Life Upon the Wicked Stage

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Life Upon the Wicked Stage

Lyrics By Oscar Hammerstein II  Music By Jerome Kern

In this witty, sardonic comedy number, showgirl Ellie amusingly laments the lack of glamour in her show biz career. Ellie’s comical but clear-eyed assessment of the entertainment world foreshadows the difficulties Magnolia will later face as she pursues the life of a performer.

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“Life Upon the Wicked Stage” LYRICS

Ellie:
Why do stagestruck maidens clamor
To be actin’ in the drammer?

Girls:
We’ve heard say
You are gay
Night and day.

Ellie:
Oh, go ‘way!

Girls:
We drink water from a dipper—
You drink champagne from a slipper.

Ellie:
Tho’ it seems
Cruel to bust
All your dreams,
Still I must.
Here’s the truth I tell you.

Life upon the wicked stage
Ain’t ever what a girl supposes.
Stage-door Johnnies aren’t
Raging over you with gems and roses.
When you let a feller hold your hand
(Which means an extra beer or sandwich),
Ev’rybody whispers, “Ain’t her life a whirl?”

Though you’re warned against a roué
Ruining your reputation,
I have played around
The one night trade around
A great big nation.
Wild old men who give you jewels and sables
Only live in Aesop’s Fables.
Life upon the wicked stage
Ain’t nothin’ for a girl.

Girls:
Though we’ve listened to you moan and grieve,

You must pardon us if we do not believe you,
There is no doubt
You’re crazy about
Your awful stage!

Ellie:
I admit it’s fun
To smear my face with paint,
Causing ev’ryone
To think I’m what I ain’t,
And I like to play a demi-mondy role
With soul!
Ask the hero does he like the way I lure
When I play a hussy or a paramour?
Yet, when once the curtain’s down,
My life is pure,
And how I dread it!

Girls:
Life upon the wicked stage
Ain’t ever what a girl supposes,
Stage door Johnnies aren’t
Raging over you with gems and roses.

Ellie:
If some gentleman would talk with reason
I would cancel all next season.
Life upon the wicked stage
Ain’t nothin’ for a girl!

Girls:
You’d be back the season after!