Tag Archives: LeadingLady

Looking for a Home, from Leading Lady (Day 134)

The final moments of Leading Lady in a duet that I wrote for the 2013 workshop. The idea is that Mae and Frank have taken a bad loss at the Metropolitan, and that Mae blames Frank. She’s found a tumbledown place, a wreck of a theater in Kensington, and proposes moving the Mae Desmond Players there. He is initially skeptical about the prospects for the building but eager to show contrition to his wife. After their duet, they embrace affectionately and are reconciled. The company appears and the theater is magically “renovated” before our very eyes for the final moments of the song.

This a crappy composer’s demo of a beautiful duet. Gosh, I’m trying to remember if it ever even got performed for an audience. (Clare and Bryan, was it you two in the band room at Drexel?) Maybe this should go in the program for my birthday concert on July 13 so there can be a proper recording of it. My singing may make you cringe a little at the climactic points, but give a poor composer a break!

MAE: See, it has character!
FRANK: No, it’s just old!
MAE: Look at these moldings —
FRANK: And look at that mold!
BOTH: (after a pause.) It has… potential.

FRANK: Kind of old-fashioned.
MAE: No, I’d call it “quaint.”
All that it needs is a good coat of paint.
A new place,
A home.

Lately, I’ve been looking for a home.
Looking for a place to put my heart.
Seems the place I had before
Was not so sure
And so, once more I start
Looking for a place where I belong.
Looking for a “fixer-upper!”
This place will do fine.
Best of all, it’s mine.
Look, I put my name up on the sign.

(spoken) Except it’s not my name, is it? I’m just plain Mary Callahan from Southwark.

FRANK: And a Callahan can do anything she sets her mind to do!

MAE: Once, I thought I’d found a home in you.
Thought we’d made a life together, too.
Was it all a mad charade?
Now I’m afraid
The life we made is lost forever!

Make something new,
That’s what I’ll do,
Just like I did before,
Hoping to make a home once more.

FRANK: Isn’t it close to the tracks of the “El?”
MAE: That means it’s close to our old clientele.
BOTH: (after a pause.) It has… potential.

FRANK: Looks as though you found your fixer-upper,
But it’s a lot to manage on your own.
Another pair of hands could come in handy
To do the things that you can’t do alone.

MARY: Frank, you can’t just waltz back in and take over!

FRANK: Who’s waltzin’? I’m on my knees, Mary. Can you forgive me?

I was sure I’d found a home in you.
We can make a life together, too
If we keep our fingers crossed
And mind the cost,
Our dream will not be lost forever!

BOTH: Make something new,
That’s what we’ll do,
Just like we did before.
Maybe we’ll make a home once more.

[They kiss. Their son, Francis, spies his parents being mushy and romantic and reacts.]

FRANCIS: They seldom go their separate ways
They’re far too busy doing plays!
Oh, no! It’s great to be together.

MAE AND FRANK: We make a perfect married team
Tho’ sometimes we’re a harried team
What ho!
It’s great to be together
I’m his leading lady,
He’s my leading man
Following and leading, we do the best we can

ALL [next five lines as stretto/round]
My love’s a flag I/they wave with pride
Our dressing rooms are side by side
Our loving looks proclaim our vows
We share our books, we share our bows!
We/they see the world with eager eyes,
And oh, how well we harmonize!
It’s plain to see, we pull our weight
We never get to sleep too late

FRANK & MAE: And when we’re busy, sex must wait

ALL: But as long as we’re together, together, together, together –
It’s great!

You Must Go On, from Leading Lady (Day 153)

D'Arcy in Leading LadyThis song was written for the penultimate scene of Leading Lady, in its September 2013 iteration. Mae and Frank are bereft, having just lost their son Jamie in the influenza epidemic. Mae in particular is full of remorse, thinking that somehow her decision to put career before family was responsible in some way for his death. Maggie tries to console here by singing this. Of course it was written for D’Arcy Webb.

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These Men, from Leading Lady (Day 152)

A lovely song, this, though it came and went rather quickly in the summer of 2013. Seth and I figured that mother-in-law Maggie would have some words of wisdom to offer Mae after her relationship with Frank went haywire, and this was the result. The middle section is reprises music from You’re A Callahan – the “queen of Paris, France” section – and the phrase “divil the man” was inspired by George M. Cohan himself, who used it in his song “Harrigan.” All I’ve got is a composer’s demo to offer, but I recall D’Arcy and Clare singing this and finding it quite lovely indeed.

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Get In Step With The Times Finale, from Leading Lady (Day 151)

Whoa, somehow I got ahead of myself and forgot to post the Big Finish of Get In Step With The Times, the glitzy, glamorous number that Mae and Frank perform at the Metropolitan Opera House! If you’re listening to these posts in order, this would come before Day 150’s post, Who Do You Think You Are. In this number, we see Mae and Bernice dressed as flappers, a style that comes more naturally to the youthful Bernice than it does to her more demure older sister; Mae has a little more difficulty getting in step with the times, as it turns out. Shannon Remley and Kate Kennedy play Mae and Bernice, and Lucas Kappler gives the rousing introduction.

The Bunny Hug and Turkey Trot
Have taken the place of the waltz and gavotte
People dance a lot
To the steps of the times.
As couples glide across the floor,
They come to discover what rhythm is for,
And they all want more
Of the steps of the times.
All night and day,
They pound the parquet,
In a display of amazing pep.
And they put ginger in every step,
A synco-syncopation.
The world’s gone crazy, I suppose
But you’ll be all right if you stay on your toes
Heaven only knows
Where this madness will lead
So get in step with the times
If you want to succeed!

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.