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Maggie Flynn – Original Broadway Cast 1968

Maggie Flynn – Original Broadway Cast 1968

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Synopsis

This is New York in 1863: traffic moves easily in both directions on all streets, day and night. Horn-tooting is rare and the rumble of motorized taxis is unknown. The Bronx overflows with farms and deserted summer estates; the skies are transparent. Anywhere above 14th Street is “uptown.” It is winter; Central Park is bleak and cold, picturesque with cardigans and wool mufflers. The Civil War is raging. On Christopher Street beautiful Mrs. Maggie Flynn (Shirley Jones) oversees Meagon’s Orphan Home, a destitute establishment for abandoned offspring of the runaway slaves who are surfacing in the streets of New York. Uncle Meagon has retreated back home to Ireland permanently. The Union Army has taken staggering losses and has instituted a draft to bring in fresh blood; there are protests and backlash. The city is rife with suspicion, spies, and saboteurs. Maggie stout-heartedly swears, “I won’t let it happen again.” Never again will she marry the wrong sort of man. She wants someone solid, sensible, and serious, nothing like Phineas Flynn (Jack Cassidy), the handsome, hopeless, never-gonna-make-it Shakespearean actor, full of laughter and a bit of the devil, who disappeared seven years ago. He left no farewell note, no curtain speech, no list of grievances. He simply packed up his Irish charm, his Shakespearean ambitions, and his wanderlust, and dropped out. Neither Maggie nor the Missing Persons Bureau has a clue to his whereabouts. He is but a memory, and in two weeks he will be declared legally dead, when the seven-year time limit will run out. ACT I Outside Meagon’s Orphan Home, the sound of marching feet and beating drums: Mulligan’s Brigade and the Sprague Light Cavalry are offering premiums, advance pay, and bounties, or warm rooms and clean beds to new recruits. New Yorkers are not responding to the call. Maggie Flynn, cheerful and Irish, awakens her charges in the ice-cold dormitory (“Nice Cold Mornin’”). As nice as the morning may be, Maggie is up to her Irish eyes in debt. Mary (Jennifer Darling), her teenage helper, is in a panic about their poverty; the kids have to be fed. Off Maggie goes to rustle up food and clothing at Barlow’s Bar down the street. The bar is loaded, and so are most of the customers. Maggie makes the rounds passing the hat. She cajoles, she cons, she collects. “Have a good time,” she says, “and you’ll have a much better time if you quit all the drinking. The money you save on whisky you can put right here in my collection basket” (“I Wouldn’t Have You Any Other Way”). Come summer, Maggie and her persistence at panhandling and extending charge accounts have gotten them through the winter and spring. A circus parade passes down Christopher Street. Maggie and the kids aren’t about to miss a moment of the acrobats and animals, the bareback riders, the strong man, or the clown, Fearless Bartholemew (“Learn How To Laugh”). There’s something strangely familiar about this clown, something attractive. She follows him to his tent and gets a look at him without his makeup. Yes, it’s Phineas Flynn. Maggie confronts him about his seven-year absence, and asks for a divorce. Phineas stalls, but finally agrees to sign the necessary papers when she has had them prepared. Satisfied, Maggie leaves, but it’s clear that he is not ready to let go of her (“Maggie Flynn”). Back at the orphanage, the kids are disgruntled: the sight of the gorilla, the acrobats, and especially the clown has made them aware of how much they are missing. Maggie is uncomfortable, too (“The Thank-You Song”). She meets with Colonel John Farraday, who is the reason Maggie wants the divorce from Phineas. He has been urging her to marry him, but she has so far been reluctant because, as a military man, he has always been on the move. Now she learns that he has been assigned permanently to New York, and so her stalling is no longer valid. Steady, trustworthy, practical, guaranteed a distinguished Army career, and everything Phineas is not, Farraday must be the right man for her. Timmy (William James), a not-too-bright neighborhood twenty-year-old who does everything he can to help around the orphanage, has introduced two young men to Maggie; they are looking for lodging and she has a spare room in the basement to rent out. The Colonel is suspicious; how can Maggie be sure the two young men are trustworthy? Phineas has obviously not given up on Maggie. He has brought his balloons and clowning into the Home to entertain the orphans, and stumbles into Maggie’s scene with Farraday (“Look Around Your Little World”). After introductions, Farraday is summoned back to headquarters. Phineas, too, is about to leave when suddenly the Home is quarantined. Measles has struck one of the brood. Phineas is delighted to be stuck in this house with Maggie and a bunch of kids, and turns on the charm. Farraday tries to return, bringing food and conversation, but can’t get into the house because of the quarantine. From outside, he reminds Maggie of her debts and obligations. Farraday leaves, and Maggie sneaks out once again to collect small change at Barlow’s Bar (“Maggie Flynn” – reprise). The city’s mood is sullen; there is great resentment about the draft. Officers check the men’s registration, and the men fume at the procedure; the war is not popular. Maggie is trying to come to terms with the fact that Phineas is in the house to stay until the quarantine is lifted. She tells herself over and over, “I Won’t Let It Happen Again.” Even when the quarantine ends, Phineas recognizes that she needs help desperately. He arranges a meeting with a very special group of philanthropic ladies, and when Maggie herself is not able to win their confidence, he proposes a charity tea dance for the benefit of Meagon’s Orphan Home. The ladies are thrilled (“How About a Ball?”). Farraday, at his headquarters, is alerted that Confederate spies are hiding out in the city, and a search is organized. Suspicious activity has been reported in the vicinity of the Orphan’s Home, but the soldiers are loath to disturb Maggie, since she is the Colonel’s lady. The orphanage remains under surveillance. Maggie and Phineas and the kids are excitedly preparing for the tea dance (“Pitter Patter”). Phineas is sure he’s making steady progress with Maggie, but she still insists she wants him to sign the divorce papers. Disappointed, he leaves; she is certain she has done the right thing. ACT II Signs are posted all over New York demanding that every man register for the draft or go to prison. Resentment is high; the boiling point is low. Politicians are berated, the wealthy are decried, the blacks are belittled (“They’re Never Gonna Make Me Fight”). On the verandah of the Vanderhoff mansion, the social set is swinging at the Ball for the benefit of Meagon’s Orphan Home. The turnout is tremendous, and so is the take. Phineas dances with Maggie, and is about to tell her he can’t give her up when Colonel Farraday and his General make an appearance. Farraday reveals that a raid on a Confederate hideout is to take place immediately, and he must go off to lead it. As the party ends, Phineas is left alone on the verandah to mull over Maggie’s forthcoming marriage (“Why Can’t I Walk Away”). Near Christopher Street, Timmy is distributing anti-war handbills to discourage enlistment and encourage protest. He wants to further the cause of peace, but is distressed to realize he is inciting a riot. The kids have discovered a stack of boxes in the basement of the orphanage. They don’t know what’s in them, but hide and eavesdrop on the two young tenants: it turns out that the tenants are Confederate spies, and this basement is the very hideout that Farraday and his soldiers have come to raid. Farraday arrests the spies, unaware that the children have heard and seen everything. They break into a box and find a gun, and proceed to act out the scene they have just witnessed (“The Game of War”). Meanwhile Maggie and Phineas are returning from the Ball. She thanks him for all his help. Suddenly they come upon the children who are still playing their war game. Shocked, she sends them all off to bed. Phineas is planning to rejoin the circus, and as they say goodbye, soldiers arrive and arrest Maggie for harboring spies in her basement. She refuses to leave the children alone, so they are all packed off with her to jail. The jail is full of derelicts, hustlers, streetwalkers, and drunks. In go the kids and Maggie behind the same bars. Phineas comes to say that he has appealed to the General, but to no avail. The kids don’t care; they are just happy to see their clown again (“Mr. Clown”). Maggie wonders what she is doing. She is no longer certain that she is marrying the right man. She speaks of the Colonel, but subconsciously she is thinking about Phineas (“Pitter Patter” – reprise). In the office of the jail General Parkington hears Maggie’s case. He realizes that Maggie is an innocent victim, and is not happy with Farraday’s lack of faith and forthrightness. Neither is Maggie. She has had enough of him. She and the children run out from the jail into the riot-torn city. Everywhere mobs are burning, looting, shooting, brawling. Maggie and her brood struggle back to the orphanage where Phineas is waiting to let them in. The fire catches up with Meagon’s Orphan Home. Maggie, Phineas, and the children race out into the street, where the angry mob threatens them, but Maggie and Phineas face down the mob and win their escape. Nothing is left of the orphanage, but the children are safe. Maggie and Phineas come to realize that they must start all over again, together (Finale).

Credits

Maggie Flynn: Shirley Jones Mary O’Cleary: Jennifer Darling Phineas Flynn (The Clown): Jack Cassidy Timmy: William James Col. John Farraday: Robert Kaye Mrs. Vanderhoff: Sibyl Bowan Donnelly: Austin Colyer O’Brien: Stanley Simmonds General Parkington: Robert Mandan Music, Book, and Lyrics by Hugo Peretti, Luigi Creatore, and George David Weiss; Book written in collaboration with Morton Da Costa Music Director: John Lesko