Terry Teachout, the theater reviewer of the WALL STREET JOURAL, wrote a rave review of Act One (you can read his review here) and mentioned that the Lincoln Center Theater was offering the play online for FREE until July 3. So, of course, I dropped everything and watched it.
Back in 2016, I read Moss Hart’s classic Act One (you can read my review here) and loved it. Act One is the most informative and entertaining memoir of a life of writing plays for Broadway that I’ve ever read. Moss Hart, an uneducated yet passionate lover of Broadway plays, stumbles into the play-writing business. His big break-through is when legendary George S. Kaufman becomes interested in Hart’s play, Once in a Lifetime.
This play version of Act One, written brilliantly by James Lapine, shows the grinding poverty that Moss Hart grew up in. Hart’s aunt takes the young Moss Hart to Broadway shows and ignites his passion for theater. As a young man (played by Santino Fontana), Hart finds a clerical job at a theatrical promoter’s office. Hart writes a play that flops in Rochester, New York. But, he keeps writing and produces a rough draft of Once in a Lifetime that spurs the interest of veteran Broadway director and writer, George S. Kaufman (played by Tony Shalhoub). The interaction in the rewriting of Once in a Lifetime–with the quirky Kaufman and the novice Hart–power the key action of the reminder of the play.
If you’re in the mood for a funny, touching, and insightful play–and its FREE!–just click on the YOUTUBE.COM link above, or if you have a smart TV, you can access it there. Highly recommended! GRADE: A