This Changes Everything, from Leading Lady (Day 127)

Once again, I’ll indulge myself in the fantasy that someone besides me is watching this blog unfold daily, post by post, making it necessary to announce when I’m starting something new or heading off in a different direction. In fact, I realize that most people will encounter these posts in random order, so it won’t make sense when I say, I’ve decided to spend the next couple weeks showcasing my most recent musical. But anyway, I’ve said it.

Mae DesmondLeading Lady was a happy collaboration with playwright Seth Bauer and director Bill Fennelly that unfolded over the period between 2010 and 2013 and included several workshops and readings. You’ll find a full synopsis of Leading Lady here, along with additional historical background.

I’ve posted a couple of Leading Lady songs earlier on in Project 194 (here, here, here and here), but haven’t really settled in to it yet, and as I head into the final third of my blogathon (yes, nearly 2/3 of the way to my sixtieth birthday!), I figure I should dig in to my recent work, the songs that represent the current state of my songwriting prowess. As it were.

But I’ll start, not with the opening of the show, but with this song, which I offer as a salute to my playwright collaborator and friend, Seth Bauer. Seth and I had a happy-sad lunch today to mark the end of a chapter in our relationship. Having taught at UArts as an adjunct for a number of years, Seth joined the full-time faculty of the Brind School in 2011, and that means that for a number of years we’ve had the pleasure of being colleagues as well as collaborators. So much has happened for both of us in the time that we worked together that it seems inconceivable that we won’t be working together in the months ahead. When we talked about Leading Lady and my plan to post songs from the show, Seth asked if I had a particular favorite; I hemmed and hawed before asking if he did, and he named the song I’m posting today. I have to say, I was caught a little off guard by his choice; this song was one of the very last ones we wrote for the most recent draft, and I’d actually forgotten it even existed!

The lyric, as you can read below, shows us a young married couple with busy professional lives working in the theater, now trying to adjust to the arrival of their first-born child. It’s a happy occasion, of course, but change is always hard, even when it’s a wished-for change. As the winds of change blow through Seth’s life and mine, these words seem to take on another sort of meaning.

Mae: I was caught up in a happy routine
Quiet and clean
Know what I mean?
I have to confess, this was all unforeseen,
All of this mess,
Nevertheless, it’s true.
I was spending my days
Earning money and praise
Making plays,
Only I didn’t see I was lost in a daze.

But this,
This changes everything
Suddenly everything
Takes on a whole new meaning
This is a miracle
So unexpectedly
Suddenly, there is you!
What’s a girl to do?

Frank: I saw myself as a family man
So we began
Raising our clan
Being apart wasn’t part of the plan
But when it came,
We tried to muddle through
You found fortune and fame,
Opportunity came with a price
And it seemed like a shame,
But we tried to make do.

‘Cause this,
This changes everything
Suddenly everything
Takes on a whole new meaning
This is a miracle
So unexpectedly
Suddenly, there is you!

M: I knew that life would be different
Thought that we’d all feel the strain
Still, I assumed I’d pursue my career
No chance of letting a child interfere
F: Think we were unrealistic?
BOTH: Actually, we were insane!
How could we think for a minute that we
Wouldn’t both lose our hearts instantaneously?

Now I’ve begun an unlimited run
Mother and son.
What’s to be done?
Our family’s tiny, but bigger by one
And three is much more than two

Two little eyes that gaze deep into mine
Look how they shine
Isn’t he fine?
Ten little fingers that reach out for me
Who could foresee
What joy this could be!

This, this changes everything
Suddenly everything
Takes on a whole new meaning
This is a miracle
Far too incredible to be true

Never more dear to me
Now that you’re near to me
But it’s unclear to me
Now what do we do?

The singers on this track are Clare O’Malley and Alex Bechtel, with Owen Robbins at the piano, in September 2013.

Tomorrow, I promise I’ll start from the beginning of Leading Lady, and try to guide you through the multiple versions of that show that we created during its three-year gestation.

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