By Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman

The Plot:

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"Portly Sheridan Whiteside, movie critic, lecturer, wit, radio orator, intimate friend of the excellent and also near great, met his Waterloo in the form of a little item of ice on the dooraction of Mr. and Mrs. Ernest W. Stanley, of Mesalia, Ohio, while trekking across the nation on his annual lecture tours. Result: the idol of the air waves rests till additionally alert in the home of the surprised Mr. and also Mrs, Stanley. Possibility: Christmas may be postponed this year." So runs the lead post in the Christmas 1939 issue of Time magazine. Whiteside turns the Stanley household upside dvery own, forcing everyone in town to cater to his egotistical needs. At the same time, his beloved secretary has actually given her notice after falling in love through a local reporter, and Whiteside must communicate every weapon in his considerable arsenal of guile and also manipulation to store her in his employ—including blackmail, deceit, and the intervention of the fading sexpot actress Lorraine Sheldon and the elegant British wit of playwright Beverly Carlton. A three-ring circus of machicountries and also celebrity appearances ensues.

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About the Play:

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Broadmeans critic, book reviewer, radio personality, lecturer, erstwhile actor, gourmand, taste-tester and also taste-maker, the corpulent Alexander Woollcott wielded an opinion and a rapier-prefer wit that few could complement. But, in the middle of the thirties, Woollcott had recorded the acting bug as well. He demanded that Kaufman and Hart—individual and also expert colleagues--concoct a vehicle for him. Kaufmale and Hart hemmed and hawed for several months, however then Hart remembered a time once Woollcott made a surpincrease visit to Hart"s Bucks County estate. He commandeered Hart"s very own bedroom, demanded the heat be turned off and asked for a chocolate malted and also a cocoa cake. The following morning after loudly excoriating the family members staff for incompetence and dishonesty, Woollcott wrote in the guest book: "I wish to say on my first visit to Moss Hart"s house, I had among the a lot of unpleasant evenings I deserve to ever recall having actually invested."

Hart wondered out loud what would certainly have actually taken place if Woollcott had damaged his leg on the way out and also been required to bivouac perpetually in the house. The proverbial light went on. "This can be a very funny play," Hart told Kaufmale. "All we have to have now are three extremely funny acts," he responded. They worked with the spring of 1939, incorporating as many kind of bits of Woollcott"s personality right into the character of Sheridan Whiteside as possible. Hart wrote: "In talking around Woollcott, we chose to usage only public elements of his character…his lectures, his broadcasts, his charm, his acidulousness, his interest in murders, and every one of this had to be functioned into the plot of the play." In the end, Woollcott balked at playing this variation of himself. Relieved, the authors bandied about the names of John Barrymore, Adolphe Menjou, and also Robert Morley before settling on Monty Woolley, a Yale professor and actor. Woollcott eventually starred in the second touring agency on the West Coast. After the curtain calls, he would often step dvery own to the footlights and say to the thrilled audience in his nasal, high-pitched, imperious voice: "It"s not true that this role of the obnoxious Sheridan Whiteside was patterned after me. Whiteside is simply a composite of the much better characteristics of the play"s two authors."

Stage history:

The Man Who Came to Dinner rolled onto Broadmethod at the Music Box Theatre on October 16, 1939. It ended up being an overnight smash hit and also remained, quite choose Whiteside, for a protracted visit of 739 performances. (During its Boston tryout, Paris had actually fallen to the Nazis, forcing a last-minute revision to the script wbelow a phone contact from Whiteside to Gertrude Stein in Paris became, rather, a call to Walt Disney in Hollyhardwood.) A nationwide touring company featuring Clifton Webb was additionally successful. Once its success had actually been assured, Woollcott ended up being stage-hungry aobtain. The authors agreed that he can star in the second touring firm on the West Coast. A 1942 film starring Woolley, and also featuring Bette Davis and Jimmy Durante was also a wartime hit (featuring a "cameo" by the voice of Eleanor Roosevelt). Hart himself played Whiteside in a U.S.O tour of the South Pacific in 1944. The play has been revived many kind of times on phase and also television: significant Whitesides have actually contained Orboy Welles, Ellis Rabb, and, mostly newly, Nathan Lane in a 2000 manufacturing at the Roundabout Theater Company kind of.

Production details:

Cast size: 14 guys, 9 woguys, doubling possible; one set

For performance legal rights to The Man Who Came to Dinner, call www.dramatists.com/text/licensing.html

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Quotes:

"The standard principle ... Is tbelow any better opening line to delineate a character and also foreshadow a promisingly delectable instance than the one delivered by Sheridan Whiteside, The Man Who Came to Dinner? The worthy small-tvery own folk fuss nervously, hoping to please the good public number forced to convalesce in their honored midst. Whiteside, entering a wheelchair, surveys his adulating hosts and also says, "I may vomit" ".

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Flash box:

Broadway"s a lot of hilarious and also enduring comedy around celebrity; based on the outsized personality of Alexander Woollcott.