Deeper Dive: A closer look at ‘Light Up the Sky’

In the video above, Artistic Director Chris Coleman talks about ‘Light Up the Sky.’

Satirical love letter to the often hysteric and hysterical life in the theatre

  • Moss Hart in 1940.

    Moss Hart in 1940.

    Written by: Moss Hart

  • Year written: 1948
  • Director: Artistic Director Chris Coleman
  • Dates: October 2-November 1 (Opens October 9)
  • Where: Space Theatre

Peter: “My whole career is passing in front of me – like the time I fell through the trap door in Faust!”

  • The play at a glance: It’s opening night of a budding playwright’s first production and his adoring collaborators are buzzing with excitement for its big debut. But when the audience reaction takes the fizz out of their champagne, their camaraderie crumbles in this classic comedy that proves there really is no business like show business. Set in the 1940s, Light Up the Sky is a hilarious homage to the Golden Age of American theatre, chock full of charismatic personalities, whiz-bang shenanigans and peppy quick-fire dialogue. “What I love about this play is that it is a love letter to the theatre,” said Coleman. “Moss Hart has enormous affection for both how hard it is to make theatre and for what it can mean for all of us.”
  • About the author: Tony Award-winning American playwright and lyricist Moss Hart (1904-61) is best known as one half of the powerhouse writing duo Kaufman and Hart, who together created some of Broadway’s most beloved comedies, including the Pulitzer-winning You Can’t Take It With You (1934) and The Man Who Came to Dinner (1939). After parting ways, Hart went on to forge a directing career that culminated in his crowning achievement, My Fair Lady in 1956. Hart also collaborated with Kurt Weill on Lady in the Dark in 1941, written specifically for Gertrude Lawrence. He also wrote the screenplay for the 1954 film “A Star Is Born.”
  • More from Coleman: “In the first act, the characters are all so lovey-dovey and so excited and warm to each other – but once they think their show is this huge bomb, they turn on each other in very funny ways. They’re completely horrible and vicious and mean. And then, when they find out there are some good reviews, they’re all lovey-dovey again.”

Frances: “What the hell is that play all about?”

Stella: “It’s an allegory, that’s what the man in back of me said. In the middle of the first act he said, ‘This play is either an allegory or the biggest joke ever played on the city of Boston.’”

  • From the playwright: “The theatre is not so much a profession as a disease, and my first look at Broadway was the beginning of a lifetime infection.’ – Hart, in his written introduction to Light Up the Sky’
  • Trivia: Light Up the Sky was the first and last time that Hart would write and direct an original play for Broadway … The play’s title was attributed in the Playbill to a quote by Old Skroob from “The Idle Jeste.” It went like this: “Mad, Sire?  Ah, yes – mad indeed. But observe how they do light up the sky!” That was an elaborate joke on New York Times critic Brooks Atkinson. “Skroob” was an anagram for “Brooks,” and “The Idle Jeste” was completely made up by Hart.

John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S. by American Theatre Magazine. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center’s Senior Arts Journalist.

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