On this page you can hear excerpts from eleven of the songs of Sarah, Plain and Tall, Each song
listed below has a short description of the context of the song. To listen to audio you'll need an Mp3 player. It may take 20 seconds or so to download the audio.
1. Lady of the House. Anna (Kate Wetherhead) is the “the Lady of the House” and as the older of the two
children, she and awakens the younger Caleb (John Lloyd Young) to get him to begin his chores. Later in
the song Caleb implores Anna to sing the lullaby his mother used to sing, but Anna will not sing it.
2. Letters. Picture the stage divided in half. On the left side is the farmhouse in Kansas. The
song opens with Jacob (Herndon Lackey), the widower and father of Anna and Caleb, together with his
neighbor, Mathew (Kenneth Boys) are crafting a letter to send a letter to the Boothbay News in Maine,
advertising for a “mail-order wife” for Jacob. On the right side of the stage is the house in Maine
where Sarah (Becca Ayers), with her brother William (also played by Kenneth Boys) and Estelle
(Debra Wiseman), her nasty sister-in-law, who reads Jacob’s advertisement in the Boothbay News
newspaper. They construct a letter from Sarah to Jacob, responding to the ad. Estelle badgers
Sarah telling her what she should write but Sarah has the strength of character to resist Estelle’s
badgering and write only the truth. The spotlight shifts back and forth between the family in Maine
and the family in Kansas reading and writing letters to one another.
3. Sarah, Plain and Tall. Sarah shows her spunk. She has arrived in Kansas
and is in the kitchen planning what she will do to learn the farm’s routine. “I’d like to ride Jack”. “No” says
Jacob, “He’ll toss you right off his back”. But she is determined. Sarah also wants to bake, name the chickens,
milk the cows, and plow the fields. And she does!
4. Storm. An interlude (without singing) of an approaching thunder storm. You can feel the oncoming breeze and smell the rain in the air.
5. Would You Miss Me? A nonsense sea chantey that Sarah sings and
the children join in with her. Incidentally, on the CD there is an additional track which
duplicates this entire song as an orchestral without any singing so that listeners can sing the song as a karaoke.
6. Don’t Miss the Sea. Caleb plaintively asks Sarah not to go home to Maine.
7. 60 Cents. Jacob tells his best friend, Mathew, that he owes him 60 cents – that’s the cost of the ad placed in the
Boothbay News for a wife. Indeed, Sarah did not turn out as
expected. After all, she rode Jack, the horse, which Jacob
had expressly forbidden; she refinished the floors in the
house. Indeed, Sarah was not working out anything like
Jacob expected. And, by gum, Mathew, your advice to place
the ad was not very good and you owe me 60 cents! OK,
proposes Mathew, have Sarah cook dinner so that
Maggie (also played by Debra Wiseman) and Mathew can
come over to see how bad Sarah really is. Jacob agrees
to Sarah’s cooking dinner.
8. Dinner Song. Jacob is preparing for the dinner with
Anna and Caleb coaching him: don’t slouch, don’t grouch;
don’t interrupt; don’t always have to be right. Meanwhile,
Sarah, too, is getting dressed for the dinner and Maggie
is helping her. Sarah is getting into a corset -- which she
hates while Maggie is coaching Sarah to be “be a lady”
with grace and show some sign to Jacob that she wants
to be kissed. Everyone, including Anna whose heart
Sarah has won over, want the dinner to “succeed”, meaning
that Sarah would stay and become Jacob’s wife.
9.Quartet. The dinner is successful but Caleb and Anna
wonder why Sarah does not appear happy. Sarah longs for
her home in Maine, her brother and the sea. Maggie tries to
console Sarah by telling her of how she, too, longs for
where she grew up --the flowers and warmth of Tennessee.
Anna begins to wonder if her mother who passed away
would mind if Sarah stays. And Anna longs to be able to
shed farm responsibilities long enough to go swimming in
the cow pond again. At the end of the song, Anna and
Caleb, Sarah and Maggie sing together acknowledging that
they miss what they left behind them but realize it
is more important to look ahead for something better
10. Is it Me You Want to Kiss? After
becoming at-one with farm, winning the hearts of the children, and
preparing the successful dinner where she is dressed like
Jacob’s previous wife, Sarah wonders whether she truly has
won the heart of Jacob. Sarah wonders if, in Jacob’s eyes,
she is merely the embodiment of Jacob’s first wife? Is
Jacob judging Sarah by the cut of her
dress and her pinned up hair rather
than for the strong, capable and independent woman she is?
“Is it me you want to kiss or the wife you miss?” Tormented
in not knowing the true answer, Sarah runs out of the house
and goes into town.
11. Sing You to Sleep. The family does not know if
Sarah will return. Whether or not she does, Anna,
recognizing that love must prevail
and that song should no longer be repressed, in the house,
begins to sing her mother’s lullaby, long kept silent on
orders from her father. Listening to his daughter
sing, Jacob realizes that love and
song must be part of the house again. He also
realizes that he loves Sarah for the unique person
she is. Jacob joins Anna in singing the lullaby. Sarah,
realizing that her love for Jacob and the children is too
strong, returns to house, and hears the two
singing the lullaby. And the family becomes one.
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