Irene: A Musical Comedy – Broadway Revival 1973
ACT I (“Overture”) The Time: 1919. The Place: New York City’s West Side, where generations of Irish-Americans have settled. The Girl: Piano tuner Irene O’Dare, who exuberantly demonstrates the optimistic opinion of the time that “The World Must Be Bigger Than an Avenue.” Then the local boys ask the girls “What Do You Want to Make Those Eyes at Me For?” Called to the Long Island home of wealthy Mrs. Marshall to tune the Marshall piano, Irene gets her first glimpse of high society. Mrs. Marshall, by the way, knows all about “The Family Tree” and spells it out to a group of debutantes. Young Donald Marshall recognizes in Irene a girl of unusual personality and beauty – and with a shrewd head for business. New horizons loom for Irene – personal and professional – as she and Donald fall in love when she sings of her “Alice Blue Gown.” A friend of a friend of the Marshall family is Madame Lucy, a ladies’ man who likes to think that “They Go Wild, Simply Wild, Over Me.” Donald persuades him that Irene would be a great help to him in his fashion business, and Madame Lucy even recruits Irene’s pals Helen and Jane to act as dress models. Irene celebrates her good fortune in “An Irish Girl.” In front of her piano store on Ninth Avenue, Irene and her mother make up a small but strong mutual admiration society as they share a sentimental tribute to each other (Mother, Angel, Darling”). At a gala ball at the Palais Royale, a stylish Irene (now with a fancy Italian title that sounds like Contessa Ireeni O’Dahray) joins her high-society companions in the new dance that Everybody Who’s Anybody is doing (“The Riviera Rage”). The “Contessa” announces that she has come all this way just to shop at Madame Lucy’s, and the business is made. ACT II Irene and Donald quarrel over his insisting that she continue to pose as the Contessa. Irene returns to Ninth Avenue, sadly admitting that “I’m Always Chasing Rainbows,” as the ball winds down (“The Last Part of Ev’ry Party”). Meanwhile, Helen, Jane, Madame Lucy and their friend Ozzie are delighted that “We’re Getting Away With It.” Irene’s friends soon cheer her up, and Donald, too, comes to her to admit that there is really only one “Irene.” With the help of Helen and Jane, Donald is transformed into another Valentino (“The Great Lover Tango”). Donald admits his feelings for Irene, and the feelings prove mutual (“You Made Me Love You.” Mrs. O’Dare – doing her own version of a fashion plate – crashes the garden party at the Marshall’s where she unexpectedly finds her old flame Liam O’Dougherty (Madame Lucy). It’s evidently not too late to rekindle their romance, and the two echo the words of Donald and Irene as they recall how “You Made Me Love You – reprise.” All ends happily, as Donald and Irene join the guests for a jubilant “Finale – Alice Blue Gown – reprise.” Irene, a vision in blue, removes her wrap to disclose that she is dressed in her own everyday clothes. The Contessa is gone. Long live Irene O’Dare of Ninth Avenue, New York City, U.S.A.!
Irene O’Dare: Debbie Reynolds Donald Marshall: Monte Markham Madame Lucy (Liam O’Dougherty): George S. Irving Emmeune Marshall: Ruth Warrick Mrs.O’Dare: Patsy Kelly Ozzie Babson: Ted Pugh Helen McFudd: Carmen Alvarez Jane Burke: Janie Sell Jimmy O’Flaherty: Bruce Lea Clarkson: Bob Freschi Arabella Thornsworthy: Kate O’Brady