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Rialto Chatter: Kaufman & Hart's ONCE IN A LIFETIME Coming Back to Broadway?


Once in a Lifetime, the first of eight collaborations from Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman, might be heading back to the stage, according to the New York Post. Michael Riedel writes that he "hears rumblings of a possible revival." The duo is currently represented on Broadway with their 1936 play, You Can't Take It With You.

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The satirical comedy focuses on the effect talking pictures have on the entertainment industry. When the New York City vaudevillean team of Jerry Hyland, May Daniels, and George Lewis find themselves in a faltering vaudeville act, they decide to head west and present themselves as elocution experts in the hope someone will hire them to train actors unaccustomed to speaking on screen. On the train they meet gossip columnist Helen Hobart, who introduces them to megalomaniac film mogul Herman Glogauer when they arrive in Hollywood. The trio's misadventures include encounters with Lawrence Vail, a New York City playwright driven to distraction and eventually a sanatorium by studio bureaucracy and a lack of work to keep him busy; silent screen beauties Phyllis Fontaine and Florabel Leigh, whose voices sound like nails on a blackboard; two pages in 18th century dress who periodically arrive carrying placards with announcements about Glogauer's latest doings; a ditzy receptionist who wears an evening gown to work; and aspiring actress (and proverbial dumb blonde) Susan Walker and her chaperoning stage mother.

The original Broadway production, directed by Kaufman, opened at the Music Box Theatre on September 24, 1930 and ran for 406 performances. A Broadway revival directed by Tom Moore opened at the Circle in the Square Theatre on June 15, 1978 following 21 previews and ran for 85 performances. The cast included John Lithgow as George Lewis, Deborah May as May Daniels, Treat Williams as Jerry Hyland, Jayne Meadows as Helen Hobart, George S. Irving as Herman Glogauer, Lee Meredith as Florabel Leigh, Julia Duffy as Susan Walker, Michael Jeter as one of the pages, and Max Wright.

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