The Encyclopedia of the New York Stage, 1940-1950

By Samuel L. Leiter | Go to book overview

L

LADY, BEHAVE! [Comedy/Mental Illness/Romance/Sex/Theatre] A/D: Alfred L. Golden ; S: Frederick Fox; P: Hugh Bennett; T: Con Theatre; 11/16/43(23)

George Jean Nathan ( TBY) rejected this sex farce as "an amateurish succession of dialogues" deserving of "garbage-can honors." "To say that it is bad is to state the clinical details as gingerly as possible, and with the kindest of bedside manners," chimed in Lewis Nichols ( NYT).

What was considered a tasteless plot tastelessly told concerned a mild-mannered man named George Morton ( Jack Sheehan), whose ex-wife Louise ( Pert Kelton) wants to fire him with ambition. She persuades him to rent the apartment of a psychiatrist who was chased out of town by a patient's irate spouse; despite his lack of professional qualifications--apart from having read a bit on the psychology of sex--he begins to receive patients, with Louise working as his secretary. His clients are all mentally unbalanced, among them an oversexed woman ( Madge Skelly) who keeps snipping off pieces of men's clothing with scissors; an iceman ( Thomas Hume) who is too cowardly to throw the bomb he carries around in a shoe box; a manstarved socialite ( Carol Stone) who ends up marrying the iceman; and a repressed tragedienne ( Lois Dow) who really wants to strip in burlesque. George uses hypnosis in order to get his clients to throw off their armor and free their libidos. He succeeds well enough to make him believe in his own powers. There is some plot flummery about the actress's husband ( Karl Weber) running after Louise, and it is resolved with George retrieving her and establishing a prosperous business.

LADY COMES ACROSS, THE [Musical/Adventure/Fantasy/Hotel/Romance] B: Fred Thompson and Dawn Powell; M: Vernon Duke; LY: John Latouche; D: Romney Brent; CH: George Balanchine; S/C: Stewart Chaney; P: George Hale i/a/w Charles R. Rogers and Nelson Seabra; T: Forty-fourth Street Theatre; 1/9/42 (3)

This futile exercise was a completely revamped version of a show called She Had to Say Yes, starring Dennis King, that had closed out of town a year earlier. One of the few things remaining from it was Stewart Chaney's scenery, which the new version was careful to retain. Despite a host of creative talents, the show just lay there and refused to budge.

It tells of a young woman named Jill Charters ( Evelyn Wyckoff, replacing English performer Jessie Matthews at the last moment when the latter became ill) who dreams that she is a European counterspy. This allows her to work with the handsome FBI agent Tony Patterson ( Ronald Graham) in her search for the papers held by Nazi agent Alberto Zorel ( Stiano Braggiotti). She goes to work for Zorel in his dress shop, which is a front for his espionage activities. At the estate of the wealthy and man-hungry dowager, Mrs. Riverdale ( Ruth Weston), Jill manages to get the papers (which are hidden in Mrs. Riverdale's girdle), to escape from danger in the nick of time, and to marry the G-man.

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