'Lookalike Falls' | Ep. 149

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This episode is the first in a special three-part series recorded live with musicians from the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood in Lenox, Massachusetts, in front of a very excited audience of children and grown-ups. 

Think about a time you faced a difficult task. Maybe you had to work on a complicated project, or you had to clean your very cluttered room!

Did you wish you could just press a button and find instant success? In the story we’re about to hear, that’s pretty much what one of the characters wishes he could do. But when he tries it, he realizes he’s in way over his head!

Our story is called “Lookalike Falls.” Versions of this folktale originally come from Mexico. Some really great people came together to bring you this story — at a really great place!

Joining us on stage at Tanglewood was a trio of musicians from the Boston Symphony Orchestra — Suzanne Nelsen on bassoon, Cindy Meyers on flute, and Rachel Childers on horn — plus a quintet of all-star actors: Karen Allen, Megan Boone, Scott Cohen, Mari Heller, and Peter Riegert.

Karen Allen’s many, many films include Raiders of the Lost Ark, Animal House, and The Perfect Storm. She’s also an acclaimed playwright, screenwriter and director! Megan Boone is an actress known for The Blacklist and The Underground Railroad, as well as the dramatic film Leave Me Like You Found Me! Scott Cohen has starred in such television hits as Gilmore Girls, Necessary Roughness, Allegiance and The 10th Kingdom, as well as the romantic comedy Kissing Jessica Stein. Mari Heller is  a writer, director and actor who’s helmed such films as A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, and Can You Ever Forgive Me. She also starred in The Queen’s Gambit. And Peter Riegert is an actor and director with nearly 100 film and television credits including Animal House, Crossing Delancey, and Local Hero. He also hosts the podcast, Peter Riegert’s Vocal Heroes.

This episode was adapted for Circle Round by Rebecca Sheir. It was edited by Supervising Producer Amory Sivertson. Original music and sound design is by Eric Shimelonis. Our artist is Sabina Hahn. Sound-recording engineering at Tanglewood provided by Matt Reed.

Coloring Page

(Sabina Hahn for WBUR)
(Sabina Hahn for WBUR)

ADULTS! PRINT THIS so everyone can color while listening. We’re also keeping an album so share your picture on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and tag it with #CircleRound. We'd love to see it! To access all the coloring pages for past episodes, click HERE. Our resident artist is Sabina Hahn and you can learn more about her HERE.

Things To Think About After Listening

Think about a time you made a mistake. Maybe you drew on your clothing with what you thought was a washable marker, but it really wasn’t. Maybe you ate way too much apple pie – and got a tummy ache!

Talking about our mistakes can be hard, but it reminds us that mistakes are something we can learn from – rather than something we need to hide. So next time you slip up, or make a boo-boo, instead of getting upset, focus on what that mistake can teach you, and how it can help you grow.


NARRATOR: There once lived a King and Queen who were much beloved throughout the land, for they ruled their people with honesty, justice, and — most of all — wisdom.

When the King and Queen grew old… and came to the end of their long and happy lives… their son was crowned the new King, and his wife was crowned the new Queen.

The new King was a good man, with a heart of gold. But the moment he assumed the throne, that golden heart was wracked with doubt.

KING: My wife! My love! Just yesterday I was a Prince… and now I’m a King! How do I know I’m up to the task of ruling an entire kingdom? And ruling it as wisely as my parents did?

NARRATOR: The Queen was about to offer a response when their royal advisers chimed in.

ADVISER 1: If we may offer our two cents, Your Majesty…

ADVISER 2: …we know a way you can gain all the wisdom you need!

ADVISER 1: All of it!

ADVISER 2: In an instant!

NARRATOR: The Queen gave the advisers a sideways glance.

QUEEN: I’m sorry, but how could a person become instantly wise? There are no shortcuts to wisdom!

NARRATOR: The King, however, was far less skeptical.

KING: Darling, I say we let our advisers speak. Go on! Tell us more!

ADVISER 1: Well, Your Royal Highnesses… we wonder…

ADVISER 2: …have you ever heard the legend…

ADVISER 1: / ADVISER 2:of Lookalike Falls?

KING: Lookalike Falls… Can't say I have!

QUEEN: Nor have I!

ADVISER 1: Well… it’s been said that somewhere north of the kingdom...

ADVISER 2: …across a wide river…

ADVISER 1: …over rolling hills…

ADVISER 2: …and through a dark forest...

ADVISER 1: …there lie two waterfalls…

ADVISER 2: …flowing side by side.

ADVISER 1: Their crystal-clear waters cascade down a towering, rocky cliff…

ADVISER 2: …and flow into two separate swirling pools!

QUEEN: Are the two waterfalls identical, then? Is that why they’re called “Lookalike Falls”?

ADVISER 1: Indeed, Your Majesty! However!

ADVISER 2: Even though the falls look identical…

ADVISER 1: …and the pools look identical...

ADVISER 2: …legend has it that they are very different. 

ADVISER 1: For if you bathe yourself in one of the pools, you receive the gift of wisdom.

ADVISER 2: All the wisdom in the world… is yours!

KING: (intrigued) And if you bathe in the other pool…?

ADVISER 1: If you bathe in the other pool, Your Highness…

ADVISER 2: …you turn into a stone! 

ADVISER 1: And you sink to the bottom of the pool forever!

ADVISER 2: You just have to figure out which pool is which.

NARRATOR: Now, while the King was completely taken in...

KING: That story is amazing!

NARRATOR: … the Queen was not.

QUEEN: That story is absurd! Look, advisers. You have always advised the royal family well. But this advice seems downright inadvisable!

ADVISER 1: We understand your skepticism, Your Highness.

ADVISER 2: And personally, we don’t know a single soul who’s made the journey to Lookalike Falls.

ADVISER 1: But then, perhaps they never found their way back!

ADVISER 2: Perhaps they chose the wrong pool… and poof! 

KING: They turned into a stone!!!!

ADVISER 1: Exactly, Your Majesty!

ADVISER 2: Exactly!!!

NARRATOR: That evening, after the King and Queen finished their royal dinner of pheasant and oysters, and were eating their royal dessert of peaches and cream, the King made an announcement.

KING: My Queen! I’ve been thinking about the legend of Lookalike Falls all day, and I’ve come to a decision. First thing tomorrow, I am traveling to the towering, rocky cliffs where the waterfalls flow, so that I may bathe in the waters of wisdom, and all the wisdom in the world may be mine!!!!

NARRATOR: The Queen dropped her spoon with a clatter.

QUEEN: Don’t be foolish, my love! If the legend is true, what if you mistake one waterfall for the other? Instead of growing wise, you’ll grow cursed… and cold… and turn into a stone! Sweetheart. When your parents assumed their thrones, it took months, years, decades of learning so they could bring peace and prosperity to our kingdom! They didn’t gain their wisdom overnight!

KING: Well it sure seemed like they did to me! When I was a young Prince, I would watch Mother and Father up there on their thrones and think, ‘Man! They know everything! Which law to decree, which proclamation to issue, which judgment to make!’

QUEEN: But the truth is, sweetheart… they didn’t! They had slip-ups, they made mistakes… and they learned from them. They also listened to their hearts. That’s how they grew so wise. Darling. You and I will learn, too. We’ll listen to our hearts. And we’ll grow wise, together! Promise me you won’t go searching for Lookalike Falls. Please.

KING: Ohhhhh… alright. I promise.

NARRATOR: But guess what?

The King did not keep his promise.

In the middle of the night, while everyone in the palace was sleeping, he snuck into the royal stable and untethered his horse. Then he leaped into the saddle and galloped to the north — across a wide river... over rolling hills... and through a dark forest — until, at last, he and his steed came to the bottom of a towering, rocky cliff.

The cliff was so high the King couldn’t see the top! But what he could see took his breath away.

KING: Lookalike Falls!!!!

NARRATOR: Flowing and gushing side by side, the frothing, foaming waterfalls plunged down the cliff’s face with such power, such force, such noise! And at the bottom, their swirling, sparkling pools were as clear as the finest crystal gemstones in the royal treasury.

KING: Never could I imagine the falls would be so mighty! So spectacular! The only question is… which one of them flows with the waters of wisdom?

NARRATOR: The King dismounted his horse and walked toward the pools.

KING: Let’s see… If one of the waterfalls turns you into stone... and many a poor soul has succumbed to its curse… then logically, that pool must have more stones at the bottom!

NARRATOR: As the King peered into the pools, he saw both of them had small, round stones lining the bottom. Neither seemed to have more, and neither seemed to have less.

But as he leaned down to get a better look, he suddenly slipped on a patch of moss...

KING: (slipping on moss) Woah!!!

NARRATOR: … lost his footing…

KING: (losing footing) Yikes!

NARRATOR: ...and tumbled into one of the pools with a splash!

KING: (tumbling into pool) Yaaaahhhh!

NARRATOR: The first thing the King felt… was cold.

KING: Brrrrrr!

NARRATOR: But then, he began to feel tense and tight…

KING: (feeling tense/tight)

NARRATOR: … as if his muscles were freezing up.

And within seconds, he turned into a smooth round stone… sank to the bottom of the pool… and joined the other poor souls who had made a fateful mistake in their quest for the shortcut to wisdom.

NARRATOR: What do you think will happen next?

Will the King really be a stone forever?

We’ll find out, after a quick break.


NARRATOR: I’m Rebecca Sheir, and welcome back to Circle Round, live at Tanglewood Music Center! Today our story is called “Lookalike Falls.”

NARRATOR: Before the break, a wisdom-seeking King made a secret voyage to Lookalike Falls. But before he could guess which pool contained the waters of wisdom, he slipped and fell into one of them… and turned into a stone.

Back at the palace, when the Queen awoke and saw her husband was missing, she knew exactly where he had gone.

QUEEN: Lookalike Falls!

NARRATOR: The Queen threw on her riding clothes, saddled her horse, then set off to the north.

She and her horse crossed the wide river... sped over the rolling hills... and dashed through the dark forest. But when she reached the bottom of the towering, rocky cliff...

QUEEN: Oh no! 

NARRATOR: ...she knew she had arrived too late. For while the King’s horse was snorting and snuffling beside the twin pools, its rider was nowhere to be seen.

QUEEN: Oh, husband! What have you done? Surely you chose the wrong pool and turned into a stone! How could you be so foolish!? How?!?? (crying)

NARRATOR: As the Queen fell to her knees, she heard...

WOMAN: Your Majesty!

NARRATOR: ...a voice.

WOMAN: Your Majesty?

NARRATOR: The Queen turned her head and looked up. Standing above her was a woman with long flowing robes and long flowing hair.

The woman extended a hand and helped the Queen to her feet.

QUEEN: Thank you! But how did you know I was royalty? I’m so far from my kingdom, and I’m not wearing my crown or my jewels or my robes or — (gets interrupted)

WOMAN: Ohhhhh, I just knew. I also know why you’re crying.

QUEEN: You do?!?

WOMAN: I do. You truly love your husband, don’t you? The King…?

QUEEN: Yes! I love him with all my being!! He can be foolish sometimes, and stubborn, but that man has a heart of gold. Or — he did have a heart of gold! Before he turned into a stone! (crying)

NARRATOR: The long-haired woman laid a hand on the Queen’s shoulder.

WOMAN: A heart of gold, you say...? Come with me.

NARRATOR: The woman led the Queen over to one of the pools.

WOMAN: Look into the water, down at the very bottom. Tell me what you see.

QUEEN: (looking) I see… stones. Lots and lots of stones. All of them small and round. Some are brown, some are grey, some are black…

WOMAN: Mmm-hmmm. And over here...

NARRATOR: The woman led the Queen to the other pool.

WOMAN: ...when you look into this water, what do you see?

QUEEN: (looking) I see… more stones! Just like in the other pool, they’re small and round, and brown and grey and — Oh!!!!

NARRATOR: The Queen’s eyes grew wide.

WOMAN: What is it? What do you see?

QUEEN: One of the stones!

NARRATOR: The Queen pointed a trembling finger.

QUEEN: One of the stones doesn’t look like the others! It’s — it’s gold! Sparkling, shimmering gold!

WOMAN: Is it now…? And what was it you were just saying about your husband’s heart...????

NARRATOR: The woman closed her eyes, lifted her arm, and suddenly the gold stone began floating up from the bottom of the pool. When it reached the surface, it exploded from the water and landed right in the Queen’s outstretched hand!

QUEEN: (catching the stone) Oh!!!

NARRATOR: The woman opened her eyes and fixed them on the Queen.

WOMAN: Take this stone, Your Majesty, and toss it into the waters of the other pool.

QUEEN: You mean, into the waters of wisdom? The ones that give you all the wisdom in the world?

WOMAN: That is what people say, don’t they...? But I’ll let you decide whether that part of the legend is true.

NARRATOR: And with that, the long-haired woman vanished!

QUEEN: Wow! Did she just…!?? Did I just…?!? Well, no use wasting time. Here goes!

NARRATOR: The Queen took a breath, then tossed the gold stone into the other pool, where it landed with a plop.

Immediately, the water began to ripple… and gurgle… and then…

KING: (gasps as he suddenly emerges from water)

NARRATOR: ...who should come bursting up through the surface… but the King! The stunned ruler stood in the pool, looking around with astonishment.

KING: Where am I?!? How did I get here?!? I thought for sure I’d be a stone forever!

QUEEN: And I thought so too!

NARRATOR: The King gave a start as he spotted his wife.

KING: My Queen!

NARRATOR: Crystal-clear droplets sprayed this way and that as the King splashed to the water’s edge. Once he was out of the pool, he embraced his beloved Queen in a soaking-wet hug.

KING: My darling, my dear! How did you save me?

NARRATOR: So the Queen told the story of how she encountered the long-haired woman… how the gold stone came flying out of one pool… and how the Queen flung the stone into the other pool.

KING: So wait... If that pool over there turned me into a stone… and you threw that stone into this pool here… then I just bathed in the waters of wisdom!!! But… I don’t feel like I’ve gained all the wisdom in the world... 

QUEEN: You don’t? So, maybe that part of the legend isn’t true...?! There are no waters of wisdom...?

KING: Well... it depends... Because now that I think of it, there is one bit of wisdom I’ve gleaned...

QUEEN: And what’s that?

KING: How foolishly I acted! I should have listened to you, my love, when you told me that wisdom must be earned, and learned. I’m sorry I blew you off.

QUEEN: Apology accepted.

KING: There is one other thing, too. Bathing in the waters of both pools has given me a very wise idea. Come!

NARRATOR: He jumped into the saddle of his steed.

KING: Mount your horse and follow me!

NARRATOR: The King and Queen trotted to the towering rocky cliff. They found a steep pathway, and held tightly to their horses’ reins as they ascended the narrow trail.

When they reached the cliff’s summit, they found the two rivers that fed into Lookalike Falls.

And do you know what the King and Queen did?

They spent the rest of the day damming up one of those rivers with rocks, so that no one would ever be turned into a stone again. The other river, however, they let flow — even if its waters didn’t necessarily have the magic that the legend claimed.

And from that day forward, as the King and Queen ruled over the land, they had slip-ups, and they made mistakes… but they learned from them. They also listened to their hearts. And as a result, their people grew to love them, for the King and Queen ruled with honesty, justice, and — most of all — wisdom.

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Rebecca Sheir Host, Circle Round
Rebecca Sheir is the host "Circle Round," WBUR's kids storytelling podcast.



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