The Revolution of Betsy Loring

Book and Lyrics by Noelle Donfeld, Music by Denise Wright, based on a story by Noelle Donfeld and Sue Warford

betsy-poster

The Revolution of Betsy Loring

Set against the backdrop of America’s Revolutionary War, The Revolution of Betsy Loring is a timeless tale pitting the flames of love against the flames of war. The Revolution of Betsy Loring follows a trail of romance and rueful treachery, as BETSY LORING, a Colonial Patriot, is torn between her love of country and her growing love for the enemy.  Betsy eagerly accepts the opportunity to spy on LORD GENERAL WILLIAM HOWE, Commander-in-Chief of British forces, who  sympathizes with the American cause even as he attempts to defeat the rebels.  However, the Lord is blindsided by the beautiful Betsy.

When Betsy’s husband, JOSHUA, sells her Boston area farm and collaborates with the British, Betsy is forced to seek refuge with her best friend, REBECCA DAWES, and her husband BILLY, an actor and important Rebel spy.  Using his relationship with the dilettante playwright, GENERAL JOHN BURGOYNE, Billy introduces the beautiful and outspoken Betsy to General Howe, who is intrigued by her beauty and spiritedness.  Betsy is able to use her relationship with Howe to spy on the general, and despite strong misgivings, their mutual attraction and friendship grows.

General Howe’s rival, the hard-nosed GENERAL HENRY CLINTON, is angered  over Howe’s continued meetings with a possible traitor to the Crown.  When Clinton and the jealous Joshua attempt to warn Howe about Betsy’s possible deception, the infatuated General Howe refuses to believe them.  Although Betsy’s spying skills are less than ideal, she manages to distract Howe from his battle duties.  When Howe does leave for a battle on the outskirts of Boston, Betsy rifles through his papers and is caught red-handed by General Clinton, who immediately has her arrested.

In a Boston jail, Joshua, the new Commissioner of Prisoners, threatens Betsy with hanging.  Rushing back from the battlefield, Howe allows himself to believe Betsy’s explanation that she was reading his fiancée’s letters and not battle plans.  However, his quick departure from battle enables the Patriots to secure Boston.

Clinton and Joshua persist in their accusations to Howe, and Clinton finally succeeds in setting a trap for Betsy.  Taking the bait and passing the false intelligence to Billy, Betsy discovers her deadly misstep and must confess her treachery to Howe.  In an attempt to save Betsy’s life, and the remnants of his honor, General Howe rides off to stop Billy and his Rebels from riding into Clinton’s ambush.

Upon Howe’s return, Betsy desperately tries to convince him of her genuine love for him.  Despondent and outraged over Betsy’s deception and his own gullibility, Howe advises Betsy to return to her abusive husband, and leaves, handing her the deed to her farm.  Although devastated by the loss of her true love, the unbowed Betsy remains determined to see America through to freedom.

 

Selected Lyrics

I HAVE THEM EATING OUT OF MY HAND

I HAVE THEM EATING OUT OF MY HAND

c) Donfeld/Wright

Ensemble

(Billy, Rebecca, the rebels and the unsuspecting Betsy attend General Burgoyne’s party for Lord Howe.)

HOWE(To CLINTON)

To borrow your unflattering analogy…

 

LOOK AT THESE PUPS! THEY’RE OVERAWED.

WAGGING THEIR TAILS, THEY ARE DOCILE AND BLAND.

REST ASSURED, HENRY, THE DOGS ARE DECLAWED

I HAVE THEM EATING

OUT OF MY HAND.

 

(Struggling to grin, as ordered, Clinton approaches Rebecca and asks her to dance.)

Billy

LOOK AT THEM BOW. LOOK AT THEM NOD.

OSTRICHES HIDING THEIR HEADS IN THE SAND.

ALL THAT THEY NEED IS A SMILE AND A PROD.

I HAVE THEM EATING

OUT OF MY HAND.

 

Clinton

(Widely grimacing) 

THIS IS INSANE, FRANKLY REVILING,

WHIRLING AROUND WITH A PEASANT,

HIDING THE STRAIN, NODDING AND SMILING.

G-D, IT’S A PAIN TO BE PLEASANT.

REBECCA

How long will you be staying in Boston, Lord Clinton?

CLINTON

Not long, I sincerely hope.

Rebels

CLINTON IS STRANGE, TRULY QUITE ODD.

LOOK AT HIS SMILE. IT IS ALMOST OBSCENE.

SOMEHOW HIS GRIN IS REMARKABLY FLAWED,

MUCH LIKE A PUMPKIN’S ON HALLOWEEN.

 

(Howe sees Betsy and cuts in.)

BILLY

(Dancing with noblewoman.)

Perhaps I shouldn’t have taken you away from your husband’s side.  I hope he’s not leaving soon.

NOBLEWOMAN

I’m not sure, actually.  He said he may be leaving in a week, but one never knows.

BILLY

I hope to a more peaceful area of the colonies.

NOBLEWOMAN

I don’t know.  Is Concord more peaceful than Boston?

BILLY

Concord?  I hope so.

Besty

THIS ISN’T HARD BEING A FRAUD.

HOWE WOULD PAY COURT, IF I GAVE HIM THE CHANCE.

WHAT WILL I DO IF I’M SUDDENLY PAWED?

I’LL KICK HIS LORDSHIP RIGHT IN THE PANTS.

 

Billy and the Rebels

HOWE IS HER TOOL.

LOOK AT HIM DROOLING,

STRUTTING AROUND LIKE A PHEASANT.

HOWE IS A FOOL.

HE’LL GET A SCHOOLING

SEE HOW IT PAYS TO BE PLEASANT!

 

Nobles                                                             Rebels

LOOK AT THEM BOW.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 WHAT A FAÇADE.

TREATED LIKE G-D.                                           KEEP NODDING.

THINGS ARE PROGRESSING                           THINGS ARE PROGRESSING

EXACTLY AS PLANNED                                   EXACTLY AS PLANNED.

ALL THAT THEY NEED IS                                 ALL THAT THEY NEED IS

A SMILE AND A PROD.                                   A SMILE AND A PROD.

I HAVE THE EATING                                         I HAVE THE EATING

OUT OF MY HAND.                                         OUT OF MY HAND.

 

All

YES, I HAVE THEM EATING OUT OF MY HAND.


HAVING TEA

HAVING TEA

c) Donfeld/Wright

(Betsy meets with Lord Howe ostensibly to discuss the possibility of getting her farm back from her husband who has stolen and sold it.   What she wants, in actuality, is to develop a relationship with Howe so that she can spy on him.    All but the last line are sung as asides.)

Betsy

WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT,

SITTING WITH A GENERAL,

SIPPING WITH A GENERAL

WOULD BE AMUSING?

NEVER GAVE A SINGLE THOUGHT,

NEVER THOUGHT THAT I’D BE CAUGHT

DEAD HERE.

INSTEAD, HERE

I’M SITTING WITH A GENERAL,

A BLOODY BRITISH GENERAL,

A RATHER CHARMING GENERAL

IT’S SO CONFUSING.

HAVING TEA WITH GENERAL HOWE,

HOW’S THAT FOR FATE? GREAT!

SHOULD I PUT SOME CAKE

OR POISON ON HIS PLATE?

 

Howe

WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT,

SITTING WITH A COMMONER,

SIPPING WITH A COMMONER

WOULD BE SO THRILLING?

LOOK AT HOW SHE FILLS MY PLATE,

SEEMING TO APPRECIATE

MY TEA TIME.

YES, HERE I’M

SITTING WITH A COMMONER,

SIPPING WITH A COMMONER,

A QUITE UNCOMMON COMMONER

WHO SEEMS QUITE WILLING,

SHARING HER PERCEPTIONS OF

OUR AFFAIRS OF STATE. FATE

IS SMILING AT ME.

I’D BETTER CLEAN MY PLATE.

 

Both

WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT

HAVING TEA WITH SOMEONE WHO

HAS A POINTED POINT OF VIEW

COULD BE ENGAGING?

SUCH A PLEASANT INTERLUDE,

WAITING WHILE THE TEA IS BREWED.

PURE BLISS IS LIKE THIS IS

IS NOT A VERY COMMON SIGHT.

SOME WOULD SAY IT ISN’T RIGHT,

Betsy

WATCHING HIM TAKE SUCH DELIGHT

 

Both

WHEN WAR IS WAGING.

NOT TO BREAK THE MOOD OR BE RUDE

BUT IS THIS SANE?

PLAINLY,

SO IT APPEARS

WE MUST HAVE TEA AGAIN.


STAND

STAND

c) Donfeld/Wright

<em(Realizing that she has a chance to spy on Lord Howe and other British royalists at a party, Colonial patriot, Betsy Loring, tries to convince Billy Dawes, a Rebel spy, actor and friend, that she is up to the task.)

Betsy

FIRMLY PLANTED

UNDER MY FEET

IS A LAND THAT CRIES FOR FREEDOM.

FIRMLY PLANTED

IN MY HEART

ARE A PEOPLE WHO LONG TO LIVE

AS AN EAGLE FLIES

THROUGH BOUNDLESS SKIES,

RISING, RISING.

 

I AM DETERMINED TO STAND

TALL AND STRONG AND FREE.

THIS IS MY COUNTRY, MY LAND,

A PART OF ME.

 

FIRMLY PLANTED

IN MY FIST

IS THE SEED OF MY OWN FREEDOM.

FIRMLY PLANTED

IN MY HEART

IS THE POWER TO LET IT GROW

LIKE THE WINTER GRAIN

THAT FILLS THE PLAIN,

RISING, RISING.

I AM DETERMINED TO STAND.

TALL AND STRONG AND FREE.

THIS IS MY COUNTRY, MY LAND,

A PART OF ME.

 

I AM DETERMINED TO STAND

TALL AND STRONG AND FREE.

THIS IS MY COUNTRY, MY LAND

AND MY DESTINY.


NOT ENGLISH

NOT ENGLISH

c) Donfeld/Wright

(In Howe’s quarters, the angered General Howe gives full vent to his frustration with the guerilla tactics of the rebels, and, after Howe leaves, Betsy expresses her resentment toward King George.)

Howe

I’D HOPED FOR CONCILIATION,

OR WAR THAT’S PLAYED BY THE RULES.

AN INDEPENDENT NATION… OF FOOLS!

I’D HOPED FOR NEGOTIATION

TO END THIS WRETCHED WAR.

AN INDEPENDENT NATION…WHAT FOR?

 

SHOOTING AT NIGHT,

ONLY IN STEALTH,

STABBING YOUR BACK

WHILE TOASTING YOUR HEALTH,

HOW DO YOU FIGHT A PHANTOM, A COWARD?

 

LYING IN WAIT,

HIDING IN TREES,

RUNNING BEHIND YOU

KILLING WITH EASE,

ONLY THE DEVIL’S MADE THEM EMPOWERED.

 

WHAT KIND OF WAR IS THIS?

WHAT KIND OF MAN

WOULD SHOOT SO BLINDLY, HIT OR MISS?

NOT ENGLISH.

 

WHAT KIND OF WAR IS THIS?

WHAT SORT OF CUR

WOULD ENTER SUCH A DARK ABYSS?

NOT ENGLISH.

 

PLANNING ATTACKS,

JUST BY SURPRISE.

HITTING OUR BACKS,

A SCHEME I DESPISE,

ONLY IN AMBUSH, MEN UNPROTECTED.

 

BLIND TO THEIR DEBT,

BLIND TO THEIR PAST,

TRAITOROUS SONS,

THE DIE HAS BEEN CAST,

TIME THAT THIS CONFLICT TRULY IS ENDED.

 

WHAT KIND OF WAR IS WAGED

FAR FROM THE FIELD,

BY HEATHENS WHO ARE SO ENRAGED?

NOT ENGLISH.

 

WHAT KIND OF MEN ARE THESE?

I’LL MAKE THEM YIELD,

AND THEY WILL LEARN THEY MUST APPEASE

THE ENGLISH.

 

(Howe leaves for battle, as Betsy looks for information in his desk.)

Betsy

WHAT KIND OF WAR IS THIS?

GO ASK YOUR KING.

CAUSED BY HIS AVARICE,

IT’S ENGLISH.

 

WHAT KIND OF MEN AR THESE?

RIGHTEOUS AND BRAVE

WHOM YOU WILL NEVER SEE APPEASE

THE ENGLISH.


ONWARD

ONWARD

c) Donfeld/Wright

(The road to Trenton, the Dawes Home. The dramatic climax of the story is captured in this quintet.  When Betsy unknowingly passes on false intelligence to Billy,, General Howe, in an attempt to save his reputation and Betsy’s life, rides off to stop the Patriots from ambush.  Waiting at home, the women face their own night of desperation.  The piece interweaves several previous songs from the score in a thunderous ride toward destiny.)

Billy and the Patriots

INTO THE PINES,

SKIRTING THE HIGHWAY,

THREADING THE FOREST AS SILENT AS AIR,

SEARCHING FOR SIGNS,

LEAVING THE BYWAYS,

LOOKING FOR TROOPS AND AVOIDING THE SNARE,

 

ONWARD,

PUSHING THE HORSES,

EVER ALERT WHILE AVOIDING THE FOE,

ONWARD,

SEEKING THE FORCES,

TIRED AND DIRTY YET

ONWARD I GO.

 

British Soldiers

PISTOLS ARE DRAWN,

WAITING THE HOUR,

COILED UP AND READY TO STRIKE LIKE A SNAKE.

WAITING ‘TIL DAWN,

SET TO DEVOUR

ANY PREY MAKING A FATAL MISTAKE,

Patriots

ONWARD,

HUSHING THE HORSES,

EVER ALERT WHILE PURSUING THE FOE,

ONWARD,

SEEKING THE FORCES,

TIRED AND DIRTY YET

ONWARD WE GO.

 

Howe

SEARCHING THE BRUSH,

FIGHTING THE CURRENT,

GRIPPING THE SADDLE AND WHIPPING THE REINS,

FEELING THE RUSH;

FEAR NO DETERRENT!

HEARING THE BLOOD CHURNING HARD THROUGH MY VEINS,

 

HOW LIKE A LAMB I WAS LED TO THE SLAUGHTER.

HOW LIKE A FOOL I WAS EAGER TO TRUST.

WHAT CAN SHE SAY NOW HER LIES HAVE CAUGHT HER?

I SHOULDN’T STOP THEM, BUT STILL I MUST.

AND ALL THESE MONTHS HAVE, INDEED, BEEN A NIGHTMARE.

AND ALL THESE MONTHS HAVE, INDEED, BEEN A CURSE.

I HAVE BEEN BLIND WHEN THE TRUTH WAS RIGHT THERE.

SHE IS A TRAITOR, BUT I AM WORSE.

ONWARD!

 

Betsy

EVERY TOMORROW I PRAY FOR A WAY TO BE NEAR HIM,

PRAY HE’LL FORGIVE ME,

NEVER LET ME GO.

I DIDN’T KNOW I’D BE FORCED TO CHOOSE.

NOW THAT I LOVE HIM I KNOW I’LL LOSE

EITHER WAY

 

Howe

I AM BETRAYED!

 

Rebecca                                                                                 Billy

IT’S KNOWING THAT YOUR LOVER HAS

A ROLE HE MUST PERFORM,                                                 ONWARD!

SEWING WOOLEN TROUSERS AND A

CLOAK TO KEEP HIM WARM                                                 CHARGING ONWARD!

PRAYING G-D WILL SAVE HIM AS HE

RIDES TO MEET THE STORM.

 

Betsy                                                                                       HOWE

EVERY TOMORROW.                                                               TRAITOR!

 

British Soldiers

WILL THERE BE TOMORROW?                                                 HUSH THE HORSES!

 

Billy and the Patriots

BUT STEADY, ONWARD

THERE IN THE DISTANCE,

DUST ON THE HILLSIDE, THE POUNDING OF HOOVES.

ONWARD,

THERE IN THE DISTANCE

CLOSWER AND CLOSER, HOW QUICKLY HE MOVES.

 

Howe

WHETHER TO HALE THEM…

HOW SHALL WE MEET?

WILL THE NIGHT END IN

LUCK OR DEFEAT?

 

British Soldiers                                                                   Patriots

WHAT IS THAT POUNDING?                                                  WHETHER TO CHALLENGE?

I HEAR THEM AT LAST.                                                            WHETHER TO AIM AT THE RED

OF HIS SUIT.

AND ON WE GO.                                                                      AND ON WE GO.

 

Betsy                                                                                         Rebecca

EVERY TOMORROW.                                                                  BY THE WINDOW, WAITING THERE

PATIENTLY.

WAITING, ALWAYS WAITING.

 

All

ONWARD,

FACING THE MORNING,

RACING TOWARD DESTINY SHARP AND ALIVE.

ONWARD,

WAITING FOR SUNRISE,

WHO WILL BE SLAUGHTERED AND WHO WILL SURVIVE?

Patriots                                               British                                                     Howe

NOT SO FAST. ONWARD…               WHAT WAS THAT? ONWARD…               CAREFUL NOW. ONWARD…

 

Rebecca                                                                                         Betsy

HURRY BACK. ONWARD…                                                              TOMORROW. ONWARD…

 

All

ONWARD, ONWARD, ONWARD, ONWARD, ONWARD.

 

HOWE

It’s a trap!

(A shot is heard, followed quickly by two more shots.)