Glimmer, Glimmer and Shineby Warren Leight
“Leight’s writing remains quick, graceful and generous a worthy companion piece to Side Man.” –Linda Winer, Newsday
The New York Daily News raved that Glimmer, Glimmer and Shine is like an evening of good jazz–sometimes raucous, sometimes bubbly, but deeply affecting.” Warren Leight once again takes us back to the golden age of jazz. At the height of the big-band era, Glimmer, Glimmer and Shine were seemingly inseparable “brothers in swing,” until their life on the road–full of drugs, women, and alcohol–tore them apart. For thirty-five years secrets have been buried and enmity has simmered. It is only when Daniel Glimmer’s sheltered daughter, Delia, who never knew her father’s illustrious past, has a chance encounter with Eddie Shine’s son, Jordan, that the old comrades in music are forced to confront the wreckage of their past.
‘marvelous, bitter, funny, hip play.” –Donald Lyons, New York Post
“Leight’s writing remains quick, graceful and generous a worthy companion piece to Side Man.” –Linda Winer, Newsday
“Thought-provoking and evocative play, rich with substance and resonance.” –Ed Kaufman, The Hollywood Reporter
Finalist for the American Theatre Critics Association’s New Play Award and the Dramatists Guild’s Hull-Warriner Award
On one side of the stage, on a ratty couch, Martin Glimmer and Jordan Shine unwind . . . not that they were too wound up to begin with. Martin is a lifelong musician; Jordan is his prot”g”. He packs up his trombone.
Downstage, find Delia glimmer. As she delivers her monologue she gradually transforms from a stylish woman with a sense of irony into a younger, less self-aware one; by monologue end she looks like someone drop-kicked from the pages of a Lands’ End catalogue.
She does not hear or notice Martin and Jordan. They do not acknowledge her.
delia I cannot tell you how it ends . . . I still don’t know how it ends.
jordan (To Martin) I may have . . . met somebody.
martin (To Jordan) ‘somebody”? Can you be . . . a little more vague?
jordan (To Martin) Your niece, actually.
delia I can tell you it began innocently enough. At a wedding–
jordan (To Martin) It began not so innocently, at a wedding.
delia –thank God I wasn’t asked to be a bridesmaid. It was 1990, the year when tout le monde, or at least every bridesmaid in Greenwich, had to wear that color; you know, not salmon, not peach, but that one–I always looked a little carsick in it. Anyway. To the wedding: where I think I was The Only Single Person. Not single single, but Chuck was in Hong Kong–another takeover. And Mother and Dad were still on their buying trip, in India, (Explaining) for the company.
So . . . there I was, on my own for what felt like the first time ever. Which doesn’t excuse, but maybe explains, why I had some, ohh, gaps in my emotional resume. The ceremony was High-WASP . . . a three-tenter: I forsake, you forsake, kiss kiss now can we drink? Amen and . . .
She crosses the stage. Back to the First Meeting. At a private club in Connecticut, 1990.
delia (cont.) Over to the bar. And there is this swing band which, thank God, takes a break.
jordan (To Martin) We finally take our break, not that anyone notices.
martin (To Jordan) I used to play gigs like that . . . with a transistor radio in my ear, listening to the ball game. Did they feed you?
delia And I see one of the musicians (even in his tuxedo he looks like an orphan). He tries to order a drink. And the bartender says, “I’m sorry sir, we’re not allowed to serve the help.”
jordan They’re “not allowed to serve “the help.””
delia & jordan “Rules of the club.”
martin “The help?” Outstanding.
delia So the musician backs away, like a townie at the 7-Eleven who’s been carded. Just then, one of my dad’s friends waves to me, “Ta-ta, Delia,” and Boom!, bumps right into him. Gin spills all over his tux.
Jordan and Delia have moved toward center stage. Jordan reenacts the scene for Martin; Delia reenacts it for the audience.
jordan He spills gin all over my tux. Doesn’t say anything. Just strolls away . . .
delia So I walk over to him . . .
She does–starts to hand him a napkin. The musician, Jordan, takes it from her.
delia (To Jordan) Here–
jordan (Sarcastic) Don’t you just love Connecticut–the natives are so warm.
delia I grew up here, actually.
jordan Yes. Well. Did you? Start over. I’m Jordan Shine, trombone player.
martin (To Jordan) Do you know the definition of a perpetual optimist?
jordan (To Martin) Yes.
martin A trombone player . . .
martin & jordan . . . with a beeper.
jordan (To Martin) Start over. (To Delia) . . . Trombone player. From New York. And I want to kill myself.
delia I’m sure you do.
jordan You’re warming to me. Aren’t you?
delia Not really.
jordan So, ah–what–it’s Delia, right? Are you a friend of the bride, or the groom?
jordan (To Martin, exchanging a thumbs-up) O-kayyy.
(Back to Delia) And um . . . What do you do?
jordan Uh-huh. Could you be a . . . little more vague?
delia (Begrudgingly) For my family’s textile company. Glimmer Scarves? I don’t imagine you’ve heard of it.
She turns away from him.
jordan (cont.) But I know a Marty Glimmer, and his brother Danny.
delia My father’s name is Daniel Glimmer.
jordan Danny Glimmer?
jordan Your dad’s Danny Glimmer?
delia I really don’t think it’s the same one.
jordan No, wait a minute. You’re Delia. Right? Delia Glimmer. That’s right. And your mom is Martha. I’m Jordan Shine. Eddie’s son.
jordan Eddie Shine. I’m Jordan! I used to study with your uncle Marty. Still do–(To Martin) sort of.
Delia has no idea what Jordan is talking about. He tries another prompt:
jordan (cont.) Glimmer, Glimmer and Shine–the “Glow-in-the-Dark” trumpet section.
delia I don’t have an uncle.
martin (To Jordan) She’s right. I don’t have a brother. I have no kin at all. I’ve always been an orphan, since the day I was born.
jordan (To Martin) Shh! (To Delia) Yes you do too have an uncle. Your father’s twin. I mean, fraternal, but still–
delia My father is not a twin.
jordan He used to be . . . Oh c’mon, everybody knows the Glimmer boys. Especially Danny Glimmer. I mean, I don’t know him know him–but I met him when I was a kid. I was with my dad, and we ran into him in the Village. (Remembers this moment very clearly now) He was taking his kid–that must’ve been you–to a matinee. Did you ever see You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown when you were like three?
delia Didn’t everybody?
jordan My father said he was one of the greats–he and my old man roomed together on the road for I don’t know how long it was–
delia Has this approach ever worked for you?
jordan Always. Listen: After Korea . . . (Patiently now) your father and my dad were touring with Johnny Carisi’s band. Your father played lead–of course. My dad did the solos. They were on the road, a West Coast swing (Snaps his fingers to jog his memory) . . . L.A. I guess, yeah it had to be L.A. because that’s when Quincy–Quincy Jones, you know who that is–
delia Isn’t he married to Peggy Lipton?
martin It’ll never last.
jordan –he used to be a trumpet player. Anyway, short story long, he left the band in L.A. So they traded a saxophone player for your uncle, Marty Glimmer, who was with, I don’t know–
jordan Mulligan . . . maybe. And that was it: Glimmer, Glimmer and Shine–the “Glow-in-the-Dark” trumpet section. “Course, they didn’t play together long, the band fell apart–
delia My father never played jazz.
jordan Well that was the rap on him. Truth is, he could solo, but everyone knew him for his lead playing–(Sees she doesn’t understand) lead trumpet–(Trying to explain) like first violin. I guess. Lead trumpet sets all the phrasing the other horns follow–like those albums he did with Miles and Gil. He defined the whole sound of that band.
delia If you say so.
jordan I think I’ve even seen pictures of them–
delia (Overlapping) I believe you. OK?–
jordan –with my dad and your grandmother–
delia –You think you know my father. But–
jordan –in front of–
delia –it can’t be . . .
jordan –the Glimmer Fabric Store. In the Bronx.
delia (Surprised by the accuracy of this detail) . . . the same person.
An awkward pause.
jordan Listen, here’s my number. (He pulls out a card; she backs up.) Don’t worry, it’s for your dad. Do you see him a lot?
delia He’s in India now.
jordan India? A lot of high-wage workers there? What do they get–like a rupee a scarf?
delia (Defensive) Mother handles the factories. He picks the fabrics. The workers love them. They always try to get jobs for their families–
delia They do.
jordan Listen, when he gets back . . . tell him you met Eddie Shine’s son. No: better–tell your dad you met his godson.
delia His what?
jordan I think he’s my godfather–there was a swift choice on my parents’ part . . . sorry. He wasn’t . . . the most responsible guy in the world, like I’m telling you stuff you–
delia I think your group’s getting ready to–
jordan Just tell your dad that Eddie’s son, Jordan–that’s me–met you at a party. Tell him Marty’s doing better . . . that he’s been basically clean for years–
delia (No idea what he means) Clean?
martin (With outrage) Clean?
jordan (To Martin) I mean, if you don’t count half a bottle of scotch, a case of Diet Pepsi and three packs of Merits a day, yeah. (To Delia as she exits) He should give him a call.
Jordan rejoins Martin in his run-down, smoke-filled Yorkville tenement walk-up. Sunlight hasn’t breached the studio in years. A downstairs buzzer rings.
martin Who’s that?
Martin chain-smokes. Jordan desperately starts to clean up, or at least hide, the debris.
martin Are you, nuts? Bringing her here. The acorn does not fall far from the tree. The shit does not fall far from the weasel.
jordan She wants to meet you. I think you should reserve judgment on–
martin Her mother is a weasel, Jordan. A social-climbing fart of a woman. She never met a back she didn’t stab. A–
Apartment doorbell rings.
martin (cont.) (A manic riff) It’s open. A . . . a dollar she wouldn’t go down on and . . . you must be my niece Delia.
Delia enters the apartment. She tries to take it in. She is overwhelmed by the dirt, debris, and haze. She is dressed in a Connecticut country outfit, down to the black headband. And a little out of breath from
the walk up.
martin (cont.) I was just reminiscing here with Jordan about your mom and dad. Don’t be shy my dear, do come in. I’d get up, but the gout has got me by the balls. Don’t be shy. You look nothing like your father, so aren’t you the lucky one.
delia (Overlapping with Martin below) Sorry I took so long, I thought there has to be an elevator somewhere but–
martin An elevator.
delia –I couldn’t find it–
martin (To Jordan) That’s what this building needs–why didn’t we think of it?
delia –so I walked up the whole–
martin (To Delia) Find yourself a chair–
delia –five flights it must have–
martin –it’s over there under those underclothes.
Jordan races to clear the chair. Delia sits on the edge of the chair, tries not to let anything touch her.
delia I’m a . . . I’m a–
martin Struggling to see the resemblance. Trying to imagine how someone such as me could be cut from the same cloth as yourself.
delia No. Yes. Well. Actually . . .
martin (To Delia) Can you offer me a drink? Jordan, glasses all around. The cleaner ones are toward the top of the sink.
Jordan goes to offstage kitchen. Delia hands Martin a velvet gift bag; in it, a bottle she’s brought with her.
martin (cont.) Chivas. Very nice–Jordan, how nice of you to tip her off. I used to drink it straight up, with a beer chaser. Then I got an ulcer so I mixed it with milk. Now I can’t drink milk. I’m lactose-intolerant.
delia So’s my dad. He had an ulcer too.
martin He had more than that. So now I drink it with fermented soy milk or lactose-free milk. It’s quite horrible once you get used to it.
delia Do you have any . . . iced tea?
jordan (Returning with dismal jar/cups) I don’t think he does. Instant coffee.
delia Just water would be fine.
Jordan starts to go offstage for water.
martin (” la W. C. Fields) Never touch the stuff myself. Fish fuck in it. Yes. Yes.
jordan (Doubling back) W. C. Fields.
jordan He’s doing W. C. Fields.
martin The comedian, not his brother, the department store.
jordan (To Delia) Marshall. Marshall Fields. Chicago store. No relation.
martin Are you going to translate all evening?
Jordan, dismissed, goes offstage for water.
martin (cont.) Now, young Delia, if you’ve come about your inheritance, I can assure you that I have provided for you in my will. Someday, as my sole niece, Chivas-bearer and, as of today, only speaking relative–all of this, all that you survey, shall be yours. How’s Danny?
delia He’s . . . he’s . . . fine. You know him. Work, work, work. Oh, and he’s trekking now. With Martha, in Nepal.
martin Same old Danny. Except for the work, work, work part . . . and the trekking? Does he still have his chops?
delia Um . . . he doesn’t eat meat.
Martin shoots Jordan a look.
jordan (Handing Delia water) Chops: jazz slang referring to lips, embouchure and more broadly, technical facility and musical ability on the instrument.
delia Oh, his chops. They’re fine. I guess. A little chapped from running. He does marathons. Well, half marathons, now–
martin Sure–he’s my twin. Half for him, half for me.
delia Mother–Martha–doesn’t think he–
martin (Coughs at the mention of Martha) So he doesn’t play anymore. Does he?
delia No . . . Never.
martin What a shame. No matter what anyone ever said about your father, when he played, he was a motherfucker. He really was.
Delia looks to Jordan, who nods–it’s a compliment.
delia Thank you.
Excerpted from Glimmer, Glimmer and Shine
” Copyright 2002 by Warren Leight. Reprinted with permission from Grove Atlantic, Inc. All rights reserved.