bumble, to the King’s Jail to find Edward, whom the others believe to be Tom. They agree to go there to find Tom Canty, even though they believe the real Tom is actually Edward.

Bumble and Lady Gwen disguise themselves in rags for the visit to the King’s jail.

In the King’s Jail, Edward and Miles are being held in a dingy dungeon cell with a group of pickpockets, thieves, and political prisoners.

The jailer is a cruel man who takes delight in the sufferings of his charges.

When Edward tells the other prisoners When Tom tells the others he is the king, many of them mock and torment him, putting a dirty bucket on his head for a crown.

Then the jailer informs the prisoners that a woman and a boy have paid money to come into the cell to look for a missing boy. Bumble and Gwen, disguised, come into the cell looking for Tom Canty.

As Gwen and Bumble look at each of the prisoners, Edward recognizes them.

Gwen and Bumble believe he is Tom Canty, even though Edward insists he is the king.

The jailer returns when Gwen and Bumble’s time is up, but when Gwen offers the jailer money to free “Tom,” he accuses her of being a thief and locks her and Bumble into the cell.

Miles and the other prisoners scheme to trick the jailer by telling him Bumble has money in his shoe.

The prisoners lure the jailer into the cell, saying that Bumble has money in his shoe. They attack the jailer, get his keys, and lock him into the cell with the others as Edward, Miles, Gwen, and Bumble escape for the palace.

When the escapees lock the cell door behind them, the remaining prisoners are angry they weren’t allowed to escape as well, and continue to pummel the jailer. As Lord Hertford, Lady Jane, and the pages prepare Tom Canty for the coronation, the real young king races to get back and claim his rightful place.

At the palace, the final preparations are being made for the coronation. Tom returns from a banquet to a crowd waiting in the courtyard that includes Mrs. Canty and Bet. Mrs. Canty suspects that the “Prince” is really Tom, but he turns away from them saying he doesn’t know her.

Tom arrives, and is hailed by the crowd as the king.

Remorseful over what he has done, Tom tells Lord Hertford and Jane that the woman was his mother. They believe his “sickness” is getting worse.

Inside the Palace on the day of the coronation, Lady Jane and Lord Hertford urge Tom to get dressed in the coronation robes, but he is reluctant to proceed.

Tom is robed by the pages and about to be taken to Westminster Abbey to be crowned.

Suddenly, Edward, Miles Hendon, Lady Gwen, and Bumble arrive at the Palace, Edward angrily claiming the crown for himself.

But even after the boys are face to face once again, each insisting on his own identity, Edward must prove himself by revealing the location of the Great Seal of England.

Edward is able to reveal the location of the missing seal, and so his claim to the throne is proven. Lady Jane and the others marvel at the strange resemblance between the two boys.

Edward takes control of the situation, issuing pardons for Old Biddy and the prisoners in the King’s Jail. He promises to restore Miles to his family fortune and makes Tom King’s Ward.

Tom is then reunited with his family, and Edward takes his rightful place.

The play ends as young Prince Edward is crowned King Edward VI.


Prince Edward, later King Edward VI: Josh Brewer
Tom Canty: Kyle Brewer
Lady Jane Gray: Megan Christy*
Lady Gwen: Kate Westergard
Bumble, the whipping boy: Kordereau Sellers
Lord Hertford: John Westergard
Miles Hendon: Aaron Murphy
The Old Hermit, a religious fanatic: Greg Tucker
Guards: Darran Sellers, Jake Fowler
Pages: Derek Ferguson*, Jared Helms*
Mrs. Canty: Britt Roster*
Bet: Erin Horst
Old Biddy: Lisa Elliott*
Girl: Kelly Robison
1st Man: Cody Robison*
2nd Man: Dan Greaser
3rd Man: Derek Ferguson*
4th Man: Jared Helms*
Mrs. Hobbs: Bree McClenning
Mrs. Bentley: Jamie Tucker*
Constable: Josh Deutsch
Jailer: Alexander Vasquez*
1st Woman: Lindsey Renken
2nd Woman: Tasha Kauten
Child: Meghan Owens*
Members of the Crowd: Matt Meyer, Dakoda Sellers, Kolton Sellers, Lori Strong

King Henry VIII was well known for his six wives. Every English school child can recite the famous verse “Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived,” describing the fate of each of Henry’s wives. Edward was the son of wife number 3, Jane Seymour, who died while giving birth to the young prince.

King Henry desperately wanted a son, and his first two wives each had only a single daughter. Henry sought a divorce from his first wife of nineteen years, Catherine of Aragon, but the Pope would not allow the King a divorce. King Henry then broke with the Catholic Church, seizing church property, dissolving monasteries, and then established his own church, The Church of England. It was Henry’s treatment of the Catholic Church which inspired the character of the Hermit, featured in the first act.

Other important real life characters featured in the play include The Earle of Hertford, Edward’s uncle, who served as Protector of the Realm during the reign of his underage nephew, and Lady Jane Gray, Edward’s cousin. When it became evident that the young king’s days were numbered, a conspiracy developed to prevent Edward’s sister, Princess Mary, from taking the throne. Lady Jane, recently married to young Guildford Dudley and fifth in line for the throne, was an unwitting pawn in the plan to prevent Catholic Mary from becoming queen. Lady Jane’s father-in-law, Robert Dudley, persuaded the dying Edward to name Jane as his successor. The consequences were disastrous. Jane, England’s first female monarch, reigned for only ten days before she was removed by Mary’s supporters. Several months later, the sixteen year old former queen and her nineteen year old husband were both beheaded, helping to earn the new queen the infamous title “Bloody Mary.” Queen Mary died six years later, and was followed by her sister Queen Elizabeth I, Edward’s other sister. Her 45 year reign has earned her recognition as one of the greatest monarchs in English History.

Staff / Crew

Director: Steve Arnold
Assistant Director and Stage Manager: Morgan Horning
Scenic Design: Sarah Zimmerman
Costume and Makeup Coordinator:: Steve Arnold
Technical Director: Kevin Bookmeier