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Jordan Luty

Script Analysis

Kevin Long

2 Nov. 2018

Leave it to Me! by Cole Porter

Generic Questions:

Name of Musical: Leave it to Me!

Dates of Performances: Nov. 9 1938 (Coming up on the 80th Anniversary) - Sept. 16 1936

Number of Performances: 307

Composer/Lyricist: Cole Porter (June 9, 1891 – October 15, 1964)

Librettist: Samuel (September 16, 1899 – October 14, 1971) and Bella Spewack (March 25,

1899 – April 27, 1990)

Number of Acts: “A Musical Comedy in Two Acts”

Historical Era: This musical was based on the play Clear All Wires, which was written by the

book writers. It premiered on Broadway (for a very short run) in 1932, so I believe there is a

heavy influence of this time period. Obviously, we are in immediate pre-World War II times, so

this show gets rather dicey with the Stalin/Nazi conflicts. I think many people would have had

issues with the way that foreign countries were displayed in the show, but it is believable that

Goodhue wouldn’t want to live in Stalin’s Russia.

Biographical Sketch of Cole Porter: Well, first of all, I remember hearing that Porter had a

huge horse-riding accident, but I didn’t know it was so near in time to this show. He had his

accident in 1937, which crippled him horribly and ultimately led to a bunch of ulcers on his leg,
which had to be amputated. This contributed to his death. Porter was (of particular interest to me)

a homosexual, and expressed this mainly in Paris. He moved to France during World War 1 and

worked for the French Foreign Legion, which definitely contributes to his work on this drama.

Biographical Sketch of Samuel and Bella Spewack: This husband/wife writing team won a

tony award. Bella was born in Romania, and Samuel was born in Ukraine, which I think relates

to this show. The couple lived in Moscow for years as reporters, which (in my opinion) created

this show. They won two tony awards for Best Author, each.

First Reading

Plot/Story: Funnily enough, A. P. Goodhue is a businessman from Topeka, Kansas (a town an

hour away from my hometown), but he is serving as the U.S. Ambassador in Soviet Russia. He is

severely unprepared for the job and clearly doesn’t want it, as his ambitious wife has garnered

him the position. He meets a reporter named Buckley Thomas, who is envious of the position.

When Goodhue finds this out, he and Thomas devise a plot to have him (Goodhue) fired from his

position and replaced by the reporter, Thomas. However, every time he does something

mischievous and vile that he thinks will get him fired, he is praised. In the end, he ends up acting

honorably and is ridiculed for it. Then, he returns to Topeka, KS to his normal life. In a less

important plot, Thomas has a relationship on the side with Dolly, who is just kinda slutty and a

gold-digger. However, Thomas falls in love with Colette, one of Goodhue’s children, leaving

Dolly to sing about how she loves her millionaire boyfriend.

Opinions
How “Dated” is the material: I don’t think it’s very dated, actually, and I’ll explain. Of course,

everything is indicative of something else, but there are many ideas in this play that I see in

current popular culture, specifically musical theater. For example, the first number is a

typewriter/press release song, which is totally reminiscent of Thoroughly Modern Millie and 9 to

5. Take this with a grain of salt, of course, as I haven’t listened to the music. There is also a train

number, which seems very akin to The Music Man with the “veet” sounds. Again, grain of salt. It

is also reminiscent of that sketch that was on the Demi Lovato show. The guy who tries really

hard to be bad at stuff but is always good at them. Then, he tries to be good at something and is

all of a sudden really bad. Classic. That’s basically this whole plot. There is also some similarity

between “Tomorrow” from this show and Annie’s “Tomorrow.” Same idea.

I think a lot of it is very funny, actually. Particularly, the back and forth dialogue on page 16,

when Goodhue is announced as the new ambassador, is funny. I think it’s very modern with all

of our Super PACs nowadays, and it pokes fun at the amount of greed that influences politics.

The entire show is a commentary on that.

I’m surprised quite often by random moments of brashness in the show. For example, on page

18, there’s a line “I’ve still got my virginity, but I’m hoping to lose it soon” by some girl who’s

never mentioned again. This is so Cole Porter, and I love it. Some other examples are, “I’m

starting the shag in Moscow, I’m putting red ants in their pants.” and the dialogue on 68 with

“Come along, Dolly. Let this be a lesson to you.” “Oh, it is… it is… I’m through with sex.” This

approach to dialogue, in general, makes it sound very modern.

I think it’s slightly dated in that the men are the protagonists and the women are certainly

secondary characters. However, Mrs. Goodhue is honestly the person in the show with the most
agency. She has totally whipped her husband into doing whatever she wants. She seems fierce,

though, with the corset (25) and everything.

Critical Analysis of the Writing: Yeah, I think the writing is maybe a bit dated. Goodhue calls

his wife “Mrs. Goodhue,” and some of the jokes are a little… stupid. For example, Goodhue is

called “Stinky” because of some barber joke that I don’t get, and I think it makes the entire show

a little rudimentary or “tongue-in-cheek.” Colette doesn’t have much of a character outside of

being a lovely woman, which I think would be a bit… frowned on today. She has that song “Get

Out of Town” where she basically sings about not being able to resist boys. But honestly, I don’t

know if this is a ballad or not, and it might be my own prejudice judging it.

At the end of the day, it’s funny enough. However, everyone needs to go into seeing the show

knowing that the plan to end World War II suggested in this production is to have all the French

men have sex with German women and vice/versa. If you’re down with that, then you’ll enjoy

the show and think it’s funny.

Main Characters:

Goodhue: A well-written character who is comically horrible at being “bad.” I think he’s funny

and a very flawed hero, but it could definitely get old watching this character do the same thing

for two hours. He is really in the same plight for the entirety of the show. Has the 11 o’clock

number of “I Want to Go Home,” which I would want to sing… except it becomes a barbershop

quartet. That makes me skeptical.

Thomas: Character with all of the agency. He is constantly planning everything for Goodhue, in

my opinion, and he sets up all of Goodhue’s jokes. I think Porter and the Spewacks recognized
this, and that’s why he has that entire subplot with Dolly and Colette. I like him and his

forcefulness.

Colette: Love interest to Thomas. Daughter to Goodhue. That’s pretty much the entirety of her

character, and it’s what gives other characters conflict. Ends up leaving everything she knows to

follow Thomas, which just seems unreliable if you ask me.

Dolly: Flirtatious gold-digger who is honestly just forgotten about and left in Siberia. She then

does a strip tease and sings the most well-known song in the show. She was the old lover of

Thomas, but he moves on from her for Colette.

Mrs. Goodhue: Ambitious and strong woman: Yay! Made the butt of the joke because of that:

Not as much yay. However, I think she’s actually got the most agency in the entire show. She

doesn’t exactly change as the show goes on, and she ends really nastily. She is chastised for

wanting to change the world and have an impact, which I think is sad. Her ending dialogue is

really negative and gross, which I am kind of upset by. She just wants a life bigger than being

stuck in central Kansas, which I really resonate with. Maybe that’s my problem with the show?

Final Thoughts:

At the end of the day, I think Leave it to Me! is raunchy and frank and witty, which is everything

Cole Porter stands by. The circumstances of the events within the show are fraught with hilarity

and absurdity, and—again—that is to be expected. I would say, if you divided the show up into

quartiles… the third quartile is unlike the rest of the show. Maybe that’s because it’s not as

funny… maybe it’s because it has actual drama in it. That section would probably appear better

presented on stage than read, but the entire section with guns threw me off. I like the literal

nature of the dialogue, and the relationship between Goodhue and Thomas is a good one. I also
love the mention (however disagree with the idolization) of Topeka, KS, and I would love to see

this show performed.

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