Scene one: Ellis Island, Early 1900s
A Greek immigrant named Cyril Kephalus
has just arrived in America with his five year old daughter Doria
, and his friend Louis Tikas
. They are discussing where to go to try to find work when another Greek immigrant named Niko
tells them about a mining town in Colorado called Ludlow where they are eager to hire new immigrants to work in the coal mine. They are excited with the prospect of opportunity, and resolve to go there together.
Scene two: Pueblo Train Depot
They arrive in Colorado and are greeted by Niko's
. She introduces them to many other immigrants, including one Juan Hernandez
and Charlie Costa
, but explains that it is hard to talk people in Ludlow because of the lack of a common language. Some of the immigrants complain that the company does nothing to address this problem.
Scene three: In the church, Jan. 5, 1913.
Thirteen years have elapsed. Inside St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church
, Father Papageordopoulos
delivers a sermon. He thanks the company for all that they provide and ominously exhorts the workers to remain calm during difficult times. After church, the exiting congregation is met outside by a union leader who counteractively tells them that they deserve to be treated better by the company. He urges them to take matters into their own hands.
Scene four: Mineral Palace Park
A group of people are ice skating on Mineral Palace Park
lake. Among them are a company executive named Lamont Bowers
, and a young manager named William Phelps
. As they are skating, the ice suddenly cracks and Lamont
falls into the cold water. Doria
, who is passing by on a stroll, helps William
. As he is carried off by paramedics, Doria
flirt, but she is troubled when she finds out that he is management, so she leaves abruptly.
Scene five: Gus's Tavern
Workers complain about their deplorable working and living conditions, and seriously discuss the possibility of a strike. They elect Louis
as their leader. Niko
complains about being single, and convinces Cyril
to pledge Doria's
hand to him in marriage. Cyril
gives him his great-grandfather's war medal to secure his promise.
Scene six: Mineral Palace Park
are back at Mineral Palace Park. They decide to keep their burgeoning love a secret because of the growing tensions between Doria's
father and William's
bosses. They are interrupted by Doria's
and her son Joshua
explains that once the men go on strike, the company will kick them out of their homes, but the union will help them establish a camp.
Scene one: At the Ludlow Tent Colony
The men have gone on strike, and dawn breaks in the newly established tent colony at Ludlow. Ruby
is up early, singing a lullaby to Joshua
as he sleeps. When he awakens he is hungry, but is denied breakfast because of short supplies in the camp. He goes off to the school that Doria
has established, where children of many nationalities come to learn and play together, ignorant of their differences. After class, Cyril
enters and tells Doria
that he has arranged for her to marry Niko
is shocked, but tells him that Niko
has been missing for three days.
Scene two: Another part of the camp
complains that someone stole his food rations, and ascribes it to racial malice. He tells a rumor that Niko
has betrayed them and gone back to work in the mine. Juan
finds the food rations, along with Cyril's
great-grandfather's war medal. They blame Cyril
for the theft, not knowing that Cyril
had given the medal to Niko
, infuriated, exacts petty revenge by telling Cyril
has been seeing a company manager. As Cyril
scramble to explain themselves, Anna
enters crying, because her cousin Niko
has been found dead, evidently murdered.
Scene three: Inside the Mineral Palace.
is singing at a company ball. William
discuss the strike, and Lamont
takes a harsh stance regarding the workers' rights. He confirms that Niko
had come back to work in the mine, and mentions that he had bribed Niko
to steal the food rations in an attempt to disorganize and weaken the strikers by creating racial tension amongst them. He tells William
that the governor has ordered in a militia to deal with the strike. Lamont
to stay away from Doria
, but William
goes on daydreaming about her.
Scene four: At the Ludlow Tent Colony
reciprocally daydreams about William
, but she is interrupted when her class starts to arrive. Joshua
tells her that the militia has arrived, and the men of the camp have taken arm. Ruby
comes to tell Joshua
that her husband Sam has been wounded in the struggle, and Joshua
comforts her. Joshua
goes off to fight, and Doria
resumes her daydreaming.
Scene five: A deserted area outside of the camp
of kidnapping a replacement worker, but Louis
denies it. Their argument is broken up by the sound of gunfire. Louis
runs to Cyril
and, aware of the increasing gravity of the situation, advises Cyril
to evacuate the women and children from the camp on the next passing freight train. Cyril
delegates this responsibility to Doria
, but she resolves to stay and fight. She tells him that Charlie
has dug a pit under his tent where she can hide.
Scene six: The Camp
Full scale fighting has broken out. The militia lights the camp on fire and murders Louis
. Once the fighting subsides, Cyril
discovers several bodies, including his daughter's, in the pit under Charlie's
tent: They had become trapped there when the fire began and burned to death. William
comes to check up on Doria
, and Cyril
blames him for her death, and murders him in revenge. Later, separate funerals are held for the two lovers, but one song unites them in the end. Back in the Mineral Palace
sings that King Coal and the Silver Queen
will live on in good memories that will erase past animosity.