Dearest Enemy the Musical - Plot Synopsis

Broadway musical (1925)
Dearest Enemy the Musical - Plot Synopsis

The story is based on an American Revolutionary War incident in September 1776 when Mary Lindley Murray, under orders from General George Washington, detained General William Howe and his British troops by serving them cake, wine and conversation in her Kips Bay, Manhattan home long enough for some 4,000 American soldiers, fleeing their loss in the Battle of Brooklyn, to reassemble in Washington Heights and join reinforcements to make a successful counterattack.

Patriot Mary Murray (of the Muray Hill Murrays) and her young ladies are working to sew uniforms for American soldiers, but they are sad at the absence of their young men. Mary's flirty daughter Jane leads British General Tryon's son Harry to her house; she finds him charming. His commander, General Howe, and some British officers commandeer Mary's house as their temporary headquarters. Mary instructs the houseful of beautiful young ladies to discourage the British soldiers, but the girls are eager to engage the enemy in more than just conversation. George Washington sends word to Mary asking her to try to detain Howe and his officers overnight. Mary's feisty, feminist Irish niece Betsy Burke comes home wearing only a barrel after a dog steals her clothes while she is swimming. British Captain Sir John Copeland has gallantly supplied the barrel. Though divided by nationality and Copeland's sexism, they fall in love ("Here In My Arms Lyrics").

Mary gives a Ball for the British officers, promising to show them some of the beauties of the local countryside. The British soldiers are happy to spend time consuming refreshment and indulging in music, dancing and flirtation at the Murray mansion. Betsy and Sir John dream of being together when the war is over as Jane and Harry also fall in love ("Bye and Bye"). Mary's messenger is captured, and Betsy volunteers to take an update to General Washington. She is told to return to Mary's house and, when the coast is clear for the American soldiers to move, to light a lantern then put it out. Upon her return, Sir John and she acknowledge their love for each other. When Sir John falls asleep, Betsy lights the signal. The American soldiers march North safely. Sir John is captured but, in the post-war epilogue, he is freed and reunited with Betsy.

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Plot Synopsis to Dearest Enemy the musical