A Musical Comedy in 2 Acts, 11 Scenes. Book by Walter and Jean Kerr. Music by Leroy Anderson. Lyrics by Jean Ford, Walter and Jean Kerr. Dances and musical numbers staged by Agnes de Mille. Directed by Walter Kerr. Settings by Peter Larkin. Costumes by Castillo. Lighting by Feder. Musical director, Lehman Engel. Orchestrations by Leroy Anderson and Philip J. Lang. Dance music arranged by Laurence Rosenthal.
Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, Broadway - Opened 11th October, 1958; closed 28th February, 1959 (161 performances.)
It is 1913, and the finale of the last New York performance of the musical comedy Lazy Moon is in progress. The show is moving on to Chicago, but its leading lady, Maggie Harris, will not be travelling with it. Maggie has decided to give up the theatre for marriage to millionaire George Randolph Brown; she declares that she has no regrets about leaving the world of draughty dressing rooms. Enter film producer/director Max Grady, who punctures Maggie's euphoria by reminding her that she's under contract to begin shooting Frontier Woman for him tomorrow morning. When Max threatens a lawsuit, Maggie reluctantly agrees to honour the contract. George arrives backstage, and Maggie expresses doubts about her ability to please the blue bloods of George's family. He silences her qualms.
At the vacant New York City lot that is Max Grady's studio, Maggie endures Max's insults and begins to shoot the film. Max, tired of directing ten-minute quickies, has secretly been using the profits from his films to purchase (then hide) the elaborate scenery he intends to use in a long-planned, full-length Egyptian spectacle. Max tells Maggie that he believes she is drawn to his magnetism. Maggie counters by offering her own analysis of the situation.
Shooting on the picture ends but Max, without funds to hire a new leading lady for his next film, tricks Maggie into staying on the lot to shoot "flashback" sequences for Frontier Woman. In reality the sequences will constitute his next picture. Maggie protests, but George says she must do the honourable thing and stay on. Maggie wistfully confides in an actor in a bear suit, her co-star in the "flashbacks" . When Max makes advances to Maggie, she calls him "a common, on-the-make hustler." Max is stung, but also challenged.
At the Fat Cat, a downtown roof garden jazz spot, Lois, a studio hanger-on attracted to Max, entertains. Max confesses to Maggie that he tricked her into staying and that he is attracted to her. When he tells her that he owes the studio thousands of dollars for the scenery he's been purchasing, she volunteers to stay on and shoot a pirate picture to help Max stall the studio.
While shooting the new picture on Huckleberry Island, Maggie admits to Max that she returns his feelings. But when she learns that George has been summoned by Max's studio cohorts, Bessie and Pete, to supply the money Max owes the studio, Maggie, believing that Max wooed her only for the money, storms out. She is forcibly brought back to finish the pirate film, and George, attempting to rescue her, is injured in the ensuing mêlée.
In a hospital room on the mainland, Lois comforts the injured George. She tells him that she never seems to be able to find the sheikhs and princes she always dreamed one day would carry her off.
Maggie appears, and, when George defends Max's motives, Maggie is outraged. George presents Maggie with a portfolio as a wedding gift: He has bought her movie, and thus Max now works for Maggie. Maggie runs off to find Max, and George, left alone, ponders Maggie's feelings for him.
At Bessie's barn on the Hudson, Max and his cohorts load the Egyptian scenery on a truck and prepare to skip town with it to California. Bessie suggests that Max's feelings for Maggie are serious, and he is upset. Maggie arrives and gloats, but, when Max makes an impassioned speech about the value of movies, Maggie lets Max keep what is now, in effect, her scenery. Max's friends are jubilant that they don't have to leave town after all and remind themselves how important they are to their boss.
George throws a party at his town house following the wedding rehearsal. When Max arrives, he tells Maggie that he loves her and that she's only marrying George because "he happens to fit in with your idiot dream of yourself." Alone in the empty ballroom, Maggie acknowledges that she must face the truth about her feelings for George.
At dawn on a chilly April 23, with the Egyptian sets in place, Max's long-dreamed-of epic is about to become a reality. Shooting begins with a sacrificial pyramid dance and choral chant. Lois, Max's new leading lady, quickly proves a disaster in the scenes. Maggie and George arrive, having decided to "send back an awful lot of salad bowls." A relieved Lois lets Maggie take her place in the picture, and this time George comforts Lois. But Maggie declares that only a sign from heaven would persuade her to marry Max. Although it's April, snow begins to fall in what is supposed to be a scene of intense Egyptian heat: Maggie interprets this as the heavenly sign, and she and Max embrace as the curtain falls.
(in order of appearance)
- Maggie Harris
- George Randolph Brown
- Max Grady
- Lois Lee
- Max's Assistants
Singers and Dancers
Scenes and Settings
- Scene 1: Onstage, New York City, 1913. (Finale of Lazy Moon.)
- Scene 2: Maggie's Dressing Room. Immediately following.
- Scene 3: Max's Lot. Next morning.
- Scene 4: Outside Max's Lot. That evening.
- Scene 5: Max's Lot. Four days later.
- Scene 6: The Fat Cat Roof Garden. Later that night.
- Scene 7: Huckleberry Island. Several days later.
- Scene 1 A Rest Home on the Mainland. Two days later.
- Scene 2: Bessie's Barn, up the Hudson. That afternoon.
- Scene 3: Ballroom, George's Town House.
- Scene 4: Egypt on the Hudson. Next morning.
- Lazy Moon - Company
- Give the Little Lady - Maggie Harris, Company
- Save a Kiss - George Randolph Brown, Maggie Harris
- No One'll Ever Love You - Maggie Harris, Max Grady
- Who's Been Sitting in My Chair? - Maggie Harris
- Dance - Maggie Harris and dancer
- There Never Was a Woman - Max Grady
- The Pussy Foot - Lois Lee, Tom Cat, Brunette, Blonde, Company
- Pirate Orgy' - Company *
- Lady in Waiting - Lois Lee, George Randolph Brown
- Dance - Lois Lee, Dancers, Company
- The Beast in You - Maggie Harris
- Shall I Take My Heart and Go? - George Randolph Brown
- Bad Companions - Pete, Bessie, and singers
- I Can't Be in Love - Max Grady
- I Never Know When to Say When - Maggie Harris
- The Town House Maxixe Dance - Lois Lee, dancer, Company
- Two Years in the Making - Pete, Bessie, Singers
- Heart of Stone (Pyramid Dance) - Solo dancer, Company
Original Cast Recording starring Don Ameche and Elaine Stritch - Sony Broadway SK 48222