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“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
The Steward of the River Steamer
THURLOW FAUCETT Male chauvinist bachelor editor of the
“Republican Advocate.” A participant
on the “Grand Excursion.”
Feminist editor of the “Woman‘ s Democratic Enterprise.” A participant on the “Grand Excursion.”.
MILLARD FILLMORE Former President of the United States. A 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 “Grand Excursion.”
HENRY FARNAM Railroad developer and organizer of the
CHORUS Townspeople, ship’s crew, and excursion participants
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