Why Must the Show Go On?

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Noël Coward

Sir Noël Peirce Coward (16 December 1899 – 26 March 1973) was an English playwright, composer, director, actor and singer, known for his wit, flamboyance, and what Time magazine called "a sense of personal style, a combination of cheek and chic, pose and poise". more »


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 Verse 1
 The world for some years
 Has been sodden with tears
 On behalf of the Acting profession,
 Each star playing a part
 Seems to expect the 'Purple Heart',
 It's unorthodox
 To be born in a box
 But it needn't become an obsession,
 Let's hope we have no worse to plague us
 Than two shows a night at Las Vegas.
 When I think of physicians
 And mathematicians
 Who don't earn a quarter the dough,
 When I look at the faces
 Of people in Macy's
 There's one thing I'm burning to know:
 Refrain 1
 Why must the show go on?
 It can't be all that indispensable,
 To me it really isn't sensible
 On the whole
 To play a leading role
 While fighting those tears you can't control,
 Why kick up your legs
 When draining the dregs
 Of sorrow's bitter cup?
 Because you have read
 Some idiot has said,
 'The Curtain must go up'!
 I'd like to know why a star takes bows
 Having just returned from burying her spouse.
 Brave boop-a-doopers,
 Go home and dry your tears,
 Gallant old troupers,
 You've bored us all for years
 And when you're so blue,
 Wet through
 And thoroughly woe-begone,
 Why must the show go on?
 Oh Mammy!
 Why must the show go on?
 Verse 2
 We're asked to condole
 With each tremulous soul
 Who steps out to be loudly applauded,
 Stars on opening nights
 Sob when they see their names in lights,
 Though people who act
 As a matter of fact
 Are financially amply rewarded,
 It seems, while pursuing their calling,
 Their suffering's simply appalling!
 But butchers and bakers
 And candlestick makers
 Get little applause for their pains
 And when I think of miners
 And waiters in 'Diners'
 One query for ever remains:
 Refrain 2
 Why must the show go on?
 The rule is surely not immutable,
 It might be wiser and more suitable
 Just to close
 If you are in the throes
 Of personal grief and private woes.
 Why stifle a sob
 While doing your job
 When, if you use your head,
 You'd go out and grab
 A comfortable cab
 And go right home to bed?
 Because you're not giving us much fun,
 This 'Laugh Clown Laugh' routine's been overdone,
 Hats off to Show Folks
 For smiling when they're blue
 But more comme-il-faut folks
 Are sick of smiling through,
 And if you're out cold,
 Too old
 And most of your teeth have gone,
 Why must the show go on?
 I sometimes wonder
 Why must the show go on?
 Refrain 3
 Why must the show go on?
 Why not announce the closing night of it?
 The public seem to hate the sight of it,
 Dear, and so
 Why you should undergo
 This terrible strain we'll never know.
 We know that you're sad,
 We know that you've had
 A lot of storm and strife
 But is it quite fair
 To ask us to share
 Your dreary private life?
 We know you're trapped in a gilded cage
 But for Heaven's sake relax and be your age,
 Stop being gallant
 And don't be such a bore,
 Pack up your talent,
 There's always plenty more
 And if you lose hope
 Take dope
 And lock yourself in the John
 Why must the show go on?
 I'm merely asking
 Why must the show go on?

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