• Published 9th Mar 2013
  • 3,219 Views, 170 Comments

Hearth's Warming Eve: A Princess Promenade - Cloud Wander

Ponyville Playhouse presents a bold, new interpretation of Hearth's Warming Eve. Music! Adventure! Intrigue! And a few surprises!

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The Audition

Ponyville Town Hall smelled of sawdust. The carpenters were busily at work, setting up the seats and arranging the scaffolding required for the play's lighting and mechanical effects. Rainbow Dash buzzed around the Hall, encouraging, scolding and congratulating her crew.

Octavia looked about. All right, the orchestra pit is small, but my string quartet will be able to manage. Goodness knows, we've played smaller venues.

Vinyl Scratch called out: "Yo! RD! Where will I set up?"

"Be right there, Vinyl!" called Rainbow, as she fussed with a detail of the lighting.

Down on the stage, the auditions weren't going so well.

"No. No no no no no. No." Rarity the unicorn was quite clear on the subject. She stamped her hoof. "No!"

"But, Rarity!" said Twilight Sparkle. "I already have my costume." Twilight held up the brown cloak of Clover the Clever. She drew it over herself. "See? It even covers my wings. I look like a normal unicorn."

"Twilight, dear Twilight," Rarity began. "I simply cannot allow a Princess of Equestria to appear in public looking like a bag of turnips. Really, darling, it's bad enough that you wish to be a... performer.

"Your proper place is up there," Rarity said, waving towards the rafters. "Madam Mayor has set aside a lovely box seat just for you and your entourage. She calls it, 'The Princess's Booth.' From there, you may look down upon all of Ponyville."

To Twilight's eye, the "Princess's Booth" looked like the cheap seats in the nosebleed section. Twilight stamped in frustration. "I don't want to look down on anypony! I just want to be part of the show!"

Rarity stepped up to Twilight Sparkle and looked her in the eye, very seriously. "Twilight," Rarity said. "I respect you more than anypony I know. But you must understand this, dear: you are a Princess now. And being a Princess entails certain community obligations. You do not wish to 'look down' on anypony and I love you for that. But there are many who wish to look up to you! You inspire hope and greatness in others! Perhaps you do not yet realize how excited all of Ponyville is, to have you living among us! This is your destiny, darling. My most sincere apologies, Your Highness, if I have spoken out of place."

Twilight looked down. She's right. I'm an alicorn now. I'm not "authentic" like Derpy. Maybe I don't have a place in the show anymore. Maybe I should be happy to sit up in the booth and watch. But I still want to help! I could sell tickets, she thought. Or clean up afterwards. Hayseed Turnip Truck could probably use more volunteers for the maintenance crew.

I guess I've been too proud, assuming I'd be in the cast. I'm sorry, everypony. Maybe I just don't belong in Ponyville anymore.

Then Rainbow Dash flew down. "Twilight! Great! Glad you're here finally! You're my Princess Platinum!"

"I'm what now?" asked Twilight.

"I'm casting an actual Princess as a Princess! Is that authentic, or what?" Rainbow Dash squealed with excitement.

"Why, that's an excellent idea, darling," said Rarity. "I could whip up a dazzling gown for you in no time. Something traditional, yet splendid. Gobs of lace and rich brocade, but fewer jewels, to reflect the fashions of the period. Oh! And the capes and trains then were so long and delicious! And the most precious little shoes! Wonderful! If you must appear onstage, Twilight, you can at least present yourself as a proper Princess."

But I wanted to be Clover the Clever, thought Twilight. I've read her Commentaries, front to back. Across the centuries, I heard her speaking to me, mind to mind, as another apprentice to a higher power. But maybe this is what I was telling Derpy: stepping out of your shoes is hard. Maybe I will gain insights from being Princess Platinum.

"I'll do it," decided Twilight Sparkle, Princess of Equestria. "I'll do my best! Let's get started! If I'm to play Princess Platinum, who will play Clover the Clever?" Twilight held out her brown robe to Rarity.

Rarity batted her eyes. "Thank you so much for thinking of me, darling. But as much as I would love to wear a potato sack in front of all of Ponyville, I am far, far too busy to properly represent the role. Ever since your coronation, the orders for copies of my gowns just keep pouring in. I'm glad to donate my efforts at costume design, but I can't fully participate in the company at this time. Please forgive me."

"Me! Me! Me! There's me!" called a voice from the wings. "Pick me!"

Lyra Heartstrings galloped onto the stage. The minty-green unicorn bounded across the boards and seized the cloak of Clover the Clever. She swept the cloak about her and posed dramatically. "At your service, Your Highness," she declared, bowing low.

"Well," said Rainbow Dash, tapping her clipboard. "You did audition for both Clover and Platinum. According to my notes: pretty awesome, but could be more awesome. I suppose...."

"Yes! Yes yes yes yes! Yes!" cried Lyra, jumping around Twilight. "You can count on me, Princess! I'll study hard! I won't let you down."

Twilight was touched by Lyra's undisguised enthusiasm. Was this was how Celestia felt when she chose me as her student? This pride? This joy for another?

"You will be a great Clover the Clever, Lyra," declared Twilight. "Come on. Let's study our lines together! I think I have an insight or two about Clover that I can share with you."


"Rainbow Dash!" cried Twilight Sparkle. "You simply can't do this!"

Oops. Trouble with the Talent, thought Rainbow Dash.

The set of Hearth's Warming Eve was coming along. The gross work, the seating, the lights and sound and the organization of the house, was complete. Now came the fiddly bits: the sets, the timing of the lights and music, the working of the mechanicals. The hours of rehearsal, discovering the sections of the play that didn't work, the revisions, the unexpected successes. And the part that every play director stressed over, since she couldn't quite control them: the actors.

Twilight Sparkle stormed across the stage, fire in her eyes.

"What's up, Twilight?" asked Rainbow Dash with feigned innocence, certain of what was to follow.

"I read through your script. You've added a villain to the Hearth's Warming Eve story!" said Twilight Sparkle. "It's a story about the tender reconciliation of the three pony tribes! And you added a villain!"

Rainbow Dash nodded as she pulled Twilight aside. "Twilight, let me put this bluntly: the old Hearth's Warming Eve story is boring. We've all heard it before. 'You've got to care, you've got to share.' Bleah! Hearth's Warming Eve needs some punching up.

"Let's add some intrigue! Excitement! Suspense! Suppose, just suppose, that everything you know about Hearth's Warming Eve is wrong! Now, how do you feel? Excited, right?"

"No!" shouted Twilight. She brandished her script. "You made Star Swirl the Bearded the villain! How could you do this?!"

Rainbow Dash shrugged. "Scheming advisor to the Unicorn King. Evil sorcerer. It's a classic set-up, really. Plus, he's got a beard. I've examined the Daring Do novels closely, Twilight. The evil mastermind usually has a beard."

"He was a great wizard! A scholar! There's a whole shelf devoted to his works in the Canterlot Library!" raged Twilight.

"And yet!" Rainbow Dash said, raising a hoof dramatically. "He couldn't complete a spell about destiny and friendship. The very spell that you were able to finish. How about that?"

"Well, it's true," said Twilight, tapping her forehooves together. "As he grew older, Star Swirl the Bearded became more reclusive. Working alone in his library, far into the night, collecting secrets from ancient tomes." Twilight glanced away, with a worried inward look.

Rainbow Dash nodded, knowingly. "Villain."

Rainbow Dash sighed. "Look, Twilight. It's like this: the audience needs a villain. Someone to carry away the bad things in the story, so they won't happen again. They need a villain to experience catharsis."

Twilight Sparkle blinked. "Did you just use the word, 'catharsis,' in a sentence?"

"I pronounced it correctly!" said Rainbow Dash.

Oh, how much you've grown, thought Twilight Sparkle. I couldn't believe, at first, that you would really write and direct a play. But look at you now! You've developed a theme (one I personally don't agree with, but still!) and are defending it intelligently. I'm sorry, Rainbow. I should have noticed earlier how much stronger you've become.

"Look, Twilight," said Rainbow Dash. "You've got to trust me. I know what I'm doing."

Twilight smiled warmly at her friend. "I do trust you, Rainbow. I have complete faith in you. Lead the way!"

"Thanks, Twilight," said Rainbow Dash. "I appreciate your– Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Hey, you! Yeah, I'm talking to you! Don't put those tools down on my stage! Somepony could trip over them!

"Sorry, Twilight," said Rainbow Dash. "I've got to go deal with this."

"It's okay," said Twilight, amused, as Rainbow Dash streaked off.

You've changed. But I think you still enjoy bossing other ponies around.