A Man Around The House, from Leading Lady (Day 146)

Jim Bergwall and D'Arcy WebbAfter a brief detour to celebrate the birthday of my grandson Miles, I’m back to Act II of Leading Lady. Given the multiple versions of the show, it’s a little tricky to figure out what order to present these songs in or how to contextualize them. In the song Things My Father Taught Me, you heard Georgie Callahan (the brother of Mary, also known as Mae Desmond) eulogize his father, Michael, and the death of Mae’s father was part of the story for several versions of Leading Lady. In time, though, the character of Michael grew on us, and his ornery charm seemed too endearing to pass up, so we let him live so he help raise a grandson or two and flirt with his daughter’s mother-in-law, the widowed Maggie Fielder. This is Jim Bergwall as the ornery Michael Callahan and D’Arcy Webb as mother Fielder.

Michael: Seems like your plumbing has a leak
I know the right technique
I can fix it in a week.
Oh dear, this floorboard has a squeak!
Just leave it to a man like me!

A man can slaughter a chicken
A man can handle a wrench
A man can clean out the outhouse
He doesn’t even notice the stench
A man can scare off a burglar
And pepper your stew when it’s bland
And if you need to catch a mouse
A man around the house
Is a handy thing to have on hand!

A man’s always ready to serve you.
A man will come when he’s called
He’ll stoke your furnace in winter
And make sure your ashes get hauled!
A man will clean out your chimney
And keep your machinery greased
Yes a man feels pride
When a woman’s satisfied —
(Unless, of course, the man is a priest!)

Maggie and Michael: Who needs a man around the house?
A man around the house?
A man around the house?

Michael: You need a man around the house,
In fact, you need a man like me.

Maggie: I can handle a hammer
Just as well as a man.
I can balance a checkbook
Better than any man can.
I can handle my liquor,
Hold my own in a brawl.
Do I need a man around the house?
I see no reason at all.

Michael: A man is fierce as a tiger

Maggie: A man is as foolish as a goose

Michael: He’s clever as a fox

Maggie: As clumsy as an ox
And training them is just no use!
A man struts about like a rooster
All full of cock-a-doodle-do
But the hens who hear him crow
Call it braggadocio…

[Dialog.]

Michael: A man is always there when you need him
Maggie: But i fear doesn’t know when to go
Michael: A man knows the meaning of courage

Maggie: But he doesn’t know the meaning of “no”

Both: Who needs a man around the house?
A man around the house?
A man around the house?

Michael: You need a man around the house,
In fact, you need a man like me.

Both: Who needs a man around the house?
A man around the house?
A man around the house?

Michael: Despite whatever flaws you’ve found

Maggie: Heaven protect us!

Both: A man’s a handy thing to have around!

A couple quick observations about this one: it definitely belongs in the “masculinity” file, and you can probably tell from the songs I’ve written on that topic that I find plenty of amusement in the behavior of my fellow men. It’s a song that showcases the considerable charm of the two actors who perform it, but if you were to point out that it’s a bit inert dramaturgically, you wouldn’t be telling me anything I don’t know. Still, I love Seth’s “jiggly handle” introduction in the dialog, and the interaction between the grandson and his rascally grandfather makes me think fondly of Miles and his Pops.

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