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Dearest Enemy

Cover to original cast recording

An American musical comedy in 3 acts. Book by Herbert Fields: Music by Richard Rodgers: Lyrics by Lorenz Hart.

Knickerbocker Theatre, New York - 18 September, 1925 (286 perfs)


September, 1776: New York.

Mrs Murray (of the Murray Hill Murrays) and her young ladies are sewing uniforms for General Washington and his officers, while lamenting the absence of their gallants. Mrs Murray warns her charges to beware the British soldier but the girls are not too terribly terrified. Jane Murray is the first to encounter one of the British, Capt. Harry Tryon, who is seeking lodgings for General Sir William Howe and his staff. The British officers arrive; homesick but cheered by the thought of some female companionship. Mrs Murray seeks to discourage them by instructing the girls to dress frumpily.

General Washington sends word to Mrs Murray that she must try to detain Howe and his officers overnight so that General Putnam can lead the American troops bottled up on the southern tip of Manhattan to join him on the heights of Harlem. Mrs Murray hastily instructs the girls to change their tactics; all are happy to do so except her niece, Betsy, who has no time for the British and even less for Sir John Copeland, who's responsible for providing her with the barrel in which she comes home after a dog steals her clothes while she's swimming. Mrs Murray tells the British generals about the strange men who live in the far-off Bronx while Betsy, let in on the secret by Mrs Murray, tries to be nice to Sir John. She soon discovers she is falling in love with him. Charmed, the British officers decide to remain at 'The Grange' overnight.

That night, Mrs Murray gives a Ball for the British officers and Betsy confides to Jane her love for Sir John. Mrs Murray promises to show the Generals some of the beauties of the local countryside. Betsy and Sir John dream of being together when the war is over. General Tryon tells the girls that youth isn't

When Mrs Murray's messenger is captured, Betsy volunteers to go to General Washington in his place. She leaves the party while the girls and officers relate the sad tale of Peter Stuyvesant. She is told to return to 'The Grange' and when the coast is clear for Putnam to move, to light a lantern for the count of ten, then put it out. Sir John is waiting for her; they confess their love for each other. As soon as Sir John is asleep, Betsy lights the signal. Putnam's men march to safety. Sir John is taken prisoner and it seems Betsy will never see him again. All ends happily in the post-war epilogue in which General Washington reunites the lovers.


Betsy Burke
Mrs Robert Murray
Capt.Harry Tryon
Gen.John Tryon
General Clinton
General Howe
Capt.Sir John Copeland

Musical Numbers:

  1. Heigh-ho, Lackaday - Mrs Murray & Girls
  2. War Is War - Mrs Murray & Girls
  3. I Beg Your Pardon - Jane & Harry
  4. Cheerio - Sir John & Officers
  5. Full Blown Roses - Mrs Murray, Officers & Girls
  6. The Hermits - Mrs Murray & General Tryon
  7. Here In My Arms - Betsy & Sir John
  8. Finale Act I (Tho' We've No Authentic Reason) - Company
  9. Gavotte - Officers & Girls
  10. I'd Like To Hide It - Betsy
  11. Where The Hudson River Flows - Mrs Murray & the Generals
  12. Bye And Bye - Betsy & Sir John
  13. Old Enough To Love - Gen.Tryon & Girls
  14. Sweet Peter - Jane, Harry & Officers
  15. Here's A Kiss - Betsy & Sir John
  16. Opening Act III (Epilogue) - Ensemble
  17. Here In My Arms (reprise) - Betsy
  18. Finale - Company

Scenes and Settings

Act 1: The Murray Mansion, Murray Hill, New York City 1776
Act 2: The Drawing Room at the Murray Mansion. The same evening
Act 3: The Murray Mansion. After the War