by Joe Cosentino
Don’t you just adore musical theatre? What better way to tell a story than with performers in colorful costumes engaging in heightened dialogue, melodious tunes, and creative dancing in front of elaborate sets? The orchestra swells with catchy tunes. The energy between the actors onstage and the audience in the theatre house is electrifying. There is nothing better than “another opening, another show” as handsome chorus boys sing, “you’re the top.”
So when it came time to write the sweet (pun intended) sixteenth Nicky and Noah mystery novel, I decided Nicky, Noah, and their theatrical troupe at Treemeadow College would stage an original musical production of Robin Hood entitled, Why the Merry Men Are So Merry. In my very merry version, Robin Hood (Noah) and the Sheriff of Nottingham (Nicky) begin as adversaries and end up as lovers. Wouldn’t it be nice if feuding world leaders would do that? Also in my play within the novel, Maid Marian is played by Nicky’s best pal and department chair Martin Anderson. Martin’s long-suffering husband, Ruben, is Friar Tuck (a drag queen). Nicky and Noah’s son, Taavi, is Will Scarlet, and his wife Sloane, plays Maude Lindsey. Martin and Ruben’s son, Ty, is minstrel Alan-a-Dale, and bumbling Detective Manuello comes along for the ride as (not so little) Little John. Even Nicky and Noah’s dog, Asterisk, and his husband, Tag, are cast as Merry Stud and Tail-wagger. The rest of the cast members are hunky newcomers to the series, so there are plenty of victims and suspects—not to mention sweet romance. As Nicky would say, if you read this novel, you’ll have more fun than a Republican politician banning the word “gay.”
For those of you who haven’t yet ventured to the land of Nicky and Noah (and you should!), it’s a gay cozy mystery comedy series, meaning the setting is warm and cozy, the clues and murders (and laughs) come fast and furious, and there are enough plot twists and turns and a surprise ending to keep the pages turning (as Nicky would say) “faster than the blackmailing of a closet gay movie star Scientologist.” At the center is the touching relationship between Professor of Play Directing Nicky Abbondanza and Associate Professor of Acting Noah Oliver. We watch them go from courting to marrying to adopting a child, all the while head over heels in love with each other (as we fall in love with them). Reviewers called the series “hysterically funny farce,” “Murder She Wrote meets Hart to Hart meets The Hardy Boys,” and “captivating whodunits.” One reviewer wrote they are the funniest books she’s ever read! Another said I’m “a master storyteller.” Who am I to argue?
The premiere novel, Drama Queen, was voted Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Award for Favorite LGBT Mystery, Humorous, and Contemporary Novel of the Year! Subsequent novels won many Rainbow Award Honorable Mentions and Favorite Book of the Month awards: Drama Muscle, Drama Cruise, Drama Luau, Drama Detective, Drama Fraternity, Drama Castle, Drama Dance, Drama Faerie, Drama Runway, Drama Christmas, Drama Pan, Drama TV, Drama Oz, and Drama Prince.
As a past professional actor and current college theatre professor/department chair, I know first-hand the hysterically funny antics, sweet romance, and captivating mystery in the worlds of theatre and academia. The Nicky and Noah mysteries are full of them! I know you’ll laugh, cry, feel romantic, and love delving into this crackling new mystery with more plot twists and turns than, as Nicky would say, a QAnon member finding out liberals don’t eat dead babies.
I’m more excited, as Nicky would say, than a Proud Boy storming the Capitol in the insurrection to share this sixteenth novel in the series with you. So put on your tights, be merry, and head to Sherwood Forest for murder, mayhem, and of course, a happy ending (no pun intended)!
Drop me a line. I’ll share it with Nicky and Noah! JoeCosentino.weebly.com.
Drama Merry (the 16th Nicky and Noah mystery)
a comedy/mystery/romance novel by Joe Cosentino
Amazon, Apple: Drama Merry
Smashwords: Drama Merry
Barnes & Nobel: Drama Merry
Kobo: Drama Merry
Spring and romance blossom at Treemeadow College when theatre professors Nicky, Noah, and their thespian cohorts stage an original musical adaptation of Robin Hood entitled, Why the Merry Men Are So Merry. Things are very merry indeed until some Merry Men drop like tights after a drag show. Once again, our favorite thespians will need to use their drama skills to catch the killer before their tights are in a knot—around their throats. You will be applauding and shouting Bravo for Joe Cosentino’s fast-paced, sidesplittingly funny, edge-of-your-seat entertaining sixteenth novel in this delightful series. It’s a gas! So hurry to your seat. The stage lights are coming up in Sherwood Forest on a Robin in the hood, a sheriff with a bulge in his tights, a not so little Little John, a Friar Tuck drag queen, more Merry Men than in the back room of a family values’ convention, and murder!
“The Nicky and Noah Mysteries series are perfect for fans of the Cozy Mystery sub-genre. They mix tongue-in-cheek humor, over-the-top characters, a wee bit of political commentary, and suspense into a sweet little mystery solved by Nicky and Noah, theatre professors for whom all the world’s a stage.” Prism Book Alliance
“This is one hilarious series with a heart and it just keeps getting better. I highly recommend them all, and please read them in the order they were written for full blown laugh out loud reading pleasure!” Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
Excerpt of Drama Merry, the 16th Nicky and Noah mystery novel, by Joe Cosentino:
Emerald Sherwood Forest surrounds a tall, handsome man in a green tunic and hood. His golden hair and sky-blue eyes peek out from a tree branch as thick as the bulge in his tights. Robin of Locksley sadly recalls his family’s estate, seized by Prince John when Robin fought the Crusades in Jerusalem with John’s brother Prince Richard. In a tenor as crisp and luscious as the leaves in the forest, Robin bemoans his fate in the catchy tune, “I’m a Homo Without a Home and a Hottie in the Hood.” For the last verse, Robin’s dog, Merry Stud, lifts his paw and executes three flips in the air at a sign for an inn: “Eat Out, Twink, and be Merry.” The sign falls on the inn which falls on Robin’s dog which falls on Robin.
“Stop!” It’s me, Nicky Abbondanza, your favorite Professor of Play Directing, actually the only professor of play directing in picturesque Treemeadow College in picturesque Vermont in picturesque America. Before I begin our sweet (pun intended) sixteenth adventure, let’s do a quick recap for any Nicky and Noah virgins out there. Since you can’t see me, I’m absolutely gorgeous. Okay, back to reality. I’m tall, with dark hair from a bottle, muscles from the campus gym, emerald eyes from contact lenses, and a Roman nose from my Italian American heritage.
I can humbly add the little tidbit (though it’s not so little) that yours truly is in the Guinness Book of World Records. Not for directing plays and musicals, a bodybuilding competition, a murder mystery dinner theatre cruise show, a luau show, movies, a runway show, and a television pilot. My heralded listing isn’t for solving fifteen murder mysteries. My claim to fame is a nearly foot long penis—flaccid—an Abbondanza trait from the old country, where my ancestors sold foot long salami. More recently my father, before his passing, owned an Italian bakery in Kansas, where jumbo cannoli were the top seller. Noah Oliver, Associate Professor of Acting (41), and I (48-grr) met here at Treemeadow College named after its original founders, wealthy gay couple Tree and Meadow. Noah is my blond-haired, blue-eyed, creamy-complexioned Adonis. He and I met at Treemeadow, dated, became engaged, married in Alaska, adopted a son in Hawaii, travelled to Scotland, Key West, and San Francisco, and gave our son away in marriage back at Treemeadow. We didn’t really give him away since Taavi and his wife, Sloane, both Treemeadow College theatre majors, live in Taavi’s bedroom at our house. Noah, Taavi, and I wear dress shirts, dress slacks, and blazers. It’s a family thing.
Which brings me to why I am wearing a skintight black leather suit (not what you’re thinking) and standing backstage at our college’s burgundy theatre during spring break. While having dinner at the mansion on a hill owned by my best friend and department chair, Martin Anderson (ancient), his husband Ruben Markinson (equally ancient), and their adopted son Ty Wilde Anderson Markinson (18); my husband Noah accidentally but totally on purpose let it slip out that he would like to play the role of Robin Hood.
That sent everyone at the table in motion faster than a past Republican president losing an election and planning an insurrection. Martin cleared the honey mint lamb skewers appetizer and began crafting an original musical entitled, Why the Merry Men Are So Merry. Martin’s husband Ruben, moving away the brie shrimp and crab soup, made calls to arrange the financing. Our son, Taavi Kapule Oliver Abbondanza (19), turned scarlet until I cast him as hot-headed Will Scarlet. His new wife, Sloane Thomas Kapule Oliver Abbondanza (21), sneaked me a clam spinach fontina cheese stuffed mushroom, dropping a hint (and the mushroom) that she’d like to play the sheriff’s maid, Maude Lindsey. Ty used the spoons to rap (on my head) his audition for the minstrel Alan-a-Dale. Martin took caution (and his diaper, dentures, and replaced knees and hips) to the wind (literally), wrapped his silk napkin around his waist, and danced on the table until I cast him as Maid Marian. Ruben followed suit (or dress) by abandoning his hearing aide, defibrillator, and C-Pap, tucking his aging package into a girdle, and claiming his territory as drag queen Friar Tuck. Martin’s office assistant, antagonist, and best gal pal, Shayla Johnson (age indeterminant), claimed the role of Eleanor of Aquitaine, as Shayla said, “To show you queens how a real queen takes the stage.”
My nemesis Detective Jose Manuello (55 going on 90) asked or rather begged me for the role of Little John. His wife, Ariella, agreed that “Little” John was the perfect role for him. She also designed our costumes, strapping me (literally) into my skintight black leather Sheriff of Nottingham suit, making me a ham in knots. Speaking of begging, Asterisk, our gray and white bearded collie (4), stood on his hind legs and juggled the chicken kiev main course for the role of Robin’s dog, Merry Stud. Asterisk’s husband, Tag (4), a cream-colored Yorkshire terrier, did the same with the flaming cherries for dessert, winning Tag the part of the sheriff’s dog, Tail-Wagger. Dazzling Count Choreo (32), Assistant Professor of Dance, became our choreographer and took on the role of dazzling Merry Man David of Doncaster. Bland Pierce Falsetto (30), Assistant Professor of Music, signed on as Musical Director and as the not so Merry Man Arthur-a-Bland. That left our theatre majors, whose parents wouldn’t let them come home for spring break, to take on the remaining roles and technical positions. City boy Bass Jazzy (20) won the merry part of Merry Man Gilbert Whitehead. His country boy classmate, Spin Vibrato (19), was cast as equally Merry Man Reynold Greenleaf, creating a rainbow of merriment. Sweet Melody Tempo (20) took on the role of Much the Miller’s Daughter. Try saying that three times fast while putting on glow-in-the-dark lipstick.
Sassy Shinelle Jones (18) agreed to be our sassy stage manager. Amply filling out the tights of the chorus of Very Merry Men were senior theatre majors (20-21) Cadence Arpeggio, Tenor Harmony, Pas de Deux, and Adagio Arabesque, and graduate assistant Lyric Baritone (22). The bit roles and tech positions were decided upon a bit later. So here I am during tech week, also known as director-assisted suicide week, in the theatre wing—wishing I could fly away.
After typing more notes for the cast and crew than in the score of a Sondheim musical, I held my electronic tablet and throbbing head in my shaking hands. I felt a warm, comforting hand on my sweaty back.
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