a musical play by Dale Wasserman. Music and lyrics by Bill Francoeur and Scott deTurk
A tale of con men, bankrupts and runners-away - flawed men and women lured West by the promise of new beginnings. The setting is the Colorado Territory circa 1875. When the citizens of Esperanza offer the pulpit of the proposed town church to a scheming flimflam man, events are set in motion which lead to the return of a recluse, the reclamation of a lost soul and the conversion of a confirmed con man. This is a moving tale of redemption and romance, rich in haunting melodies, lilting waltzes, plaintive country and western ballads and foot-stompin' show stoppers.
After a pre-show series of scrim projections dissolves taking us through the seasons in the Rockies, Adam No-Name sings to the audience of his love of the land and of being alone. Soon he is dismayed to find himself surrounded by other settlers who have discovered this land of opportunity as well. We meet Leeroy and Julie Donivan who have escaped trouble with the law in Tennessee and come to Esperanza with Julie’s 15-year-old brother Ben to start a new life. Sam Goode & Red Willie Magaw arrive, discovering it’s the perfect place for their next scam. Adam No-Name, seeing the town build up around him, heads for the hills. By the end of the number, the town is built and we are in the interior of the Bank of Esperanza where the settlers are seated, as if at a church meeting.
Sam & Red Willie discover the settlers of Esperanza have gathered in the bank for a church service because they don’t have a church. They do have $5,000 poised and ready for the building of a church, but have yet to built it because they have no minister. Taking this ripe opportunity to start a scam, Sam tells the settlers he’s a minister. Sceptical of his credentials, the settlers ask him to perform a minister-like miracle before they’ll hire him: There lives up the mountain a man who claims to be a doctor. Esperanza is in desperate need of a town doctor. If Sam can “bring that man down to the fold,” he can name his terms. A gleeful Sam accepts the challenge.
As it turns out the mysterious man on the mountain is none other than Adam No-Name, who opened the show. He’s found a life of seclusion and is busy hearing the voices from the ghosts of his past as the scene opens. Sam and Red Willie petition him, but Adam tells them in no uncertain terms to get lost, that he’s not interested in rejoining God’s faithful fold.
The scene shifts to Julie Donivan, rustling up a meager supper, and her brother Ben who’s doing a jig around their campfire. Leeroy comes home from work, discouraged that Esperanza hasn’t turned out to be his land of riches. He convinces Ben and Julie that the way to turn their fortunes is to rob the bank and in the subsequent unscripted scene they rid the town of its $5,000 church building fund.
Flush from their successful heist, the trio returns to their camp. It’s only then that Ben reveals he’s been shot. Leeroy abandons the brother and sister with the riches, not wanting to get caught should Ben need to return to town for medical help. Julie stays with her brother, however, and together they make their way up the hill toward Adam’s cabin; but there’s nothing Adam can do. Ben dies in Julie’s arms.
Meanwhile, Red Willie’s beside himself that they’ve lost the $5,000 to a group of children. Sam, however, is more philosophical. Much to Red Willie’s chagrin, Sam is fast becoming the preacher he was pretending to be. He’s heard the calling of the Lord. But Red Willie convinces him to come back to their life of crime and head west to San Francisco.
Leeroy returns to Adam’s cabin to find Julie, still mourning her lost brother. He tells her he’s hidden the money and is going to lay low over the winter by crossing the mountains. It’s a dangerous journey he fears she won’t be able to make with him. He tells her to sit tight until the spring when he’ll come back for her. He leaves.
Alone in Adam’s cabin, Julie rummages through Adam’s closet only to find a wedding dress, children’s toys and other vestiges of a lost, former life. She dons an outfit and sings to her long dead father. Adam returns from hunting and from the shadows thinks she’s his long lost wife. At first he’s furious, but then, slowly, he opens up about the family he lost to diptheria back in North Dakota. He offers Julie a place to stay for the evening but tells her she has to be gone by morning.
Back in town, Sam tells his congregation that he’s been called by the Lord to leave them. Some of the townsfolk beg him to stay; others are sceptical that his sudden departure coincides exactly with the theft of their $5,000 church fund and his inability to bring Adam No Name, the reclusive doctor, down from the mountain. In the end, however, Mr. Trimble states his unequivocal faith in Sam and persuades him to stay.
But Red Willie is enraged that Sam is going back on his promise to head west to San Francisco. Just as he’s about to “out” Sam to the congregation, Sam turns the tables on Red Willie. He tells the townsfolk Red Willie is the devil incarnate and that he keeps Red Willie around just to remind folks of what they might become. He is the darkness in everyone’s soul.
Up on the mountain, Adam has decided to let Julie stay. She begins to clean vigorously and together they go through the boxes of keepsakes from his former life. They are interrupted by Sam & Red Willie who arrive once again to convince Adam to move down to the town. Once again they are unsuccessful; but Red Willie leaves convinced he recognises Julie as one of the robbers. They leave to plan more mischief.
Julie’s scared now that she’s been found out. Adam presses her for the details of her troubles and she refuses. But winter is coming on now, and the road to the cabin will be impassible until the spring. With the prospect of being alone together for the foreseeable future, Julie & Adam feed their flames of desire.
In the entr’acte, we see winter dissolve into spring revealing the skeleton of a church in the town of Esperanza and the townsfolk preparing for the “town picnic”. Marshall Crabb appears fresh from his journey to Silver City where he was picking up information on a fugitive there who bears a striking resemblance to the chap who robbed the bank last fall. They suspect this gangster has left the $5,000 hidden in Esperanza with a cohort to guard it. Just then, Julie arrives down from the mountain to purchase supplies. Red Willie strong-arms her, plies her with spiked punch and tries to get the location of the fortune out of her. As Red Willie and his hoodlums become increasingly forceful with her, Adam rescues Julie and takes her back up the mountain. Sam follows them. He and Adam have a moment of common understanding as to why they came west to start new lives.
Back in the cabin, Julie’s packed and ready to leave. Just as she’s about to spill the truth Adam asks her to marry him. As he pops the question, Leeroy appears in the doorway. Hoping to spare Adam Leeroy’s wrath, Julie shuffles Leeroy (who takes Adam’s bottle of whiskey on the way) out the door. Adam, alone, is inconsolable fearing he’s lost the one he loves again. Swearing the only emotion he can feel now is hate he vows to kill Leeroy. Sam, however, is waiting on the doorstep and confesses to Adam that he’s a con-man. He tries to convince Adam not to go on a killing spree and in the process has a heart attack. Being the doctor he is, Adam has no choice but temporarily to abandon his murderous plan and tend to Sam.
Meanwhile, Leeroy, three sheets to the wind, has located the $5,000. Julie is incensed he’s buried it in her brother’s grave. Drunk and ugly, he wields his gun to bring Julie into line. Julie flees. Leeroy fires wildly at visions of ghost gunmen as Marshall Crabb appears and takes Leeroy down with one shot. Red Willie inspects the dead Leeroy and tells Crabb he’ll stay with the body until Crabb returns. But as soon as Crabb leaves, Red Willie takes the sack of loot and leaves.
At the church, Sam and his congregation are bidding goodbye to Red Willie who has just come into a mysterious fortune and will be heading west. Just then, Marshall Crabb arrives having received a handbill with the descriptions of two wanted con-men bearing striking resemblances to Red Willie and Sam. The deputies arrest Red Willie, but as they confront Sam, Adam and Julie arrive asking to be married by Reverend Sam. Myrtle Trimble speaks up for the first time to say that Sam has kept his end of the bargain and brought Adam No-Name down from the mountain. And that’s enough to keep him as their Reverend, despite his sordid past. He makes up a wedding ceremony and marries Adam and Julie on the spot.
- Damn Near Perfection - Adam No-Name, Immigrants
- Those Who've Gone Astray - Sam, Red Willie, Townspeople
- Voices In The Wind - Adam No-Name
- Hey Diddle-ee - Benjie, Julie
- Grab A Little Glory - Leeroy
- The Robbery - Company
- Boys Of The Flim Flam - Sam, Red Willie
- The Mandolin Waltz - Julie
- Celebrate Your Darkside - Red Willie, Sam, Townspeople
- Holdin' On Or Lettin' Go - Julie, Adam
- It's A Temporary Romance - Julie, Adam
- Springtime Fever - The Trimbles, Townspeople
- Ballad Of The Bandit Queen - Red Willie, Julie, Deputies
- Western Star - Adam, Sam
- Too Late For Runnin' - Adam, Julie
- Adam's Rave (Soliloquy) - Adam
- The Gunfight - Finale - All
Guitar I - (classical/acoustic/banjo/mandolin)
Guitar II - (classical/12 string/electric/pedal steel)
Keyboard I - (piano)
Keyboard II - (synthesiser/harmonica)
percussion, 2 violins, double bass db bass guitar
Optional additional instruments:
Reed I - (piccolo/flute/clarinet/alto sax)
Reed II - (flute/clarinet/tenor sax)
Reed III - (oboe/cor anglais/tenor sax)
Reed IV - (baritone sax/bassoon)
Horn, 2 trumpets db flugelhorns, trombone db bass trombone, 1 extra percussion, 2 extra violins, cello
9 men, 5 women (may be expanded)
Church Congregation, Settlers, Shopkeepers, Townsfolk - Ensemble.