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In Boston, in 1903, socialite Abigail Chandler performs a piano recital for her friends and dreams of singing at New York City's Metropolitan Opera. Abigail's wish is finally realized when her aunt Jennifer and uncle Jonathan send her to New York to begin voice lessons. Soon after she arrives in New York, however, Abigail becomes disheartened upon learning that her meager allowance is not enough to pay for the lessons she needs. Desperate to make more money, Abigail adopts the stage name Susie Smith and takes a job singing at The Golden Rooster, a notorious beer hall in the Bowery district. Abigail becomes an instant singing sensation at the beer hall and eventually comes to be known as "High C Susie." Meanwhile, back in Boston, Abigail's family reacts with shock and dismay at rumors that Abigail has been seen performing in the Bowery. Determined to learn the truth about Abigail's reputed decline, Jonathan, Jennifer and Abigail's prim sister, Martha Canford Chandler, set out for New York. Jonathan immediately accuses Abigail of "showing her limbs" at a Bowery honky-tonk, but Abigail insists that the rumors are false and that she is performing, as planned, at the Metropolitan Opera. To show that she has made a success of herself in New York, Abigail, with help from her friend "Spike," a Bowery piano player, slips unnoticed into the chorus of the Metropolitan Opera during a performance attended by her family. Her scheme goes awry, however, when she tries to move closer to the front of the stage and accidentally interrupts an aria by the opera's leading tenor, Olaf Olstrom. Despite the performance fiasco, Jennifer, Jonathan and Martha are now convinced that Abigail is doing fine at the opera. Jennifer and Jonathan return to Boston, but Martha, who has discovered Abigail's ruse, decides to stay in New York to keep an eye on her sister. Determined to lead Abigail to a better life, Martha decides that she must encourage her to marry. While busily arranging a romance between Abigail and Lawrence Tyburt Patterson, Jr., the son of one of the city's leading opera patrons, Martha finds herself attending the Golden Rooster with greater frequency, and singing and dancing with Abigail. Martha's plan appears destined for success when Abigail is invited to sing at a reception held at the Pattersons' home. Abigail's performance wins the praise of many of the influential guests, and Martha is satisfied that her sister has finally received the critical recognition she deserves. Lawrence, however, has overlooked Abigail's beauty and talent, and has, instead, fallen in love with Martha. After realizing that Abigail is not in love with Lawrence, Martha allows her romance with Lawrence to blossom, and together she and Lawrence work to ensure the success of Abigail's musical career.