Thursday, January 03, 2008

Quote of the Day: Moss Hart, II

Act One takes the reader through Moss Hart's long, long struggle to reach success in the theatre. Here is the scene he describes at the end of the book, on the morning after the opening -- and tumultous rave reviews given to -- Once in a Lifetime, the first of his indelible creations co-written with George S. Kaufman. Suddenly, he would be a nobody -- and dirt-poor -- no more:

"....Even through the rain-splashed windows of the cab, I could see a long double line of people extending the full length of the lobby from the box office. The line spilled out under the marquee where another line was patiently forming under umbrellas. I got out of the cab and walked into the lobby and stood gaping at all the people. It was not yet half-past nine in the morning. How long I stood there, forgetful of everything else but the wonder of that line, I do not know, but the box-office man, looking up for a moment to glance across the lobby, caught sight of me and smiled. There is no smile as bright as the smile of a box-office man the morning after a hit. It flashes with the iridescence of stage jewelry under spotlights and is as wide as the proscenium itself. His smile did not waver -- it grew more brilliant as the telephones jangled behind him and visions of ticket speculators, like sugar plums, danced across his mind. He waved me over to the head of the line and stuck his hand out through the opening in the grille to shake my own.

'A year at least,' he said. 'It's the hottest ticket in town.'

....I doubled the bills in my fist and walked out and into the taxi. Without a word I went through the pretense of counting the money, thoroughly aware of the awed silence around me.

'When,' my brother said quietly, 'do they change the name of the theatre to the Money Box?'"

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