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The Night of the Hunter

Cover to Studio Cast recording

A new musical : inspired by the film The Night of the Hunter and based on the novel by Davis Grubb

Music by Claibe Richardson; Book and lyrics by Stephen Cole

The Story:

When the depression in West Virginia proved too hard for Ben Harper and his family, Ben went out and killed a man for $10,000. After hiding the money in his daughter, Pearl's doll and swearing his son, John to secrecy, Ben was caught and hanged for his sins. But before he died he hold his cell mate about the money and the widow he was about to leave behind. Now Harry Powell, also known as the Preacher, is on his way to find the money and marry the widow. He looks to the Lord to tell him what to do.

In Cresap's Landing, the Harper family copes with their loss as best they can. Young John by clinging to a dream of security and his mother Willa by working at the local ice-cream shop and looking to the future.

When the Preacher arrives in town with a phony story and a dazzling smile, he convinces everyone in the ice-cream shop of his piety by telling them the story of the words tattooed on the knuckles of his hands, Love and Hate. Everyone falls for him … everyone except John. As the whole town catches religious fervour the Preacher woos Willa.

Despite John's protests Willa marries the Preacher giving the Preacher the opportunity to badger the children about the money. When Willa comes home unexpectedly one night and witnesses her husband threatening little Pearl, she realises the truth, leaving the Preacher no alternative but to slit her throat.

With their mother disposed of, John and his sister have no choice but to run. They take a skiff and set out down river to Lord knows where with the Preacher in pursuit.

Fate and the current bring John and Pearl's skiff to Rachel Cooper, an ageless country widow who takes in strays. One of Rachel's strays, the 15 year old flirt Ruby, meets up with the Preacher and she tells him where his children are. He shows up to claim them by in a show of strength, courage and downright faith (not to mention a good amount of buckshot) Rachel saves the children.

As surely as autumn follows summer, Christmas comes and the children begin their healing. As John realises that everything he has feared is just a shadow, Rachel comments on the power of children and their God-given ability to endure and abide.

Stephen Cole


in order of appearance:

Rachel Cooper
Willa Harper
Pearl Harper
John Harper
Ben Harper
Blue Man #1
Blue Man #2
Harry Powell, the Preacher
Key Spoon
Walt Spoon
Miz Cunningham

Drug Store Boys; townspeople; Children

Musical Numbers

    1. The Story Begins (including: A Little Child Shal Lead, The King of Darkest Africa, Little Kids Running the Roads, Hing Hang Hung) - Rachel, John, Pearl, Ben, Willa, Blue Men, Minister, Warden & Children
    2. The Lord Will Provide -The Preacher
    3. The Watch - John
    4. Lookin' Ahead - Willa, Key, Walt and Townspeople
    5. Love and Hate - The Preacher, Townspeople
    6. The River Jesus - Willa, Key, Walt & Townspeople
    7. Expect a Miracle - The Preacher, Key, Miz Cunningham
    8. Wedding NIght - Willa, The Preacher
    9. Trading Secrets - The Preacher, Pearl and Willa
    10. The River Journey/Me 'n' Little Sister - John, Pearl and The Preacher
    11. One More Harvest - Rachel, John
    12. Ruby at the Drug Store - Ruby, Boys & the Preacher
    13. The Wind and the Rain (Finale) - Rachel, John, Pearl & Children


Cast Recordings starring Ron Raines, Dorothy Loudon & Sally Mayes - Varèse Sarabande VSD-5876