Theatre / Once in a Lifetime

Once In A Lifetime is an American play, notable as the first of eight collaborations by famous playwriting duo George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart. The play has elements of Satire, but for the most part it is content to be zany, character-driven Farce. It was first produced on Broadway in 1930.

The plot follows May Daniels, Jerry Hyland, and George Lewis, a trio of vaudeville performers who, in the wake of the first motion picture with sound (The Jazz Singer), head out to Hollywood to try their hand at teaching movie stars how to speak eloquently. When they get there, however, they discover just how difficult it is to get by in Hollywood, and just how crazy some of the people out there can be. Some of those crazy people include:

  • Susan Walker, a small-town girl who dreams of being an actress. She travels out to Hollywood with her mother, meeting (and falling in love with) George along the way. She's not very talented.
  • Herman Glogauer, head of the Glogauer Studios, who signs on the trio with their voice training school. He lives in the shadow of his greatest failure: turning down the Vitaphone, which would go on to make The Jazz Singer the first talkie and make rival studio Schlepkin Brothers a ton of money.
  • Helen Hobart, an old friend of May from their vaudeville days who is now famous in Hollywood as a gossip columnist. Exceedingly flamboyant and affected.
  • Lawrence Vail, a young playwright who was brought out to Hollywood to be a screenwriter, given an office and a big salary, and promptly ignored by the studio.
  • Miss Leighton, Glogauer's brisk, efficient secretary. Much hated by Vail, for certain reasons.
  • Rudolph Kammerling, a much put-upon German film director.
  • Phyllis Fontaine and Florabel Leigh, two beautiful film starlets with horrific voices.

This play contains examples of: