Jul 16, 2013

This morning's Donna Reed Show recap:

We open with a typical Stone family breakfast scene:  Jeff at his normal spot at the kitchen table, stage right; Dr Stone seated center stage; and Donna going back and forth between the stove, stage left, and the kitchen table, filling juices and coffee, eggs, bacon, etc, ... When Mary enters from a doorway upstage left.  She is ebullient, filled with rapturous joy.

The Stone family at the breakfast table.

Mary informs the clan that she is thrilled because she just got the principle dance lead in the big Central High Revue Show.  Dr Stone says, "Well, I guess all those dance lessons paid off, after all."

Mary is then careful to stress to the family what a big commitment this is, and that there will be so many rehearsals, and that the director, Mr Cooper, is very intense and strict, and since this is such a big opportunity for her, that well, perhaps, she could be excused from doing her normal washing up after dinner duties during the run of the the production.

Dr Stone and Donna are aghast at such a preposterous notion, and Jeff cracks wise.  "But Mom and Dad," Mary pleads, "Can you imagine a movie star washing dishes?!"

Dr Stone says, Yes, he can.  And the irony is not lost on the audience for our close up of Ms Reed (the only true movie star of the four actors), with a dish in her hand, agreeing with her husband, "I can, too."

Despite losing that battle (hey, she gave it a shot!), Mary finally sits down to breakfast stage left, and explains to the Stones just what a big day today is, as the final auditions are being held for the remaining roles, and by tomorrow she will learn who her partner is for her big showcase number.

The next scene takes place at the Central High theatre space.  In the foreground center, amongst the auditorium seats, are Mary, and her classmate Kenny.  Mary seems surprised to see Kenny here for the auditions, and tells him so.

Kenny, who has a stammer, says he was not sure so about it, either, but that his Mother insisted.  His Mother thought it would give him a boost of self confidence.  Kenny is extremely nervous about the whole enterprise, and Mary gives him a "lucky coin".  She says that all the best actors and dancers use lucky charms to get them through the tough and nervous times.  Kenny says, Thanks, and trudges off towards the stage for his audition.

Next we see Mary arriving home.  Dr Stone, still in his doctor's scrubs (he is a pediatrician who does most of his work at home), is reading the paper in the living room.  Ms Stone is there, too, having a cup of tea.  Naturally Donna asks Mary how her day went, and Mary is ever so vexed.  She is worried about Kenny, she says.  It seems, she continues, that the only reason Kenny is going to be in the Revue, at all, is because of his Mother.  Dr Stone, who is Kenny's doctor (and just about every other single child in Hilldale!), talks about what a good boy Kenny is.  Ms Stone asks her husband, "Does not Kenny have a bit of a stammer?" "Yes," he says, "But it is nothing serious.  It really only happens whenever he is nervous.  He just needs a bit of confidence.  I think being in this production could really help him."

"But that is just it," Mary says, "Kenny was so nervous before his audition that I gave him my 'lucky coin'."

Her parents beam at their daughter with immense pride, and tell her what a lovely thing she did.

"Only," Mary goes on, "There is nothing lucky about it.  It was just some penny I found buried in my pocket!"

Dr Stone says, "What you did was beautiful.  We doctors do it all the time.  You gave Kenny a placebo.  It is amazing sometimes the effect a sugar pill can have on all kinds of mysterious ailments."

The next day we return to the auditorium, the children eager to learn their dancing partners for the big dance number.  The director, Mr Cooper, reads off the first two couples and then announces that Mary will be dancing with Kenny.  Mary tries hard to hide her disappointment but fails, whilst Kenny comes up to her overjoyed.  Kenny says, stammer completely gone, "My gosh, this is wonderful! I have nothing to worry about now.  I will be working with you, the best dancer in the whole school!"

"Yes," Mary says, distractedly, "It is great, isn't it? I will catch up with you later Kenny.  I have to talk to Mr Cooper now."

Kenny exits upstage center, and our next scene is with Mr Cooper and Mary.  Mary asks Mr Cooper why he paired her with Kenny on account of how much shorter Kenny is to her, and on account of how nervous Kenny can be.  Mr Cooper explains that he did consider pairing Kenny with another girl closer to his height, but that he could not help but notice the magical effect Mary had had on Kenny these past few days, and that his confidence seemed to be at an all-time high.  "It was the right thing to do," the director says.  "But," he goes on to say, "I will change the pairings if you insist.  Are you insisting I do so?"

By this time, back at home, Mary is a complete mess.  She unloads her Kenny issues upon her parents, who comfort her, and explain to her that she need not worry so much about Kenny, and how tall he is, and the production, and what not.  It is all going to work out just fine, they tell her.

The next morning at the breakfast table, Jeff is talking to Mary while Ms Stone finishes up the dishes.  "There are rumors," Jeff says, "That you don't like your new dancing partner, Mary."

"Ugh," Mary says, "I am nervous enough already! Mom," pointing at Jeff, "Do you see what I have to deal with here?"

"So," Jeff asks, "Are you going to give Kenny the brush off? Hey, I have an idea! If you are so worried about Kenny being so short, and all, why don't you just saw off your heels? Or make him dance on stilts?"

Paul Petersen, the actor playing Jeff, then has a very fine comic moment when he exits upstage left on his tippy toes, as if walking on stilts.  And then a close up of Shelly Fabares as Mary.  A light bulb has just turned on above her head.

Next we see the big dance number in rehearsal.  It is a tap shuffle affair with three pairs of dancers, Mary and Kenny the lead pair.  Kenny and Mary and the other dancers do a fine job with the dance until taskmaster tyrant director, Mr Cooper, cuts the number short, and not quite yelling at them, says, "Listen listen listen! Stop focusing so much on the steps, that you are not listening to the music! That is enough.  Bring on the singers!"

Kenny and Mary go back to the auditorium chairs and have a scene.  Kenny says, with no stammer, "Wow! I can not tell you what a big help you have been to me, Mary.  It is so much fun working with you."

"Kenny," Mary says, "Listen.  Have you considered wearing lifts in your shoes? All the best dancers and movie stars do it these days.  Everyone."

Kenny's stammer returns, as he says, "Really, Mary? You really think I should?"

"I am just thinking of the production, Kenny.  I want it to be the best Central High Revue ever."

The next scene is the night of the Revue opening.  We watch a frantic Stone family nervously and edgily leave their house to get Mary to the theatre in time for her call.

Then, we are at the production, just as the curtain comes up on Mary's big moment, we see a proud and thrilled Stone family in their seats applauding as the dancers take the stage.

The number seems to be going alright, though we do notice a few minor slips on the floor from Kenny, dancing in his obviously uncomfortable lifted shoes.  The dancers dance until just before the big finish, as Kenny and Mary are moving stage left, Kenny loses his footing altogether, and to break his fall grabs the stage curtain.  The curtain tears, landing in a heap on top of Kenny and Mary, both sprawled out on the stage floor.

The next shot is of the Stone family.  Dr Stone and his wife naturally feel pain at what has transpired, whilst Jeff, feeling embarrassed, tries to hide his face in his suit jacket, as to avoid being seen.

Back at home, Mary is distraught, refusing to eat the milk and cookies her mother has brought to her.  Ms Stone reminds Mary that there is another show tomorrow, and that she had better buck up.

"Tomorrow?" Mary says, "Not only am I not going on stage tomorrow, I am never going out again, ever.  Or, at least, until I move away to college.  And I am going to wear a black veil over my face at school, so no one will ever know who I am."

Her Mother gently tells her that she does not think that wearing a black veil at school will make her inconspicuous.

The doorbell rings.  It is Kenny.  He wonders if he could speak to Mary.  He feels absolutely awful about what happened tonight.  There is no stammer.

Just before Ms Stone comes in to tell Mary that Kenny is here, we see Mary sneaking some cookie bites, before throwing herself in a fit of despair on her bed, as her Mother enters the room.

Mary goes down to talk to Kenny.  Kenny says he is so sorry for screwing up the dance number, and that he would completely understand if she wanted to drop him for the rest of the run.  Then Kenny gives Mary back her "lucky coin".  "I guess it was not so lucky after all," Kenny says.

Mary apologizes to Kenny, gives the coin back to him, and tells him she would rather have no other partner.  And, to go back to wearing his regular shoes.

The last scene is the next night, at the performance.  The number goes off without a hitch, and receives thundering applause.

The End

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