Full Synopsis

Full Synopsis

Act One

As a distant trumpet sounds, we see the elegant courtyard of an inn on the road to Bath, the most elegant resort in England. Ladies and Gentlemen crowd the area. The flirtations have already begun. It is the mating season in genteel England, and many people are ready to find a match ("To Bath, Derry-O!").

As the people disperse, Sir Anthony and Mrs. Malaprop appear and discuss the marriage of Sir Anthony's son, Captain Jack Absolute, to Mrs. Malaprop's niece, Miss Lydia Languish. Both families are wealthy, and a marriage like this would certainly be wonderful. Even though Jack is not present, Sir Anthony suggests that the marriage be arranged in his absence, saying it is less complicated that way. The two adults take a stroll to discuss the upcoming wedding further.

No sooner are they gone than Lucy, the Malaprop servant, appears to scout the situation for her mistress, Lydia. Once Lucy tells her that the coast is clear, Lydia appears, looking for her fiancé, Ensign Beverly, who is waiting for her inside the inn. He is a wonderful, but poor, man and he is everything that Lydia wants (although hardly someone of whom her aunt would approve). Lydia orders Lucy to find him, for she wishes to pick a quarrel. She doesn't want to break their engagement but finds it unromantic if a couple never quarrels. In order to start an argument, she has invented another woman and plans to work herself into a violent rage, vowing never to see Beverly again. She thinks it will be delightful to see how this gallant man will suffer.

Lucy goes to fetch Beverly while Lydia stays to rehearse her quarrel. Sir Lucius O'Trigger appears and, struck by Lydia's charms, circles her admiringly. A reappearing Mrs. Malaprop, however, catches sight of O'Trigger and is quite taken with him for herself. Lydia leaves as Sir Anthony reappears and informs O'Trigger that he should not stare at Lydia since she is soon to be part of Sir Anthony's family. An insulted O'Trigger irately challenges Sir Anthony to a duel, but O'Trigger is crowded by an adoring Mrs. Malaprop, who eventually chases after him. Sir Anthony stalks off, as well.

Jack/Beverly (Jack being his alias) appears from an entirely new direction, sees Sir Anthony (his father) and turns his back. Bag, a manservant, calls out, "Captain Jack!" Jack/Beverly reprimands the servant, reminding him that he doesn't want his father to catch him in Bath. For now, he is to be known as the penniless Ensign Beverly, not Captain Jack Absolute. He is disguising himself because his intended, Lydia, wants to marry a poor man.

Lydia enters to greet her love as Jack/Beverly sends Bag away. She is most happy that he is not wealthy. In fact, the thought of his poverty throws her into a state of bliss. Jack/Beverly lies and once again confirms that he has nothing to his name ("Poor"). Lydia promises to marry him and suggests that they elope. This will cause a scandal, which Lydia finds even more tantalizing.

Lydia returns to the inn, and Jack is left alone to ruminate. Lucy comes back and gives him a note from Lydia. Jack takes it and gives her a note of his own for his Lydia. The young maid leaves to make her delivery. While Jack is reading his note, Bag reappears and asks his master about its contents. It appears that Lydia has accused him of inconstancy and has renounced him forever. Lydia is convinced that Jack is pursuing another woman, even though she appeared quite blooming mere moments earlier. Jack is excited by her accusation and intends to find Lydia to reconcile romantically.

O'Trigger reappears, spots Lucy and hands her his note for Lydia, saying that it is from "a man prepared to die for Lydia." He leaves as Mrs. Malaprop enters and gives Lucy her note for O'Trigger, which she has signed "Delilah." As a giggling Mrs. Malaprop leaves, Lucy stands there, surveying all of the notes, and decides to perform a bit of mischief: she will give Ensign Beverly's note to Mrs. Malaprop (instead of Miss Lydia) along with O'Trigger's letter. Lastly, she'll give Mrs. Malaprop's letter to O'Trigger as asked, but she'll tell him that it's from Miss Lydia!

Bob Acres rushes on looking for everyone. Lucy informs him that they all are gone but that, if he hurries, he may overtake them. Before he goes, he asks Lucy if his fiancée, Miss Lydia, is well and still pledged to him. Lucy tells him that she believes Ensign Beverly has taken over Lydia's affections. He gives Lucy a note for Lydia and runs off in the wrong direction. After he leaves, Lucy looks once more at all of the notes she is holding. Unfortunately, in the scheme of things, there's no room left for Mr. Acres, so she tears up his note.

Some time later, on a street in Bath, Bag appears, laden with luggage. He trips and spills everything. While picking it all up, he sees Sir Anthony, who recognizes him as his son's servant. Bag quickly picks up his luggage and flees, with Sir Anthony chasing him and shoving the strolling O'Trigger aside. An insulted O'Trigger challenges Sir Anthony to a duel as he chases him off.

Lucy appears carrying a number of books. She is amused as she reads the titles, but, as O'Trigger passes her, he knocks a book out of her hand. This happens three times. Oddly enough, Lucy is quite taken by O'Trigger ("What Can It Be?").

In his own room, Jack Absolute dresses with Bag's assistance. He questions his servant about his father's reaction to learning that he was in Bath. Bag assures Jack that he lied to Sir Anthony – even though he can't quite remember what lie he told. Bob Acres enters and greets his good friend, Jack. Bob is upset to learn that Lydia has given him his discharge. Jack quickly tries to change the subject, although Acres says that he is determined to find and kill his rival, Ensign Beverly, prompting poor Jack to shout out loud excitedly, "Damn!" Acres doesn't doesn't believe in swearing and has invented his own style of sentimental swearing, which he introduces to Jack ("Odds"). Jack soon has the hang of it, and the two men practice together.

Bag enters and tells Jack that his father is there to visit. Acres goes off to hunt Ensign Beverly as Sir Anthony enters. He announces that he is ready to give his son a large sum of money in a few weeks and has also chosen for him a wife that comes with the fortune. Jack tries to explain to his father that his heart belongs to another girl, but Sir Anthony wants to hear none of it. Jack replies that he cannot and will not obey his father. This causes Sir Anthony to fly into a rage, demanding that his son do as he is told. He gives Jack six hours and a quarter to come around and all will be forgiven. If he doesn't, he will be disowned. Sir Anthony leaves.

Alone, Jack ponders the situation ("I Love a Fool"). Does he listen to his father and get the money, even if this intended wife is hideous, or does he follow his heart? After thinking for some time, it is quite clear that he loves Lydia and must follow his heart.

At the garden and drawing room of the Malaprop house, Lydia is disconsolately popping chocolates into her mouth. She wonders why Ensign Beverly has not come to visit her. She is certain that her aunt has intercepted a note from Ensign Beverly. Lucy tells her mistress that Mrs. Malaprop has fallen in love with O'Trigger and, because of this, she should find that her aunt will be more open to her niece's needs... but she is not. In fact, the woman has become more suspicious and is trying to pull the lovers apart. Lydia planned on teasing Beverly for three days, but now she has lost him forever. The depressed lady asks her servant for a book to read, and, as her servant reads her the available titles, voices are heard in the other room. Lydia tells Lucy to throw A Lady of Quality, A Gentleman of Leisure, and A Proper Chaperone under the sofa and to give her The Tears of Sensibility to read, and leaving Fordyce's Sermons open on the table.

Mrs. Malaprop and Sir Anthony enter as Lucy quickly exits. The woman tries to convince her niece to forget this common lover of hers, Ensign Beverly, and marry a man of breeding. Lydia refuses to listen to her aunt, and she is ordered to her room. Once she is gone, Mrs. Malaprop confides in Sir Anthony that she doesn't know what to do with the girl. Sir Anthony tells her that she never should have let Lydia learn to read, for reading means education, and an educated woman is the bane of society. He saw the maid bringing books to the Lydia; that says it all right there. Mrs. Malaprop disagrees with him, for she herself is one of the most educated women in England. She has taught Lydia everything that she knows. In actuality, Mrs. Malaprop makes a mistake with everything that she says ("Vocabulary").

Sir Anthony further questions Mrs. Malaprop about Lydia: Just who is this "Bob Acres?" Mrs. Malaprop assures him that, although Lydia wants to marry Acres, it will never happen. In fact, Mrs. Malaprop will consider Sir Anthony's son, Jack, as Lydia's most eligible suitor. Hearing this, a happy Sir Anthony leaves.

Left alone, Mrs. Malaprop realizes that Lydia has discovered her own affections for Sir Lucius O'Trigger. The eavesdropping Lucy enters, and Mrs. Malaprop asks her if she saw O'Trigger while she was out. The servant tells her that she has not. Lucy also assures Mrs. Malaprop that she never mentioned her desire for O'Trigger to anyone. With that, she gives the girl another letter to deliver to her true love and leaves.

Outside of the entrance to the baths, every passerby gives Lucy a note or takes one as they give her money! O'Trigger asks Lucy if his Delilah has responded to his note, and she hands him another letter. Instead of paying her, he kisses her. Lucy is smitten. Ensign/Jack enters and learns from Lucy that Sir Anthony has proposed that his son (Jack) wed Lydia. It appears that Ensign Beverly doesn't have a chance. Lucy doesn't know the truth, but now Jack does. Jack/Ensign feigns being upset and tells Lucy that he will try to keep up his spirits.

The two hear Sir Anthony approaching, and Lucy hastily leaves. Jack assumes a penitent's pose and begs his father's forgiveness. He has seen the error of his ways and will marry the woman that his father has chosen for him... regardless of what she looks like. Sir Anthony assures his son that he has picked out only the finest girl for him ("The Lady Was Made to Be Loved"). Rather than get carried away by his father's description of Lydia, Jack tries to convince him that his only wish is to please his father.

After Sir Anthony is gone, Jack is able to celebrate how everything appears to be working out in his favor. He starts off for the baths, but is stopped as Lydia, O'Trigger, Acres and Sir Anthony appear in tandem. Jack runs into the baths, chased by Acres and Sir Anthony. He fears that Lydia may find out his true identity. O'Trigger is knocked over yet again by Sir Anthony and chases him once more, set on challenging him to a duel. A confused Lydia can only comment on how men do rush about so. The Grenadiers enter and are scandalized by the preceding events, fearing that progress is changing the way that people act ("The Good Old Ways").

At the baths, Acres climbs into one. O'Trigger enters, waving a sword and frightening him. Both men comment on how they have not been able to find their man. O'Trigger relates that fighting is the only way for men to survive and that true gentlemen must defend themselves and their honour ("Honour"). This speech successfully eggs Acres on, who is now completely consumed with fury. O'Trigger tries to tell him that these things must be done civilly. He sits Acres down and helps him compose a letter to Beverly, in which he he will challenge him to a duel in King's Mead-Field. Upon completion of the letter, O'Trigger leaves.

Jack enters and finds his friend, Acres, very upset. Acres shows him the challenge letter. Jack assures him that he will deliver the letter to Ensign Beverly. Acres admits that, in reality, he does not wish to kill the man, just give him a good scare. Sir Anthony then appears and starts to chase his son, but loses him again. The Grenadiers appear once more, and Sir Anthony comments to them how he, too, has noticed how times have changed; there is no respect for age, women are now reading and thinking has become a despicably preferred trend ("Good Old Ways – Reprise").

Act Two

On a street in Bath, Lucy is discovered in a brand new, elegant gown. She parades for the benefit of her peers, the other servants, who stare at her in awe. O'Trigger appears, and Lucy gives him a note from his Delilah. He confesses to Lucy that he actually has no money and is looking for a rich wife. He opens the note that she has given him, but it is blank. Lucy then knocks him over with a punch. He is rather confused by this and runs off. After he is gone, Lucy realizes that O'Trigger is the only man for her, money or no money ("I Found Him"). The other servants shake their heads disparagingly since he is far above her lowly station.

In the Malaprop house, Sir Anthony gives Jack an order to propose to Lydia in less than five minutes, or else he shall do it for him. Mrs. Malaprop enters and prepares Jack to meet her niece. She explains that Lucy is indeed a girl who is fixed on a poor fellow. She even has a note from that poor fellow (Beverly/Jack's note). Jack feigns being upset as he reads the note.

Jack then instructs Mrs. Malaprop to tell Lydia that he is actually Beverly, in hopes that she will then come and talk with him. When Jack finally gets to talk with Lydia, she still thinks that he is poor Beverly and is quite taken with the fact that her aunt actually thinks Beverly is Jack; poverty is something that makes Lydia more attracted to a man. She asks Beverly once again why he loves her, but Jack, looking at his watch, realizes that time is running out. His father has given him five minutes and will be coming back soon ("Don't Ask Me").

Jack rushes off as Mrs. Malaprop comes in to find her niece still daydreaming about Beverly. Unfortunately, Jack is caught by his father, who drags him back in to propose to Lydia. Finally, the young woman learns the truth. She runs off, renouncing both Beverly and Jack forever. Sir Anthony is upset, Mrs. Malaprop is upset and chaos reigns!

Outside of the brothel, a drunken Jack talks with Bob Acres, telling him that he has found Beverly and that the monster accepted his challenge to a duel. He insists on fighting that evening at 7:30. Bob wonders just what is going on. The Grenadiers appear suddenly from inside of the brothel – each has a semi-dressed girl; it appears as if the men are all drinking because of their troubles with women, as well. Jack grabs a few girls and goes inside. O'Trigger comes out of the baths and joins with the other men in wondering just why men take only one wife when they really want many ("Why Wives?").

Sir Anthony enters and sees O'Trigger, who is ready to pick a quarrel with him. After a few insults back and forth, Anthony challenges O'Trigger to a duel at 7:30 in King's Mead-Field. Jack comes out and tries to stop his father; however, Sir Anthony has no desire to speak with his son. After Sir Anthony leaves, O'Trigger insults him in front of Jack and learns that Jack is Anthony's son. Still upset, Jack challenges O'Trigger to a duel at 7:25 in King's Mead-Field. Now that Jack has no woman for whom to live, he might as well try to save his father.

Back in the Malaprop garden, Lydia is in tears. Lucy enters dressed as a lady. She is giving her notice to Mrs. Malaprop. She has saved her money, bought a cottage in the country and is getting married. Lydia is further upset that her servant will marry and wonders why it is that men can do as they wish while women must follow in their paths. Mrs. Malaprop enters with Bag, the servant, and informs the two women that something terrible is happening. Lydia tries to get her aunt to tell her just what it is, but the old woman simply can't get to the point ("Quickly"). Bag finally reveals that the men will all be dueling, and they all rush off to stop them before it is too late.

In King's Mead-Field, O'Trigger is coaching Acres, who is ready to fight Ensign Beverly. Jack appears and confesses to Acres that he is Beverly. Acres accepts that he can't fight his friend, but is prepared to fight O'Trigger, who calls him a coward. Sir Anthony arrives, wanting to be certain that he can still take part in his duel.

The women come rushing in, ready to stop the proceedings. Lydia runs to Jack and agrees to a life of luxury. O'Trigger says that he must fight for his Delilah. Mrs. Malaprop quickly confesses to being the women with whom he has been corresponding. It is then that Lucy produces a key to Blunderbuss Hall (a country mansion) and confesses that she has purchased it with her life's savings and is prepared to take care of O'Trigger and restore him to his former glory – the little servant made a lot of money delivering all those notes. O'Trigger falls into her arms. It appears that love does win out after all.

But what about Mrs. Malaprop? Jack begins to speak, and it looks like he is leading the woman to his father, who flinches. Instead, he takes her to his good friend, Bob Acres. Mrs. Malaprop is smitten, and Bob Acres is befuddled. Sir Anthony wraps up the show by commenting that everyone is well matched ("All in Love").