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Ann Veronica

Cover to Original London Cast Recording

A musical based on the novel by H.G. Wells. Book by Frank Wells and Ronald Gow. Lyrics by David Croft. Music by Cyril Ornandel

First presented at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry.
Opened Cambridge Theatre, London April 17th, 1969. (44 perfs)

Synopsis

ACT ONE

It was an unusual thing for a young woman to be a college student in 1909 but Ann Veronica Stanley was the sort of girl who is determined to be unusual. As she sits in the train going home in the evening she looks at the busy world hurrying past the carriage window and feels she doesn't belong to it at all. She sings that she is going to do real things in life and be a whole person.

There is a big row with father about going to a fancy dress ball. Ann Veronica is sent to her room. Peter Stanley is an old-fashioned kind of parent and he complains bitterly to Aunt Molly.

Hetty and Connie Widgett are fellow students and neighbours of Ann Veronica. They are ardent suffragettes under the leadership of Miss Miniver, who is not only a militant suffragette and a staunch vegetarian, but a believer in the superiority of women in the war of the sexes. She tells the girls that their great enemy is maternity.

At the Church Picnic the young men and girls sing happily in the warm Edwardian sunshine. Their thoughts are turning to love and the opportunity for practising it. Aunt Molly's thoughts too are turning that way — she would like Ann Veronica to give encouragement to a suitably rich and well-connected young man called Hubert Manning. But Ann prefers to talk to Mr. Ramage, a flirtatious businessman who offers to help her — rather too eagerly. At the first opportunity Hubert Manning proposes and Ann wonders why none of her admirers ever mentions love. Her thoughts are turning that way too and confesses to some strange romantic desires.

Teddy Widgett, another admirer of Ann Veronica advises her to make a stand, which she does. Father now says she must give up her biology course. In the words of the Ann Veronica song she must 'face the world and face it now' and she runs away to London. She tries to keep up her work at College but it is difficult to pay the fees. Hubert Manning begs her to go back home and declares his loyalty. She is attending the lectures of a certain Mr. Capes, and suddenly, over a microscope in the laboratory she knows she has fallen in love with him — a process which he explains as chemical attraction.

Short of money, she goes to see the businessman Ramage for advice and employment. He insists on lending her forty pounds. His dishonourable intentions are revealed, however.

Ann wishes that a woman could go to a man and tell him of her love. But Mr. Capes is a lecturer and she is a student and there is a barrier between them. Then, hearing with dismay that Mr. Capes is a married man and separated from his wife, she joins Hetty and Connie at a Suffragette Rally. The formidable Miss Miniver leads the singing of their great marching song — They Can't Keep Us Down — and the first half of the story ends in a great anti-male crusade, with waving of banners and showers of leaflets.

ACT TWO

Ramage takes Ann Veronica to a private room at the Rococo Restaurant, but she escapes from his unwelcome intentions. More disgusted with men than ever she tells Miss Miniver that she wants to strike a blow for women and go to prison, a wish that is soon granted after a demonstration in Downing Street. Prison is a grim place where the wardresses order the prisoners to stand in line and don prison clothes.

Mr. Capes offers to arrange Ann's release if she will abandon her political activities and return to College. She refuses and wonders if she has lost him for ever. But at last she arrives home, weak and unhappy. Her father and Aunt Molly urge the claims of Mr. Manning as a suitable husband. Ann accepts his ring. There seems to be no alternative.

The debt to Mr. Ramage is unexpectedly paid by Miss Miniver, who doesn't let him off lightly, and tells him that his trouble is Too Much Meat.

A few days before her wedding Ann goes back to College to collect her microscope„and her beloved scientific books. Mr. Capes is packing up for a holiday in Switzerland. She blurts out the truth — that she loves him and wants to run away with him — the reason why the original novel by H. G. Wells was severely condemned as a forbidden book in 1909. But our sympathy today is with these rebels against convention. Wells knew from his own experience that true love is real and valuable — and that sometimes it wins in the end.

Ronald Gow

Cast of Characters:

Ann Veronica Stanley
Molly Stanley (her Aunt)
Maggie (the maid) Peter Stanley (Ann's father)
Teddy Widgett
Hetty Widgett
Connie Widgett
Miss Miniver
Agnes
Maud
Emily
Kate
Mr. Manning
Mr. Ramage
A Student
Mr. Capes
Crawford
Waiter
Head Wardress

Assistant Wardresses; Laboratory Assistants, Singers and Dancers

Musical Numbers

  1. A Whole Person - Ann
  2. I Don't See What Else I Could Have Said - Peter, and Aunt Molly
  3. Maternity - Miss Miniver, Hetty and Connie
  4. Opportunity - Agnes, Maud, Emily and Chorus
  5. Sweep Me Off My Feet - Ann and Chorus
  6. Ann Veronica - Ann, Teddy and Chorus
  7. One Man's Love - Mr. Manning
  8. Chemical Attraction - Mr. Capes and Ann
  9. I Couldn't Do A Thing Like That - Mr. Ramage
  10. Why Can't I Go To Him - Ann
  11. They Can't Keep Us Down - Miss Miniver and Chorus
  12. Stand In Line / Home Sweet Home - Wardresses, Hetty
  13. Glad To Have You Back - Connie and Miss Miniver
  14. If I Should Lose You - Ann
  15. You're A Good Man - Peter, Aunt Molly and Mr. Manning
  16. Too Much Meat - Miss Miniver and Mr. Ramage
  17. Ann Veronica (reprise)