Miss Nelson’s class is the worst behaved in the whole school. Spitballs flying across the room, paper airplanes sailing every which way and uncontrollable children send the gentle, long-suffering teacher, Miss Nelson, over the edge. But the students of Room 207 are in for a surprise when Miss Nelson turns up missing and is replaced by Viola Swamp, a scary substitute teacher who assigns homework from hell and wields her ruler like a sword! In desperation, the students set out to find their beloved Miss Nelson … but will they ever get her back? Lessons of appreciation and respect.
It is the end of the morning assembly at Horace B. Smedley Elementary School, and four students (Adam, Allison, Cheryl, and Gregory) are singing the school Alma Mater (“Alma Mater”). The janitor, Pop Hanson, explains that these students, in Miss Nelson’s class, are complete nightmares. We now see them in action in their classroom. Instead of calmly listening to the story of Pinocchio, they are disruptive, rude, and completely disrespectful to their teacher. Miss Nelson complains about her lack of control (“The Worst Kids Of All”) and concludes that something must be done about this situation.
It is the next day. Mr. Blandsworth, the principal, enters and laments his life (“Carried Away”) and then explains that Miss Nelson will not be in today. Instead, the students meet Miss Viola Swamp- at first a shadow at the door- and then a very real, very terrifying substitute teacher. She demands respect and explains the consequences of disobedience in class (“The Swamp Song”). Swamp begins the lesson, and the children are suddenly attentive and responsive.
Time passes and there is no sign of Miss Nelson. The homework assignments pile up. The students go in search of their teacher but to no avail. They speculate about what may have happened to Miss Nelson (“What If”) and head to the Police Station to get some official assistance in their search.
At the Police Station, Detective McSmogg is, unfortunately, very little help. He creates an elaborate plan to search the entire globe for the missing teacher (“McSmogg Is Here”) and the students start to lose confidence. They meet at the local Ice Cream Shoppe and write a letter to Miss Nelson, begging her to return and promising to be better behaved (“Miss Nelson Is Missing”).
At school the next day, the students have proven they have changed. They are helping the janitor clean and comparing notes on their homework assignments, when in walks Miss Nelson! She is now able to successfully continue with the story of Pinocchio, and the students realize they now have the same qualities that turned Pinocchio into a real boy: obedience, unselfishness, and respect.
Later that evening, Miss Nelson is at home and singing to herself about a little secret she has been carrying: Miss Viola Swamp was really Miss Nelson in disguise (“The Secret Song”)!
Back at school (“Alma Mater Reprise”), we see that the students are continuing their good behavior. Pop Hanson explains that Detective McSmogg is now working on a new case: the missing Viola Swamp (“Finale”)!
MISS NELSON IS MISSING!
Book, Music & Lyrics by JOAN CUSHING
Based on the book “Miss Nelson is Missing” and “Miss Nelson is Back” by HARRY ALLARD
Illustrated by JAMES MARSHALL
MISS NELSON (Mezzo/Soprano); sweet, pretty, blond, wears pastels
MISS VIOLA SWAMP (Alto); mean, scary, ugly, a witch, dark hair, wears all black
POP HANSON (speaking part only) the Janitor/Narrator – bushy mustache, wears overalls, baseball cap, carries a broom and a pitchpipe
MR. BLANDSFORD (Tenor) the boring Principal; wears a pastel shirt and a loud, funny tie or a bowtie, and nerdy glasses
DETECTIVE McSMOGG (Baritone) the inept detective, dressed like Sherlock Holmes, signature hat and cape, handle-bar mustache, pipe, large magnifying glass
ADAM (BOY #1) (Tenor) has a wild imagination and dark thoughts, clever, creative, smart, a leader, a mischief-maker, brave on the outside, a cream puff on the inside
ALLISON (GIRL #1) (Soprano) bossy, a leader, take-charge type, especially in times of crisis, smart, quick, no-nonsense, usually knows the answer, thinks for herself, presents a perfect image when the teacher is looking, a goody two shoes
GREGORY (BOY #2) (Baritone) A.D.D. type, finds it hard to sit still and pay attention, lives in his own world, lacking in self-control, silly, artistic, draws (especially unflattering pictures of Miss Nelson)
CHERYL (GIRL #2) (Alto) a follower, silly, a girly girl, but wicked, sneaky, can hold her own, a tattle-tale, a worrier, scares easily