SYNOPSIS

Diamond and the North Wind is a new musical based on the 19th-Century family classic, At the Back of the North Wind by George MacDonald. The story centers around a poor stable boy named Diamond who is befriended by the North Wind, a beautiful woman with flowing black hair who flies through the night and can change into any shape she likes. She can be by turns playful, benevolent, and horribly destructive, and Diamond gets to experience all these sides of her nature as he accompanies her on her rounds.

The story takes place in and around New York City during the Great Depression. At the start of the tale, Diamond is living with his mother on a horse farm on Long Island. The owner of the estate is in deep financial trouble, and a greedy tycoon named Tobias Blunt is stalking the property like a hungry vulture. Diamond’s mother is worried they will lose their home, but Diamond comforts her (Everything is Gonna be All Right). That night, the North Wind comes to Diamond, floating majestically before him and beckoning him to come to her. She tells Diamond she is interested in him because he is not like other mortals: He does not think only of himself. Over the protests of Gusty, her feisty little Viking assistant, the North Wind takes Diamond on the first of several flying adventures that teach him valuable life lessons (Sweeping the Cobwebs from the Sky). On his first trip, he meets a street urchin named Tess, who gives him an up-close and personal lesson about what it takes to survive the mean streets of the city (Hell’s Kitchen). Meanwhile, Blunt hires some nasty henchmen to help him convince the owner of the horse farm to sell. He explains his philosophy to these low-lifes (Too Much is Never Enough). The North Wind takes Diamond with her on a terrible errand in which she sinks a ship at sea. This shakes Diamond up so much, he becomes weak and ill, and the North Wind takes him to an otherworldly realm beyond the Northern Lights (At the Back of the North Wind), where Diamond hovers between life and death and learns how to talk to animals and listen to “the mind behind the mind, the voice behind the door (Intuition).”

The owner of the horse farm is finally strong-armed into selling his estate to Tobias Blunt, and a newly-recovered Diamond and his mother move to New York City where they take up lodging in the City Livery Stables. The carriage trade is struggling, and the manager of the stables, Mac McNally, is trying to get his horse cabbies to take some of pride in their increasingly unique profession (Take a Ride!). Mac has become very attached to the boy and his mother, so much so that he overcomes his shyness and proposes to Diamond’s mom (Lost Time). But the good cheer is short-lived. The stables are being attacked not only by changing times, but also by the machinations of the villainous Blunt who craves the livery real estate to house his fleet of motor taxis. He sets an impossible deadline for McNally to raise the cash for a bond that would save the stables. Diamond uses his intuition, and figures out that the key to making money in the carriage trade lies in targeting tourists (A Nickel in my Pocket). The holiday season is coming, and Diamond convinces the other cabbies to follow his lead (It’s What You Do for Christmas), and the strategy works. The cabbies start to make really good money, and Mac arranges for Diamond’s street urchin friend Tess to come live with them.

Everything seems to be looking up until Blunt gets the city to condemn the stables and begins buying up horses all over town. The North Wind appears and flies Diamond and Tess out of the city and back to the site of the old horse farm, which Blunt has converted into a giant glue factory. So this is the fate of the horses Blunt is buying! Tess has an idea. She knows how to make an animal-free glue from an old Hell’s Kitchen recipe, and, armed with Tess’s glue, Diamond and Mac rally the cabbies to drum up public support with a parade of hansom cabs down Fifth Avenue (Save the Horses!). But just as the parade is reaching the park, the cabbies find their path blocked by bulldozers driven by Blunt’s henchmen. Diamond makes a heartfelt summons to the North Wind for help (Just This Once), and, after an agonizing silence, she roars onto the scene and clears the way for a happy ending.

Diamond and the North Wind works on several levels simultaneously. It is a rousing adventure tale, but it is also the story of the relationship between a mortal human and an eternal force of nature. On its surface, it’s a story of very particular heroes, villains, and a real-world battle for survival, but the underlying issues it explores are profound and universal.