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Dearest Enemy

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Title: Dearest Enemy  
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Subject: Richard Rodgers, Rodgers and Hart, Herbert Fields, Walter Burke, A Connecticut Yankee (musical)
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Dearest Enemy

Dearest Enemy
Sheet music cover (cropped)
Music Richard Rodgers
Lyrics Lorenz Hart
Book Herbert Fields
Basis A true American Revolutionary War incident
Productions 1925 Broadway

Dearest Enemy is a George Washington time to move his vulnerable troops.


  • Production and background 1
  • Plot 2
  • Songs 3
  • Critical response 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Production and background

Hart got the idea for the musical from a plaque in Manhattan about Murray. He, Rodgers and Fields first took their musical to Fields' father, Helen Ford, a star of the show, agreed to produce it. The musical had been variously described as an operetta and a genuine comic opera in the press.[2]

The Broadway production opened on September 18, 1925 at the Knickerbocker Theatre and closed on May 22, 1926, after 286 performances. Directed by John Murray Anderson, the cast included Flavia Arcaro as Mary, Helen Spring as Jane, John Seymour as Harry, Helen Ford as Betsy, Charles Purcell as Sir John, and H. E. Eldridge as Washington. The success of the show led to many more Rodgers and Hart musicals. Despite a good run with very favorable reviews and a national tour, revivals afterwards were few. The musical was seen in 1976 at the Goodspeed Opera House, as an American bicentennial production, and in 1996 at 42nd Street Moon in San Francisco.[3] It was given an on-book concert in 1999 by the Musicals Tonight! troupe with piano accompaniment.[4] In 2002, for the Richard Rodgers centennial, New York's amateur Village Light Opera Group (VLOG) produced the show conducted by Ron Noll with an orchestration reconstructed by Larry Moore.[5]

A television musical special featuring Cyril Ritchard, Anne Jeffreys, Robert Sterling, and Cornelia Otis Skinner as Mrs. Murray, in an adaptation by Neil Simon, was broadcast on November 26, 1955, and the soundtrack is still available.[3] A cast recording of that broadcast was released on compact disc in 1997. In 2013, New World Records released a recording of the complete score in the Moore reconstruction. The recording features the Orchestra of Ireland, conducted by David Brophy and Kim Criswell as Mrs. Murray. According to Steven Suskin, writing in Playbill, it "couldn't be bettered".[6]


The story is based on an William Howe and his British troops by serving them cake, wine and conversation in her Kips Bay, Manhattan home long enough for some 4,000 American soldiers, fleeing their loss in the Battle of Brooklyn, to reassemble in Washington Heights and join reinforcements to make a successful counterattack.

Patriot Mary Murray (of the

Mary gives a Ball for the British officers, promising to show them some of the beauties of the local countryside. The British soldiers are happy to spend time consuming refreshment and indulging in music, dancing and flirtation at the Murray mansion. Betsy and Sir John dream of being together when the war is over as Jane and Harry also fall in love ("Bye and Bye"). Mary's messenger is captured, and Betsy volunteers to take an update to General Washington. She is told to return to Mary's house and, when the coast is clear for the American soldiers to move, to light a lantern then put it out. Upon her return, Sir John and she acknowledge their love for each other. When Sir John falls asleep, Betsy lights the signal. The American soldiers march North safely. Sir John is captured but, in the post-war epilogue, he is freed and reunited with Betsy.


Critical response

The critic of The New York Times "waxed rhapsodic over [songs] 'that are as uncommon as most of them are beautiful'", and the New York Evening World called the book "wise and truly witty and genuinely romantic" and praised the beauty and freshness of the songs.[3] Historian Stanley Green wrote that there was a "well-sustained attempt" to match the music to the plot and period. The ballads were "dainty, charming pieces."[2] The Telegram reviewer wrote that "We have a glimmering notion that someday they will form the American counterpart of the once great triumvirate of Bolton, Wodehouse, and Kern."[2]


  1. ^ Green, Kay. Broadway musicals, show by show (1996, Edition:5), p. 48, Hal Leonard Corporation, ISBN 0-7935-7750-0
  2. ^ a b c d Green, Stanley. The world of musical comedy (1984), Da Capo Press, ISBN 0-306-80207-4, pp 116-117
  3. ^ a b c d MacKellan, Greg. "Dearest Enemy (1925)", 42nd Street Moon, accessed December 7, 2014
  4. ^ "Reviews: Dearest Enemy",; New York Newsday, September 1999, accessed December 7, 3014
  5. ^ "Buried Treasure", Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization, July 1, 2002, accessed December 7, 2014
  6. ^ Suskin, Steven. "Dearest Enemy"On the Record: Rodgers and Hart's Early Musical , Playbill, October 27, 2013, accessed December 7, 2014

External links

  • at IBDBDearest Enemy
  • Overview of show,
  • plot and production information, Guide To Musical TheatreDearest Enemy
  • 1955 TV adaptation at the IMDB
  • Soundtrack of the 1955 broadcast at Allmusic
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