Generic Radio Workshop Script Library (BACK)

Series: Royal Gelatin Hour
Show: Curtain!
Date: Feb 18 1937

CAST:
HOST, Rudy Vallee
MARGARET, Broadway star; a real drama queen
MRS. KEBLE, working class landlady
ROBERT, Margaret's manager/producer

HOST:

... One of the bright points about the year 1936 was the emergence of Miss Jean Arthur into full-fledged stardom in the prize-winning picture "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town." You won't remember, but we did some neat predicting along those lines when Miss Arthur was with us last, back in '35. Tonight, you will hear her in a short play by Colin Clements called "Curtain!" -- a play that may remind you of something by James M. Barrie. Miss Arthur will be assisted by Donald Cameron and Edith Spencer. Miss Jean Arthur in "Curtain!" Curtain, please!

SOUND:

APPLAUSE

MUSIC:

FOR AN INTRODUCTION ... THEN BEHIND HOST--

HOST:

The scene -- just a room. A not-too-prosperous-looking room in an eminently respectable boarding-house somewhere within commuting distance of Broadway. A pretty young lady, in a not-very-pretty dressing-gown, stands before us, looking out into a garden. There is a rap at the door.

SOUND:

RAPPING AT THE DOOR

MARGARET:

Come in!

SOUND:

DOOR OPENS

MRS. KEBLE:

I thought I heard you bustlin' around so I brought in your breakfast, ma'am.

MARGARET:

Oh, good morning, Mrs. Keble. Bring the tray over here by the window. What time is it?

MRS. KEBLE:

Near noon.

MARGARET:

Really? So early? What an early riser I'm getting to be.

SOUND:

BREAKFAST TRAY SET DOWN BEHIND--

MRS. KEBLE:

(SIGHS) Well, there you are, ma'am.

MARGARET:

Pull up that chair. You brought a cup for yourself?

MRS. KEBLE:

Oh, yes'm, I brought a cup for myself. I adore our chats. You know, just to sit and sip a bit of coffee with you, Miss Cameron, is like mixin' with quality.

MARGARET:

(CHUCKLES MODESTLY) Thank you. (QUIETLY ECSTATIC) Oh, muffins. Coffee -- jam -- bacon -- an egg -- and four pieces of butter. Four!

MRS. KEBLE:

Mm hm.

MARGARET:

I don't know what shape I'll be in in another week. (SERIOUS) Mrs. Keble, d'you think I'm getting any fatter?

MRS. KEBLE:

Well, I will say that you're a mite plumper than you was when you first come.

MARGARET:

(PLAINTIVE) Only a mite? In seven whole days -- only a mite? Look again, Mrs. Keble.

MRS. KEBLE:

(HARD PRESSED) Well, ma'am, if you really want the truth, I'd say you've took on a lot -- a good lot since y' first come.

MARGARET:

(RELIEVED) Oh, thank you, Mrs. Keble, thank you.

MRS. KEBLE:

Most women don't like to put on, miss.

MARGARET:

(LIGHTLY) Maybe other women don't, but, well, you see, I've always been told that there was no other woman in the world like me.

MRS. KEBLE:

(WITHOUT MALICE) I s'pose there ain't no woman livin' that don't like to have that said to her once in a while.

MARGARET:

Especially if she's what I used to be -- an actress.

MRS. KEBLE:

(TAKEN ABACK) Oh, you never told me that before. Oh, and you seemed so sort of respectable, too.

MARGARET:

(CHUCKLES) Oh, there's been no end of gossip. I'm told people say awful things about me because-- Well, you see, I've been in love with the same man for ten years.

MRS. KEBLE:

And not married to him?

MARGARET:

No. Hadn't the time.

MRS. KEBLE:

Oh, dearie me.

MARGARET:

But I'm going to take time now. That's the reason I've left the theatre. (SADLY) Margaret that was is no more. Exit the old times, enter the new. Goodbye, sweet yesterdays, goodbye. Goodbye, big heartaches and great joys. Goodbye, hours of work and stolen hours of play. Goodbye, applause, music, flowers. They all march before me like brave little soldiers. The curtain has fallen for the last time on Margaret -- dear, beautiful, silly Margaret -- that was.

MRS. KEBLE:

You mean you're givin' up bein' an actress?

MARGARET:

Done -- once and for all! Never again, never again will I trod the dear old boards.

MRS. KEBLE:

Huh?

MARGARET:

I mean be an actress, Mrs. Keble.

MRS. KEBLE:

Oh, I'm glad to hear you say that.

MARGARET:

I'm glad to be able to say it. It takes a very strong heart to say some things, Mrs. Keble.

MRS. KEBLE:

Well, it seems like y' really got a hankerin' to go back to it. That's too bad.

MARGARET:

Ah, Mrs. Keble, don't we all sometimes "hanker," as you say, for the old days and the old ways?

MRS. KEBLE:

I s'pose we do.

MARGARET:

But that's being taken care of. Seven sugars in my coffee this morning. Seven! Think of it. In another week, I'll have dimpled wrists. As for my ankles, I shudder. That's how I'm tricking that foolish little feather-brained Margaret-the-actress.

MRS. KEBLE:

(CONFUSED) I'm afraid I don't understand, ma'am.

MARGARET:

Mrs. Keble, no playwright, no matter how inexperienced he may be, ever made his heroine plump. Never!

MRS. KEBLE:

(THINKS SHE UNDERSTANDS) Oh! So you're putting temptation behind you by letting yourself get fat.

MARGARET:

No. I'm putting temptation behind my manager. (FERVENT) Oh, I hope-- I hope with all my heart that when he sees me, he'll tear up whatever new play he may have for me, take me off somewhere, scold me soundly -- and then marry me.

MRS. KEBLE:

Well, ma'am, if it'll keep you off the stage, I hope you get him.

MARGARET:

I intend to get him. Why shouldn't I? I've made both him and myself famous. Why, I've even been his income, Mrs. Keble.

MRS. KEBLE:

And for all that he never even proposed to you?

MARGARET:

Proposed to me? I think maybe he did once or twice -- a long time ago.

MRS. KEBLE:

Oh.

MARGARET:

But what's a proposal or two when all life is before one -- when there's so much work to do and so little time to get it done? Ah, when we are very young, Mrs. Keble, we don't realize that sometime we'll come to want, oh, so much -- all the little common-place things. Dishwashing in nice splashy water, orders to the cook, a work-basket with buttons in it, butcher's bills to worry about, noisy children under one's feet. All those things every woman in the world thinks she despises. If she had to give them up she'd rather die.

SOUND:

DOOR BELL RINGS

MRS. KEBLE:

Oh, dear, there's somebody at the door.

MARGARET:

Come back soon. There's so many things I want to ask you.

MRS. KEBLE:

(MOVING OFF) Oh, I will, dearie, I will.

MARGARET:

(MAKING A LIST OF QUESTIONS TO ASK, TO HERSELF) Now, let's see, um-- How does one make apple butter? Brandy -- peach brandy, how is it made? Sponge-cake -- one dozen or two dozen eggs? Does one put soda in corn-bread and if so--?

SOUND:

KNOCKING AT DOOR

MARGARET:

Come in!

SOUND:

DOOR OPENS

MARGARET:

Oh, you're back again, Mrs. Keble!

MRS. KEBLE:

A man to see you, ma'am.

MARGARET:

(BLANKLY) A man? To see me?

MRS. KEBLE:

(AFFIRMATIVE) Mm hmm.

MARGARET:

Now how in the world did anyone know I was here?

ROBERT:

(FURIOUS) Margaret!

MARGARET:

(FEIGNED SURPRISE) Oh, it's you, Robert.

ROBERT:

Who the devil else would it be?!

MARGARET:

Well, one never knows who might drop in on one down here in this sunny, peaceful solitude. (QUIETLY) You may go, Mrs. Keble.

MRS. KEBLE:

Yes, ma'am.

SOUND:

DOOR CLOSES

ROBERT:

My word, where in the name of Heaven did you get that make-up?

MARGARET:

You mean my dressing-gown and cap?

ROBERT:

Is that what you call 'em?

MARGARET:

Oh, they were given to me by an old admirer.

ROBERT:

Have you any idea how you look?

MARGARET:

I had the mirror taken out of my room the very first day I came here.

ROBERT:

Huh! What I want to know is-- Why did you so suddenly clear out of New York and land, of all places, here, in this Godforsaken village?

MARGARET:

Whimsy.

ROBERT:

Whimsy never brought you to a place like this. Tell me the truth.

MARGARET:

Need you ask? Look at that gorgeous sunshine, Robert.

ROBERT:

(SQUINTS) There are better suns in Palm Beach. Now don't lie to me, Margaret. Why are you here -- here, and in those frightful clothes? You look like the mother of a large family!

MARGARET:

(A HAPPY GASP) Do I? Do I really? (LOVINGLY) Oh, say it again, Robert.

ROBERT:

I may say much worse if you don't tell me why you're here.

MARGARET:

I will tell you. Robert, for the first time in -- I hate to think how long -- I've run off to be myself. I'm being domestic. Oh, the joy of it! Mrs. Keble -- she's the landlady -- is teaching me how to bake bread. Last night, I washed dishes -- piles of 'em. Tomorrow, I'm going to try to milk the cow.

ROBERT:

Milk the cow?! Look here, Margaret. There's a train back to
town in half an hour. Get your things together.

MARGARET:

But I'm not going back to town.

ROBERT:

Now look here, Margaret, you've been domestic for seven long days. That's quite enough for any woman.

MARGARET:

Robert, will you marry me?

ROBERT:

(STAMMERS) Well-- What the--? What--? You know what a busy man I am. Haven't I wasted seven days trying to find you without taking another one off to marry you?

MARGARET:

Will you marry me? Oh, we could have a sweet apartment in town and maybe I could learn to cook things.

ROBERT:

Sweet apartment?! Drafty and thoroughly uncomfortable! I've lived in peace at my club for years and if I should leave now--

MARGARET:

Oh, for the third and last time, Robert, will you marry me?

ROBERT:

Are you playing a part or what?

MARGARET:

I don't know, Robert. I'm never quite sure any more whether I'm acting or not. But I believe, if I am acting, this is the most serious part I've ever played.

ROBERT:

You know very well that with just one nod of that pretty head of yours you could have any one of a half hundred of the best men in New York. You could have 'em all at once if you insisted.

MARGARET:

Speak for yourself, Robert.

ROBERT:

I am. The fifty includes me. For years, Margaret, I begged you; I beseeched you; I implored you. I did everything in the world but crawl around after you on my knees.

MARGARET:

Now! Now I remember! There was some reason why I wouldn't marry you. That was it, Robert, that was it! You didn't get down on your knees to me.

ROBERT:

Nothing of the sort! If you'd ever given me half a chance, I'd have followed you the length of Fifth Avenue on my knees. But oh, no! You insisted, always insisted, that your work -- I think you used to call it "art" in those days -- came first.

MARGARET:

Oh, so it did, in those days. One has so many ridiculous ideas when one is so very young. Robert, Robert, I - I - I suppose you couldn't get down on your knees now, could you?

ROBERT:

What?! Get down on my knees?! Of course not!

MARGARET:

(PASSIONATE) Oh, then farewell, Romance!

ROBERT:

Yes. Farewell. And a good job it is, too. Right now when I'm about to tackle the greatest play I've ever produced, you suddenly develop temperament, run off, hide yourself. And I thought I understood women!

MARGARET:

(GENUINE SURPRISE) But why--? Why didn't you tell me in the first place that you had a new play? What's it about?

ROBERT:

Well, a Gypsy girl who--

MARGARET:

(EXCITED) Gypsy! I can wear a black wig! What's my first entrance like?

ROBERT:

Marvelous. Listen to this--

MARGARET:

No, no; don't read it to me. Tell me about it. How many changes do I have?

ROBERT:

Twelve.

MARGARET:

Not really? Twelve! Oh, it's too good to be true. Modern?

ROBERT:

Ultra modern!

MARGARET:

(PLEASED) Oh! How long is my part?

ROBERT:

You say everything! The others just answer yes and no.

MARGARET:

(CHUCKLES, DELIGHTED) And the end. What's the end like?

ROBERT:

(GRANDLY) While bells from the distant church are softly pealing, you die on the sofa in your lover's arms. ... Curtain!

MARGARET:

(ABRUPTLY COOL) No. No, no. That won't do. No, I've played tragedies for the last three seasons, Robert. We've got to have a happy ending. We've got to have a happy ending.

ROBERT:

(THINKS HARD) Well then, we'll re-write the last act. There's a possibility of a happy ending. You can marry a young Russian prince who comes in as atmosphere in the first act. That'll make him earn his salary. Rehearsals begin day after tomorrow. Now run along and get your things on, that's a good child.

MARGARET:

(HAPPY) Oh, I shall, Robert, I shall. I can't wait to read the play.

ROBERT:

We'll read it together on the train back to town. Let's be off. I'll send someone for your trunks tomorrow.

MARGARET:

(STOPS, REALIZES) Trunks? I haven't any!

ROBERT:

(AMAZED) You, down here without trunks? No baggage?

MARGARET:

(MUSES, TO HERSELF) Trunks, trunks -- trunks belonged to Margaret-the-actress. (APOLOGETIC, TO ROBERT) Oh. You'll have to go back to town alone, Robert. I'd forgotten for the moment. I've retired from the theatre.

ROBERT:

Now look here, Margaret, if you think that--

MARGARET:

No, no. There's no good arguing. There's no good talking. I tell you, Margaret-the-actress is no more. I said goodbye to her this morning. I've been saying goodbye to her for seven days; she was hard to get rid of. All that is left is nice, cozy Margaret-the-housewife. You have no use for her in your theatre.

ROBERT:

Retired from the theatre? Don't talk such blasted foolishness. My play! What'll I do? I'll lose every cent I've got. I'll be ruined!

MARGARET:

After all these years you've worked so hard? Oh, that'll be too bad. That will be too bad.

ROBERT:

I tell you I'll end in the poor-house -- like every other fool that tries to produce plays.

MARGARET:

Oh, no, Robert!

ROBERT:

Oh, yes, Margaret!

MARGARET:

Oh, that would be disastrous. Robert? Robert, will you--? No. No, I'd forgotten, I asked you that once -- three times before.

ROBERT:

I will! By George, I will!

MARGARET:

Will what?

ROBERT:

You know very well what. Margaret, you little devil, will you marry me?

MARGARET:

(BEAT, COOL) No, Robert, I will not.

ROBERT:

(EXASPERATED) Well, I-- I give it up! What's the matter with you today? Now, Margaret--

MARGARET:

It's no good. Go back to town with your old play. Leave me alone with my broken heart.

ROBERT:

(SERIOUS) Margaret, I'm down on my knees to you.

MARGARET:

(A LONG HAPPY GASP)

ROBERT:

Will you marry me?

MARGARET:

Say it again.

ROBERT:

(INDIGNANT) I will not say it again. I'll be--

MARGARET:

Oh, sh--h--h. Sweetly, Robert, sweetly.

ROBERT:

(SWEETLY) Margaret, my dear -- will you marry me?

MARGARET:

(CHUCKLES KINDLY) Let me see. When?

ROBERT:

Now -- tomorrow -- next day. Whenever you will.

MARGARET:

Yes. Robert, I think I will marry you. Now get up and kiss me.

ROBERT:

(PAUSE, FOR A KISS) Margaret, I've kissed you. A thing I've wanted to do for ten years.

MARGARET:

(NO LONGER ACTING) And for almost ten years I've wanted you to.

ROBERT:

Don't ever go away from me again, Margaret.

MARGARET:

Don't ever let me.

SOUND:

APPLAUSE

MUSIC:

FOR A BRIEF FINISH ... NBC CHIMES ...