MARIE CHRISTINE A musical in 2 acts and a prelude freely adapted from the legend of Medea. Music and lyrics by Michael John LaChiusa Vivian Beaumont Theatre, Lincoln Center, NYC - Opened 2nd December 1999: closed 9th January, 2000 (44 perfs) STORY ACT ONE Chicago, 1899. A women's prison. Marie Christine L'Adrese enters a cell filled with inmates, some mad, some violent. Three of the Prisoners question Marie Christine. These women journey with Marie Christine as she recounts her story, the events coming to life, as if conjured by her memory. First, she recalls her beloved mother, who taught her about her African heritage, the power of voudon magic and her place in society. As Marie Christine describes her first meeting with Dante Keyes, who would become the father of her children, she invokes the memory of Blue Rose Park, on the shore of Lake Pontchartrain, Louisiana. Dante is a sea captain whose ship is stranded in Biloxi. He has made his way to New Orleans to settle a score with his ship's owner. Their attraction to each other is immediate, as the Prisoners note. Marie Christine tells Dante about her parentage and we meet her brothers: Jean, a serious Advocate-of-Law engaged to the very proper Beatrice; and Paris, a bon vivant. They remind her of the restrictive rules of Creole society in New Orleans. On her own, Marie Christine teaches her young maid and confidante Lisette how to survive in a world ruled by men. Dante, a young ambitious man, recounts how he survived years at sea triumphing over great perils—which he attributes to his natural charm and charisma. Marie Christine offers to help Dante settle his business in New Orleans. And she reveals her secret life as a practitioner of voudon, helping people of all race and classes in matters of the heart. Dante extols the virtues of Chicago where he grew up and where his patron Charles Gates will help him run for political office someday. Marie glimpses a darker, complex side of the man when he sings of the loneliness of the ocean and is powerlessly swept away by him. They make love as the shadows fall over the park. As her maid Lisette searches for her mistress, Marie realises that Dante is her way out of her confining life; yet the voice of her conscience—her mother—questions whether she should allow her passions to rule her life. Dante reveals his vulnerability to her and they realise they have fatten in love. Marie invites him to stay with her in her family's home in New Orleans. In the L'Adrese household in New Orleans, the servants comment on their mistress' forbidden affair with a white man. They pass along information in coded language so as not be caught gossiping. Marie Christine's affair has become a scandal. Jean and Paris confront her and demand she end this relationship—their family's reputation is at stake. Marie Christine discovers she is pregnant with Dante's child. Her worst fears of abandonment are almost realised when she discovers Dante flirting with Lisette, who inadvertently tries to tell him of Marie's pregnancy. Dante prepares to leave, as his business in New Orleans is settled. Marie begs him to take her with him, telling him she will steal her mother's gold and jewellery, which are rightfully hers, to finance their flight. But even though Dante is unaware of Marie's condition, he promises to take her with him to Chicago. There, he plans to fulfil his own destiny with her. Dante leaves, promising to return with his ship in three days. Alone in her bedroom, Lisette prepares for bed. Marie Christine confronts her and accuses her of betraying her secrets. Inducing a spell of paralyzing fear in the young girl, Marie commits the first of many crimes for her love. The Prisoners, horrified and awed, comment on Marie's need to protect her relationship with Dante and Marie declares her passion.