The Show Must Go On, from Leading Lady (Day 140)

This song from Leading Lady was heard in several different places in different drafts of the show. In each case, though, it served to show Mae facing the most difficult of choices. After a performance of The Daughter of Mother Machree, the show in which she plays a starring role, Mae gets news that her young son has fallen victim to influenza, which became a deadly epidemic in certain cities in American in 1918.

How could I lose my Jamie?
Can this be true?
He got so sick, so quick –
He was gone before I ever even knew

Was it the influenza
Or was it me?
I don’t know where I am
Or where I ought to be,
But the show goes on…


I thought, to be successful
I had to roam.
While I was chasing dreams,
There was someone else who needed me at home.

Was it the wrong decision?
It seemed so right!
Oh, what I’d give to hold him
In my arms tonight.
But the show goes on…

Yes the show must go on
Though my dear son is gone.
It’s an old rule,
Implacable and cruel
That the show goes on…


He used to play beside the sea
My little boy, so wild and free.
“Mama, the big waves don’t scare me!”
Oh Jamie….


You’ve caught me at a bad time
I said, not now!
Does someone know a way
I can get to Philadelphia somehow?
If I can’t see my family,
I’ll lose my mind!
How can you think I’ll play
The role I’ve been assigned
And the show will go on?


One choice, and then another
I lost my way
Deceived by my desires,
I forgot I had a mother’s role to play!

I was no leading lady!
That word’s a lie!
But I still have the choice
To raise my voice and cry

That the show won’t go on!
No, the show can’t go on!
Bring the curtain down!
Get me back to my home town
‘Cause my dear son is gone.

Rewrite the plot,
The show will not go on!

Clare O’Malley does a brilliant job of performing this number, but in case you’re morbidly curious, here’s my original composer’s demo, which is tricked out a bit more with bass and drums.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *