Leave It To Jane
Book and Lyrics by Guy Bolton and P.G. Wodehouse : Music by Jerome Kern
Based on the play College Widow by George Ade
Longacre Theatre, Broadway - March 29, 1917 (167 perfs)
Revival - 25 May, 1958
Leave It To Jane is a lovely, wonderfully sweet show. It
can be performed by a small cast with a minimum of costumes and scenery
or can be for a full company. It perfectly catches the relaxed softness
of the small town college of the early 1900s.
In this satire on college life in a Mid-Western town, Jane, the daughter of the president of Atwater College uses the wiles of a siren to keep the college star half-back Billy Bolton from going off to a rival college. Her seductive ways are sufficiently alluring, not only to keep Billy at Atwater but also to win him for herself.
When the show opens we discover that Atwater College sadly lacks football material for its forthcoming season against the rival school, Bingham. Even the enthusiasm of Sophomore Ollie Mitchell fails to motivate the new recruits for the team. The coach, Matty McGowan is discouraged, until Stub Talmadge bursts in to announce that he has returned from vacation with a great "find": a burly, ex-piano mover named "Silent" Murphy. Stub and his girl, Bessie, the local golf champ, speculate about married life. Then Flora Wiggins , the campus character who helps run her mother's boarding house, reminds Stub that he owes her $18 in back rent. But he manages to elude her demands.
Jane Witherspoon, the enchanting daughter of Atwater's President Witherspoon, enters, followed by a group of boys who adore her. She is dutifully grateful for their attention but suggests that they should wait till tomorrow. Hiram Bolton, a benefactor to the rival Bingham, arrives to visit his old friend, President Witherspoon. In a moment of bravado, Stub bets him that Atwater will slaughter Bingham in the big game. As Witherspoon and Bolton leave, Bessie rushes in to tell Stub that she has just seen the famous all-American, Bolton of Minnesota, who is on his way to Bingham to join the team. Putting two and two together, they realise that he must be old Bolton's son; and if he should ever get to Bingham, all hope is lost for the Atwater team. Stub is ready to quit, but Bessie rebukes him for his attitude. Bessie enlists the aid of Jane to help keep young Billy Bolton at Atwater. When Billy meets Jane, he is instantly captivated by her tantalising manner. After he leaves, Jane reveals that she will convince Billy not only to stay on at Atwater, but also to change his name so her father will not become suspicious. In order to accomplish this, she will flirt with Billy, a bold step to take, but necessary in this emergency. Bessie and Stub are overjoyed.
Professor Talbot, who also has a crush on Jane, enters with Hon. Elan Hicks, a southern state senator whose gawky son, Bub, is joining Atwater. Bub is shy and terrified at being away from home; but he soon becomes attracted to Flora, who is delighted at his attention. Meanwhile, Jane has convinced Billy to remain on the campus for the formal dance that evening, by tricking him into giving her his fraternity pin. Alone, she reflects that today's women are not so different from the legendary sirens who attract men and dash them to destruction against the rocks.
That evening, the boys in tails and the girls in formal gowns sit about and sing a medley of oldtime favourites. The dancing starts and another girl momentarily keeps Billy company until Jane arrives. Flora, acting as waitress, fancies herself a vamp. Jane continues to entice Billy and he finally agrees to change his name to Staples and stay on at Atwater and try to make the team. His general announcement is received with cheer, as Act One comes to a happy finale.
As the second act opens, we are just outside the stadium; and the school is alive with excitement. The Atwater team suffers a big setback when "Silent" Murphy is injured and called out. The visiting Senator Hicks is horrified at the change in his son, Bub, who has become a regular college sport. But Flora, who is now Bub's girl, is convinced that men aren't what they used to be. Just then, Hiram Bolton arrives, irate at having discovered that his son Billy never arrived at Bingham and in addition is playing against Bingham in the game, under the name of Staples. When he accuses Jane of having snared Billy with her feminine charms, she pretends to faint and whispers to Stub and the boys to whisk Bolton away until the game is over. They carry him bodily into a cab, and Billy goes on to make the winning run. Atwater is wild with joy, and Bessie and Stub gleefully exclaim their love. Stub, Ollie, and Bub (who also has a yen for Jane) explain that each is looking for a particular kind of girl.
Bolton returns and tells Billy how Jane has tricked him, and broken-hearted, the boy plans to quit the school. Stub then boldly asks Bolton for the money he has won on the bet; and impressed by the boy's nerve after having kidnapped him, Bolton offers the boy a job out west. Now that Billy is leaving, and Jane will once again be "available Bub breaks his engagement with Flora. She is cheered somewhat when Stub finally pays her his back rent, and coach McGowan agrees to accompany her home. Stub hands his winnings to Bessie, and they are automatically engaged. Billy, bags in hand, is about to leave when Jane stops him. She begs him to forgive her trickery but adds that now she really does love him. He says that his father has offered him a good job at $15 per week and asks her to wait for him, just in time for the finale.
Male - 13 : Female - 11 (In order of appearance) plus college students, co-eds, town girls, etc.
Ollie Mitchell (A Sophomore)
Malty McGowan (A Coach)
The Boys (Students)
"Stub" Talmadge (A busy undergraduate)
"Silent" Murphy (A center rush)
Peter Witherspoon (President of Atwater)
Bessie Tanners (An athletic Girl)
Flora Wiggins (A prominent Waitress)
Howard Talbot (A professor)
Jane Witherspoon (Daughter of Peter Witherspoon)
Hiram Bolton (Benefactor of Bingham College)
The Girls (Co-eds)
Billy Bolton (A Half-back)
Hon. Elan Hicks (of Squantunville)
Harold "Bub" Hicks (A Freshman)
- Good Old Atwater - Ollie and Boys
- Wait Till Tomorrow - Jane and Boys
- Just You Watch My Step - "Stub" , Bessie and Girls
- Leave It To Jane - Jane, "Stub", Bessie, Boys and Girls
- The Siren's Song - Jane and Girls
- There It Is Again - Billy, Girls and Jane
- Cleopatterer - Flora and Girls
- The Crickets Are Calling - Jane, Billy, Ensemble
- Finale: Act One - Ensemble
- Opening: Act Two - Bessie, Ensemble
- Sir Galahad - "Stub" , Flora, Harold
- The Sun Shines Brighter - "Stub" , Bessie and Girls
- I'm Going To Find a Girl - Ollie, "Stub" , Harold and Girls
- Poor Prune - Flora (Reprise)
- The Sun Shines Brighter - "Stub", Bessie
- Finale - Jane, Billy, Ensemble
Scenes and Settings:
ACT I: Atwater College. The terrace of Memorial Hall on the opening day of the fall term.
ACT II: Outside the football field. Late November.
Violin 1, 2: Viola: Cello: Bass: Flute: Oboe: Clarinet 1 & 2: Bassoon: Horn 1 & 2: Trumpet 1 & 2: Trombone: Percussion: Piano