Pied Piper of Lawrence


Before it was eliminated, I was sponsored by the Kansas Arts Commission to present an afternoon workshop and evening concert of storytelling, original music and children's theater. I would start with an afternoon Children's Theater Workshop, then the workshop kids joined me that evening on stage as I retold the Pied Piper of Hamelin tale with my original prequel/sequel and music.

For arts councils with larger budgets, I sometimes brought in my six-person theater troupe, Carter Performers, to present my one-act musical melodrama "Pied Piper: The Rest of the Story." The play is basically the same retelling as what I do with my solo performances, but as a one-act musical melodrama rather than just narration. Currently, however, I am interested in performing the storyteller version of the tale.

The Experts Say...

"The Satanta Arts Council has hosted many performers from the touring roster, and Carter Performers have been among the best received in our community."
Karen Burrows, Satanta Arts Council, Sat anta, Kansas
"I loved the song where the rats come in.
I still sing the song A LOT!"
Madeline, age 5, Satanta, Kansas
"Carter surpassed our expectations. Larry communicated expertly with the children and treated them with respect and professionalism."
Gail Parsons, Junction City Arts Council, Junction City

Children's Theater Workshop and Concert
Great Bend, Kansas

Children's Theater Workshop

Trying on costumes

Rats meeting their best friend - the Rat Master!

There is a character in the Pied Piper story so sneaky that no one has even heard of him until now. He is best friends with the rats, so he sent them to Hamelin in the first place, then recruited the piper to call them back to his cave. They call him - the Rat Master.

I suppose you think I'm... odd!

The rat is such a noble friend
With bulging eyes and toothy grin.
They scratch and bite without a care
And claw their way to... who knows where! They're SO smart!

"They skitter through town and back again
When I give them CHEESE - my ratty friends!"

The Rat Dance, from a performance at Kansas University

I play The Narrator, then The Villain in my original
musical melodrama "Pied Piper: The Rest of the Story"

Pied Piper:

The Rest of the Story

In 1842, the great English poet Robert Browning wrote what has become the definitive version of the very old tale called "The Pied Piper of Hamelin." This well-known story relates how the Mayor and Town Council of Hamelin refused to pay a piper after he rid them of a plague of rats, so he spirited off their children to a magical cave. He and the children rushed inside and were supposedly never seen again.

Unfortunately, Browning's poem, although brilliantly written and accurate as far as it goes, is incomplete. What happened after the piper and children entered the cave? Browning doesn't say. His ending is more like a cliff hanger than an conclusion, so there must be more to the story. Interestingly, his illustrator, Kate Greenaway, apparently knew more about what happened next since we see in her final illustration the piper playing music while the children dance around a cherry tree, a scene that obviously isn't taking place inside the cave. So - what happened inside the cave? Browning wrote a masterful poem, but he apparently didn't know the rest of the story.

So, who knows what really happened inside that cave? Well, just by coincidence, I do. And I'll explain to you later how I came to know the rest of the story. For now, you should know that there is a character so sneaky that Browning apparently didn't know he even existed - the one they called The Rat Master. He had an old grudge with the city of Hamelin for driving him out of town for befriending his best friends, the rats. He got his revenge by sending the rats to Hamelin, then tricking a piper into bringing the children to his cave. He was outwitted by the courage of the girl the original story calls the "child on crutches" who befriended the Piper and, with him, rescued the children from the cave.

Borrowing from the vaudeville tradition, I start the early evening performance with an "olio" concert showcasing some of my original all-ages music. Then I give a short and entertaining review of the life of Robert Browning (particularly his whirl-wind romance and marriage to another of the great English poets, Elizabeth Barrett Browning) before reading an abridged version of his poem "The Pied Piper of Hamelin." Then I tell my prequel and sequel, complete with original music and children from the workshop joining me for The Rat Dance. In the end, good triumphs over evil and everyone - even the Rat Master - lives happily ever after.

Larry Carter
Musician, Composer, Playwright & Theater Director

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