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Act One is a play written by James Lapine, based on Moss Hart's autobiography of the same title. The play premiered on Broadway in 2014.



Act One premiered on Broadway at the Vivian Beaumont Theater in Lincoln Center on March 20, 2014 (previews), officially on April 17, 2014. Directed by James Lapine, the cast featured Santino Fontana, Tony Shalhoub (as George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart) and Andrea Martin.[1] Martin played three women in Moss Hart's life; Shalhoub also played three roles: as the older Hart, Moss's father, and George S. Kaufman.[2] The play closed on June 15, 2014 after 67 performances and 31 previews. It was filmed to be shown on the PBS television program "Live from Lincoln Center."[3] The filmed production was televised on PBS in November 2015.[4]

The play had a reading on Martha's Vineyard in July 2012, with Tony Shalhoub, Debra Monk, Chuck Cooper and David Turner. The play was developed at the Vineyard Arts Project.[5]


The play is an adaption of Moss Hart's autobiography Act One.[6] The play, narrated by the older Moss Hart, traces his life from being poor in The Bronx to becoming famous and successful as a Broadway writer and director. The play depicts Hart's meeting and collaboration with George S. Kaufman. Act One ends with the production of the Hart-Kaufman successful play, Once in a Lifetime in 1930.

Critical receptionEdit

Ben Brantley, in his review for The New York Times, wrote "whatever its flaws, 'Act One,'... brims contagiously with the ineffable, irrational and irrefutable passion for that endangered religion called the Theater."[2]

Elysa Gardner, in her review in USA Today, wrote that the play "... is rather an appreciation, most notable for its deep affection and almost deferential reverence. To say the play lacks the complex poignance of the 'Sunday in the Park with George' and 'Into the Woods' librettist's best work wouldn't be fair; however wry Hart's humor or complicated his relationships — with show business, his family, other people — his 'Act One' is a nostalgic and ultimately upbeat reflection on fulfilling a dream....Lapine captures that essence and the period, on the page and on the stage."[7]

The play received nominations for five Tony Awards, with Beowulf Boritt winning for what Playbill called his "captivating, multi-level set design, built on a large-scale revolve..."[4]

Awards and nominationsEdit

Original Broadway productionEdit

Year Award ceremony Category Nominee Result
2014 Tony Award Best Play James Lapine Nominated
Best Actor in a Play Tony Shalhoub Nominated
Best Scenic Design of a Play Beowulf Boritt Won
Best Costume Design of a Play Jane Greenwood Nominated
Best Sound Design of a Play Dan Moses Schreier Nominated
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Sound Design of a Play Nominated
Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding New Broadway Play Nominated
Outstanding Actor in a Play Tony Shalhoub Nominated
Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical Andrea Martin Won
Outstanding Set Design Beowulf Boritt Nominated


  1. ^ Hetrick, Adam and Gioia, Michael. " 'Act One', Stage Adaptation of Moss Hart's Theatrical Memoir, Opens on Broadway April 17", Playbill, April 17, 2014
  2. ^ a b Brantley, Ben. "Several Moss Harts Are in 'Act One,' at Lincoln Center" The New York Times, April 17, 2014 (in print April 18, 2014, p. C1)
  3. ^ Hetrick, Adam. "Curtain Comes Down on Broadway Stage Adaptation of Moss Hart's Theatrical Memoir 'Act One'" Playbill, June 15, 2014, accessed November 28, 2016
  4. ^ a b Hetrick, Adam; Gioia, Michael. " 'Act One', With Santino Fontana and Tony Shalhoub, Will Air on PBS in November", Playbill, October 8, 2015
  5. ^ Hetrick, Adam. "Moss Hart's 'Act One', Adapted by James Lapine, Gets Starry Reading With Debra Monk and Tony Shalhoub", Playbill, July 21, 2012
  6. ^ Act One Drama Book Store, accessed April 23, 2014
  7. ^ Gardner, Elysa. "Lapine salutes Moss Hart's first act, affectionately", USA Today, April 18, 2014

External linksEdit