"LIGHTHOUSE, A DOWN-EAST MUSICAL”
A Synopsis by Scene
Scene 1: Day breaks on Outer Heron Island as we are introduced to the characters of a Maine coastal community with the opening song, "Lighthouse", sung by the entire cast. We see the base of a lighthouse and the attached keepers house to stage left. The yard continues across the stage with a view of the sea and a glimpse of the coast as background. Out of sight to stage right loom the dangerous shoals, The Whispers. Mattie Coombs, long-time keeper of the light, and her 19-year-old daughter Megan are taking in the wash, trying to beat the in-coming fog. After asking her mother some searching questions about what it was like for her living on the island when she was young, Megan longingly wonders in song, "On The Wings of a Bird", what might be out beyond the horizon in the way of adventure and love. A sudden power failure causes the foghorn and the light to quit, leaving Mattie and Megan with an immediate problem in a dense fog.
Scene 2: Megan and Mattie are preparing to fix the lights generator when the irate Captain Grover and his crew show up at the door demanding to know "Who’s In Cha’ge". It seems his rum-running schooner has run up on the beach in the fog and he is intent on finding “the dim-wit” who runs the light. As he finishes his demanding song, Mattie makes it very clear that she is absolutely in charge and enlists the suddenly subdued captain’s help in fixing the light. Merle, the first mate, makes his moves on Megan. Megan, unimpressed, arranges for local help to fix the schooner in the next few days and the men are put up in town.
Scene 3: Early the next morning, the sailors are buying supplies for repairs when they meet the town girls who gleefully invite them to their Fourth of July clambake the next day. They all rejoice in lively song and dance in "The Fourth of July". Merle sings his own praises as he flexes his muscles in "The Golden Age of Male" while the sailors and the town girls make a little fun.
Scene 4: In Washington, Maine’s Senator Dumphrey reads about the mishap on Outer Heron Island. Thinking that this might be an opportunity to gain some voter support for his re-election in November, he sends his young aide, Thornton Whitlock, to Maine to automate the light. They sing the spirited duet, "Automation", as Thornton enthusiastically leaves for down east.
Scene 5: Sailors and townsfolk haul the schooner up onto Outer Heron so that the bow section is just visible on stage, singing a traditional "Hauling Shanty". During the following clambake, Whitlock arrives to tell Mattie of the necessary automation and the fact that she, and her daughter, will have to leave their home. This is a shock to everyone. The Captain has to charm the “law” about what his cargo might be. Megan, although she had earlier expressed a desire to travel, is outraged at being evicted and, warned by her mother, sings a lament, "Be Careful What You Wish For". Thornton joins her in singing and expresses his dismay at having to be involved in such an unhappy situation.
Scene 6: Mattie, Megan, and the Captain discuss what they can do about the impending eviction, and Mattie sings "The Keeper’s Song", wondering “deep down under, if I’m the keeper or the captive.” She is joined by the captain as he considers getting out of his present “business”. Act 1 ends as both consider their futures in song.
Scene 1: The scene opens on a lively and colorful square dance called “The State O’ Maine”. Following the square dance, Thornton tries to interest Megan and the others in the new steps of the latest craze, the “Lindy Hop”. He teaches the dance to everyone and they dance the new dance as Megan and Thornton fall in love. Merle, who also has his eye on Megan, overhears Thornton’s plan to motor out to the dangerous “Whispers” reef the next day. Merle leaves with a plan to make Thornton look foolish, but does not realize that Megan will be invited to join Thornton in the boat. The captain shares a colorful story in song about “The Golden Pot Buoy”.
Scene 2: Thornton and Megan have a loving evening together after the dance in the romantic shadow of the Lighthouse, singing the duet, If I Had You To Love.
Scene 3: On the island, on a gray and dangerously windy following day, the townsfolk relate the fearful history of "The Whispers". As they finish, someone sees Thornton and Megan in a boat in trouble, out of gas. As Mattie and the Captain hurry off to save them, the chorus sings of "The Rescue" and Merle sings his sorrows of a trick gone wrong. It was he who had emptied the gas tank. All are rescued safe and sound, but with a new plan.
Scene 4: Thornton takes Megan to meet Senator Dumphrey in Portland. They, together, convince the Senator, reaching “enlightenment”, singing "Revelation", (new words to the first act’s Automation), that it would be better for his re-election bid for him to make the Outer Heron Light a National Historical Monument retaining Mattie as its resident director. The ecstatic Senator makes plans to announce his great idea tomorrow at the re-launching of the schooner at the Lighthouse, a perfect photo-op!
Scene 5: All are gathered for the re-launching of the schooner. The senator arrives and announces his new plans for the light and that Mattie can stay in her home as the caretaker of the new national monument. Mattie, however, has others plans and announces that she and “her new first mate”, the captain, are going to see the world themselves…perhaps by land. Megan is apprehensive, asking what will happen to her. Mattie, in her great wisdom, puts it all together, telling Megan, and all of us, “Each of us has an inner light, and each of us is its keeper”. She sings the haunting "Follow Your Inner Light", being joined by Megan and, finally, the entire company. The Senator suggests that Megan be the new ”keeper”, and Megan agrees, with the provisions that Thornton stays to help her and that her “keepership” begins after a honeymoon to Paris! All rejoice including Thornton who trips on his way toward Megan, setting off the hilarious launching of the schooner…and Merle…. as everyone happily reprises the "Lighthouse".