The play was Idiot's Delight by Robert Sherwood, and it is now getting a rare Manhattan revival.
Playwright Robert Sherwood saw several of his plays brought to life by Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne. One was the 1937 Pulitzer Prize-winner, Idiot's Delight. Vital artistic director Julie Hamberg will direct Ron McClary and Aimee Hayes in the lead roles. Also in the cast are Richard Rice Alan, Alessandra Bonvicini, Katie Brack, Michael Cecchi, Joshua Cole, Neal Fenton, Jessi Gotta, Michael Huber, Christian Johnstone, Michael Lombardi and Alyssa Simon.
The show will run April 15-May 1.
The story (suggested to Sherwood by Lunt) is set in Europe in the mid-1930s, and concerns Harry Van, a small-time American vaudevillian who's finally hitting it big overseas with his act "Les Blondes." The action takes place over 24 hours at a hotel in the Italian Alps. There he meets the soigné Irene, whom he had an affair with in long-ago Omaha, and who is now the sophisticated companion of an international arms dealer. Imminent war forms a troubling backdrop.
Lunt, as was his practice, thoroughly prepared for his role, which demanded he sing, dance and tell jokes. He sought out Sophie Tucker for dance lessons, learned tap from Morgan Lewis and took private lessons in shtick and timing from rising comic Milton Berle. Offering an interesting interplay of romance and hi-jinks against an atmosphere of coming conflict, and a message of life stubbornly and cheerfully going on in the face of disaster, Idiot's Delight became the biggest hit of the 1936-37 season. Tickets are $15. Vital Theatre Company is located at 432 W. 42nd Street, 3rd Floor, between Ninth and Tenth Avenues on Theater Row. For reservations, please log onto www.vitaltheatre.org or call (212) 592-0129.