Music & Lyrics by: Beth Falcone
Book by: Eric H. Weinberger
Story by: Eric H. Weinberger & Beth Falcone
Wanda Butternut feels beautiful and confident in her new hometown of Cheese Valley, USA. She gives advice to distressed and anxious kids who call in to her television show (“Wanda’s World”); except, the TV show is in her imagination. In real life, the night before the first day of school, she is nervous. Her “Caller Number Three” confesses she has an awful birthmark on her face and is scared to start school. Wanda suggests covering it with makeup and also urges her to try to be perfect in every way right down to the ring tone on her cell phone. Wanda’s Mom asks her to go to bed and reminds her how long it takes to put on her makeup. Wanda touches the birthmark on her cheek and responds despondently, “Mom, it doesn’t work anyway!” Spangles, her pet Basset Hound, licks her face in comfort and coaxes her to continue starring in her show. He says, “You can’t let down Caller Number Three!”
The next day, the students at Cheese Valley Middle School are abuzz with news that handsome heartthrob, Ty Belvedere, “like-likes” the leader of the girls’ clique, Jenny Hightower (“No One Can Know”). Too busy with their gossiping, no one notices Wanda desperately searching for her classroom. When she finally makes it to Spanish Class, Señorita Dinglederry scolds her for being late, but then, everyone sees the birthmark. The kids gasp. Ms. Dinglederry becomes overly attentive. Wanda is miserable. At lunch, Jenny invites Wanda to sit with the clique and pretends to befriend Wanda. “So what are you ‘into’, Wanda?” Flattered, Wanda says she is interested in becoming involved with the school TV channel. Jenny and the other girls criticize everything about Wanda and call her a “freak” (“She’s So Last Week”). The girls go wild when adorable Ty Belvedere appears. Jenny and Ty express that it is going to be a very good year. Class bully, P. J. Dunbar, knocks into Wanda on purpose. She drops her tray and is embarrassed.
A couple of weeks later in Audio Visual class, Mr. Lemmings gives Wanda the job of holding cue cards for the Cheese Valley News.. She drops them, too, and feels she can’t do anything right. On air, (“Cheese Valley Cheer”), Jenny is the host. She introduces Alison Carmichael and Ty Belvedere. They announce their candidacies for student council president. Ty explains why he should be elected, advocating for cooler music at dances and Pizza Fridays (“What’s Not To Like?”). After the class, P. J. tells his buddies that he is sick of Ty. P. J. also “like-likes” Jenny, but she won’t give him the time of day. P. J. decides to run for president, also. He vows to manipulate Blotches, a horrible nickname he gives Wanda, to squash Ty’s chances (“Operation Shutdown”).
Meanwhile, Wanda’s show goes awry. The fantasy callers complain as none of her advice has worked for them. She threatens to give up and cancel “the show” happening in her fantasy. Suddenly, a rock star appears and challenges her to go back and stand up for herself. (“Don’t Mess With Me”). Wanda continues to work very hard in the TV production class and begins to excel, partly due to all the practice with her imaginary TV show. Mr. Lemmings assigns her as the reporter for the big football game for School News Channel 23! Jenny is furious and accuses Wanda of being the “teacher’s pet.” The star quarterback is Ty Belvedere, and Jenny wants the interview. Nevertheless, Wanda takes her assignment seriously and covers the game (“Blow ‘em Away”). Although nobody else notices, she sees that Ty is limping slightly during the game. Despite the injury he is trying to hide, he scores the winning touchdown and saves the day for Cheese Valley. After the game, Wanda rushes in for an interview, but Jenny blocks her way. Surprisingly, P. J. helps Wanda. He suggests she go to Ty’s house to get her story. Wanda balks at first, but P. J. and his cronies convince her that it is a good idea. Timidly, Wanda approaches Ty in his backyard. He lets her interview him. Due to Wanda’s innate skill, Ty becomes able to confide on camera. His knee is swollen, and he is panicked. He fears he won’t be able to continue playing sports and live up to his brother’s heroic legacy. Shameful P. J. and his buddies hide in the bushes and snap photos of them. After the interview, Ty asks Wanda if she is going to vote for him for student council president. She says she isn’t sure. He is shocked and asks why. Wanda explains she wants to vote for someone who realizes not everyone is the same. For example, students who are lactose intolerant do not eat cheese and need to be taken under consideration, too. Wanda suggests soy cheese as an alternative in Cheese Valley (“Not Everyone Eats Cheese”). Ty tells Wanda he is impressed with her. Wanda realizes she befriended the most popular guy in school and dreams of dancing with him at the Halloween Dance.
Mr. Lemmings thinks Wanda’s interview with Ty is superb. He offers Wanda her own show on School Channel 23! Wanda is thrilled. She tells him about her dream show where kids call in and talk about their problems. Ty delivers a speech the day before the election incorporating Wanda’s ideas about respecting people’s differences. The student body has never heard of soy cheese! (“Cheese Reprise”) In the bathroom before the Halloween Dance, Wanda feels inadequate and is about to chicken out of attending the dance when Señorita Dinglederry emerges from one of the stalls in full flamenco costume and uses a bit of Spanish magic to encourage Wanda to go. (“Diva Latina”). At the dance, (“Routine Halloween”) P. J. spikes the punch and makes Mr. Lemmings and Señorita Dinglederry tipsy. As they tango out of the gym, he tells Wanda she should ask Ty to dance, because Ty is too shy to ask her. When she does, Ty hesitates. P. J. and his followers say they know Ty really “like-likes” Blotches. They show photoshopped slides of Ty and Wanda close together and pressure Ty to admit he likes her. Jenny throws Ty a stricken look. Ty denies it, and Wanda flees the dance, humiliated. Mr. Lemmings sees her run out of the school. He follows her and asks what’s wrong. She says she’s never coming back to the school. Her desolation causes her to believe she does not belong anywhere (“A Face Like Mine”). Mr. Lemmings reveals he was the butt of bullies’ bad behavior when he was Wanda’s age. “Maybe you’ve noticed; I have a slight s-s-stutter.” He inspires Wanda to have courage to return to school.
The next day, P. J. brags to Jenny and the other kids. He thinks the election is sewn up after what he did to Ty. He gloats over his victory and tries to impress everyone with new insults toward Wanda. To everybody’s amazement, she defends herself. Ty witnesses and stands with her. He apologizes to her for his previous behavior and declares that Wanda is indeed his friend. He even renounces Jenny for her cruelty. “From now on, I just want to hang out with people who are nice.” He warns P. J. to never bother Wanda again. All the students ignore P. J.
A few weeks later, Wanda’s dream comes true when she is on the air with her very own show – “Wanda’s World.” She really does take calls from kids with problems and gives them advice. Newly-elected student council president, Ty Belvedere, and vice-president, Alison Carmichael are her co-hosts. Caller Number One has an eating disorder. Wanda knows exactly what to say. Caller Number Two is scared of a certain bully in school. Wanda knows precisely how to help. Caller Number Three used to be the most popular girl in school, but now she has acne. She feels sure nobody will ever like her again. All of a sudden, Wanda recognizes the voice — It is Jenny. Wanda understands and says, “I’ll come and see you cheer, Jenny! We’ll do a whole story on you!” After all it is Wanda’s World where every kid has the chance to be heard and accepted for who they are. Give her a call! (“Wanda’s World Finale”).
–Synopsis by Ann Marie Falcone