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EXCERPT FROM MUSICAL
(LYDIA BRECKENRIDGE’S stateroom. She is unpacking. Loud knock on the door.)
LYDIA. Yes, who is it?
THURLOW. Open at once, please.
LYDIA. That voice! Can it be? (Opens door. Gasps.)
NO. 4. SONG: "THE ENCOUNTER - IT'S YOU!"
Well, here’s a fine to-do!
(Turning to the audience.)
Good grief, how can this be?
I should have known he’d be aboard,
And boss and swagger like a lord;
I might have guessed she’d slither in
And pick up ladies’ fluff to spin!
He’ll kill and stuff with politics,
This gala trip—I know his tricks!
She’ll lounge upon the deck and dawdle
Writing reams of ladies’ twaddle!
How can it be?
What Fate did this to me?
What fickle Fate did this to me?
THURLOW. Miss Breckenridge--
LYDIA. Mr. Faucett, this is a surprise. I’m afraid I cannot ask you to come in, as I haven’t yet completed arranging my cabin--
THURLOW. Pardon me, my cabin.
LYDIA. Pardon me?
THURLOW. There seems to have been some error. Owing, I assume, to the inefficiency and incompetence of these Westerners--
LYDIA. I have found them to be most competent. Open-hearted, free-handed, as honest and wholesome and sturdy a set of fellows as you could meet anywhere—and withal, possessing the simplicity of the childlike mind--
THURLOW. (impatiently). Yes, well, these honest and childlike oafs have succeeded in making chaos of the arrangements. Evidently they have issued more tickets than the steamers have space to accommodate—at any rate, I booked well in advance, and you, according to the Steward’s list, have just arrived. So I will appreciate it if you will remove your—er—impedimenta as soon as possible. I’m a busy man.
LYDIA (sweetly). Pardon me once again, Mr. Faucett, but when the Steward assigned me my berth, he gave no indication whatever that it had been previously designated. That being the case, I see no reason for giving up my quarters. I like them enormously.
THURLOW. But—but—you don’t seem to understand—I reserved my space months ago--
LYDIA. I think I understand very well, Mr. Faucett. Now, if you will excuse me, I shall resume my unpacking--
THURLOW. But—but—this is outrageous! I am the editor of the Republican Advocate!
LYDIA. I know who you are, sir. And I know the positions your journal has taken on the important questions of the day: how you’ve waffled on the abolition of slavery--
THURLOW. Compromise! Compromise is the secret of successful politics! A woman would never understand--
LYDIA. –how you’ve claimed women have no right to vote--
LYDIA. And now would you kindly leave my stateroom, sir!
THURLOW. You can’t--
LYDIA. If you do not, I’ll fetch the Steward and have you thrown out! Thrown out, sir!
(THURLOW backs up. LYDIA slams the door.)
THURLOW. We’ll see about this! I would advise you, Miss Breckenridge, to adopt a more reasonable attitude--
LYDIA (in a tone of sweet reasonableness, from inside cabin). Better get a move on, Mr. Faucett!
“THE GRAND EXCURSION”
Libretto and Lyrics by Ann Boaden
and Music by Joan Beaumont
Our play begins as the passengers from The Chicago and Rock Island Railroad begin to board the steamers for the voyage up the Mississippi,
for a "Grand Excursion."
The musical is the story of two fictional journalist. Thurlow Faucett, the
quint-essential male chauvinist bachelor editor of the “Republican Advocate,” and Lydia Breckenridge, the feminist editor of the “Women’s Democratic Enterprise.”
Woven into the tale are persons who actually partook in the “Grand Excursion,” including former President Millard Fillmore, his daughter Abigail, Catherine Maria Sedgwick (author), John Frederick Kinsett (painter), George Bancroft (historian) and Benjamin Silliman (scientist).
The sub-plot involves the plan of Abigail Fillmore to induce Charles
Allerton, a young journalist, to “take notice” of her.
The play recreates “The Grand Excursion,” when on March 1st, 1854, the first railroad reached the Mississippi River at Rock Island, Illinois. To mark the event, the “Grand Excursion” was organized by the railroad promoters. Over 600 influential citizens from the Atlantic coast were invited for a complementary trip aboard the new railroad from the east cost to Rock Island, Illinois, and then up the Mississippi by steamboat
to the headwaters of the great river. Upon arrival at Rock Island, the organizers provided the guests with a lavish dinner and lodging prior to their embarkation aboard steamboats for a trip up the Mississippi to its headwaters.
The show opens with the rousing chorus number, “The Grand Excursion,”
as the passengers from the East arrive at Rock Island. Then as the passengers eagerly wait to board the steamers, they learn that, the paddle wheelers have been overbooked!
When an already disgusted Thurlow Faucett learns that Ms. Breckenridge has been assigned to what he perceives to be “his cabin,” he expresses his deprecating exasperation, by telling his fellow passengers “who this Breckenridge is” in the patter song, “She Writes for a Gaggle of Females.” When Lydia and Thurlow finally come face to face in her cabin, they sing the comic duet, “The Encounter,” wherein Lydia informs whoever may be listening that “He’ll kill this gala trip with politics .... I know his tricks,” as she throws him out of her cabin.
Only after a fierce storm on the river, do their attitudes toward each other
begin to soften, as they sing the tender duet, “Rain Song.” But a new crisis in the relationship occurs when Thurlow learns that Lydia has counseled Abigail Fillmore to “Do the Daring Deed.”
Composer Joan Beaumont has written a varied and beautiful score, and
Ann Boaden hs supplied extremely clever and humorous lyrics and the libretto.
CAST OF CHARACTERS
(5 males, 3 females and chorus)
STEWARD The Steward of the River Steamer
THURLOW FAUCETT Male chauvinist bachelor editor of the
“Republican Advocate.” A participant
on the “Grand Excursion.”
LYDIA BRECKENRIDGE Feminist editor of the “Woman‘ s
Democratic Enterprise.” A participant
on the “Grand Excursion.”
MILLARD FILLMORE Former President of the United States.
Participant on the “Grand Excursion.”
ABIGAIL FILLMORE Daughter of ex-President Millard
Fillmore. In her 20’s. A participant on
the “Grand Excursion.”
CHARLES ALLERTON A young newspaper man. A participant
on the “Grand Excursion.”
CATHERINE MARIA SEDGWICK America’s foremost female
novelist. A participant on the “
HENRY FARNAM Railroad developer and organizer of
the “Grand Excursion.”
CHORUS Townspeople, ship’s crew, and excursion participants
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