My Own Man, from Leading Lady (Day 143)

Another Act Two song from Leading Lady, from the 2012 version: While Mae is out of town on tour, Frank gets word that the rent is being raised on their Philadelphia theater. Impulsively, he breaks the lease on the company’s old place in Kensington and signs a contract to rent the Metropolitan Opera House, a much larger theater on North Broad Street in Center City. The tango-rhythm of the song is meant to suggest Frank in a macho mode, and Bryan Black is on hand to deliver the testosterone.

You’ve got his nerve to talk of raising our rent
I call it highway robbery!
I’d sooner die before I’d give my consent.
You’ll never get a dime from me!
You thinks I’m Mary’s domesticated pet,
Well-mannered and polite.
But I’m not totally emasculated yet.
You’d best beware my bite!

Make no mistake, I am my own man!
I will decide what course to take.
I’m not a child, I am a grown man
And I’m in charge, make no mistake!

[Dialog.]

A man’s a hunter, he’s a stalker of prey.
Success entices him like meat.
It stirs an appetite he’s bound to obey.
He’ll chase it like a bitch in heat!
You have to strike while the iron is hot
If you desire success.
It makes no sense to stand around like a twat
Until my [your] wife says “Yes.”

Make no mistake, I am my own man!
I will decide what course to take.
I’m not a child, I am a grown man
And I’m in charge, make no mistake!

The proper opportunity
That’s what this seems to be
No longer the supporting cast,
I’ll move to center stage at last.
It’s been a trial, but in a while
Success will smile on me
I’ll find a way to top her
With the proper opportunity.

[Dialog.]

STAGE MANAGER: Men will be boys,
Full of bluster and noise,
Not very fair
When they’re sharing their toys.
Seldom polite,
They’d much rather fight,
It’s true.
But what can you do?

Brawny and brash,
They live by their wit
They make no mistakes
(At least none they admit),
But when it’s time to clean up the mess?
Who gets the assignment?
Guess!

[Dialog.]

THEATER MANAGER: You’re the kind of guy
Headed for the sky
Always gonna try
Gotta keep an eye out for you kid!
Give the place a go,
Cash is gonna flow,
When you make some do,
People gonna notice your style!
Show a little spine!
It’ll all be fine!
Go ahead and sign
On the dotted line
And make your dreams come true, kid!
Hey, Mister Fielder,
Here’s a promise from me:
Good fortune will smile,
(Though it may take you a while.)

FRANK, GEORGE AND THEATRE MANAGER:
Make no mistake, I am my own man!
I will decide what course to take.
I’m not a child, I am a grown man
Why fear a small disaster?
I’ll show you who’s the master!
I’ll be in charge, make no mistake!

Does this song make Frank seem unsympathetic, or unattractive? I remain interested in Frank as a character who can make big decisions impulsively: he does it in the first act when they quit the Chestnut Street company to go to Brooklyn, and now he’s at it again, bold and reckless. I’m inspired to go back and tag some earlier songs, since it seems like masculinity is a theme that comes up in a number of these Project 194 songs.

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