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LITTLE MARY SUNSHINE Book and lyrics by Rick Besoyan OrpheumTheatre, Off-Broadway 18 November, 1959 (1143 perfs) Produced at the Comedy Theatre, London, May 17, 1962 SYNOPSIS The musical theatre has created its own beloved and unlikely world, not intended to stand cold, logical analysis. The handsome hero is brave, and the comic lead a coward. The top soprano, though adored by all, is unassailably virtuous, and has a scatter-brained servant girl for the comic lead to marry. The villains must, in the end, relent or face utter defeat. By collecting every known cliché from musicals of the Rose Marie-Desert Song era and lumping them joyously into one delightfully far-fetched story, Rick Besoyan has created an entertainment which is hilarious to rehearse and - provided it is made clear that the production is not intended to be taken seriously - is adored by audiences. Be warned: if your patrons report very pleasant, but rather old-fashioned', you have allowed them to miss the whole point! For the Chorus Little Mary Sunshine owns an inn which, considering it is in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, does a surprisingly brisk trade with Forest Rangers, young ladies of Eastchester Finishing School, assorted characters, and a handful of marauding Red Indians. The London production used only a small chorus, but numbers are expandable. The score offers straightforward, tuneful chorus singing, and a little dancing is required. STORY Act I Little Mary Sunshine, foster daughter of Chief Brown Bear of the Kadota tribe, is in trouble. The government is threatening to foreclose the mortgage on her Colorado Inn, located on land that is subject to a dispute between Brown Bear and Uncle Sam. On Mary's advice Brown Bear is engaged in peaceful legal proceedings rather than warfare to establish his rights. Captain Jim and his Forest Rangers arrive. They are searching for the disruptive Indian Yellow Feather. Yellow Feather's "crimes" are actually not murder and pillage but indiscriminate hunting and irresponsible use of fire in the forest, but he is nonetheless a villain of the deepest dye, who has threatened to "have his way" with Mary. Jim woos Mary, after which the two get well-sung advice from Mary's opera star guest Mme. Ernestine Liebedich. Some young ladies from the Eastchester Finishing School (implicitly in New York or Pennsylvania, which have Westchesters) are also Inn guests. While they entertain themselves playing croquet and swinging on swings, the Rangers come upon them. The Rangers' flirting elicits an immediate enthusiastic response, and love blooms once more as they joyfully sing together. Later, the young ranger Billy and his girlfriend Nancy squabble about Nancy's appetite for other men. Jim and Mary return to the spotlight. Mary reveals her "Little Buttercup" secret: Yellow Feather is really Brown Bear's son, long believed dead. As the first act ends, Jim and his aged Indian guide Fleet Foot set off to capture Yellow Feather. Act II Mary holds a garden party featuring the Eastchester ladies and the Rangers. Retired General Oscar Fairfax shows up, bringing a box of gifts for the ladies. Taking command of the Rangers in Jim's absence, he directs the Rangers to depart, find Jim, and bring him back. Fairfax now has the ladies to himself. But his interest