Mae Dear, from Leading Lady (Day 141)

Another big number from Leading Lady, this one opened the second act in all but the most recent version of the show. The main “Mae Dear” tune is another Kenneth Burton creation, written (like Land of Love) for the revue Whispers of 1924, but Seth and I had the notion of trying to craft a number that juxtaposed a performance onstage with the activity going on backstage. Mae’s relationship with the local merchants is described in Mari Fielder’s historical note, and it was her custom to address the audience directly from the stage, often using a script written in rhymed couplets, as she does at the end of this number.

The track I’ve posted is from the 2012 production at the UArts New Play Workshop, with Shannon Remley, Brian Black and a cast of students from the Musical Theater Program and pianist Tom Baust.

Mae, dear
I’ll say, dear
There’s no girl in the world to compare.
When near me,
You cheer me.
With your smile you banish ev’ry care.
The boys all stare at you, dear.
I knew, dear,
When we met I’d forget all the rest.
Though ev’ryone you meet
May worship at your feet,
You know I love you best.

[Mae talking to a reporter backstage.]

Reporter: Miss Desmond, will you tell the press
The secret of your great success?

Mae: Oh, yes!
It’s great to be together!
The members of my company
Are one big happy family.
Oh, yes!
It’s great to be together
With such a close-knit group
Our spirits never droop.
Why, here’s my husband, frank
You know, he’s part of troupe.

I’m just a local girl made good,
The darling of the neighborhood
Though suppose you could call it fate,
As long as we’re together,
It’s great!

[Mae interrogates the stage manager.]

Mae: Is the mezzanine lobby swept yet?

Betty: Check.

Mae: Is the lemonade put on ice?

Betty: Done.

Mae: Have we printed tomorrow’s handbills?

Betty: Sure.

Mae: Does the back of my wig look nice?

Betty: Very.

Mae: Are we ready for this week’s payroll?

Betty: (hesitating) Well…

Mae: Did somebody go to the bank?

Betty: Actually…

Mae: Do I have to do everything myself?
I gave that job to Frank!
(shouts) Frank!!

[dialog.]

Chorus (onstage): Mae, dear,
I’ll say dear…

Frank (working in the box office): From far and wide, the people come
To see us at the orpheum.
Oh, yes!
It’s great to be successful!

Chorus: When near me,
You cheer me…

Ticket Buyer: I’d like a ticket to the play.

Frank: We’re all sold out til Saturday.

Ticket Buyer: Oh, no!

Chorus: The boys all stare at you, dear.
I knew, dear…

Frank: They come to see Mae Desmond act,
And every single seat is packed.

Ticket Buyer: She’s quite the hometown star!

Chorus, Frank and others: Though ev’ryone you meet
May worship at your feet,
You know I love you best!

[dialog.]

Milliner: Mae, I made you a special bonnet!

Hairdresser: I’d be happy to style your hair!

Dressmaker: I’ve created a lovely evening gown
I’d be honored to have you wear!

Ladies’ Club Secretary: Will you speak at our ladies’ luncheon?

Restauranteur: Will you patronize my cafe?

All five: We’d be grateful for your endorsement
Everyone looks up to Mae!
Everyone looks up to Mae!

[Mae addresses the audience.]

Mae
It’s grand to be here in Germantown
Such lovely ladies in gorgeous gowns
My name’s Mae Desmond and I am proud
To share these thoughts with you aloud
I left this city, went far and wide
Without my husband without my guide
But now I’m home with all of you
And never shall bid you adieu
So welcome to you all I say
May your hearts be glad and enjoy the play

[All gather round – fans, merchants and members of the company – for a big finish.]

Chorus: Mae, dear
I’ll say, dear
There’s no girl in the world to compare.
When near me,
You cheer me.
With your smile you banish ev’ry care.
The boys all stare at you, dear.
I knew, dear,
When we met I’d forget all the rest.
Though ev’ryone you meet
May worship at your feet,
You know I love you best.
You know I love you best!!

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