Golden Boy Of The Blue
Ridge is a musical adaptation
of the Irish classic, Playboy Of The
World by John Millington
Synge. The story has been transplanted from rural Ireland to
1930s Appalachia, and set to a bluegrass-flavored score.
All of the action takes place in a small mountain cabin (and speakeasy
of sorts) belonging to J.M. McFarland, a moonshiner. Among
the other residents living Way Out Back And Beyond in
this remote mountain community are J.M.'s daughter Maggie, the local
miller Hazel Grubbs, and a somewhat well-off farmer, Luther Coffey, who
is engaged to marry Maggie.
Late one night, Luther stops by to pay a call on Maggie, reporting that
on his way he heard a strange fellow groaning in a ditch nearby. When
J.M. returns with some of his fellow
moonshiners, Maggie complains about being left all alone at night
(with strange fellows groaning in ditches nearby)
ever since they lost their hired man. J.M. counters that
Luther ought to be looking after Maggie now, but the cowardly Luther
seems utterly unwilling. This argument is interrupted by the
arrival of a stranger, Clayton Monroe. The tired, dirty, and
scared-looking young man says that he's a fugitive from the law, though
he can't remember the word for what he's done. Fascinated,
the locals interrogate Clay and try to guess his crime. (The Right Man For The
Clay confesses that he killed his father... with a shovel, no less!
("Patricide"... that's the word!) All of the locals
are very impressed by this story, and J.M. offers Clay a job as the
new hired man, looking after his cabin and his daughter.
fiancé Luther is uneasy with this arrangement, but Maggie
chases him off.
Left alone together, Clay tells Maggie his story in greater detail:
his tyrant father was trying to force him to
marry a wealthy widow woman, but for the first time in his life, Clay
stood up to his father and swore he'd be Never Afeard Again.
Maggie becomes all the more fascinated by Clay
and this mixture of vulnerability, bravery, honesty and ferocity she
sees in him.
At the climax of Clay's story about his newfound bravery, a sudden
the door scares him out of his wits. It's the Widow Hazel,
who says she's come to take Clay to lodge at her Little Log Cabin. It
Hazel says, for a murderer to be keeping company with a young girl.
The Widow claims that she murdered her own husband, therefore
she's a more suitable companion for Clay. A fierce battle
ensues between the two women, with Clay eventually deciding the contest
in favor of Maggie.
The next morning, while Maggie is out doing chores, a gaggle of local
girls come by the cabin. They've heard rumors that there's A Wanted Man thereabouts,
and they're all eager to meet him. Clay, beginning to
enjoy his newfound celebrity, tells his story again, and it
grows with the telling. (Twice-Told
discovers Clay in the midst of his fawning admirers. Angrily
she chases the girls off and scolds Clay, warning him that he'd best
not be boasting of his crime: it'll get back to a lawman, and
he'll be hanged for it. Clay is stung by this and says he'd
better be going, but Maggie stops him and confesses that she doesn't
really want him to go. Clay leaves to do his chores, and
Maggie ponders her growing feelings for him, wondering whether he might
be the Golden
Boy for whom she's waited so
enters in a panic, with Clay: a lawman has
been seen snooping around the area, and J.M. is worried about his
operations. He tells Clay to guard the cabin while he goes to defend
the still. Hazel and Luther come by and warn Maggie
that one of her cows has gotten loose; Maggie exits to pursue it.
Luther tries to bribe Clay into leaving, offering him a First-Class Ticket
on the next train out of town, along with various articles of his
clothing. Clay exits to try on his new clothes, but shows no
intention of leaving. Luther is in despair, convinced that
Maggie is going to drop him and marry Clay instead. Widow
Hazel offers to help him—for a price. Luther gladly
agrees to her terms and goes on his way.
Clay returns in his new finery, and Hazel admires him.
Suddenly, Clay spots the lawman approaching the cabin and
hides. The lawman enters and Hazel tells him that he won't
find any moonshine around these parts. But this, it seems, is
not what the lawman is after. Instead, he's looking for a
young man who split his father's head with a shovel. As the
lawman tells the story of the son's treachery, he becomes more and more
agitated, until at last he pulls off his hat to reveal a bloody head
wound. This is Clay's father, Leroy, and he vows that this
business with his son is Nowhere
Near To Done.
delighted by these new developments, and wastes no time turning them to
her advantage. She gets rid of Leroy, telling him that she
saw his son headed a certain way—a way that it so happens
will take him right to J.M.'s fiercely guarded still. Clay
emerges from hiding in despair: he'll surely lose Maggie now.
Just as she did with Luther, Hazel promises to help Clay get
the girl—for a price. Now, whoever wins out, she stands
to gain: it's all Grist For The
there is a hootenanny in celebration of Luther's impending nuptials, to
be held in the backroom of J.M.'s cabin. All are anxiously
anticipating what will unfold on that occasion. (A Wanted Man reprise).
Not long after the shindig has gotten underway, Leroy returns
to complain about Hazel's directions. He has acquired another
bloody wound, this time from J.M.'s shotgun, after Hazel sent him
towards the moonshine still. Leroy hears music from the
backroom and looks in on the hoedown. There he sees Clay
dancing with Maggie and goes into a frenzy, shouting "I'll kill him!"
But Hazel, with the help of a couple of local boys, is able to
subdue Leroy, ply him with moonshine, and convince the vengeful
father that That
Ain't Him. Once
more, she sends Leroy on his way, this time to live as a hermit, as she
has convinced him that he's clearly lost his wits.
Maggie and Clay duck out of the dancing for a breather and a bit of
canoodling. Their attraction has blossomed into love and they
confess their feelings. (More To
Clay asks Maggie to marry him instead of Luther, and Maggie
happily agrees. J.M and Luther find the lovers together, and
Maggie announces her new intentions to them. J.M. protests at
the idea of having a murderer for a son-in-law, saying that Inlaws and Outlaws
don't mix. Luther tries in vain to persuade Maggie from her
decision, and appeals to J.M., reminding him of all the
livestock he'd be getting into the bargain. But in the end,
J.M. decides that accepting Clay is the wiser and safer course.
Leroy returns yet again. He sees Clay, and this time there
can be no mistaking it: that's his son. All hell
breaks loose—pandemonium ensues, with everyone at Sixes And Sevens.
Eventually, J.M. gets his shotgun and calls a halt to the
madness. J.M. believes that he has caught the revenuer who
was looking for his still, but the truth about who Leroy is soon comes
out. Maggie is shocked to learn of Clay's deception, but Clay
is determined to prove himself to her. He tells his father
that it's time they finish this once and for all, and the two of them
step outside. The locals crowd eagerly at the windows, as
sounds of a furious battle are heard, climaxing in a sickening crunch
and a splatter of blood on the windows.
Clay returns, grimly. Having now
witnessed a murder first-hand, the locals begin to turn on Clay and
start to talk of lynching. Clay faces Maggie and tells her
that he's not sorry for what he's done. He may have been a
liar and a coward before, but now he truly has changed. He
implores her to come with him and they'll find a new life together
somewhere. (West Of Where I
and then sadly slips a rope over Clay as the lynch mob tries to drag
of the cabin.
It is at this point that the indestructible Leroy comes crawling in the
door one last time. He's not dead, and he's actually proud of
his son now. He tells the stunned locals that nobody's gonna
hang his boy; he's coming home a hero. But Clay rejects this.
He's not going with his father, and he's not staying with
Maggie. He'll go his own way from now on. Clay
leaves, and Maggie realizes that she has lost her one true golden boy
of the Blue Ridge. (Finale)