The Virus
Book and Lyrics by Alan David Perkins
Music by Charles Pizer
Copyright © 1994


Full-length musical.


Joel Schwartz and Ian Stanley are two definitive computer nerds. Ian Stanley resents his position and wants to be like the "beautiful people," while Joel merely wants the life everyone tells him he doesn't have. Stanley gets the brilliant idea to encourage Joel to cure a computer virus that is effecting the entire country. Joel quickly discovers that Stanley created the virus for the sole purpose of having Joel cure it, thus assuring them a place in a different society.

Meanwhile, their friends are wrestling with their own "viruses." Malcolm and Miriam, their married friends, are being drawn apart by their devotion to their computers and to the Hacker Ethic which runs their lives. Billy Rosenblatt, a teenager, hides in a world of fantasy and comic books. Joel must also face a new inner "virus" when he attempts dating and can't figure out why it doesn't seem to go right.


JOEL SCHWARTZ - Male, 30, overweight, bearded, glasses, very methodic and tidy.
JODY SCHWARTZ - Female, 35, proper and snobby (doubles as SUZY, Joel's computer).
IAN STANLEY - Male, 30-35, sloppy and disorganized.
BILLY ROSENBLATT - Young male, 14-18. Meek and thin.
MALCOLM MIRSKY - Male, 25-35.
MIRIAM MIRSKY - Female, 25-35.
HOLLY BOSWELL - Female, 30's, a little eccentric and artsy. Very "East Village."
LARRY SCHNEIDER - Male, 35-40. Very dapper and business-like.
2 UTILITY (MALE & FEMALE) - Newscasters, Nerds, Rosenblatt's Mom, Comic Book Shop customers.


120 - 130 minutes.


The set is empty, though all set pieces should be modular and easily rolled on and off. Pieces include: Joel's bedroom, complete with a piece of wall, furniture and computer; a single computer stand that can be used for other character's computers; the comic book shop, complete with check-out counter and racks of comic books; a booth at a pizzeria; a table at a club; and a talk show set with four chairs.

The play is in two acts, with each act divided into multiple scenes.


This was my first play about computer people (the others being "Nobody Knows I'm a Dog" and "F2F"), even though one of the characters in "A Dish of Food" spend a lot of time with his computer. This play in particular took a long time to write, and an even longer time to research. I can remember formulating the plot and some lyrics three years prior to writing it. Those who have read "The Virus" feel that it transcends being just about computer nerds and really gets into the ups and downs of just being different, therefore giving it universal appeal.

There are TONS of stories about the creation of this play. The whole opening number was written after a reading. The readers demanded a snappier opener. There's a song in act 2 called "Miriam," which I wrote for my (now) wife because there were no songs about a girl named Miriam. I liked the lyrics so much that I named a character after her for the sole purpose of using the song.

Oh, here's a good one -- It took me the better part of a year to write Act 1. By the time I was ready to write Act 2, I got a new job and had only two weeks left in my old position (keep in mind that I do all my writing at work -- don't tell my boss!). So, I had to finish the entire Act 2 in two weeks. I was actually surprised that I was able to do it!

It was a tough process to find a composer. I had decided to turn to the Internet, due to the nature of the play. I eventually met with a number of composers and finally settled on Charlie Pizer. Charlie and I TO THIS DAY have never met, though we've spent lots of time on the phone. Charlie is amazing. He jumped right into the fray and would call me almost daily to let me hear his latest. When he finally finished "The Virus," he asked if I had anything else. All I had was my first musical, "The Adventures of Mighty Man." Charlie finished it in less than a month! My biggest regret is that I haven't written any musicals since, because I'd love to work with Charlie again.

As usual, there are tons of Easter Eggs in "The Virus." I make lots of references to comic books in this play, particularly Mighty Man. Mighty Man was the subject of my very first play. I also make references to Mighty Man in "F2F." Another favorite Easter Egg is the song "Superior in Every Way." I would use that as a throw-away and eventually I used it as a motto for the horn section of the orchestra I played with.


The entire script and sketch score of The Virus is available upon request from the playwright. No production of this play can take place without permission from the playwright.