L'événement culturel de l'été à Bruxelles!
Ol' Cap'n Cotchipee is dead. His glorious funeral shakes the halls of Big Bethel, the church he sought to destroy. The man on the pulpit is Purlie Victorious, a new kind of preacher man, who sings the praises of life rather than the uncertainties of life in the hereafter.
But it wasn't long ago when Purlie arrived with Lutiebelle and a scheme to deceive the Ol' Cap'n into giving him money that rightfully belonged to his mother, money that would buy Big Bethel. Ol' Cap'n is holding the inheritance due to a long-lost cousin. Purlie has searched the country for a look-alike that would fool the Ol' Cap'n. When the girl, Lutiebelle, realises the danger in the plan she tries to run away; it's her love of Purlie, not money or any church, that brought her here. But Purlie and Aunt Missy, wife of Purlie's brother Gitlow, persuade her to go through with the hoax.
Gitlow and Purlie arrange a little softening up by naming Ol' Cap'n the "Great White Father of the Year." Lutiebelle manages to fool him but signs the wrong name to the receipt for the money. The game is up. Back at Gitlow's shack the failure and frustration are rehashed. Gitlow enters and reveals that Ol' Cap'n gave him money to get Lutiebelle up to the big house.
Soon after she comes running in decrying the advances of the dirty old man. Purlie is outraged and charges up the hill to defend her honour. Lutiebelle and Aunt Missy stay up all night worrying. When Purlie returns, they demand a blow-by-blow description. He obliges with elaborate detail of his strengths and power, but he soon admits not a word is true.
However, enraged by the attempted fraud and Lutiebelle's rejection, Ol' Cap'n has ordered his folk-song-writing son, Charlie, to buy Old Bethel for burning. Charlie buys, but has Purlie's name recorded on the deed. When the Ol' Cap'n finds out, he drops dead.
So here is Purlie dedicating Big Bethel with the funeral of the man who made it both necessary and possible for such a festive occasion.