Destry Rides Again
Music and Lyrics by Harold Rome: Book by Leonard Gershe: Based on the story by Max Brand
Original production directed and choreographed by Michael Kidd. Produced for the Broadway stage by David Merrick
Imperial Theatre, Broadway 23 April, 1959 (472 perfs)
London Donmar Warehouse, 30 September, 1982 (40 perfs)
Hollywood's classic western has been filmed three times before the decision was made to turn the durable sagebrush saga into a Broadway musical. A whoopin', shootin', hollerin' firecracker of a show, the action centres around a violence-hating sheriff, Thomas Jefferson Destry, Jnr. and a peppery saloon entertainer known as Frenchy. Contrary to the movie industry's morals code that never permitted a happy ending for a woman of easy virtue, Frenchy is not killed protecting Destry but ends up in his arms. The show's choreographic highlight is the crackling, whip-cracking dance performed by the outlaws.
Wash is the town drunk of Bottleneck. He is named sheriff after his predecessor is killed trying to protect a rancher who has lost his land to the town gambler, Kent and his gal, Frenchy. Wash soon realises that he is going to need a little help in maintaining law and order and sends for Tom Destry Jnr, son of a famous gunfighter. Destry arrives at the Last Chance Saloon carrying a birdcage and a parasol for Rose Lovejoy's new Paradise Alley girl, who arrives in town on the same stagecoach.
Destry becomes a laughing-stock when it's discovered he doesn't even carry a gun! However, Destry soon begins work and solves the mystery of who shot the sheriff.
Kent soon begins to feel the heat of the law breathing down his neck and suggests to Frenchy that she try a little feminine charm on our hero. Destry realises what is happening and instead of being taken in by Frenchy's advances, he tricks Kent into revealing the location of the sheriff's body. This provides enough evidence to jail Gyp Watson as the murderer. However, Destry quickly learns that justice in this town consists of a bar-room trial and so he leaves to get a Federal Justice.
Kent decides that a gaol-break is required in order to keep Gyp from talking. In the attempt to free Gyp, however, Destry returns but in so doing, Wash is killed. Destry is saved by a repentant Frenchy. He then wipes out the badmen and he and Frenchy embrace at last!
Male - 14; Female - 6; plus chorus (total cast about 40)
- Destry - Warm, gentle, likeable, takes command when necessary: good voice
- Frenchy - disarming, flashy dance-hall star, powerful voice.
- Gyp Watson, Bugs Watson & Rockwell - bad guys, dance trio, excellent dancers, must be able to handle bull-whips.
- Wash - Comedy character man, sings
- Kent - Ringleader of the bad guys, straight role
Large chorus of dance-hall girls, girls from Paradise Alley, cowboys and townspeople.
Anyone Would Love You
Are You Ready, Gyp Wilson?
Ballad of the Gun
Every Once In a While
I Hate Him
I Know Your Kind
I Say Hello
Once Knew a Fella
Only Time Will Tell
Ring On the Finger
Lovejoy of Paradise Alley
Violin 1 & 2; Viola; Cello; Bass; Reed 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5; Horn; Trombone 1 & 2; Trumpet 1, 2 & 3; Guitar; Percussion; Piano-Celeste