SYNOPSIS & CHARACTERS
On a crisp autumn morning, Mark arrives in the small, upstate town of Amberland after moving away from his childhood home to start a new chapter where no one knows about the place and life he’s left behind; and elsewhere in town, Dani, who works as a delivery woman for the town’s local orchard, is preparing to begin a new chapter of opening a new business in town. Around them, Cheryl, a progressive townswoman, and Mayor Tom, a traditionalist, have different ideas of how the town should be presented at the upcoming annual Harvest Festival (“Up Here).
When Mark arrives at the packing house of Tom’s Orchard for his first day of work, Derrick and the other guys give him the physical rundown of the job (“Spinning the Plates”). When Dani arrives to pick up the outgoing crates of apples on her delivery route, Mark is eager to prove his worth as a new worker, but she stops him; and in the orchard’s market, Dani and Betsy, the on-site manager, vent together about men not giving them space to do their jobs (“Do My Own Job”). Back at the packing house, Derrick realizes they forgot a time-sensitive package and tasks Mark with dropping it off on his way home. On his way there, Amberlanders pass through town (“Golden Glow”).
Mark stumbles upon a barn down the street with the package, to find Dani and others constructing what looks like a bar — a gay bar, with her best friend Alex (“Picture This”), which she’s opening the same day as the Harvest Festival. Alex’s sister, Callie arrives with sparkly curtains; and though Alex seems embarrassed, Dani is appreciative. When Mark’s phone rings, he leaves to take it; it’s his mother, wanting to know when he’ll return home. Mark laments about wanting need to find a connection in town with folks who accept him without the need to hide (“All I Wanted”).
Friday, finally at the Harvest Festival, Mayor Tom welcomes everyone with a polarizing speech, where he publicly condemns the new bar opening in town; some of the community cheers him on, whilst others have concerns. At Ann’s fall decor-themed booth, Dani learns of her mother’s disapproval, or rather her fear of the worst; she introduces her to Betsy; and they meet up with Alex and Callie before heading to the Orchard’s booth to find Mark and Brandon working — where Dani reveals they’ll have an open mic that night, which Brandon volunteers to perform at. Mark’s mother arrives in town, desperately searching for him among festival-goers; and Mayor Tom pulls Derrick aside, persuading him to intimidate Dani into selling her barn, where he’ll be promoted as manager of the new Orchard Annex he wants to open there (“Perfect Kind of Day”).
That evening, with Alex’s help, Dani officially opens her bar, where it’s Open Mic Night. Ann stops by to bring her a chicken sandwich to ensure she eats; and although she seems nervous, she displays support. Cheryl comes down the hill to congratulate Dani, and Brandon performs as a drag artist as Anita Margarita (“Right On Track”). After his performance, the friends’ squeals of delight are interrupted by an angry mob of conservative mouth-breathers, led by Derrick — who threatens to return in protest nightly if the bar remains open (The Intruders).
Back at the barn that night, Dani lets her remaining patrons go with some gentle words, and Ann expresses worry for Dani’s safety — before they all discover that Brandon is nowhere to be found. But before they can leave to look for him, he returns to the bar with a ripped costume and fresh black eye; he shares why he’d been avoiding performing drag in town, and that it’s time he leaves his job at the Orchard. In response, Mark admits that if he too were to quit his job, he wouldn’t be able to afford room and board at The Inn, and he’d be forced to leave Amberland and return home with his Catholic mother and verbally-abusive father. Brandon gives Mark advice on survival (“Lay Low”), before leaving with Callie to clean himself up. Mark stays back to help Dani clean up the mess from the intruders; but she rails against him for not saying or doing anything to defend them, despite his obvious privilege. She asks him to leave, and Alex instead helps her clean up, while also consoling her and promising that, together, they’ll find a way to keep the bar open (“Here Together”). Moments later, we find Mark on his walk home, finally realising to himself that he needs to disclose his trans identity to his new friends at the bar, despite wanting to keep it hidden for his own safety (“‘Til I Find Home Again”).
The next morning, covering Brandon’s shift at the Orchard’s festival booth, Betsy is confronted by Derrick about the staff’s involvement with the bar; he suggests she fire Mark and Brandon, but she refuses. As Mayor Tom arrives, Derrick suggests he’d be a better manager for the Orchard than her; Betsy disagrees and storms off. When Mayor Dixon also disagrees, Derrick takes off for the day. Amberlanders and out-of-towners pass through the festival (“Autumn Haze”).
Upon his arrival back to the Amberland Inn, Mark’s mom, Edie, finds him and apologizes for the family’s lack of support, admitting that she’s still figuring out the space between disagreeing with her husband and loving her child. Nevertheless, Mark maintains that he must stay in Amberland, but he’s willing to work on their strained relationship (“Edie’s Reckoning”).
Back at the barn, Alex and Callie are installing a camera behind the bar, while Dani wonders if keeping the bar open is worth the risk of someone getting hurt. They get a visit from Betsy, who suggests calling all her queer friends from the surrounding areas, to pack the bar and offer enhanced protection against potential threats that weekend (“You Got Me”).
Mayor Tom and Derrick call Mark back to the Orchard, later that night, in another attempt to get him on their side, and further their plan to force Dani to close her bar, so that Mayor Tom can buy the property and turn the barn into an Annex of the Orchard — this time, trying to use his suspected connection to the bar (“Untitled Orchard Number”). And as night turns to morning, the Amberland landscape glows in the distance (“Golden Glow (Reprise)”).
And as Dani prepares to relaunch her bar, she takes a moment alone inside the barn (“Finally Ready”) with her mother finally proudly cheering her on (“Finally Ready (Reprise)”), and with new friends and community by her side (“Finale”).
LAST UPDATED: MAY 6, 2023