Shows S

“Walking with Peninnah,” or escape in a rocket where Mitty the Great Space Scientist, with a brilliant improvisation, repairs a clogged fuel line. His dream of glory dissolves as Agnes complains that he never does anything to get ahead in his job. In “Drip, Drop, Tapoketa,” he suddenly imagines himself as the famous Dr. Mitty saving his boss’s life with a miracle of surgical skill – only to be recalled to the all-too-real world by Agnes’s jealous suspicions of his mumblings and daydreaming. Why have their lives become so drab? “Once I made you dream; now I make you scream,” he muses (“Aggie”). As all leave for town in the family car, Mitty is assailed by Agnes’s and her mother’s barrage of driving instructions, shopping lists and general duties (“Don’t Forget”). At Harry’s Bar, his only refuge from the burdens of the world, Mitty falls into conversation with Willa de Wisp, a tippling nightclub singer who also dreams – of stardom and fame. Her immediate problem, however, is a health fanatic boyfriend, Irving Kornfeld, who wants to build her up, marry her, and transplant her to his Oregon farm. But Willa believes that “Marriage Is for Old Folks.” Also, on hand to denounce marriage to Mitty, is an old college pal, Fred Gorman, now a philandering blowhard whose uncomplicated credo is “Hello, I Love You, Goodbye.” Suddenly Mitty fancies himself as a bon vivant ordering a meal that would make fastidious Secret Agent 007 James Bond drool. He is surrounded by adoring and beautiful women, including a veiled dancing girl who, alas, turns out to be Agnes. He banishes her from the dream. In reality, it is Willa who gets Irving’s adoration in a love poem (“Willa”). When Irving muddleheadedly accuses Mitty of leading Willa astray, Mitty comes to her defence. A grateful Willa prompts Mitty to imagine himself a great prize-fighter, with Agnes as his protagonist. He boxes her with verbal insults instead of fists, overwhelming her by pointing out all the things “You’re Not.” Emboldened by Irving’s opinion of his manliness and by the “Confidence” of Willa and bar-owner Harry, Mitty, high on dreams and champagne, decides to tell Agnes off and run away with Willa. Act II Having decided to help Willa with her career, Mitty imagines himself a great impresario with Willa as the star of the Folies de Mitty, doing a torrid nightclub solo for him, a hilarious caricature of a French chanteuse (“Fan the Flame”). In “Two Little Pussycats,” a pair of Fred Gorman’s slighted lady friends, Hazel and Ruthie, solicit sympathy. When Mitty wavers in his determination to flee with Willa, she and Harry convince him that it is Agnes herself, not he, who needs the psychological help she is forever prescribing for him. Suddenly, Mitty is a famous psychiatrist treating Agnes in a group-therapy session. Emboldened once more, Mitty tells his new friends all he will accomplish “Now That I Am Forty.” Agnes unexpectedly appears at the bar and proceeds to berate and humiliate her husband for his drinking and his intended relationship with Willa. Finally daring to put his dreams into action, Mitty tells Agnes he is leaving her, but as he is about to sign papers cashing in his insurance, selling his house, and resigning his job, the sight of a pen that Peninnah had given him fills him with shame and he asks Agnes to take him home (“Aggie” – reprise). The next morning, suffering from a hangover, Mitty realizes that Peninnah gives his life meaning and Agnes gives it order and stability. Willa, Irving, and Fred Gorman are “Lonely Ones” whose lives have no real direction. Besides, when Agnes’s well-intentioned nagging gets too much for him, there’s always “The Secret Life.” Curtis F. Brown (adapted from the original liner notes for OL 6320 / OS 2720) SONGS: ACT ONE • Prologue: The Secret Life (Company) • The Walter Mitty March (Company) • By the Time I’m Forty (Walter Mitty) • Walking with Peninnah (Walter Mitty and Penninah) • Drip, Drop, Tapoketa (Company) • Aggie (Walter Mitty) • Don’t Forget (Walter Mitty, Agnes Mitty) • Marriage Is for Old Folks (Willa)