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Lone Star Love

or The Merry Wives of Windsor, Texas

Cover to original cast recording

Conceived and adapted by John L. Haber - inspired by The Merry Wives of Windsor by William Shakespeare. Music and Lyrics by Jack Herrick with contributions from Michael Bogdanov, Bland Simpson and Tommy Thompson.

John Houseman Theatre, Off-Broadway - Opened 8th December, 2004. Closed 6th February, 2005 (75 perfs)


The date is March 19th, 1865. The place is Bentonville - the South's last desperate stand on North Carolina soil of the Civil War.

As the Confederate soldiers charge forward, Sergeant John Falstaff remains behind, fantasising about the life he thinks he was born to lead. In his reverie, he conjures loose adoring women and a dream Colonel—who then turns back into the real Colonel Johnson and announces the war is over. He dishonorably discharges Falstaff and banishes him and his scraggly band of rebels, Bardolph, Pistol and Nym, out of his camp and the Carolinas altogether. Falstaff accidentally shoots Johnson, then steals his jacket and promotes himself to "Colonel." He and his band then head west to seek their fortune.

Arriving in Windsor, Texas, Falstaff causes a cattle stampede, but quickly turns this to his advantage, charming two wealthy ranchers' wives, Margaret Anne Page and Aggie Ford, who think that he saved their lives from the thundering herd. Learning that their husbands are leaders of the local Cattlemen's Association, Falstaff endeavours to woo the "merry wives" and enjoy their husbands' money.

The Pages' daughter, MissAnne, has two suitors; Master Slender, the local hayseed, nephew to Sheriff Bob Shallow - favoured by Mr. Page - and Doctor Caius, an eccentric Frenchman,- favoured by Mrs. Page. MissAnne, however, dreams of another kind of suitor and her prayers are soon answered in the form of Mister Fenton, a yodelling cowboy and outsider, who instantly vows to win MissAnne's heart. Miss Quickly, who works for Doctor Caius, befriends Fenton and invites him out to a barbecue at the Page ranch, even as her own boss—violin in hand—prepares to sweep MissAnne off her feet at the same event that very evening.

The barbecue unfolds and MissAnne's three suitors vie for her attention. Her father catches Fenton kissing his daughter and threatens to kill him if he ever again sets foot on his property. Later on, by his campfire, Fenton shares his lovesick dream with his horse Dusty and Miss Quickly, who makes a surprise visit and rallies his spirits.

Meanwhile, Falstaff writes a pair of identical love letters to Mrs. Ford and Mrs. Page and reveals his plan of seduction of "two of the finest looking heifers to ever grace the eyes" to his band, which they find preposterous. He fires them on the spot and goes off to deliver the letters, which the wives immediately share with each other. They join in solidarity on the dissembling nature of the male species and vow to teach Falstaff a lesson.

With Miss Quickly as a go-between, they invite him to a rendezvous at the Ford ranch. The Colonel's discarded men warn the husbands that Falstaff is messing with their wives which sets the madly-jealous Frank Ford, disguised as "Senor Rivera", into a web of torment, delusion and rage. Ford nearly catches Falstaff with his wife, but she and Mrs. Page have the fat colonel whisked away in a laundry basket and unceremoniously dumped into Devil's Creek.

The next morning at the Garter Saloon, Falstaff sits shivering and sneezing from his water torture. His ailments subside when Miss Quickly arrives with another invitation from Mrs. Ford—which Falstaff reveals to "Senor Rivera" during a second encounter with him. Encouraged by Miss Quickly, Fenton boldly returns to the Page ranch to state his intentions to MissAnne but then has to hide when her father hears yodelling. Page tells his daughter that Caius and Slender are about to duel for her hand. She confides she can't stand either one of them, but surely doesn't want anyone "gettin' themselves killed on my account." Fenton vows to prove his love and save the day. The showdown ensues and Fenton, a crackerjack marksman, shoots and "splits" Slender's and Caius's bullets, causing them to spin harmlessly off course.

Suddenly, Ford rushes in with news that Falstaff is once again in pursuit of his wife, and he summons the men to form a posse and join him on the chase. Mrs. Ford and Mrs. Page barely pull off another humiliation of Falstaff under Ford's nose, who rails at his wife and storms off in a rage. Mrs. Ford is left standing alone to wonder about the man that her husband has become.

The wives come clean to their husbands, exposing Falstaff's love letters and their plots to punish him. Mrs. Ford confronts Ford for his behaviour towards her, and he seeks her forgiveness. They are reconciled, and both couples conspire together to teach Falstaff one final lesson. That night, in a clearing just above Devil's Creek, MissAnne's suitors make their final moves and Falstaff comes face to face with the husbands of Windsor. Fenton and MissAnne appear as husband and wife, and Mr Page, dazzled by Fenton's ace marksmanship, gives his blessing.

As Falstaff and his men hit the trail and head west the husbands, wives and other folk of Windsor celebrate their Lone Star Love.


  1. Carry Me Home - Mourners (Women of the Company)
  2. Cold Cash - Falstaff, The Band & Women
  3. The Ballad Of Falstaff - Colonel Johnson, Falstaff, Bardolph, Pistol & Nym
  4. Cattlemen - The Men of Windsor
  5. Prairie Moon - MissAnne & Fenton
  6. Caius's Theme - Doctor Caius
  7. Throwdown In Windsor - The Company
  8. A Cowboy's Dream - Fenton & Miss Quickly
  9. Hard Times - Bardolph, Pistol & Nym
  10. World Of Men - Mrs. Page & Mrs. Ford
  11. By Way Of Frank Ford - Mr. Ford & The Band
  12. Lone Star Love - The Company
  13. A Man For the Age - Falstaff
  14. Count On My Love - Fenton & MissAnne
  15. Code of the West - The Company
  16. Quail—Bagging - The Company
  17. Texas Wind - Mrs. Ford
  18. Wildcat Moan - The Company
  19. The Ballad Of Falstaff (Reprise) - The Company
  20. Lone Star Love (Reprise) - The Company
  21. Dance Finale - The Band

The Cast