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Destry Rides Again (musical)

Destry Rides Again is a 1959 musical comedy with music and lyrics by Harold Rome and a book by Leonard Gershe. The play is based on the 1939 classic film of the same name.

Destry Rides Again
Destry Rides Again Original Cast Recording.jpg
1959 Original Cast Recording
MusicHarold Rome
LyricsHarold Rome
BookLeonard Gershe
BasisFilm Destry Rides Again

Production historyEdit

The show opened on Broadway at the Imperial Theatre on April 23, 1959 and closed on June 18, 1960 after 472 performances. Michael Kidd was the director and choreographer. The cast starred Andy Griffith as Destry and Dolores Gray as Frenchy. The national tour starred John Raitt and Anne Jeffreys, while Yvonne De Carlo appeared in the show in such venues as the Paper Mill Playhouse and the Dallas Summer Musicals.

The plot was loosely based on a story by Max Brand. The song made famous by Marlene Dietrich in the film, "See What the Boys in the Back Room Will Have", was not used in the stage production.


Act 1Edit

The opening song ("Bottleneck") shows the roughness and violence of the town Bottleneck. Then, at the Last Chance Saloon, Frenchy and her girls perform for the male patrons of The Last Chance ("Ladies"). After the song, Clagget stomps into the bar with Sheriff Keogh. Clagget accuses Frenchy and Kent of stealing his ranch in a crooked poker game last night. Kent strides out calmly, greeting the sheriff. Kent states that he won and Clagget lost. Sheriff Keogh asks for them to go into his office. Kent, Gyp and Bugs Watson, and the sheriff go into Kent's office. Clagget angrily storms out of the saloon while Rockwell and Frenchy reveal that she did steal one of his aces. But in the middle of their laughter a gunshot is heard and the laughing grinds to a halt. Kent and his gang comes out, explaining that Gyp Watson's pistol had accidentally gone off. Slade tells Kent that shooting Keogh was a mistake and they were moving too fast. One of Kent's gang hands Slade the sheriff badge and Kent tells Slade that it was up to him to appoint a new sheriff. Slade makes an announcement to the patrons of the saloon that Sheriff Keogh has left town on urgent business and Washington Dimsdale would be taking his place. Wash tells the town that he'll bring law and order to the town with the help of Tom Destry ("Hoop De Dingle").

Tom Destry arrives in Bottleneck with a parasol and a canary cage. The townsmen don't think very highly of him and tease him, especially Kent's gang. Destry sees it as hospitality and tells the townspeople how shocked he is by their welcome ("Tomorrow Morning"). Destry meets Kent and Kent asks Destry for his gun. Destry reveals he doesn't own a gun. Wash is surprised that Destry doesn't have a gun. Destry meets Frenchy and Destry quickly angers her and a fight ensures in which Destry and Frenchy are pulled apart by Wash and Kent.

Wash and Destry run out to a street and there, Wash confronts him about not owning a gun. Wash explains that the town had planned a big welcome party for him, but he didn't think Destry could face anyone now. Destry tells Wash that they won't need guns to bring law and order to Bottleneck. He tells Wash that guns will only bring death ("Ballad of the Gun"). Wash then swears Destry in as deputy and they head for the party. Meanwhile, Kent's gang are seen harassing two girls. They steal a banner they were carrying and see that there was to be a social in honor of Destry's arrival and they weren't invited. The gang then hurries off to tell Kent and Frenchy.

In a corral it shows that the party has already started ("The Social"). The townsfolk are seen dancing with each other until Kent and his gang crash the party and threaten the people with whips until Destry shows up and takes down Kent's gang. The town then gratefully thanks Destry and finish the social. At the end of the social, Destry thanks everyone for the party, until he is interrupted by Clagget, who is armed with a rifle. He is followed by his wife, who pleads that he put the gun down. Clagget proclaims that he won't put the gun down until he's killed Kent and his gang. Destry interferes, taking Clagget's rifle while they shook hands. Clagget explains that Kent put him and his wife off their ranch this morning. He retells the story of how he was cheated in the poker game. He also says a little bit about the former sheriff. A few of the other townsmen tell Destry that Kent also took their ranches through similar means. Destry reluctantly tells Clagget that there's nothing that he could do until there was more evidence. Clagget's wife snaps at Destry and the two leave. A gleeful Kent thanks Destry and leaves as well with his gang. The townspeople, who now despise Destry turn away from him.

At Frenchy's house, Destry pays a visit to Frenchy. Frenchy then tries to use this opportunity to seduce Destry ("I Know Your Kind"). Destry politely tells Frenchy that he was on official business but Frenchy becomes angry anyway. Destry gets Frenchy to admit that she had something to do with the disappearance of Sheriff Keogh. She then threatens to throw a perfume bottle at Destry if he didn't leave. Destry leaves, and Clara enters and begins to talk about Destry. Frenchy shoos her out and fumes about Destry ("I Hate Him"). She finishes by smashing her brush into her mirror.

At Rose Lovejoy's house, the men of Bottleneck admire Rose Lovejoy and her girls ("Paradise Alley"). Frenchy and Destry run into each other and Frenchy apologizes for what she did at her house. They try to be impersonal and impartial but fail ("Anyone Would Love You"). Destry then meets up with Wash and indirectly tells him that he's in love ("Once Knew a Fella"). Then Destry shows Wash important papers that Sheriff Keogh had left behind and Destry tells Wash that he's got a plan and they were going to catch the culprit tonight. The town then celebrates their "every once in a while" ("Every Once in a While").

The saloon is packed and Frenchy performs a song ("Fair Warning"). Destry whispers to Wash to follow Gyp Watson to see if he can lead them to the sheriff's body. Destry is then confronted by Kent, who tells Destry to stop investigating Keogh's disappearance. Destry refuses to and hints that he knows where the body is hidden. Kent then sends Gyp Watson to go and check if the body was still where they hid it. Wash follows Gyp and catches him red-handed with Sheriff Keogh's body. He arrests Gyp and tells Destry. Destry then announces to the town that Gyp Watson has been arrested for murder. Bugs Watson becomes furious, claiming that his brother didn't kill Sheriff Keogh. Kent then sends Frenchy to announce that Mayor Slade would by trying Gyp's case and the jury would be made up of patrons of the Last Chance Saloon. Wash disappointedly hands Destry two pistols and walks away.

Characters and original castEdit

Scott Brady and Andy Griffith, 1959


Awards and nominationsEdit

  • Tony Award Best Actor in a Musical - Andy Griffith (nominee)
  • Tony Award Best Actress in a Musical - Dolores Gray (nominee)
  • Tony Award Best Choreography - Michael Kidd (winner)
  • Tony Award Best Direction of a Musical - Michael Kidd (nominee)


  • Playbill for the Imperial Theatre, 30 July 1959
  • Guinness Who's Who of Stage Musicals - editor Colin Larkin ISBN 0-85112-756-8

External linksEdit