Who Do You Think You Are, from Leading Lady (Day 150)

First, a little amuse-bouche for my sesquicentenary post – 150 days completed in the Project 194 challenge, just 44 more to go! This track is called “Not Quite The Best,” and it was included in an early version of Leading Lady to show the snooty aristocrats’ disdain for Mae and Frank’s downtown show at the Metropolitan Opera House. It’s a sarcastic inversion of the (then) opening number, “Only The Best,” which you might enjoy hearing for the purposes of comparison. This one is a composer demo, and you have to imagine the voices of various characters from the ensemble.

Not quite the best
A little disappointing, wouldn’t you say?
I wasn’t impressed,
In fact, I’m just a bit shocked!
(I don’t care to be mocked.)
Melodrama isn’t really my cup of tea.
That sort of thing was out of date in 1903.
I can’t wait for the sequel: “The Nephew of the Brother of the Daughter of Mother Machree.”
Not quite the best, I fear.
Not quite the best…
Oh, dear!

The main event is called “Who Do You Think You Are?” and it was a dramatization of Mae’s world falling apart. She is condemned by the critics, her mother-in-law, her brother and the community for her striving and her failure to “know her place.” The singers (from the 2012 UArts New Play Workshop) include Dan Kiernan, Chanel Karimkhani and Tyler Houchins as soloists.

Quite a departure from small time stock.
Out of their league, I’d say.
They had some renown in Germantown,
But here, they’re just déclassé!

I’m unimpressed!
The upper crust
Wants only the best!
This sort of thing is good enough for the hoi-polloi
But I didn’t enjoy their play.

Who do you think you are, Miss Desmond?
What a disgrace!
You’ve forgotten your place!
Frankly, I fear that you’ve gone too far.
Who do you think you are?

What kind of mother forgets her kids
To strut on the stage without shame?
She ought to be with her family,
But says that her work is to blame

Putting on airs
She wastes her days
On foolish affairs
And in her plays, she paints her smile in a flapper’s style
She’s tainting the family name!

Who do you think you are, Mae Desmond,
Dressed like a tart
Acting stylish and smart?
Dancing to jazz like some Broadway star –
Who do you think you are?


What kind of monster gives her brother the air?
Doesn’t she care?
How can you let them tear our fam’ly apart?
Where is your heart?
Turning your back on your flesh and blood –
What would our father say?
Sure, it’s a sin
To treat your own kin this way!

[Various members of the company gather, singing severally and building:]

There’s no role she hasn’t played
Shanty brat or Irish maid
Spunky urchin or gamine
Saucy, bossy drama queen
Suffragette or newlywed
Immigrant or Yankee bred
Mother, daughter, sister, friend
One on whom we all depend…

I’ve seen her play a hundred roles
She does it like no one can
Dewy-eyed lass or bold as brass,
Sometimes she plays a man!
Topping the bill
She plays each part with consummate skill
But where’s her heart?
The role she doesn’t know how to play
Is the most important one – Mae!

Who do you think you are, Mae Desmond?
We want to know,
Is it all just a show?
Driving around in a fancy car,
Supping on champagne and caviar
Really, it’s clear that you’ve gone too far!
Who do you think you are??

This song represents an attack of the trolls, the nay-sayers that lie in wait for all strivers, eager for their daily fix of schadenfreude. I’ve quoted Seth Godin on the trolls before, but it’s good enough to bear repeating:

The worst troll is in your head.

Internet trolls are the commenters begging for a fight, the anonymous critics eager to tear you down, the hateful packs of roving evil dwarves, out for amusement.

But the one in your head, that voice of insecurity and self-criticism, that’s the one you need to be the most vigilant about.

Do not feed the troll.

Do not reason with the troll.

Do not argue with the troll.

Most of all, don’t litigate. Don’t make your case, call your witnesses, prove you are right. Because the troll knows how to sway a jury even better than you do.

Get off the troll train. Turn your back, walk away, ship the work.

Nothing to add.

One thought on “Who Do You Think You Are, from Leading Lady (Day 150)

  1. Pingback: Get In Step With The Times Finale, from Leading Lady (Day 151) | Notes from a SAVI Savant

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