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HIT THE DECK A Musical Comedy in 2 Acts: Music by Vincent Youmans: Lyrics by Clifford Grey & Leo Robin: Book by Herbert Fields : Based on the play Shore Leave by Hubert Osborn : Orchestrations by Stephen Jones & Paul Lannin Belasco Theatre, New York - 25 April, 1927 (352 perfs) London Hippodrome - 3rd November, 1927 SYNOPSIS: Loulou is the owner of a Newport coffee house. She falls in love with Bilge, one of the many sailors who patronise her eatery whenever they're in port. But Bilge is reluctant to consider marriage. So Loulou takes a small fortune she has come into and follows him all the way to China. When she finally seems to have won her point, Bilge discovers she is wealthy. Bilge is unwilling to marry but Loulou wins this round by agreeing to sign away her money to their first child. STORY Act 1 A bunch of determinedly salty sailors are enjoying themselves in Looloo Martin's dockside coffee bar when hunky Battling Smith comes in, bringing a gift from foreign parts for the café's pretty owner. It is a live and squawking gift, a tropical parrot with a rough tongue, which wins scant approval from Looloo's bulging helpmate, Lavinia. Lavinia is Looloo's self-appointed mother substitute and she gets mighty uppity when the sailors kid her curiously about the unidentified sailor who was seen squiring Looloo through the cemetery late the previous night, but she can sniff something afoot when Looloo comes bouncing in with a song exhorting everyone to 'Join the Navy' and an armload of groceries topped off by a genuine chicken. The café has emptied when a fresh group of visitors arrives. Ensign Alan Clark has brought the aristocratic Charlotte Payne and her pal, Toddy Gaie, on a little slumming trip to introduce them to the pleasure spots of the dockside life and to Looloo and her café. Charlotte's inquisitiveness leads to the history of Looloo's family being told and it comes out that the little lady is the child of a sea captain and a circus performer. Looloo's mother was an elephant trainer with Barnum and Bailey's circus and Looloo has a valuable souvenir to prove it: a unique jewelled elephant pendant given to her mother as a wedding present by P T Barnum. Charlotte is fascinated by the piece and tries to persuade Looloo to sell it to her, but Looloo's feelings of family pride will not let her part with her sole remembrance of her parents, and Charlotte has to console herself with 'A Kiss or Two' from her officer. Something of the same kind is what Looloo has in mind for the evening. She has invited Bilge Smith, her companion from the previous evening, to come and dine and she is bent on fixing him a fancy meal that will make the seafarer think fondly of the joys of hearth, home and marriage. She is a mite disappointed when Bilge turns up with two friends, who are obviously used to using their mate's facility with women as the way to a free meal, but Bilge decides that this particular date is a bit more worthy than usual and he hurries the boys on their way unfed. Over Looloo's lovingly prepared meal, Bilge's swaggering melts into a friendly chat and he confides in Looloo that he longs to quit the navy and rise to be the captain of his very own freighter, running the American coast in all kinds of weather with his wife at his side, just as her father did. When the whistle goes, calling him back to his ship, all the old bravado returns and bidding Looloo farewell with a practised kiss he heads back to sea. Then Looloo has an idea. She goes to the phone and calls the hotel