Tag Archives: LeadingLady

Gettin’ Underfoot, from Leading Lady (Day 149)

Today’s song showed up in several different places in the various versions of Leading Lady. It was always intended to be a diegetic, “performed” number, and is written intentionally as a pastiche. (I think I was inspired by Gershwin’s Fidgety Feet from Oh Kay, in which a similar sort of hemiola figures prominently in the rhythm of the melody.) Like many of the songs in Follies, however, it was always meant to have some relationship to the stage action.

In the earliest iteration of the show, the song was performed by Nancy, the leading lady of the Chestnut Street troupe where Mae is a minor player with her first theater job. My (lame-brained) idea was that Mae would somehow get accidentally pulled into the number while helping Geoffrey, the handsome leading man, with a quick costume change. Somehow, she manages to turn this gaffe to her advantage, stealing the scene and getting a bigger hand than Nancy. I know, like I said, lame-brained. And we needed to get into our story quicker. I thought that audiences might get a smile when they made the connection that Mae had “gotten underfoot” by unintentionally stealing the spotlight.

In a later iteration, we gave the number to Jamie, Mae’s son, and it was inserted into the “Get In Step With The Times” number to make a sort of montage of Preparing-The-Big-Musical-For-The-Metropolitan. In that version, Bernice took the “guy’s” part (“Hey, you mug…”) while young Jamie flitted his way through the “girl’s” part, with Frank and Mae trying to decide if the kid deserved a number in the show. The lyric of Gettin’ Underfoot was meant to serve as an ironic reflection of the fact that Jamie was an intrusive presence backstage whose high-spirited hi-jinks (egged on by his scalawag grandpappy, Michael) led to undesired complications.

The audio below is Danielle Lovier and Alex Bechtel as Nancy and Geoffrey in 2011, the first reading of Act I. Alas, there is no recording of the version that Josh Selden and Emily Kleimo did in 2013, and the Get In Step montage got axed for the version we presented and recorded at the end of the workshop in September. You’ll just have to take my word for it when I say it was cute as pigs!

Am I gettin’ underfoot? (Gettin’ underfoot, gettin’ underfoot?)
Am I gettin’ in your way? (Gettin’ in your way, gettin’ in your way?)
I hear you’re steppin’ out with somebody new
You’ve been untrue
Makin’ time with a ragtime baby!
Guess I better step aside (Better step aside, better step aside)
Guess you’re never gonna stay (Always gonna stray, never gonna stay)
You better watch your step
Or you’ll be alone
Once I start steppin’ out on my own!

Hey, you mug,
Give a guy a hug!
Why you gotta be contrary
When it isn’t necessary?
I’m not a cheater!
I couldn’t be sweeter on you!
What’s a fella to do?
(Crocodile tears.) Boo hoo!

You’re not gettin’ underfoot! (Gettin’ underfoot, gettin’ underfoot!)
You’re not gettin’ in the way! (Gettin’ in the way, gettin’ in the way!)
They say I’m steppin’ out with somebody new,
But it’s untrue!
You’re my only ragtime baby!
Don’t you ever step aside (Ever step aside, ever step aside)
‘Cause you’re always gonna stay (Never gonna stray, always gonna stay)

We’d better watch your step
Or we’ll be alone
Once we start steppin’ out on our own!

Get In Step With The Times, from Leading Lady (Day 148)

The musical theme for the song “Get In Step With The Times” was actually introduced on Project 194 a couple of days ago, as the follow-up to the song “A Few Improvements.” Frank is trying to persuade Mae to move into a new, bigger theater, and thinks that a more modern show will draw the crowds in. He enlists her sister Bernice, also a member of the family business, and Mae’s little sister performs a vampy version of the number for some prospective backers at the Merion Cricket Club. This is the 1920’s, and girls are getting thoroughly modern, much to Mae’s distress. Kate Kennedy delivered a knockout punch with this number in the 2012 workshop!

The moving pictures now are in their prime
The local nickelodeon charges a dime
And the price will climb
It’s a sign of the times.
Marconi’s wireless now is everywhere
Your future is shot if you’re not on the air
So you’d best take care
Get in step with the times.
And everywhere
Gramophones blare
Filling the air with the sound of jazz
Oh, what a magic that music has!
A synco-syncopation
These thrilling sounds and dazzling sights
Will gratify and satisfy our appetites.
Such divine delights
Are what modern folk need
So get in step with the times
If you want to succeed!

Running the Show, from Leading Lady (Day 147)

Entrepreneurship – that’s a magic word these days, isn’t it? Everyone gets to be his (or her) own boss in the brave new world of the future. Of course, entrepreneurship is nothing new, and there was a time when self-employment was the only kind of employment there was. In today’s song from Leading Lady, Frank tries to persuade Mae to leave Poli’s payroll and the faltering tour of “The Daughter of Mother Machree” in order to start a “little family business,” the Mae Desmond Players. Alex Bechtel and Clare O’Malley make the idea sound irresistable!

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

A Few Improvements, from Leading Lady (Day 144)

A dozen dozen days of songs, and still more where that came from! Project 194 is coming along nicely, and recently passed the 5,000-pageview mark. Whether this is your first time or you are a repeat visitor, welcome! I’m so grateful that you’re here, and that you’re willing to spend a little time listening to today’s song, A Few Improvements from Leading Lady.

In yesterday’s post, we heard Frank make a big business decision while Mae is out of town: he signs the lease on an enormous theater in Center City. Now he’s got to tell Mae what he’s done, and she’s understandably stunned.

Frank launches into a second song, Get In Step With The Times, which begins with him trying to persuade Mae that this new initiative makes perfect sense considering how important it is to remain up-to-date. We’ll hear this song develop into a full-fledged production number in an upcoming post. First, though, enjoy vocalists Shannon Remley and Bryan Black, from the 2012 UArts New Play Festival:

Continue reading