MADam LUCY, deceased
Two hundred years or so ago… before I was a young history student at William & Mary and first heard the tale about a haunted home on Duke of Gloucester Street in Williamsburg, Virginia, Lucy Ludwell Paradise breathed the gentrified air of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries in the capital cities of Williamsburg and London.
Who was Lucy Ludwell Paradise? The short answer is that she was born into one of Virginia’s most prominent families in 1752 and died as a patient in Williamsburg’s Public Hospital for the Insane in 1814. (The Hospital was the first institution for mental health in America.) In between, Madam Lucy spent a large part of her life in London society where she interacted and corresponded with such prominent names as Benjamin Franklin, John and Abigail Adams, Samuel Johnson and Thomas Jefferson. She is, vaguely, remembered today as one of Virginia’s most famous ghosts and currently “resides” in the Ludwell-Paradise House in the heart of Colonial Williamsburg’s historic area.
But, her story is much more than a simple ghost story.
This is a spirited woman of flesh and blood who, like many people and literary creations, led a life that was both fascinating and complex. Throughout the span of sixty-two years, she would be both praised and ridiculed, often by the same individual and in the same breath. In her words and actions (and fashion) lay a rich mine of material for dramatic interpretation.
A labor of love and research over the past 18 months, I’ve written (and rewritten) the book & lyrics; the music is by the wondrous New York composer and recording artist Elise Morris. As we embark on the first staged workshop in the historic Sir Christopher Wren building on the campus of William & Mary – just a plate’s throw away from where Lucy Ludwell Paradise lived and died – it is a pleasure to be in the company of an ever-inspiring production team under the helm of director Dr. Laurie J. Wolf, professor of theatre and managing editor, “Theatre Annual: A Journal of Theatre and Performance of the Americas.”
I like to believe that Madam Lucy is pleased.
May 5, 2023
CHARACTERS (in order of appearance)
The Gossips: Mr. Canard, Mr. Tittlebriar & Mrs. Chatworth
The Girl at Play
Madam Lucy Ludwell Paradise
The action takes place in a mid-nineteenth century Virginian salon & on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean in locations associated with the life of Madam Lucy Ludwell Paradise (1752-1814).
MUSICAL NUMBERS (as of 5.5.23)
“Ode to Lucy” (instrumental) Piano & Cello
“Have You Heard?” The Gossips
“Mad Lucy, Part One” The Girl at Play
“Before” Lucy Ludwell Paradise
“Drip Drop, Drip Drop” (excerpt) Lucy Ludwell Paradise
“Cress’s Lullaby” Lucy Ludwell Paradise
“Mad Lucy, Part Two” The Girl at Play
“London” Lucy Ludwell Paradise, The Gossips
“London” (reprise) Lucy Ludwell Paradise
“The Lady Moves On” Lucy Ludwell Paradise
“Eulogy for The Levée Paradisiac” The Gossips
“Mad Lucy, Part Three” The Girl at Play
“Words” / “You” Lucy Ludwell Paradise
“Mine” Lucy Ludwell Paradise
“Observation” The Gossips
“Lady Paradise” Lucy Ludwell Paradise
“Drip Drop, Drip Drop” Lucy Ludwell Paradise, The Girl at Play
“Daughter’s Prayer” (instrumental) Cello
“Mad Lucy, Part Four” Voice of The Girl at Play
“Cress’s Lullaby” (reprise) Lucy Ludwell Paradise
“Before” (reprise) Lucy Ludwell Paradise
“The Lady Moves On” (instrumental) Piano & Cello
“Remembrance” Lucy Ludwell Paradise
“Have You Heard?” (reprise) The Gossips
“Mad Lucy, Part Five” The Girl at Play
“Bows & Play Off” Piano & Cello