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The Girl Who Came to Supper – 1963 (Arkiv version)

The Girl Who Came to Supper – 1963 (Arkiv version)

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Synopsis

ACT I On the night before the coronation of George V in 1911, London is in a gala mood. At the Majestic Theatre, the first-act finale of a charming period musical, The Coconut Girl, ends. At its conclusion, the Grand Duke Charles, Prince Regent of Carpathia, visits the company, who honor him by singing the Carpathian National anthem, “Yasni Kozkolai,” while his bodyguards in patriotic fervor fly into a czardas. The Prince Regent then explains his colorful ancestral background in “My Family Tree.” Chorus girl Mary Morgan has caught the Regent’s eye, and Northbrook, assigned by the British government to the Carpathian retinue during their stay in London, brings Mary an invitation from the Prince Regent to dine at the Carpathian Embassy after the show. In “I’ve Been Invited to a Party,” Mary imagines herself as the toast of the international set, cleverly and wittily dazzling all the guests. At the Carpathian Embassy, the normal routine is somewhat upset “When Foreign Princes Come To Visit Us.” The Prince Regent arrives, perturbed by reports of riots in his homeland. Northbrook enters with Mary, who is nervous about how to behave in the presence of nobility. Northbrook instructs her to address royalty as “Sir or Ma’am” and to obey the rules of protocol. She is suspicious of the supper prepared for only two; however, after Northbrook refers to closer Anglo-Carpathian relations, the Congress of Vienna and balance of power, she agrees to stay – for only forty-five minutes. When the Prince Regent and Mary are alone, they seem pleased with one another (“Soliloquies”). He plies her with vodka but is soon interrupted by a series of arrivals: the elderly Queen Mother of Carpathia comes to plead with her son for greater leniency toward his teenage son, King Nicholas, who has been conspiring with the rebels at home against his father’s autocratic rule. Further interruptions include a telephone call reporting the arrest of Carpathia’s opposition leader, a verbatim recital by Mary of the Bill of Rights, and the arrival of King Nicholas protesting his arrest. When they are alone at last, the Prince Regent pleads that he is “Lonely,” but Mary, who has had too much vodka, passes out. Mingling with the people in St. Martin’s Lane, Nicholas meets Ada Cockle, Cockney extraordinaire, peddler of fish and chips, glowing lover of life and London, who belts out the Cockney ballads “London Is a Little Bit of All Right,” a brisk “What Ho, Mrs. Brisket,” the plea-copping “Don’t Take Our Charlie for the Army,” and the teary, beery “Saturday Night at the Rose and Crown.” The next morning, Mary, clad in a bedspread and under the euphoric misconception that she has given all for love, proclaims in “Here and Now” her newborn love for the Prince Regent. Her “darlings” addressed to him bring only an icy “Miss Morgan” in return, and her rapturous references to last night are met with the acid comment that he was unfortunately unable to be present. Mary dresses hurriedly, and, when Nicholas returns, tells him she is rooting for him against the “mean, stubborn tyrant.” She is only partially flattered by the boy’s worldly compliment that he likes her better than any of his father’s other mistresses. Northbrook’s attempts to smuggle Mary out of the Embassy are intercepted by a fanfare and the Carpathian royal retinue in full regalia on their way to the coronation. However, when her lady-in-waiting becomes ill, the Queen Mother appoints Mary to the position for the occasion and bedecks her in diamonds and sable, while the infuriated Prince Regent is forced to invest Mary with the Order of Perseverance, given only for personal service to the head of state. ACT II At Westminster Abbey, the assembled nobles lament their boredom, punctuated by Mary’s enthrallment (“Coronation Chorale”). Mary goes back to the Embassy to return the jewels but is interrupted by Nicholas, who prevails upon her to place a conspiratorial phone call for him to the German ambassador. The call is cut short, however, by the arrival of the Regent, who has had the wires tapped and places his son under house arrest. Mary delivers a lecture on fatherly love, then is dismissed by the Regent, who finds, for the first time, that he has lost the mastery of a situation (“How Do You Do, Middle Age?”). The Prince Regent relents enough to command Nicolas to attend the Foreign Office Ball, and orders him to have a good time while the Queen Mother drafts Mary to accompany Nicholas. The Regent has invited the elegantly beautiful and compliant Lady Sunningdale to supper after the ball. “Curt, Clear and Concise,” she has every virtue but virtue itself. Strolling through the streets after the ball, Mary entertains Nicholas with the hilariously complex plot of The Coconut Girl, the touching story of a nut tycoon (“Welcome to Pootzie Van Doyle”) and his daughter, “The Coconut Girl,” who becomes involved variously with two Yale men (“Paddy MacNeil and His Automobile”), an Italian villa, a garden swing (“Swing Song”), some gambling casino chorus girls (“Six Lilies of the Valley”), a coconut blight, and a dance called “The Walla Walla Boola.” Back at the Embassy, Mary confounds the Prince Regent by reading him a proclamation she has drafted for Nicholas, renouncing his conspiracy with the Germans to overthrow his father, who insists that firmness toward his son has brought order to Carpathian chaos. Mary’s comforting sympathy elicits the Prince Regent’s happy admission that “This Time It’s True Love.” In the morning, the Prince Regent, a new man, makes arrangements for Mary’s return with him to Carpathia and decrees free elections at home. But Mary realizes the impossibility of his happy plans. With tender longing the lovers bid adieu, with the frail hope that someday – perhaps in Paris? – they will be reunited. Weary now of the power he had clung to so fiercely, the Prince Regent wistfully reflects that “I’ll Remember Her” and leaves. As all the gilt and grandeur about her silently recede, Mary departs, lingering only to pluck one rose, fragrant with memories.

– Excerpted from original notes by Curtis F. Brown

Credits

Grand Duke Charles, Prince Regent of Carpathia: José Ferrer Mary Morgan: Florence Henderson Queen Mother: Irene Browne Ada Cockle: Tessie O’Shea Peter Northbrook: Roderick Cook King Nicholas III: Sean Scully Colonel Hofmann: Chris Gampel Baroness Brunheim: Lucie Lancaster Mr. Grimes: Peter Pagan Major-Domo: Carey Nairnes Ensemble: Marian Haraldson, Jack Eddleman, Maggie Worth, Donna Monroe, Ruth Shepard, Murray Adler, Ilona Murai, Jeremy Broun, Kellie Brytt, Carol Glade, Elaine Labour, John Felton, Dell Hanley, Barney Johnston, Art Matthews, Bruce Peyton, Jack Rains, Mitchell Taylor