Thursday, December 1, 2016

Leo Finelli's The Nutcracker

Leo Finelli’s THE NUTCRACKER

Plot Outline


The Setting: Modern America, One Cold December Night


The Plot

Act One:

Eleven year old Clara and her eight year old brother Fritz join their parents in the living room of their home, awaiting the arrival of the guests at their annual Christmas party. The Stahlbaums live a cozy middle class life. Soon guests begin to arrive at their house. The children play while the adults talk. Soon the guests begin to play on their digital devices. Suddenly, the digital devices fizz out. A mysterious caped man enters. This is Clara’s grandfather, a magician named Dr. Drosselmeyer.
Drosselmeyer gives everyone small candy canes, then gives Clara a special gift, a Nutcracker - a small toy soldier that can crack nuts in its teeth. Drosselmeyer then presents a life size dancing doll which dances for the children. Drosselmeyer also leads the children in a sprightly jig and dances for the families at the party.
Everyone begins to get tired after one final dance and leaves the party.
Later that night, after everyone has gone to bed, Clara tiptoes back to the living room to get the Nutcracker. She is tired. She rocks the Nutcracker and cozies up in a chair. She hears a loud noise. She looks around to see what it is. Mice begin cornering her from all sides of the room. Clara sees the room growing around her. She drops the Nutcracker in shock. When she goes to recover him, he is her size! The Nutcracker summons an army of a dozen toy soldiers to battle the mice. When the mice return, the Nutcracker fires a cannon at them.
The Mouse King arrives on the scene, here to take all the presents for himself. He leads the mice against the soldiers. They surge back and forth across the room, but the Nutcracker fends off all the mice. The Mouse King challenges him to a swordfight. The Nutcracker fights bravely but is pinned. Clara yanks the Mouse King’s tail, tipping him over. The Nutcracker puts the Mouse King under arrest.
The Nutcracker leads Clara out into the snow. When Clara touches him, he becomes his old self - a prince - again.
The watchful Snow Queen and the snowflakes gracefully  guide Clara and the Prince along their way to the Palace of Dreams.


Act Two:

Clara and the Prince journey to the Palace of Dreams, where the Prince rules. The Prince shows his court the arrested Mouse King, who tries to escape but is stopped. The Prince tells of Clara’s bravery and how the fact that she believed in him restored him to his old self. The Prince commissions his court to dance for him and Clara.
First a matador performes an elaborate bullfighting routine, then ribbon dancers perform. Then the largest lady Clara has ever seen enters the room. This is Mother Ginger. She bakes a gingerbread cookie. The cookie evades a maid, a police officer, and finally a fox before rushing back under Mother Ginger’s skirt.
Four little clowns dance next, followed by a beautiful peacock, then a troupe of roly-poly candy canes, then twelve flowers dance a long waltz. The beautiful Sugar Plum Fairy then dances a tinkly solo. The Prince takes the stage next. After dancing a solo, the Prince calls Clara to dance with him. Servants wheel out a large cabinet. Clara steps into the cabinet and the doors are closed. When the cabinet is opened again, Clara can hardly believe her eyes - she has become a beautiful princess!
Princess Clara joins the Prince in a long, slow pas de deux, then all the people of the Palace of Dreams dance one final dance together. Clara becomes a young girl again and Santa Claus returns her home in his sleigh…..was it all a dream?
You decide!


Major Differences between Leo Finelli’s Nutcracker and Jean Pierre Bonnefoux’s Nutcracker (Charlotte Ballet)



  1. Set in modern times rather than the 19th century
  2. Drosselmeyer is Clara’s grandfather, not her uncle/godfather
  3. The Nutcracker is given to Clara before the life-size doll dances, not after
  4. Fritz never breaks the Nutcracker. In fact, no one does.
  5. Drosselmeyer does not turn all the toys big. It happens spontaneously as in the Balanchine.
  6. Clara pulls the Mouse King’s tail rather than throwing her shoe at him
  7. The Mouse King never dies, he is placed under arrest
  8. There is no Snow King, only a Snow Queen
  9. The Nutcracker Prince does not appear in the Party Scene as Drosselmeyer’s nephew
  10. The Nutcracker Prince is played by an adult rather than a teenager or tween
  11. The music Bonnefoux uses for the Prince’s mime is used for the Prince turning the Mouse King in
  12. The “Land of Sweets” is now the “Palace of Dreams”. Why? Because, think about it. Like what kids really want is a candy kingdom. Because of this change,
  13. The Chocolate Dance is now done by a Matador and a Bull, both danced by men
  14. The Marzipan Dance is now done by Clowns (four little girls)
  15. The Coffee Dance is now done by a Peacock, and is a solo
  16. Mother Ginger’s dance is completely different. See outline above.
  17. There is no lead in the Waltz of the Flowers
  18. The Tiramisu dance has been excised
  19. The Sugar Plum Fairy is a much smaller role, dancing only to her famous tinkly music
  20. The Cavalier has been omitted
  21. The Adagio of the Pas de Deux is moved to be after the other dances of the Pas de Deux
  22. So who does dance the Act II Pas de Deux? The Prince and Clara, of course. Clara is transformed into an adult dancer in order to dance the Pas de Deux with the Prince. See outline above.
  23. Santa Claus appears at the end to return Clara home
  24. It is left to the audience to decide whether Clara dreamed the whole thing or not.


Casting Call



  • Clara (little girl, age 10-12)
  • Fritz (little boy, age 8-10)
  • Mr. Stahlbaum (adult male dancer)
  • Mrs. Stahlbaum (adult female dancer)
  • 5 Party Fathers (adult male dancers)
  • 5 Party Mothers (adult female dancers)
  • 9 Party Girls (ages 9-11)
  • 1 Party Boy (age 9-11)
  • Dr. Drosselmeyer (adult male dancer)
  • Dancing Doll (adult male dancer)
  • The Nutcracker Prince (adult male dancer)
  • 6 Mice (adult male dancers)
  • 12 Toy Soldiers (children, ages 7-9)
  • The Mouse King (adult male dancer)
  • 14 Snowflakes (adult female dancers)
  • Snow Queen (adult female dancer)
  • 8 Servants (children, ages 10-14)
  • Matador (adult male dancer)
  • Bull (adult male dancer)
  • Ribbon Dancers (children, ages 6-8)
  • Mother Ginger (adult male dancer)
  • Gingerbread Cookie (little girl, age 10-12)
  • Maid (little girl, age 8-10)
  • Police Officer (child, gender does not matter, age 8-10)
  • Fox (little girl, age 9-11)
  • 4 Clowns (little girls, ages 9-11)
  • Peacock (ironically an adult female dancer)
  • Lead Candy Cane (adult male dancer)
  • 8 Candy Canes (children, ages 12-16)
  • Sugar Plum Fairy (adult female dancer)
  • Princess Clara (adult female dancer)
  • Santa Claus (adult male dancer)

How I Plan to Choreograph It:



With professional help. I am not a ballet expert and lack much real in-depth knowledge of ballet, yet I can envision how everyone will move and where in my head. The most efficient way, in my opinion, to get this down on paper will be to work with a professional, describe what I see in my head to the music, and have this professional write it down.


Costume and Set Design sketches

IMG_6228.JPG
Clara - Party Dress
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Fritz
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Mrs. Stahlbaum
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Mr. Stahlbaum
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All Party Fathers
IMG_6232.JPG
All Party Mothers
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Party Boy
IMG_6234.JPG
All Party Girls
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Drosselmeyer


IMG_6239.JPG
Dancing Doll
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Clara - Nightgown
IMG_6238.JPG
Mice
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The Nutcracker
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Toy Soldiers
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The Mouse King
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Snow Queen
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Snowflakes
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Servants

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Matador (Spanish Dance)
IMG_6247.JPG
Bull (Spanish Dance)
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Ribbon Dancer (Chinese Dance)
IMG_6249.JPG
Mother Ginger
IMG_6250.JPG
Gingerbread Cookie
IMG_6251.JPG
Maid (Chasing Gingerbread Cookie)


IMG_6252.JPG
Police Officer (Chasing Gingerbread Cookie)
IMG_6253.JPG
Fox (Chasing Gingerbread Cookie)
IMG_6254.JPG
Clowns (Marzipan Dance)
IMG_6255.JPG
Peacock (Arabian Dance)
IMG_6256.JPG
Lead Candy Cane
IMG_6257.JPG
Candy Canes
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Flowers
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Sugar Plum Fairy
IMG_6260.JPG
Princess Clara


IMG_6261.JPG
The Prince
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The Stahlbaum’s Living Room
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Outside in the Snow
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The Palace of Dreams

Monday, November 28, 2016

The Wish Writer - A Christmas Tale

THE WISH WRITER


By Leo Finelli


Inspired by a Macy’s Commercial


OPENING TITLES


Close in on Hannah’s dollhouse.


INT. DOLLHOUSE


Hannah’s favorite doll, portrayed in live-action, addresses the audience.


DOLL
Well, hi there. (laughs) I’m a doll without a name. Hannah got me for Christmas when she was four and never named me. Now she’s much older and still holds me close. (laughs again) The Christmas Hannah got me is one she’ll never forget, but there was another Christmas, when she got another gift she’ll never forget, thanks to some very special magic…


We cut to Hannah and her brother Luke coming down the stairs.


We then see their mother waiting at the bottom of the stairs.


MOM
Come on, Hannah, Luke, we’re going to get our Christmas tree and then to the department store.


HANNAH
OK, Mom.


LUKE
So that’s where we’re going.


Enter Hannah and Luke’s father. He appears by their mother.


DAD
All ready to go, kids?


HANNAH and LUKE
Yes!
CHRISTMAS TREE LOT


The car pulls up at a Christmas tree lot.


The family get out.


They start looking at trees.


LUKE
Can we get this one?


MOM
I don’t know, Luke. It’s awfully expensive.


LUKE
But look how much would fit under it!


HANNAH
How about this one?


Her parents walk over. Hannah and Luke scamper off.


CHRISTMAS TREE SALESMAN
Now that’s a good one! You can-


LUKE (OS)
Over here! There’s a good one over here!


HANNAH (OS)
No, there’s a better one over here!


LUKE (OS)
There’s a big one on this side! Can we get it?


DAD (loudly)
Settle down, we’re going to get this one.


CHRISTMAS TREE SALESMAN
Should I tie it to the car for you?


He does exactly that.


INT. MACY’S - SANTA LAND


There is a long line waiting to see Santa.


HANNAH
Zara! Imogen! You’re here too?


ZARA
Yes, I’m about to go.


ELF
Next!


Zara steps up to see Santa.


SANTA
Ho ho ho! Now, what would you like for Christmas, little girl?


ZARA
I wish for a knitting kit and some new sheets for my bed.


SANTA
I’ll have those for you in a few days. Ho ho ho!


ELF
Next!


Imogen steps up to see Santa.


SANTA
Ho ho ho! Now what would you -


IMOGEN
A train that runs around my Christmas tree, a remote controlled helicopter, and some tickets to go see The Nutcracker.


SANTA
Hmmm. I don’t know about the -


ELF
Next!


Hannah steps up to see Santa.
SANTA
Ho ho ho! Now what would you like for Christmas?


HANNAH
I don’t know yet.


SANTA
You don’t know yet? You’ll find something. Hmm.


(takes a pencil out of a small box to his side)


SANTA
Maybe you can make a list with this nifty little pencil.


Santa hands Hannah a red Macy’s pencil.


HANNAH
OK. I’ll make a list when I get home. Thanks for the pencil!


AT HOME


The parents put up the Christmas tree and string lights around it. It brightens up the mood of the living room.


Hannah is working on a Christmas list.


We see her list. “Dear Santa, I would like: a hand mirror, a Lego Star Wars set” and she finishes writing “a knitting set, like Zara.”


Hannah looks over her list.


We see it again.


The writing disappears into the paper.


Hannah looks around.


We hear her mother talking on the phone.


MOM
…Dad, get her a small hand mirror, and a Lego Star Wars set...yes, the one with Rey’s speeder will be fine...and a knitting set, her friend asked for one…


HANNAH gasps.


She looks at the pencil in awe.


HANNAH
It’s...it’s magic...but…


DOLL
Now Hannah wasn’t sure the pencil was really magic, but she was in awe. She looked out the window when she heard Zara and Imogen talking.


We see Zara and Imogen. They are playing with Imogen’s dog.


DOLL
They were playing with Imogen’s new dog. Hannah wanted a dog, too.


INT. HANNAH AND LUKE’S BEDROOM


Hannah is in bed. It is night.


DOLL
Yes, Hannah wanted a dog for Christmas, and she thought her magic pencil had the power to get her one, but she wasn’t sure, so she didn’t write down her wish with her new pencil.


STAIRS
Hannah walks down the stairs.


DOLL
She decided to just ask her parents.


INT. LIVING ROOM


Hannah’s parents are sitting on the couch. Enter Hannah.


HANNAH
Mom, Dad, can I have a dog?


MOM
I don’t think so Hannah. They’re awfully expensive and a lot of work.


HANNAH
Please, Mom?


MOM
Sorry, Hannah.


HANNAH
(leaves to go to bed) (reluctantly) OK, Mom.


We see LUKE. He has heard the whole thing.


Back in HANNAH AND LUKE’S BEDROOM.


LUKE is looking out the window.


LUKE
Sure wish it would snow.


HANNAH (in her bed)
Snow? Down here? This is only the first day of winter.


LUKE
I still wish it will snow.


HANNAH
Luke, it’s not gonna happen. Please go to sleep now.


Luke throws down the snow hat he’s been wearing in disappointment.


Luke cozies up in his bed.


Luke drifts off to sleep.


Hannah looks around. She spies the pencil on her dresser.


DOLL
Now Hannah still wasn’t sure about the pencil, but she wanted to give it a try. She knew what to wish for next.


Hannah picks up the pencil and a pad of paper and writes “I wish it would snow for my little brother.”


She puts the pad and pencil down.


She too drifts off to sleep.


The star decor on the pencil starts to glow.


The writing on the pad disappears into the paper.


INT. DOLLHOUSE
DOLL
The next morning, Hannah found her wish had come true.
MORNING
Luke shakes Hannah awake.


LUKE
Hannah, wake up! It snowed! It snowed!


HANNAH
It snowed?


LUKE
Yes! It snowed! Come on, Hannah, get on your jacket!


STAIRS


The pair rush downstairs, get on their warm clothes after opening a closet, and rush outside.


LUKE
I’m gonna make a snowman!


HANNAH (opens garage)
I’m gonna go sledding.


Luke starts work on his snowman.


Hannah carries her sled to the top of the hill. Zara and Imogen catch up to her.


IMOGEN
I can’t believe it snowed!


ZARA
It almost never snows here.


HANNAH (putting down her sled)
Hop on!


ZARA and IMOGEN board the sled behind HANNAH.


HANNAH kick-starts the sled. They careen down a hill - right towards Luke, who is putting the head on his snowman!


IMOGEN
Watch out!


HANNAH
Swerve!


ZARA
Too late!


The sled crashes into Luke’s snowman.


LUKE
My snowman!


Hannah looks at the destroyed snowman.


She gets an idea.


HANNAH
Wait right here.


She runs to her room, seizes the pencil and pad of paper, and writes “I wish Luke’s snowman were finished.” Then she runs back outside.


Luke is still staring at the miraculously completed snowman.


Hannah looks at the snowman too.


LUKE
How did it do that?


HANNAH
You wouldn’t believe it if I told you!


THE NEXT DAY - CHRISTMAS EVE


Hannah’s family’s car parks by a ONE HOUR PARKING ONLY sign on a busy city street.


They walk into a restaurant.


INT. RESTAURANT


Later, in the restaurant, a waiter brings them food.


WAITER
Here’s your food.


HANNAH, LUKE, and THEIR PARENTS
Thank you.


MOM
That food sure took a long time to get here. It’s nearly been an hour since we got here. IT’S NEARLY BEEN AN HOUR! Our car! One-hout parking! Hope we don’t get a -


But it is too late. Mom looks out the restaurant window. A policewoman puts a slip of paper on their car’s front windshield.


MOM rushes out of the restaurant.


INT. RESTAURANT


Hannah takes her pencil and paper out.


DOLL
Now Hannah was fairly sure the pencil was magic after it fixed her brother’s snowman, so she decided to use it to help her mother out.


Hannah writes “I wish our parking ticket would become a Christmas card.”


EXT. RESTAURANT - CITY STREET


MOM picks up the parking ticket.


MOM
Why, this is just a Christmas card!


She opens it. A pop-up Christmas tree emerges.


MOM giggles.


DOLL
Hannah saw everything that happened. She was amazed. It felt good knowing that her special magic pencil was doing good things for the family she knew and loved.


INT. RESTAURANT


MOM returns to the table.
MOM
That police officer just gave us a Christmas card!


HANNAH winks.


DAD
Is anyone up for ice cream?


MOM
On Christmas Eve? No, no, no. They’re going to have plenty of candy this Christmas. We don’t need any more.


DAD
Just a kiddie cone won’t hurt them.


MOM
No, Russell. No, no, no.


(garbled arguing)


Hannah scribbles with her magic pencil in her pad.


A sprig of mistletoe appears between her parents.


MOM
Mistletoe?


DAD smiles at her.


MOM smiles back.


They kiss.


INT. ICE CREAM PARLOR
The family eats their ice cream.


EXT. ICE CREAM PARLOR


The family files out of the ice cream parlor.


They gaze down the streets.


HANNAH
Look at all the decorations!


DOLL
They were so pretty - stars and snowflakes and wreaths, all lining the streets in their own special way, all the lights, the magic, the comfort.


We see the doll in her dollhouse. She sheds a tear.


DOLL
Just talking about them makes me tear up!


EXT. ICE CREAM PARLOR - CITY STREET
Hannah and Luke remain captivated by the decorations.

DOLL
They were so busy looking at all those pretty lights that they didn’t even notice their parents walking away. They were soon alone on the city street.


HANNAH
I think we’re lost…


LUKE
Hannah, look!


Luke points to a toy firetruck in a toy store window.


LUKE
This is what I want for Christmas!


HANNAH
It’s so cool, Luke!


LUKE
I wish I could ride a real fire truck.


HANNAH pulls out her magic pencil.


We see her write “I wish Luke could ride a real fire truck.”


Suddenly lights blaze over the street. A fire engine pulls up.
A fireman opens the door and addresses the children.


FIREMAN
Hey, kids. Would you like a ride?


LUKE
Would I ever!


HANNAH
And by the way, sir, I think we’re lost. So you’d better keep an eye out for our parents.


FIREMAN
Climb aboard and we’ll look for them.


The kids board the fire truck. The truck drives away onto the city streets.


INT. DOLLHOUSE
DOLL
Now Hannah and Luke had never been in a fire truck before, and it was so cool being in one! (laughs)


INT. FIRE TRUCK


FIREMAN
Is that them?


LUKE
This is so cool!


FIREMAN
I’m talking to you, uh...what’s your name?


LUKE
My name’s Luke.


FIREMAN
OK, Luke, are those your parents?


LUKE
No.


FIREMAN
How about those two?


HANNAH
That’s them! Pull over!


The firetruck pulls over.


Mom and Dad are shocked but relieved as the kids step out of the fire truck.


LUKE
It was so awesome! I was looking at the fire truck I wanted for Christmas in a store window and then a real one pulled up and we got to ride it!


DAD
Thanks for finding our kids. We’d been looking long and hard for them.


FIREMAN
My pleasure.


HANNAH giggles to herself and glances at her magic pencil.


INT. HANNAH AND LUKE’S BEDROOM


LUKE
I wish I was still riding that fire truck!


HANNAH looks at Luke.


DOLL
Hannah was sure the pencil was really magic now, so she decided to use it to wish for a dog. But when she reached over to get it, it was gone!


HANNAH
Luke, did you take my pencil?


LUKE
Yes.


HANNAH
Why did you take it?


LUKE
I wanted to write something.


HANNAH
What did you want to write?


LUKE
You’ll find out Christmas morning!


HANNAH
Luke, did you know (inhales, exhales) that pencil is magic and grants the wishes it writes down?

LUKE
Is that how you made it snow and got us to ride the fire truck?


HANNAH
Yes, Luke, it is.


LUKE
I could sorta tell that you were using the pencil to make things happen like that.


HANNAH
How did you know?


LUKE
I just knew it. All these wonderful things happened right after you wrote with that pencil. There was the mistletoe, the fire truck…


HANNAH
You’re smart, Luke.


LUKE
Here, I finished writing. You can have the pencil back now.


HANNAH takes the pencil from Luke.


HANNAH
So tomorrow morning I’ll find out what you wrote?


LUKE
Yeah.


DOLL
Hannah and Luke went to sleep, dreaming of what wonders the next day would bring. The next morning…


INT. HOUSE - STAIRS - CHRISTMAS MORNING


HANNAH
I’m gonna beat you, Luke!


LUKE
No, I’m gonna beat you, Hannah!


They run into the living room and gasp. Luke looks down.


LUKE
It’s the fire truck!!


Indeed, the fire truck Luke saw in the store window the previous night is in the living room with a bow on it.


Enter MOM and DAD. DAD holds a video camera.


The sound of a dog barking comes from another room. A dog runs in, right to Hannah!


HANNAH
A - a dog! Santa got me a dog! But I thought I wasn’t getting one!


LUKE
You can thank your magic pencil.


MOM and DAD look at each other, befuddled.


DOLL
Luke ran back up to the bedroom he shared with his sister and brought down the pencil. He presented it to Hannah proudly.


During the narration, we see Luke dash up the stairs and then back down them.

HANNAH
Oh, Luke, thank you for this Christmas miracle!


Brother and sister embrace.


MOM
Well, I don’t know anything about this “magic pencil” business.


DAD
Neither do I.


HANNAH
Luke, I have another Christmas gift for you.


LUKE
What is it?


Hannah takes the pencil from Luke.


HANNAH
This. Keep it safe until next Christmas. Use it wisely. Use it to help those around you.


LUKE takes the pencil back.


HANNAH
Wanna go play in the snow?


LUKE
Yes!!!


They run outside again in their warm clothes. Hannah’s new dog follows.
They meet up with Zara and Imogen.


HANNAH
Zara, Imogen, I got a dog!


IMOGEN
That’s cool! Now our dogs can be friends, just like we are!


ZARA
Wanna make snow angels?


The four children put their heads together and make snow angels on the ground.


The camera pans upward. We still can hear the sound of the children’s laughter.


DOLL
And that’s one Christmas Hannah will never forget.



INT. DOLLHOUSE

DOLL
So try to be like Hannah. You may never find a magic pencil like she did, but you can help others like she did. Hannah gave to others. She has a good heart, and I know that because she cares for me. So do good things whenever you can, and you will have a happy heart. And a very, very happy holiday season. Because…(picks up ukulele)


(singing)
Every little wish and every little dream
Has a chance of coming true at Christmas
Every little song sung throughout the year
Has a chance of being heard at Christmas


Every little prayer and every little hope
Is the joy of Christmas time
All our loving hearts, beating all as one
Everybody felt there's enough to go around
All our loving hearts, beating all as one
The joy of Christmas time


Every little wish and every little dream
Has a chance of coming true at Christmas
Every little song sung throughout the year
Has a chance of being heard at Christmas


Every little prayer and every little hope
Is the joy of Christmas time
All our loving hearts, beating all as one
Everybody felt there's enough to go around
All our loving hearts, beating all as one
The joy of Christmas time


EXT. HOUSE - ZOOMING OUT AS SONG ENDS


FADE OUT


END CREDITS


THE END


Note: “Every Little Wish” song written by Raffi. Copyrighted.




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