I Love Performing Those Songs. But What About the Gender Politics?

Ours was played in the same spirit, but as a dream sequence. Eliza emerged from behind a giant phrenological head that stood alone on a completely blackened stage. Higgins still said “Where the devil are my slippers?” but Eliza, as I played her, stood there poker-faced. Higgins, reflecting, knew that had lost her, or almost, and by quoting himself, admitted he knew why.

Daisy was tougher to figure out.

As we continued digging into the part over the final weeks, new and more subtle clues to the kind of modern woman she might become emerged. In her first song, “Hurry! It’s Lovely Up Here,” Daisy, singing to a flower pot, may seem a little daffy, but the song ends with her singing the lines “Wake up / Bestir yourself / It’s time that you disinter yourself!”

Bestir yourself! There was the woman I was excited to portray.

Not The Victim She Seems

In the second act, Daisy sings “What Did I Have That I Don’t Have?,” one of the best torch songs Lane ever wrote. At first glance, it is a victim’s anthem. Daisy even refers to herself that way in the song’s bridge: “I’m just a victim of time / Obsolete in my prime / Out of date and outclassed / By my past.”

It seems to be a song about not being loved for who you are. “What did he like that I lost track of?” the lyrics continue. “What did I do that I don’t do the way I did before?”

And yet Daisy so obviously knows herself right there: baring her emotions directly — guttural, unaffected, heartfelt and earthy. Worried and intimidated, yes, but showing through song that she’s also a woman of jazzy authority and sexual courage.

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In the final scene of “On a Clear Day,” the doctor telepathically calls Daisy to him, and she comes back — to tell him the game is fully over. In the script, he’s supposed to convince her that actually he’s missed her, Daisy, more than he misses her alter ego, Melinda, so he unites the two identities.


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