THE STORY: It’s a very special day at the racetrack, where “Champagne” Charlie, a race-track regular, has had a race named in his honor. A dreamer and teller of tall tales, Charlie is accompanied by his wife of fifty-three years, Mary Lee, an incurable romantic, who still finds Charlie very attractive. They are accompanied by Jackie, a family friend and race track bookie, and their daughter, Mary, a divorced high-school drama teacher, and the realist in the family who has nervously invited along her long-time boyfriend, Paul, to finally meet her parents. Since this is such a special day, Charlie conspires with Jackie to place the bet of his life—his entire meager savings ("the whole she-bang")—on a long-shot hunch. Mary strenuously objects until Mary Lee tells her that Charlie is ill, and this will be his last season at the track, and she wants this day to be the most wonderful day of his life. Mary relents, the race is run and Charlie loses everything. Jackie, guilt ridden, tries to return the money, but Mary Lee will not hear of it. If Charlie wants to tell the tale of the “whole she-bang,” he can’t keep the money, so Mary disposes of it in her own way. Charlie, disappointed, apologizes to Mary Lee; just once in his life he wanted to give her things and do something grand for her. She assures Charlie that, for fifty-three years, he’s done just fine.
This poignant comedy mixes family, love and an oversized bet at the race track to illustrate the power of loyalty, integrity and growing older gracefully—however defined. “The play has a good bit of pathos along with Graham’s irrepressible comedic touch.” —Press Focus. “A gentle comedy with its roots in recognizably human behavior…It’s a lovely piece of work.” —The Philadelphia Inquirer.