RIO RITA, one of Florenz Ziegfeld’s most successful and spectacular shows, is set in Texas and Mexico along the Rio Grande. The Texas Rangers are hunting a notorious bandit known only as the Kinkajou. The Rangers are lead by the handsome Captain Jim Stewart, who is in love with Rita Ferguson, an Irish-American-Mexican girl known as Rio Rita, who sings in the local hotel after being displaced from her family ranch along with her brother Roberto. The regional Mexican Governor, General Esteban, also loves Rita and convinces her that Jim courts her only because he believes that the man they are looking for is her brother. Only when Jim arrests Esteban as the real villain can he and Rita hope for happiness.
The captain of the Texas Rangers, Jim Stewart, is in San Lucar Mexico on the Rio Grande, in disguise in order to catch the notorious bandit Kinkajou. While there he falls in love with Rita Ferguson, an Irish-American-Mexican girl who sings in the local hotel after being displaced from her family ranch along with her brother Roberto.
General Esteban, the Governor of the San Lucar District, also loves Rita and hates all gringos. He hatches a plot to set Jim and Rita at odds by making Rita doubt both her own brother, who may be the Kinkajou, and Jim, who may be spying on her brother through her.
Amid all of this intrigue, Chick Bean, a soap salesman, and Dolly, an American cabaret girl, arrive in San Lucar and get married. Unbeknownst to Dolly, Chick also went to Mexico to obtain a quick divorce from his unfaithful first wife, Katie. But then hours after Chick and Dolly are wed Ed Lovett, a lawyer of dubious reputation, informs Chick that his divorce is not recognized by the U.S. Government. Complications ensue.
Book by Guy Bolton & Fred Thompson
Music by Harry Tierney
Lyrics by Joseph McCarthy
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There is no instrumentation currently available for this show.
2 Piano/Conductor Scores
20 Libretto/Vocal Books
(In order of appearance)
Jose, a musician
Dolly, an American cabaret girl
Padrone, proprietor of the Mesa Francesca
Jim, a stranger
Chick Bean, a bootlegger
Ed Lovett,a lawyer
Roberto Ferguson, Rita’s brother
Katie Bean, Chick’s wife
Cowboys, Mexicans, Ruales, Texas Rangers, etc.
Cabaret girls, Guests at Don Esteban’s Villa, etc.
RIO RITA opened on Broadway at the Ziegfeld Theatre, February 2, 1927. It was later transferred, first to the Lyric and then to the Majestic Theatre and played for a total of 494 performances, starring Ethelind Terry in the title role and J. Harold Murray as Captain Jim Stewart. The show was adapted into one of the first movies with sound in 1929, and it even included a couple of sequences filmed in an early version of Technicolor.
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