Monday, 16 July 2012

The Belle of New York

The Belle of New York is a musical comedy in two acts, with book and lyrics by Hugh Morton and music by Gustave Kerker, about a Salvation Army girl who reforms a spendthrift, makes a great sacrifice and finds true love. Read more on Wikipedia

In letter to Jan Gabrial in August 1933 written at the Vernon Court Hotel, Torquay, Lowry tells Jan that he went to see a "dilapidated musical comedy called The Belle of New York just so as I could think about the title-" (Collected Letters Volume 1 Pg.138). According to the the St Davids Players website - the only production of the play that year was by the Brixham Operatic and Dramatic Society which performed plays during the summer season at the Brixham Theatre.

Act 1
Ichabod Bronson is a weathy hypocrite who preaches virtue to the young, so as to leave more scope for dissipation among the old. His son, Harry, is a feather-brained spendthrift, engaged to Cora Angelique, the Queen of Comic Opera. After a riotous stag night, Harry ends up with Fifi, the daughter of Fricot the confectioner. Ichabod discovers them together and disinherits Harry. Deserted by all but Fifi, Harry wanders into Chinatown in New York, where his fickle fancy is taken by a young Salvation Army woman, Violet Gray. She finds her vocation difficult because, though she tries to persuade men to follow her blameless ways, they persist in following her blameless figure. Ichabod discovers that Violet is the daughter of an old friend and announces his intention to leave his huge fortune to her.

Act 2
Harry has taken a job as a salesman in a candy store on Broadway. Violet and her Salvationist colleagues enter the shop, all decked out in short skirts. She knows that Harry is engaged to Cora and wants the couple to be happy. She tells Harry that she is going to change Ichabod's mind about leaving his money to her. On the beach at Narragansett Casino, she sings a risqué French song, scandalising an audience including Ichabod. The effort of performing the song causes her to faint. Matters are further complicated by the persistent attempts of a German lunatic to kill people, particularly Ichabod, and by the quarrels of Portuguese twins, who keep trying to fight duels with one another. Harry has indeed been much influenced by Violet's virtue and has fallen for her. He explains to his father why Violet has behaved so uncharacteristically, and Ichabod forgives him his earlier sins on condition that he marries Violet, which he is now happy to do.

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