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Blue Monday - text

(from George White Scandals 1922)
Libretto & Lyrics by B. G. de Sylva
Music by George Gershwin
Cast of Characters:
Joe, a gambler, Tenor
Vi, his sweetheart, Lyric Soprano
Tom, café entertainer, Baritone
Mike, café proprietor, Bass
Sam, boy-of-all-work, Baritone
Sweetpea, café painist, Guests, etc.
The action takes place in a basement café of the lower type
near 135th Street and Lennox Ave.
Downstage right there is a bar. Upstage left, a piano.
Upstage center there is a door leading to the street.
Downstage left, a door leads to the rooming-house run
in connection with the Café.
Upstage right, a door leads to the card-room.
In the center of the stage, a very small dance floor,
about which are the usual café tables and chairs.
Pictures of prize-fighters and race-horses almost cover the walls.
Discovered at rise: Mike the proprietor of the place
polishing glasses behind the bar.
It is about nine-thirty in the evening.

Prologue (Sung before curtain)

JOE
Ladies and gentlemen!
Come with me to Mike's colored saloon
and there you will see a colored [Harlem] tragedy
enacted in operatic style and like the white man's opera
the theme will be love! Hate! Passion! Jealousy.
In this little plot you may perceive a moral.
So I beg you follow well the story to its tragic end.
And it's all on account of a woman's intuition gone wrong.
(Exit Joe between curtains. Curtains part.)

MIKE
Sam! Sam!
SAM
Yes-sir boss I'm comin'
(Enter Sam.)

MIKE
Well, get a move on, you lazy good-for-nothin'
SAM
(sweeps floor)
Yes-sir, yes-sir, boss
(sings)
I must admit altho I don't like Sunday
I have a fit when I go thru Blue Monday
Monday's the one day that my dice lose
they just refuse!
(stops sweeping)
That's when my cares are always bigger!
MIKE
His cares are always bigger
SAM
(sweeps)
I got the blue Monday blues.
Monday's the day your lovin' mama shares you
Monda;ys the day the undertaker takes you
Monday's the day that the wise guys
Choose to sit and snooze.
No use to work that's how I figger
MIKE
His cares are always bigger
SAM
I got the blue Monday blues.
(Enter Sweetpea.)

MIKE
Hello, Sweetpea
SWEETPEA
Hello, Boss.
Hello, Sam.
(Sweetpea goes to piano)
How are you!
SAM
I got the blue Monday blues.
(Sweetpea plays a few bars on Piano - then takes sip of drink)
(Enter Tom.)

TOM
Get out of my way!
MIKE
Why don't you leave Sweetpea alone.
TOM
Keep quiet! If it wasn't for my singing you'd have to close this joint.
(Vi enters.)

MIKE
(spoken)
Good evening Vi.
VI
(sings)
Has one of you seen Joe, my Joe?
For I have a date with him here.
It couldn't be that I have missed him.
I am a little early for him
Maybe has one of you seen Joe.
My lovin' man, my Joe.
MIKE
I haven't seen Joe.
But if you'll wait a minute
I will look in the backroom
And ask the Boys if they have seen him anywhere.
(He exits.)
(Tom goes to Vi)

TOM
(with a beat)
You sure look sweet tonite, Honey
I ain't never seen you look so fine!
VI
I always tires to look my sweetest
When I'm goin' to see my lovin' Joe!
TOM
What do you see in that gambler anyway
Don't you know that I love you.
VI
(angry and scornful)
You love me? Who are you?
My Joe maybe a gambling man
But he's a man.
There is nobody like Joe,
Not in all of the world.
TOM
(persuasively)
Come on forget about Joe
And think about me,
Vi, don't be always cold and distant.
(He tries to kiss her. They struggle. Vi pulls out revolver.)

VI
My Joe gave me this to use on guys like you.
(Mike enters.)

MIKE
The boys in the backroom haven't seen Joe.
VI
Thanks Mike, see you later.
(Vi exits.)

MIKE
Sam!
Sam!
SAM
Yes-sir Boss, I'm comin'
(Enter Sam.)

MIKE
Well get a move on you lazy good-for-nothin'
SAM
(sweeps floor)
Yes-sir, yes-sir, boss.
Monday's the day that all the earthquakes quiver
Monday's the day they always drag the river
Monday's a day full of sad, sad news
Of ships and crews!
That's when a gal will pull a trigger,
A gal will pull a trigger
I got the Blue Monday Blues
(Joe enters, stops near piano.)
(Tom sits in back of piano, eaves-drops.)

MIKE
Vi was just here looking for you. She went upstairs.
JOE
I'll go to her in a moment. I've got something to tell her.
MIKE
I hear you cleaned up in a crap game last night.
JOE
I'll tell the world I did and this is what I'm goin'
to do with the dough that I won.
I'm goin' south in the mornin'
I've planned to go for a long time.
I will have to sneak away from Vi.
Vi wouldn't want me to go.
My mother's there.
I haven't seen her now in years,
So I sent a telegram that
I'll be with her soon,
But till I'm a day on my was
Vi mustn't know that I've gone.
MIKE
Why can't you tell her you're going?
JOE
(ad lib)
Vi is so jealous
She'd never let me go
For any reason at all
And I want to see my mother,
Mother mine!
Oh How I've missed my mother,
Mother mine
Maybe I'm a sentimental dreamer
But my weary heart will cease to pine
When in her arms I whisper
I am home again mother mine.
MIKE
(They shake hands.)
Good luck Joe.
JOE
So long Mike, see you later.
(Entrance of Guests)
(Entrance of Vi and Joe)

Dance
VI
I love but you, my Joe, my Joe
I don't want a thing dear, but you.
But after all I'm only human
And I'm a mighty jealous woman, Honey.
Still just as long as you're true,
I'll live for no-one but you.
JOE
Vi, I'm expecting a telegram,
If you'll be good enough to wait
I will see if it has come excuse me.
(Joe exits.)

VI
All right baby, but hurry back.
(Tom goes to Vi's table.)

TOM
I overheard his conversation,
That telegram is from a woman.
VI
You lie!
TOM
I swear it's true.
(Vi looks at Tom for a moment, turns away,
finishes drink in one gulp, stare ahead sullenly.
(Guests hum.)
(Enter Sweetpea with telegram.)

SWEETPEA
Telegram for you, Joe.
JOE
Thanks, Sweetpea.
VI
Let me see that telegram.
JOE
It's nothing to do with you.
VI
I want that telegram!
JOE
Don't be a fool, Vi.
VI
(rising, angrily)
I've been a fool long enough.
That telegram is from a woman.
JOE
(pushes her into chair)
Go on away!
(He tears open telegram, removes from envelope.
Vi reaches for handbag, draws revoler, shoots Joe.
He sinks to floor. Telegram flutters to floor.
Vi picks up telegram and reads it.)

VI
"No need to come now, Joe
Mother's has been dead three years, Sis!"
(A look of horrible realization comes into her face
with a moan she sinks to the floor.)
(sings)
Oh forgive me, I forgive you.
JOEI'm goin' to see my mother, mother mine!
Lord, how I've missed my mother, mother mine!
Maybe I'm a sentimental dreamer,
But my weary heart will cease to pine.
When in her arms I whisper.
I am home again, mother mine.


George GERSHWIN: "Blue Monday" Opera à la Afro-American (135th Street Blues) A One-Act Jazz Opera - original version, included in George White's Scandals of 1922 .
Cast:
Howard Haskin (Joe, a gambler) ... Tenor
La Verne Williams (Vi, his sweetheart) ... Lyric Soprano
Daniel Washington (Tom, café entertainer & singer) ... Bariton
Raymond Bazemore (Mike, café proprietor & manager) ... Bass
Ivan Thomas (Sam, café worker & custodian) ... Bass Bariton
Oswald Russel (Sweetpea, café pianist) ... piano
Orchestra e Coro della Svizzera Italiana
Marc Andreae, conductor
(Rec: live by Radiotelevisione della Svizzera Italiana/Rete 2, Lugano, 6.2.1981)

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