New Girl In Town
Musical in Two Acts, 16 Scenes. Book by George Abbott. Based on the play "Anna Christie" by Eugene O'Neill. Music and lyrics by Bob Merrill.
Dances and musical numbers staged by Bob Fosse.
Production (settings, costumes) designed by Rouben Ter-Arutunian.
Musical direction by Hal Hastings.
Dance music devised by Roger Adams. Orchestrations by Robert Russell Bennett and Philip J. Lang.
Directed by George Abbott. Produced by Frederick Brisson, Robert E. Griffith and Harold S. Prince.
Opened 14 May 1957 at the 46th Street Theatre and closed 24 May 1958 after 432 performances.
Chris Christopherson, an old, hard-drinking Swedish barge captain, gets word that his daughter, Anna, is coming to visit him. He hasn't seen her since she was 5 and is expecting the innocent young girl he remembers.
Anna arrives and is greeted by Marthy, Chris's common-law wife. She confesses her life is quite different from what Chris has imagined. Recently the "house" where she was working was raided. The resulting jail sentence has ruined Anna's health. She is hoping Chris will put her up until she regains her strength. Chris welcomes her with open arms and reformed manner. Chris is different from what Anna expected, and she hides her hurt from him. His respectable airs even force him to evict Marthy.
Chris takes Anna on his next barge run to Boston. On the return trip they rescue three shipwrecked sailors, including Mat Burke, a defiant, worldly ox of a seaman. After she repulses his initial passes, they become fast friends. Anna is proud of her new-found dignity. The change is healthful and brings elegance to her character. On land the romance continues. One reward is tickets to society's Check Apron Ball where Anna is the stand-out in the crowd. Marthy has taken all she can and begins drinking. She becomes loud, and when Mat tries to quiet her down, Marthy tells him the truth about Anna's past. Anna tries to convince Mat that she has changed, but his disillusionment will no longer permit him to accept their love. He joins a ship sailing for China to try and forget her.
Anna has picked up the pieces before and she does so again. She becomes a farmer in Staten Island and finds compassion in Henry, a produce shop owner. Marthy repents and swears off drinking. It's a year later, Marthy is beating a drum for the Seamen's Home, and Mat is back in port. Chris tries to keep him away from Anna who is visiting, but the meeting is inevitable. Mat has come to find her and find her he does. She is in her potato-picking rags, yet a beautiful sight to Mat. Time has healed and Anna is as lovely as that first night on the barge.
The Waterfront in New York City - a dock with ships in the background. A shack, "Atlantic Coal Company," with a sign over the door reading "office." Various people are there: prostitutes, wives waiting for men to arrive from sea, and sailors going into the office to get their pay. Marthy, a brassy and mature woman, enters and approaches Chris, a drunken Swedish seaman. It is revealed that Chris has been getting drunk and standing-up Marthy. Upset at him, she has a good mind to not give him a bit of important news that has just arrived. Chris attempts to tell Marthy that he’s, in fact, been looking for her for a while, but his breath gives him away. Nevertheless, reluctantly gives him the letter. It is from his daughter, Anna, informing him that she is coming to visit from St. Paul, Minnesota.
Anna is a nurse who has been living a life of her own. Chris hasn't seen her since she was a five-year-old child in Sweden. When her mother died, he sent Anna to live with cousins in Minnesota. He thinks about her everyday, but has never seen her. He is upset that she will find him a hopeless drunk without a penny to his name. Marthy tells Chris to go and get sobered up. She'll go to the bar (the only address Anna knows) and meet his daughter.
Inside the barroom, the proprietor, Larry, is behind the bar filling glasses. Pete and Oscar, two long-shoremen, are standing at the bar. Pete is singing a ragtime tune of the period. Marthy enters and asks Larry if there was a girl looking for Chris, and he informs her that no one has been in for him. Marthy sits down for a beer and no sooner has she done this than Anna Christophersen wearily enters and sinks onto a bench at a table. She asks Larry for a whisky, which she downs in one gulp. After letting the alcohol rouse her a bit, she approaches Marthy. In the course of their conversation her identity is revealed along with several truths. Anna was never a nurse, and, in fact, just got out of jail. Anna was terribly mistreated by the relatives she lived with, and wonders why her father hasn't he tried to find her all these years. She implies that she ran away from Minnesota in order to protect herself. It is clear that she hasn’t had it easy and hates men more than ever. Marthy prepares Anna to meet her father and assures her that Chris is as good-hearted a man as they come and hasn't stopped thinking about Anna during their time apart.
Chris, now cleaned and sobered up, cautiously enters the bar. He approaches his daughter whom he thinks is vision of beauty. Instead of running to his arms, however, Anna questions him for not trying to find her. Chris explains that he tried to see her once, but as he prepared to go, some fellow picked his pocket and he lost his money and train ticket. Anyway, he is certain that she had a nice life on the farm in Minnesota. Anna, talks about her time on the farm. Though it looked like a place where everything was peaches and cream, in reality she was grabbed, seduced, and threatened by her cousins and uncles.
Chris obviously didn’t hear a word of what Anna implied and is holding to the pure image of her that he has always had in his mind. When Anna tells her father that she needs a drink, he assumes she wants something as "safe" as a glass of port wine. He goes off to get her a wine and tells Larry that she is indeed his daughter, Anna. Larry is amazed that this frazzled girl is the "virginal" daughter Chris has talked about for years. Chris drinks with Anna and tells her that she can stay with him for a few days. After that, they will go on a barge to Boston where the fresh sea air and hearty food will do her good.
Out on a street in the Warehouse district, Chris tells Marthy that he wants her to move out of their little flat so that Anna can stay with him. He feels that Anna might find it upsetting if she knew her father lived with another woman. As soon as they go off to Boston on the barge, Marthy can move back. Marthy is very upset by this, but knows she has no voice in the matter. She gives Chris a big kick in the pants and talks with her girlfriends about the behaviour of men. They suggest she forget all about him and enjoy a little fling.
A few days later, Chris and Anna are on barge off the coast of Provincetown. It is a foggy night and Anna sits on the deck watching the sea. She looks healthy and transformed. Chris sticks his head out of the cabin and tells his daughter that she shouldn't stay out in the fog, but she replies that she loves it out there. In fact, she has loved her time alone with her father sailing for Boston. Chris tells that all of the family back in Sweden were sailors. She likes that. He goes off to bed and tells Anna to do the same. Instead, she thinks about her life as it is right now.
Suddenly, there is a commotion on the front deck Apparently, a steamer wrecked two days earlier, and a group of sailors have been floating in an open boat. Two of them are in poor condition and are taken into the cabin. One other, Matt Burke, says he's fine and bumps into Anna. Matt almost thinks he's dead since he is standing face to face with a woman on a barge. Anna offers him a drink and he downs it. He stares at Anne, grabs her, and kisses her. When she pushes him away, he explains that he has been at sea for four months and spent the last two days in a lifeboat. Anna tells him to keep his distance, but gives him a coat to put over his shoulders. He tells her a bit about himself and faints. Chris has the other sailors carry Matt to his room.
On the street near the New York Waterfront, the women are waiting for the arrival of their men who are on the famous Boston barge. The press is heavily engrossed in taking pictures of Matt Burke and the other sailors asking them about their rescue. Chris leaves the ship with Anna, upset that the press ignored him, even though he rescued the sailors. He questions Anna as to why she spent so much time on the deck talking with Matt. Anna gets upset with her father and makes it clear that her life isn't any of his business. She's been fine for a long time without her father, and she doesn't need him interfering now. Matt and the other sailors get off the ship and are questioned by countless reporters wanting to know how Matt kept the small boat adrift for two days. As they press him for information about the rescue, he tells them all about Anna (without using her name) and how just seeing her made all the difference for him.
Two days later, on the Waterfront, some girls are dancing with each other while others sit around and watch. Smith and Chris enter through the office. The press has been very excited about this rescue and has been snapping pictures non-stop. Mr. Smith is happy about this, since it is good for the company to be seen in such a favourable light. Mr. Alderman, a political figure, gives Chris two tickets to a very fancy political ball, the Check Apron Ball, being held at the local brewery. Chris is both honoured and excited by this and runs off to tell Anna. No sooner is he gone than Marthy learns of Chris's tickets. She is overjoyed at the thought of going to something like this and is certain that Chris will ask her. Someone suggests that maybe Chris might ask Anna, but Marthy makes it very clear that she has told Chris just how she feels. She hasn't given him the best years of her life to be discarded like an old dishrag.
Matt comes to the Waterfront and asks Marthy if she has seen Anna. Marthy is not in the mood to discuss Anna and goes off to find Chris and discuss the ball. Left alone, Matt contemplates how great he feels about everything.
Anna enters followed by a traveling salesman who is certain he knows her from somewhere. The man keeps pursuing Anna, but she tries to push him away swearing at him in the process. Matt promises that the man won't bother Anna again because he will take care of her. Matt holds her close to him, but Anna pulls away saying she can't stand men grabbing hold of her. He tries to reason with her, telling her that he is different since he worships her. Anna begs him to change the subject. He then asks her to go to the Check Apron Ball. Matt was invited because of the rescue. Anna accepts, promising to teach Matt all about fancy dancing.
Soon after out on the street, Marthy is pestering Chris to take her to the dance. He tries to let her down gently and explains that he wants to take Anna. Marthy suggests that they get one more ticket so the three of them can go together, but Chris feels Marthy is just a bit too unrefined to hang around with his daughter. Marthy argues that she and Chris have been through a lot together and he owes her this dance. Marthy finally asks Chris to simply let her look at the tickets, and he does. When he puts them back into his pocket, however, Marthy grabs him for a little dance and steals one of the tickets. Chris, realizing what has just happened, follows Marthy.
A few days later in Chris's room, Anna is showing Marthy the new white dress Chris bought for her. Marthy comments that it is "just like a confirmation dress.” Anna is offended by the remark and Marthy apologies, but can't quite understand why Anna is so upset by this. Anna changes the subject telling Marthy how upset Chris was when he found out that she was going to the ball with Matt. Matt then comes to the door. He needs to speak with Anna alone. Marthy leaves and Matt confesses to Anna that he loves her and that he needs to find out from Anna if she loves him. After pausing for a moment, Anna confesses that she loves Matt. Anna has never loved a man before.
Chris enters the room and is startled to see Matt. He is even more surprised when Matt announces that he and Anna are going to get married. Anna is equally surprised since they only talked of loving each other, not marriage. Chris does not want his daughter marrying a sailor, especially a stoker, and the two men get into a heated argument. Anna stops their nonsense by throwing her new dress on the floor and declaring she isn't going to the ball. Chris then promises that he won't fight with Matt that evening; that everything can wait until tomorrow. Anna makes Matt promise that they will just have a good time at the dance.
That evening, people are making their way over to the ball. Inside, the brewery has been decorated in great style. The liquor is flowing, and everyone appears to be having a wonderful time.
Marthy is trying her best to appear the vision of refinement by not drinking; however, she gives in, downs a few drinks and gets drunk. In reality, she is jealous that many of the men are admiring Anna. Matt is jealous that Anna is meeting everyone. He was hoping to spend the evening with her alone. Chris is the proud father, and introduces his Anna to all the political bigwigs. Pretty soon Mr. Alderman offers to dance with Anna, and the two of them lead off a new ragtime number. Soon, everyone is dancing and singing the night away.
The dance is still in progress and Anna is being complimented by everyone for being so light on her feet. At this point, Marthy is completely drunk and fighting with Chris, who is reprimanding her for her behaviour. The two fight, and Alderman steps between them encouraging Marthy to set a good example. He tries to get Marthy and Chris to lead off a dance, but Marthy suggests that Anna lead it off with Chris. Soon everyone is waltzing along with Anna and Chris.
The waltz ends and Marthy staggers towards Anna. Matt intercedes before Marthy finds her and attempts to calm Marthy down. In the course of her conversation with Matt, she implies that Anna is not what she appears to be. Marthy can tell a nurse from a sportin' lady. She implies that Anna is anything but virginal and before she can say anything else, she faints and is taken outside. Seeing this, Anna runs to Matt, who pulls from her reach.
Outside the Brewery, Matt is questioning Anna, wanting to know if she has been going around with a lot of guys or not? At first she denies it, but then admits that indeed she has had a complicated past. She tells Matt that he is the only man she has ever loved. Anna admits that she has not been working as a nurse, but as a prostitute in order to keep herself alive. Matt is so enraged by this that he throws her on the floor and rushes away, saying he'll never believe in anybody as long as he lives.
Approaching laughter is heard, and Anna gets up and hides. Alderman and a politician enter praising the party they have just thrown that evening. Chris comes on looking for Anna and speaks with the men, apologizing for Marthy's drunken behaviour. The politicians and Chris find Anna and tell her that Senator Malone wants to dance with her. Instead of going back in with her father, Anna goes out for a walk by herself.
Later that night, out at the warehouse gate, a dishevelled Matt has just gotten himself employed on a ship sailing for China the next day. Marthy comes along and sees what is happening and realizes that it is all her fault. She admits to everyone around her that she did it because she was jealous of Anna and her relationship with Chris. Anna enters and sees Marthy. Marthy admits everything to Anna and tells her to simply deny her past to Matt and all will be forgiven. Hearing that he is heading for China, Anna goes into the ship's office to see if she can find him before it is too late. Meanwhile, a group from the ball has now moved out into the streets.
Matt enters and Anna tries to talk with him. He calls her a slut and she admits that her past was very jaded, but that she has changed her ways for good. She never loved any man before Matt. Matt doesn't listen to hear her. Instead, he rudely shouts at Anna, and she leaves him alone. Marthy and her girlfriends enter and approach Matt. Marthy tries to apologize for the "little joke" she played on Matt, but it is too late. He wants nothing to do with Anna or anyone else for that matter. He exits. Marthy finally realizes just how serious the situation is and that she is to blame.
In Chris' room, Anna lies on her father's bed crying as he tries to console her. Chris is preparing to go out on a barge and wants Anna to come with him, but she tells him that she needs to be by herself for some time. Chris still believes his daughter is a virgin princess even though she tries to make him see the truth. Chris leaves for the barge, and Anna is left alone to ponder her situation. She moves outside to an unpleasant area and is approached by a man, Henry, who wants to escort her back to the main street. He tells her that he runs a little produce business and sells things around the neighbourhood. Anna follows him.
One year later on the waterfront, Chris comes running in looking for Anna. Anna is now living on Staten Island with Henry. Matt is back in town from China, and Chris is panicked at the thought that Anna might see him again. Before Chris can arrange that the two don't meet, Matt enters and asks Chris how Anna is doing. Chris quickly reports that she doesn't want to see him anymore, and that she is married. Matt assures Chris that he just wants to find out how she is.
No sooner has he said this than Henry enters, carrying a bushel basket full of potatoes. He is followed by Anna who is now wearing coarse old farm clothes and is also carrying a bushel of potatoes. Henry appears to know nothing of Anna and Matt's past, and, in fact, tells her to visit with her old friend while Chris helps him take the potatoes where they are being delivered.
Left alone, the two talk a bit awkwardly at first, but their attraction to one another comes through. Henry returns and asks Anna if she's going to be taking the next ferry with him back to Staten Island, and she tells him that she will. He goes off to the ferry, which is leaving in about twenty minutes, but Anna stays to talk some more with Matt. She confesses to Matt that she isn't married to Henry, but that she is working on a farm in Staten Island. She has been doing it for the past year now, trying to that she really isn't a good-for-nothin'. Her father knows nothing of this. As far as he's concerned, she's a member of Staten Island society.
Chris comes back and tells Anna to not be late for the ferry, and she prepares to leave. Matt, however, stops her and asks her to take a later ferry. This way the two of them can have dinner before he gets on his next boat to China. Chris tries to interfere again, but Anna agrees and rushes to tell Henry she'll be taking a later ferry.
Marthy enters with a few of her friends. She is now dressed very neatly in a long blue skirt with a long club coat. Across her front is a ribbon, which reads "Seamen's Home." She greets Matt, but is quickly pulled back into her group as they try to collect contributions for the Seamen's Home, a place for the poor homeless seamen to hang out. Marthy has indeed changed her ways as well.
Chris asks Marthy what he should do now that Matt is back in town. He knows that Anna is going to talk with him some more. Marthy tells him that he can't control Anna any more. Anna comes back from the ferry, no longer wearing her farm dress. She runs into Matt's arms and the two promise to always be there for each other. Matt takes a new earring from his ear and gives it to Anna. Once again, true love wins out over all the many adversities thrown in its way.
30 parts, 10 principals.Other principals are small roles that require singing, dancing, and acting talent. Good medium-sized dancing and singing ensembles. Total cast, 35–40. (2 or 3 children optional.)
(in order of appearance):
Scenes and Settings
2 acts, 16 scenes, 4 full stage sets (including 4 drops), 1 partial stage set, 1 fence fly-in of multi-coloured doors, 4 drop scenes.The action takes place near the Waterfront, New York City, at the turn of the century.
- Scene I: The Waterfront.
- Scene 2: A Street with a mesh fence.
- Scene 3: Johnny-the-Priest's Saloon.
- Scene 4: A Street in the Warehouse District.
- Scene 5: Chris's Barge on a foggy night at sea, off Provincetown.
- Scene 6: A Street near the Waterfront.
- Scene 7: The Waterfront.
- Scene 8: The Street with the fence.
- Scene 9: Chris's Room.
- Scene 10: A Street Scene.
- Scene 11: The Check Apron Ball.
- Scene I: The Check Apron Ball.
- Scene 2: In the Street, outside the Brewery.
- Scene 3: A Street in the Warehouse District.
- Scene 4: Chris's Room.
- Scene 5: The Waterfront. One year later.
Period and Costumes
Shortly after turn of the century (1900) : New York City waterfront. Waterfront sailor and dock worker garb. Prostitute finery of the times (high-button shoes, low-cut blouses, bright and striped skirts just slightly below the knee). Bulky sweaters, sea captain uniform. Society floor-length bustled dresses, large hats, loud striped and checked suits. Black overcoat, dungarees, broad-striped shirts, old farm clothes, society girl Seamen's Home uniforms.
Modern, soft shoe, ballroom spins, waltz, "Check Apron Ball" production number.
Lighting and Special Effects
Dramatic lighting required. Fog, foghorns, and other water-front effects.
- Roll Yer Socks Up - Seaman, Dancers, Singers
- Anna Lilla - Chris
- Sunshine Girl - Oscar, Pete, Bartender
- On the Farm - Anna
- Flings - Marthy, Lily, Pearl
- It's Good To Be Alive - Anna
- Look at 'Er - Mat
- It's Good To Be Alive (reprise) - Mat
- Yer My Friend, Aintcha? - Marthy, Chris
- Did You Close Your Eyes? - Anna, Mat
- At the Check Apron Ball - Dancers, Singers
- There Ain't No Flies on Me - Anna, Dancers & Company
- Ven I Valse - Anna, Chris, Dancers, Singers
- Sunshine Girl (reprise) - Dancers, Singers
- If That Was Love - Anna
- Ballet - Anna, Masher, Dancers
- Chess and Checkers - Marthy, Dancers, Singers
- Look at 'Er (reprise) - Mat
Violins A–B, viola, cello, bass, clar (flute, pic), flute (pic, clar), oboe (Eng. horn), bass clar (clar, flute), clar (bari sax, bassoon), trumpet I–II, III, trombone I–II, horn, guitar, percussion, piano-conductor.