SYNOPSIS OF The Red Mill
This romantic comic operetta features the wonderful music of Victor Herbert and Henry Blossom's book-written to highlight the vaudeville antics of the celebrated comedy pair of Montgomery and Stone, who had triumphed earlier as the Scarecrow and Tin Man in a stage version of The Wizard of Oz. Therefore, there are two great comic singing roles-"Con" Kidder and "Kid" Conner. The original 1906 production in New York (note that this is its centennial year!) received acclaim from the New York Herald-"The Red Mill will grind its grist of mirth, music, and melody for a long time to come" and from The Times who declared The Red Mill to be a show "to cheer the heart, delight the eye, charm the ear, tickle the fancy, and wreath the face in smiles." It ran for 274 performances and a revival in 1945 ran for 531.
The musical is set in Katwyk-ann-Zee, Holland, a village with an old red windmill and an inn run by Willem. Kid and Con are staying in this inn and tell the innkeeper's daughter, Tina, that they are famous theatrical producers and can make her a Broadway "star". Because Kid and Con are unable to pay their inn bill, they attempt to escape out a window but are caught by the local Burgomaster who forces them to work off their bill as a waiter in the inn and an "interpreter" for the tourists visiting the "haunted" old mill. An auto crash occurs offstage bringing to the village the French speaking Comtesse de la Fere and a lawyer Pennyfeather, who is trying to find Christian with a message from his father.
The Burgomaster, Jan Van Borkem, is marrying his daughter, Gretchen, to the spendthrift Governor of Zeeland, who will receive a dowry from the Burgomaster. However, Gretchen is in love with a sea captain, Christian Van Damm and she conspires with her aunt, Bertha-who we later discover wants to marry the Governor herself-to hide in the mill until Christian arrives and takes her away. Kid and Con agree to help Gretchen elope with Christian, who has just returned home, provided they can sail with them to New York. When the Burgomaster learns of these plans, he detains Christian but cannot find Gretchen.
The Governor arrives for the wedding. The Burgomaster, terrified that the Governor will learn of Gretchen's absence, offers a reward for her discovery and writes to the finest detectives in Europe-Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson. Kid and Con impersonate the detectives and take on the job of finding Gretchen.
Meanwhile, Bertha tells the Governor that Gretchen is really in love with Christian. The Governor confides to Bertha that he had first asked the Burgomaster, Bertha's brother, for her hand in marriage but her brother refused to provide a dowry for her. Bertha reveals that she has money of her own, which therefore makes her a desirable wife for the Governor. The Governor and Bertha contrive a plan whereby Bertha takes Gretchen's place at the wedding. Christian and Gretchen then appear and the Burgomaster is angry to discover the trick played on him. But when he learns from Pennyfeather that Christian is actually the son of a wealthy banker, he consents to a double marriage and forgives Kid and Con for their high-jinks. Christian is told that he is to sail for America and assume direction of a new bank branch there. Kid and Con sing the praises of life of New York in their final song "In Old New York." as they realize that they are finally going home on the voyage with Christian and Gretchen.