Suspenders - Complete Story

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Suspenders---Full Synopsis

Nadine Goodale, 60+, and now bound to her shiny, red electric

wheelchair, moves into a small, assisted living center with hopes

that she will meet new friends with whom to share her joie de vivre.     

She learns, instead, that her fellow residents are frustrated by the

lack of meaning in their daily routines, poignant, group number

“Do You See Us?” and the daily boredom of waiting for their next

meal, next visitor, next TV show.  Full cast, upbeat “Waiting for

the Next Thing” followed by poignant solo, “I Never Thought I’d Be Here.”   

They have forgotten that they are in charge of their own lives.   Listening to a conversation about death, Nadine witnesses their use of humor as a coping mechanism in the ridiculously funny and irreverent multi-cast song, “So and So Just Died.”

Nadine’s attempts at friendship are shot down by all her fellow residents except one: Alice.  A good-natured busybody with a penchant for peppering her conversation with quotes of both known and unknown origin, Alice harbors hidden admiration for Lou, a good-natured fellow with red suspenders, who loves to dance and charm the ladies,  Lou’s soft-shoe song and dance, “Suspenders.”, including Daisy, whose colorful dementia is a source of comment and speculation.  

Jessie, a surly 14-year-old girl with mismatched high-top Converse sneakers, reluctantly spends her after school hours with grandparents Mimi and Bernie, frequently getting into trouble for ‘borrowing’ things from people’s rooms.  Jessie’s sarcasm masks her fear of the human frailty surrounding her.

Despite the comical bickering between the mahjong and bridge players, forced by administrative circumstance to endure sitting at side-by-side tables, Nadine’s overtures of friendship are stiffly rebuked because she is not an experienced game player.  Lively counterpoint, “We Live for Bridge.”

The resident grouch, Bob, also rebuffs Nadine’s attempts at conversation. Alice speculates that he is a grouch because his daughter took his beloved dog, Shoefly, to the pound. 

The one person who might share an affinity for Nadine’s optimism is Tom Brand, a former investigative reporter, who is not interested in new relationships, focusing instead on finishing his book about the notorious 1950s Delgado murder.

In her room, Nadine vents to the young aide, Sarah.  With Sarah’s prodding, she reminisces about her youth and some of her current frustrations. Sarah has frustrations of her own.  Frowsy and worn out, she describes how difficult it is to be a single parent and a caregiver to the grouchy.  Comical, energetic, “I’ve Really Had Enough.”

Nadine decides that she has not had enough and she is not going to give up.  Swearing Sarah to secrecy, she decides to apply herself to blowing the dust off her fellow residents by secretly addressing many of the personal and group roadblocks to independence and friendships at The Manor.  “Hello.” 

Feeling good, Nadine zips around doing wheelies in her wheelchair.  The powerful and exuberant “I Helped Somebody.”  She also sets in motion events that will inspire friendship between bridge and mahjong players,  “We’re Friends,” and encourages Lou to comfort Alice after her friend dies.  Heart-wrenching solo, “I Don’t Want to be the Last.”  .

With new friendships creating renewed energy and interests, the residents enjoy an outing to a family-style restaurant.  Snappy conversation about the wonderful non-nursing home food evolves into crisp, critical commentary as they taste their meals:  “It’s too hot, it’s too cold, the coffee’s too sweet, the food is too expensive, I can’t chew my meat”  in the next musical dance number, jazzy “The Terrible Toos”.  Glitz and jazz turn to senior aches and pains as they prepare to leave the restaurant, “The One-Up Blues”:   “My feet are oh so swollen, hurt worse than yours, no doubt.  I can hardly move them with this bad case of gout....”

The characters gather in The Manor’s common room, rousing “Where Did I Put My?”  Tom reveals that Nadine precipitated the events that changed their environment and relationships for the better, and Tom and Nadine realize they

enjoy each other’s company.  “Let’s Talk about the Day.”  Jessie makes an unexpected discovery about Daisy’s dementia, and  Lou credits Nadine en absentia with delivering Alice to his arms.  Lilting duet, “You’re Everything I’m Not.” 

The story then takes an unexpected turn to further explain preceding events, and concludes with Tom’s “She’s Quite a Woman”, followed by the finale, “We’re Friends.”