Album cover of The American Girls Revue.

The American Girls Revue was a live-action stage musical performed at American Girl Place theaters in the larger Flagship stores; the plot touched on some of the stories of the then-released Historical Characters. The musical opened on November 19, 1998, and was later replaced by the musical, Circle of Friends, in Chicago and New York Locations by October 2001; it continued at the Los Angeles location until the theater closed on April 13, 2008.[1]

Plot

A new girl, Laura, is about to join the American Girls Club which is headed by Hallie and has members Angela, Katie, Keisha, Natalie, Becky, and Becky's little sister Michelle. They begin by helping her imagine what life was like for the American Girls in their time periods. ("Imagine")

Hallie describes Felicity having trouble conforming to society's expectations of young girls, then how she met the abused horse Penny and dreamed of riding her and freeing her. However, Jiggy Nye refuses to let her near the horse. When Felicity overhears him say he'd give Penny away to "any fool who could ride [her]", she sneaks out at night to befriend Penny and eventually tame her enough to be able to ride her. When Jiggy Nye finds out he threatens Felicity and says that he'd kill Penny if she came near her again. Felicity knows that Penny's life is in danger, but can't open the gate and release her without being hanged as a thief. She decides she has to set Penny free, and helps her jump over the fence, before letting her go. ("Fly Like the Wind")

Angela begins to tell the story of Josefina, who wants to be a healer and began training under her godmother Tia Magdalena. Tia Magdalena shows her a priceless jar, the last of its kind, that she owns. One day while cleaning, Josefina accidentally breaks the jar. Horrified at what she's done and terrified that Tia Magdalena will now refuse to continue training her, she runs to an apricot tree on her rancho and hides there. Tia Dolores finds Josefina sobbing and encourages her to return to Magdalena and apologize, comforting her that she will be able to start over if she asks for a second chance. Josefina goes to Tia Magdalena and confesses, and Tia Magdalena allows her to continue her training. ("Hold On to Your Dreams")

Katie then talks about Kirsten's fear at moving to America from Sweden, and how disheartened she is at having to leave behind her grandparents. Her grandmother tells Kirsten that whenever she misses them she should look at the sun and remember that they are looking at the same sun. Kirsten is still worried that she won't feel at home in America. Once she is in America, she goes down to the river to fetch water and sees Singing Bird, a Dakota girl on the other side. Kristen begins to talk to her and the two of them start communicating and teaching each other. One day, Singing Bird comes and tells Kirsten that her tribe is leaving indefinitely to look for food, and they may never see each other again. Kirsten comforts Singing Bird by telling her that they will always be looking at the same sun, and they will always be friends. ("It's the Same Sun")

Keisha tells about Addy, who has just lost her brother Sam and Poppa as they were sold to another enslaver. Momma tells her that they're going to run away--something that she and Poppa were planning to do before he was sold, but she can't wait for him and Sam to return in case the man comes back for Addy. Momma gives Addy a disguise, telling her that they're going to follow the North Star and find a safehouse that will help them go to Philadelphia. Addy protests that they will have to leave behind her baby sister Esther, but Momma informs her that she will cry and give them away--but when the war is over they will find their family again. They escape and travel by night, finding a hidden cave to sleep in during the day. Momma tells Addy about her paternal great-grandmother, who was stolen from Africa when she was Addy's age and sold into slavery alone. But while her great-grandmother's journey ended in enslavement, Addy's journey will end in freedom. As Ruth's story ends, a Confederate soldier comes upon them and Addy and her Momma are forced to run. They reach a river and Momma panics, as she can't swim. Addy takes her hand and keeps her afloat as they go across the water. Once across, they find the safe house and travel North. Once they arrive in Philadelphia, Addy realizes that they are still not "free", as they are subject to racism. Momma encourages Addy, reminding her that she still has her freedom inside of her. ("Goin' to Freedom")

Natalie then narrates the story of Samantha who is being raised by her grandmother, Grandmary. She is torn between Grandmary's old-fashioned ideals and her Cornelia's feminist ideas. Samantha knows that the two often fight over what a woman should be, and she isn't sure what she wants to be. She goes for a ride with her Uncle Gard in his automobile; he tells her that the only way to truly know what to do is to follow her heart. Samantha then meets Nellie, a servant girl next door. She begins to teach Nellie, who hadn't been to school. Her snooty friends and Grandmary tell her that she shouldn't associate with someone of a lower class and should definitely not befriend her. Samantha decides to follow her heart, though, and stays friends with Nellie. Nellie informs her about the dangerous conditions children were forced to work with inside factories. When Samantha enters a speaking contest, she speaks about how they must change the factory conditions to save children and in order to make good progress. She wins the contest, earning her Grandmary’s approval for her friendship with Nellie. ("Follow Your Heart")

Becky and Michelle (with Becky representing Molly) perform the Miss Victory dance ("The Victory Sisters") to celebrate the end of World War II.

The musical concludes with Laura being accepted into the club, and all the girls singing together ("The American Girls Anthem").

Later versions include Hallie performing a scene with Kit Kittredge and Aunt Millie, with the song "If Life Gives You a Lemon"; and "We Will Find a Way" for Kaya and Speaking Rain.

Creative Team

  • Book and Lyrics: Gretchen Cryer
  • Songwriter: Nancy Ford
  • Director: Kim Rubenstein
  • Producer: Elizabeth Richter

Songs

  • Imagine - All Girls
  • We Will Find a Way - Kaya [2]
  • Fly Like the Wind - Felicity
  • Hold On to Your Dreams - Josefina
  • It's the Same Sun - Kirsten Larson
  • Goin' to Freedom - Addy Walker
  • Follow Your Heart - Samantha Parkington and Nellie O'Malley
  • If Life Gives You a Lemon - Kit, Aunt Millie[2]
  • The Victory Sisters - Molly McIntire and Michelle
  • The American Girls Anthem - All Girls

Characters in Musical

Club Members

  • Hallie (portrays Felicity; later Kit)
  • Angela (portrays Josefina and Nellie)
  • Katie (portrays Kirsten Larson)
  • Keisha (portrays Addy Walker
  • Natalie (portrays Samantha Parkington)
  • Becky (portrays Molly McIntire)
  • Michelle
  • Laura

Additional Adult Characters

Central Series Books Adapted into the Musical

While the plot is framed by the modern characters holding an American Girl club meeting, it references the following Historical Character Central Series books:

Trivia

  • After the release of Kit and Kaya, scenes were added for them as well as two songs: "If Life Gives You a Lemon" for Kit and "We Will Find a Way" for Kaya.[3] Neither of these songs were recorded for the soundtrack and their lyrics have not been released.
  • The musical was later performed at Overture Center's Playhouse Theater by Children’s Theater of Madison in October 2016, after closure.[4]

Items Associated with the An American Girl Revue Musical

See Also

References

  1. American Girl to close the curtain on theaters, accessed 8/12/2020
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Later addition to the musical.
  3. The American Girls Revue, last accessed 8/12/2020.
  4. A playful revue with the American Girls, last accessed 8/12/2020.
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