Directors' Choice Award Winner
The Sweet Revenge Of Louisa May
book by Burton Cohen, music by Stephen Hoffman, lyrics by Mark Campbell
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Pauline Valary – Thirties, headstrong, rash
Carlotta de la Roche – Almost 18, beautiful, girlish and spirited
Manuel de la Roche – Mid-20s, wealthy, handsome, sincere and gallant with a boyish charm
Gilbert Redmond – Mid-30s, handsome and ruthless
Uncle Hugo – 50s, worldly and suave
Guy – Mid-20s, handsome and dashing, a free spirit who embodies the manly virtues
Barbara St. Juste – 30s, wealthy and naïve
Dr. Karnac – 60s, the evil doctor incarnate.
This is a comedy based on the little known Gothic “blood and thunder” stories of Louisa May Alcott, which were written under a pseudonym. They are a far cry from “Little Women”. It is melodrama with the stops pulled out. Throughout the piece the “presence” of Louisa May Alcott is alluded to.
There are two interconnected plots running side by side. The first involves Pauline, governess of Carlotta, who is the heroine of the second plot.
The play opens in the 1850s with Pauline singing to the Cuban moon, imploring that magical orb to help her ride out the emotional storms of the night. Gilbert, dashing adventurer and scoundrel has jilted her and run off. She is determined to track him down and wreak revenge. So, starts our first plot.
Manuel, brother of Carlotta, her ward, enters and reveals that an Uncle Hugo is coming to whisk Carlotta off to his English estate, causing her much consternation. They comfort her with visions of sophistication and wealth and the second plot begins.
We next find Carlotta and Uncle Hugo on a train speeding to his estate. The journey proves to be more eventful than Carlotta had bargained for. Once there Carlotta meets her cousin Guy and we learn that she has been brought there to try and steal her fortune. Guy is against this devilish plan. He and Carlotta fall in love at first sight. He denounces the plan and storms off in disgust.
Poor Carlotta is drugged and awakens to find herself in a dungeon at the home of Dr. Karnac, a “scientist” and Hugo’s accomplice. They attempt to make her sign over her estate to them and she gamely refuses. Therefore Karnac must subject her to his “alternative plan”, a series of unspeakable acts and experiments.
Meanwhile, Pauline, now married to Manuel for convenience, goes off in search of Gilbert. This quest takes them to a masked ball in Louisiana where they find Gilbert, married to Barbara St. Juste. The old sparks between Gilbert and Pauline burst into flame and Pauline uses this to destroy him. He is ruined at the gaming table by Manuel, at Pauline’s command and Manuel and Barbara find sparks of their own. At this point Pauline, Gilbert, Barbara and Manuel go off to a picnic on a mountaintop, where the situation resolves itself in a surprising way.
Carlotta is ultimately rescued by Guy, grown strong by his worldly adventures and Hugo and Karnac are destroyed. by their own deceitful machinations.
The final scene finds us back in Cuba and at a double wedding of Carlotta /Guy and Barbara/Manuel. We find Carlotta gazing at the moon that she knows Pauline loved….but all is not completely finished.
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