The Drinks Are On Mae Desmond, from Leading Lady (Day 136)

The Drinks Are On Mae DesmondToday’s song from Leading Lady is a work of epic proportions. In the reading we did in September of 2013, it opened the second act, but in earlier versions, it came about an hour into the show, and it dramatizes Mae’s growing fame and success as the star in the play The Daughter of Mother Machree.

The photo above shows us presenting the work in concert, but as you listen, imagine the song staged in multiple locales, as Mae’s tour takes her from Scranton to Elmira to Schenectady and finally to Worcester, Massachusetts. Meanwhile, her proud father reports his daughter’s exploits to his friends in a bar in Philadelphia, and her husband drinks and schemes as he enviously contemplates his wife’s success. I love how a song in a musical can collapse space and time like this!

A historical note: “The Daughter of Mother Machree” is a popular song of the era, now in the public domain, which is heard at the beginning of this track and recurs in the underscoring, and the dialog quoted in Mae’s performance as “Sally O’Brien” is in fact from the actual play that made her a star.

Male Quartette: She’s the fairest of Ireland’s fair daughters.
She’s as sweet as a wild Irish rose.
Sure her laughter just ripples like water.
Far away where the Shannon flows.
She is just like her mother,
I want for no other.
She’s more than the whole world to me…

Poli (spoken): Noble citizens of Scranton – I give you – Mae Desmond!

Quartette: May the angels above her,
Protect her and love her,
She’s the Daughter of Mother Machree.

[Elsewhere, Mary’s father Michael is in a bar with his mates.]

Michael: Let’s drink to my daughter
And toast her rising star.
My Mary’s quite the clever lass!
I knew that she’d go far!
An overnight sensation
Is cause for celebration
Yes, the drinks are on Mae Desmond tonight!

Let’s drink to my daughter
And her well-deserved success!
She’s sendin’ home a hundred dollars
Every week, no less!
It’s like I’ve always prayed
My Mary’s got it made
And the drinks are on Mae Desmond tonight!

Men: Tonight, let’s have a spree
Let’s have another round!
No, make it three!
Bring out the bottle!
The best you got’ll do for me
And we’ll revel like the devil
Til it’s light!

Michael: Let’s drink to my daughter
A girl who’s got some class!
She’s beautiful and dutiful,
A darlin’, darlin’ lass!
She’s rakin’ in the money
And makin’ our lives sunny!
Yes, it’s plain to see her future’s shining bright
And the drinks are on Mae Desmond tonight!

The letter if you please? (He reads from a letter that we see Mae writing.)
In Scranton, the crowds have been congenial
They’ve showered our productions with acclaim

Michael and Mae: The people in the street
Are so gracious when we meet,
And it seems like every stranger knows my name!

Mae: In Elmira, admirers are everywhere.
I can’t believe how many friends I’ve made!
There’s a street that’s named for me,
And this weekend I will be
At the front of the Saint Patrick’s Day parade!

Man in bar: Let’s drink to your daughter
And her ever-growing fame
Don’t call her “Mary Callahan” –
She’s gone and changed her name!
I guess it was too common
Not fit for a phenomenon
She calls herself “Miss Desmond” tonight!

Michael: Now that’s enough, you ungrateful half-wit!

Men: Easy now, Michael! Steady there, lad.

Michael: What did Mary ever do to you?

Drunk: Not a thing, ‘cept she’s not Mary anymore, is she?

(Onstage in the theater, an argument. Mae as “Sally” appears with an actor playing “Belmore.”)

Actor (as “Belmore”): You are Sarah Branscome!

Mae (as “Sally”): No, sir, my name is Sally O’Brien! Norah O’Brien’s daughter. Who’ll give me a job?” The next time you see me, I’ll be cutting turf or milkin’ cows or pitchin’ hay, and I’ll refuse to know ye. Goodbye and farewell!

All men in bar: She is just like her mother,
I want for no other.
She’s more than the whole world to me.
May the angels above her
Protect her and love her,
She’s the daughter of Mother Machree

[Mae greets eager fans outside the theater.]

The crowds have been amazing in Schenectady
They connect with me, it seems in every way
An alderman of note
Put the question up to vote
And they made next Friday Mae Desmond day!

Poli and girls: For she’s a jolly good fellow
For she’s a jolly good fellow
For she’s a jolly good fellow…

Mae: The truth is it’s lonely in Schnectady
In spite of all the clamor and the noise.
I’m weary of the crowd
And I wish I was allowed
To be home with my darling, darling boys.

[In a bar elsewhere, Frank sings emviously.]

Frank: The drinks are on Miss Desmond,
The toast of every town.
One could grow weary hearing of
Her talent and renown,
But acting is a small-time trade
And I’ve got big ambitions.
When you can run the whole damn show,
Why bother with auditions?
Planning a season,
Courting the press,
Counting receipts,
Enjoying success!
When I’m the boss of my own company,
Just wait and see,
The drinks will be on me!

Michael: We’ll drink to my daughter,
The toast of Worcester, Mass.
The critics sing her praises
So we need to raise a glass
Who thought we’d see the day…

Mae: When acting in a play would pay?!

Mae and Michael: It’s plain to see my (her) future’s shining bright
And the drinks are on Mae Desmond tonight!

All: Let’s drink to your/my sister
Her fortune is the best
We’ll have a proper hooley
We’re all truly, truly blessed
I’m feeling fine and frisky!
Let’s have another whiskey!
So let’s revel like the devil til it’s light!
Cause the drinks are on Mae Desmond
(toasting) Mae Desmond! Mae Desmond! Mae Desmond! Mae Desmond!!

One thought on “The Drinks Are On Mae Desmond, from Leading Lady (Day 136)

  1. Pingback: Your Place Is Here, from Leading Lady (Day 138) | Notes from a SAVI Savant

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