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The Girl Friend

1987 Revival show playbill

Book by Herbert Fields; Lyrics by Lorenz Hart; Music by Richard Rodgers

Vanderbilt Theatre, New York - 17 March, 1926 (301 perfs)
Palace Theatre, London - September 8, 1927 (421 perfs)

The book for the London Production was adapted by Bob Weston and Bert Lee from Bartholomae and Harbach's Kitty's Kisses. Additional music and lyrics by Con Conrad, Gus Kahn and Otto Harbach

Original production

This is the story of a six-day bicycle race in which the apparent long-shot for the title, Leonard Silver, is nobbled by the unscrupulous punters.

Leonard has trained for this cycle race by training on a wheel attached to a churn on his Long Island dairy farm. Mollie Farrell is the daughter of a professional cyclist and Leonard is in love with her. The six-day race is fixed but an unscrupulous promoter persuades Leonard to enter. Despite the devious efforts of corrupt gamblers, Leonard wins the race - and the girl.

London Production:

(This production was an amalgam of the original The Girl Friend and Kitty's Kisses with an entirely different plot-line from the original).

The curtain rises on a railway siding near Hagerstown, upstate New York. A train arrives full of recent graduates of the Hagerstown (boys) and Rosaville (girls) Colleges, who are on their way to the Hotel Wendell for their first grand reunion. A chorus of these young men and women celebrate their arrival in noisy and uninhibited song and dance. Kitty Brown is less keen to leave the compartment she has been sharing with dashing young lawyer Robert Mason. As he helps her down their flirtatious chat turns to a discussion of wedded bliss. Suddenly shocked at just how far she has allowed things to go with a complete stranger, Kitty dashes after the others while Robert is busy retrieving her luggage. Horrified to find her gone - what's more, without her suitcase or purse - he resolves at once that he must find her, return her hags and, most important of all of course, tell her how much he loves her.

Last to get off the train are Mr and Mrs Burke - she is of Wagnerian proportions - who are also heading for the Hotel Wendell, where their two nephews, Richard and Philip Dennison, are staying, the former with his wife. Wealthy Mrs Burke has promised the married couple a present of $200,000 on the first anniversary of a happy marriage.

In the imposing lobby of the Hotel Wendell Kitty fears that she will not be given a room without luggage or money. Bubbly young telephonist Jenny advises her to pose as 'Mrs Dennison' and ask for the bridal suite. Jenny happens to know that the Dennisons, celebrating the anniversary of their marriage, have booked the suite but have had a row and both gone off in a temper. Kitty is only too pleased when the deception works.

Meanwhile, in the lounge, young Philip, brother of Richard Dennison, is flirting with Miss Wendell, daughter of the hotel owner. When the hotel desk is clear, irrepressible Jenny and cheerful room clerk Jerry give their views on relationships. Kitty, settled in the bridal suite and, tired from the day's exertions, contemplates sleep.

Suddenly Mrs Dennison returns to the hotel. Bearing in mind the $200,000 they are eligible for if they can prove that they are happily married, she has decided to see if she and Richard can at least put on a front for Mrs Burke. Seeing Kitty in the bedroom of the suite, however, she immediately suspects the worst and, waiting for no explanations, storms off in an even greater temper than before.

Arriving at the desk, Robert Mason finds there is no 'Kitty Brown' registered but refuses to be downhearted. The Rosaville College girls, discovering Kitty in the bridal suite, insist that she tells them what it's like to be in love. Jenny and Jerry, still in vivacious mood, wonder what it might be like if their relationship were to become even closer. Late that night, Richard Dennison returns, having drowned his sorrows at a local bar. Stumbling into the suite, he falls asleep, fully dressed, on the couch.

Next morning Richard and May - she in the bedroom and he in the sitting room - are amazed when Mrs Dennison bursts in, this time with a divorce lawyer in tow to witness the situation. Kitty is horrified to learn that she has shared the suite with a man - and a married one at that. She is doubly horrified when she recognises the divorce lawyer as the charming Robert Mason, with whom she was flirting on the train the previous day. Mrs Dennison denounces Kitty as 'an adventuress'. Richard tries to explain but neither lady will have anything to do with him. All is made clear when Robert steps in to tell them about the missing luggage and Jenny admits that she talked Kitty into the deception. Robert cannot stop himself declaring his love for Kitty and, together, carried away, they imagine. married bliss.

Jenny and Jerry, closer than ever now, enliven proceedings with another song and dance. Mr and Mrs Burke arrive on the scene just in time to see Richard Dennison and his wife in each other's arms. With the cash safely handed over, even the Burkes are moved to confess their love and the curtain descends on a stage which is awash with happy couples.

Songs: Original Production

The Blue Room
Creole Crooning Song
The Damsel Who Done All the Dirt
Good Fellow, Mine
Goodbye, Lennie!
He's A Winner
The Simple Life
Hey, Hey
Why Do I?
What Is It?

Songs: - London Production

Step On The Track
Blue Room
What's The Use Of Talking?
The Girl Friend
Sleepy Head
I'm in Love
Kittys Kisses
Just Imagine It
I Don't Want Him
Mountain Greenery
Step On The Blues
Why Do I?

The revived (?) version by the Colchester Mercury Theatre (25 September, 1987) has a different book and interpolated songs from the original, which in turn used a different book on its opening in London.