Wrapped by Dennis Nehamen | Script Revolution

Wrapped

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116pp

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Facing one too many rejections, knowing he'll never provide as he's promised for his loving family, Benny Wright, recording artist, answers absurdly the question: How far will a man go in the name of love?
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Benny Wright works shifts in an auto factory in Detroit to support his family; his true love is writing and performing music. Repeatedly he's on the verge of that one big break, each time being lift only with a dream crashed. Still he persists. He wants more than anything to provide for his beautiful wife Jewel and their two children, Dion and Shana, the lifestyle he believes they deserve.

Finally, he’s off to The Big Apple to ink his name on the deal that will launch his career. When he arrives at the office of the recording company, he’s devastated when he’s told that the execs decided not to go ahead with the deal. The agony of one-to-many defeats resolves for Benny that he’s quitting. There’s only one problem. By working a blue-collar job for the rest of his life how will he ever be able to deliver on the promises he believes he's made to his family? Devastated, he flies home.

The next evening his agent/manager, a jolly yet disingenuous friend from high school named Garland, who is one of the top local execs in the music industry, comes by to visit. He takes Benny to a local club for a drink. The evening proves to be eventful for Benny in that fragments of a plan to solve his problem begin to evolve. For one, he recalls that upon landing back home in Detroit the gloom of his trip was amplified when he fortuitously witnessed a murder. The victim whispered to Benny words to the effect that, sometimes a person has to do the right thing even if you die…The man never completed his thought. Instead he expired in Benny’s arms.

The dying man’s words are highlighted further on two occasions: First, the bartender at Jimbo’s, a local joint he goes to occasionally for a beer, tells his own sad family story; using words similar to the dying man. Second, a close friend, Link, becomes inspired to rally his fellow workers to dump the corrupted union and form a new organization to represent them: along the way he uses words nearly identical the the dying man.

A man in deep suffering can make wildly foolish decisions that he wholeheartedly believes are divinely inspired. Benny was about to make a series of blunders. He concludes that his only hope is to push Jewel away. She’s a gorgeous lady and he’s confident that if he pulls back his love that she’ll eventually fall into the arms of someone better able to provide for her and the children.

The problem is that Jewel adores the man who was her high-school lover and will do anything to console him. He becomes frustrated after she refuses to give up. That’s when the next grand insight strikes him. Jewel will never move on to another man until she hates him and the only way to accomplish that would be to convince her that he’s hooked up with another woman.

Enter the hot-looking backup singer Cookie. Benny goes out of his way to show her off all over town, knowing that once he does not only will Jewel turn hostile but she’ll end up defaulting into rich Garland’s arms. As predicted, Garland, the man who loved Jewel since they were in grade school, delivers the message of Benny’s infidelity. Further, it’s Garland who pursues Jewel, promising his love to her and the children and begging her to come live with him. Knowing that Jewel would hold out to the bitter end, Benny increases her vulnerability by withholding money.

Finally, with great reluctance, Jewel agrees to let Garland stay over at her home, but not to sleep with her. It’s a compromise he knows will only be temporary. All is progressing at this point in accordance with what Benny refers to as his “Perfect Plan,” one “guaran t e e d to succ e e d.” But like all perfection, along the way flaws are revealed. By chance at a concert Benny sees Jewel and the children with Garland. The sadness on their faces mortifies him. That along with his own regret and loneliness sends him deeper into what has evolved into a depressive state. Now he realizes the error of his way.

His suffering is unrelenting but he knows that the single unforgivable crime to his wife is infidelity. Even with his awareness that an affair with Cookie was all a big show, that he never once had intimacy with her, Jewel would never listen to, nor believe, him—at this point, Benny is sure that Jewel has been intimate with Garland as well.

On the surface Cookie might seem like a shallow girl but she’s far from it. She takes Benny under council on how to woo his wife back. Benny tries but can’t make any progress using the prescriptions Cookie has given him. His hopelessness worsens as he realizes he’ll never be able to reunite with his cherished family. Finally, out of desperation, Benny forces his way into his home and confronts Jewel with his love. Garlands shows up unexpectedly. He advises Benny that he failed Jewel and that it’s too late. Jewel, disgusted by Garland’s superficiality and insincerity, as well as Benny’s dishonorable behavior, tells them both that she's “sick of their lines” and to get out of her life.

Defeated, Benny is about to leave. Then the unimaginable happens. Cookie shows up, confessing that Benny never made a play for her. She advocates for him, risking Jewels ire. The depth of love between Benny and Jewel is unmistakable yet Jewel is so hurt that regardless of the infidelity issue being a ruse she can’t let Benny back. Over time her heart weakens and Benny is permitted to move home. Benny is faithful to his resolution to no longer seek a career in music but surprises his family with a final performance as an opening act for a rising young star who calls Benny his mentor. He publicly announces his retirement as well as his love for Jewel.

Wrapped won what at the time was the National Musical Theater Network Award and was performed in 2008 at The New York Musical Theater Network; a second performance was at The York Theatre in New York. It has been adapted into a novel: Wrapped: The First Even Musical Novel (music files embedded into the digital book), Crushing Dreams, lyrics incorporated but no music and as a screenplay for feature film.

Submitted: August 16, 2018
Last Updated: August 16, 2018

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The Writer: Dennis Nehamen

After nearly three decades of practice as both a forensic and clinical psychologist, I’ve had some remarkable stories come through my office. It was about ten years ago when I finally began scaling down my business to make time for writing. I began with screenplays and then after completing three, my son came home from college with a new interest, music. We decided to partner, eventually developing three musicals together. The first, Wrapped, won the prestigious National Theater Network Director’s Choice Award and was presented at The New York Musical Theater Festival, after which we were invited by Jim Morgan, the director of The York Theatre in New York to do a second presentation. Later... Go to bio

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