Christine – 1960
The little town of Akbarabad in India is eagerly awaiting two arrivals on the weekly train: Sita Roy (Janet Pavek), who has been to college in America, and Lady Christine FitzSimons (Maureen O’Hara) from Ireland, who has come to visit her daughter Maryanne. Maryanne has married an older Indian doctor, Rashil Singh (Morley Meredith) against her mother’s wishes, and Christine is puzzled because she is not at the station. Meeting her instead are Rashil Singh’s aunt, uncle, and nephew (Nancy Andrews, Phil Leeds, Jonathan Morris), who greet her warmly (“Welcome Song”). Christine is delighted to meet them (“My Indian Family”) but is impatient to see her daughter.
Christine is taken to Rashil’s home where she learns to her horror that Maryanne has died in childbirth. She blames both Rashil and India itself, and plans to return home as soon as possible. Rashil is baffled by the twists of fate (“A Doctor’s Soliloquy”) and buries himself in his clinic, giving injections to the town children (“UNICEF Song”). During the week she must wait for another train, Christine slowly realizes how deeply Rashil had loved Maryanne, and they come to be friends as understanding grows between them (“My Little Lost Girl”). She is packed and ready to leave when the whole family implores her to stay, and she is finally won over by Rainath’s little daughter Jaya (Leslye Hunter) who sings her a missionary song (“I’m Just a Little Sparrow”).
As the weeks pass, Christine becomes engrossed in Rashil’s clinic and in the life of the family. Auntie and Uncle urge her to choose a new wife for Rashil, in her position as “mother” of the house (“How To Pick a Man a Wife”) and call in a Matchmaker (Barbara Webb) who shows them “The Lovely Girls of Akbarabad.” Christine puts off the decision, which is uncongenial to her Western mind, and wonders what is to become of her now that she is wholly alone (“Room in My Heart”). Sita Roy, meanwhile, has gone to work at the clinic and has fallen in love with Rashil. But Rashil is increasingly attracted to Christine, who is about his own age, and at “The Divali Festival” he and Christine suddenly find themselves trapped by their emotions (“I Never Meant To Fall in Love”).
Auntie and Uncle are unaware of what is happening despite their eavesdropping, and keep urging Christine to choose a wife for Rashil. Auntie is dissatisfied with the New India (“Freedom Can Be a Most Uncomfortable Thing”), while Christine finds the formal ways of Indians – even on a picnic – difficult to adjust to (“Ireland Was Never Like This”). As the romance between Rashil and Christine deepens, the local Indians, who consider Christine an untouchable, stop coming to Rashil’s dispensary. Sita is distressed, and is forced to admit to herself that Rashil loves Christine (“He Loves Her”), but urges Christine to leave so that Rashil’s work may continue. She is seconded by Dr. MacGowan (Daniel Keyes), Rashil’s assistant.
Christine confesses her discomfort to Rashil, but he asks her to marry him (“Christine”), and she ostensibly agrees. The ceremony is prepared at which she, as “mother” of the house, will announce the wife she has chosen for him in accordance with ancient Vedic laws, and the family gathers around. She delights the family and astounds Rashil by choosing Sita. Christine has realized that her world and Rashil’s world are still too far apart (“I Love Him”), and tells him that although she loves him, she must go home to Ireland. But she will never again be “The Woman I Was Before.” They try to resolve their problems but are forced to admit in the end that she is right (“A Doctor’s Soliloquy” – reprise). As the wedding of Rashil and Sita takes place, Christine slowly leaves Rashil’s house for the last time, accompanied by little Jaya, who has decided to go with her (“I Never Meant To Fall in Love” – reprise / Finale).
Sita Roy: Janet Pavek
Lady Christine FitzSimons: Maureen O’Hara
Rashil Singh: Morley Meredith
Auntie: Nancy Andrews
Uncle: Phil Leeds
Nephew: Jonathan Morris
Jaya: Leslye Hunter
Matchmaker: Barbara Webb
Dr. MacGowan: Daniel Keyes
Book by Pearl S. Buck and Charles K. Peck, Jr.
Music by Sammy Fain
Lyrics by Paul Francis Webster
Choreography and musical numbers by Hanya Holm
Vocal and dance arrangements by Trude Rittman
Orchestrations by Philip J. Lang
Musical direction by Jay Blackton