Tuesday, May 6, 2008

A Vonderful Phoque

Frederick Nolan, Lorenz Hart: A Poet on Broadway (NY: Oxford University Press, 1994), p. 270.

They opened Higher and Higher at the Shubert in New York on Thursday, April 4, 1940. Backstage, Josh Logan sensed the audience's reaction was less than enthusiastic, although everyone seemed to love the performing seal. After the show, as the audience crowded the center aisle, there was a small but perfect silence. Then into that silence, Logan said, an enthusiastic voice rang out. "Darleeng, zat was zee muss vonderful fuck in zee world!"

Many people turned to see who was talking. It was the
young French wife of an American lawyer. She was using
the French word for 'seal' which is 'phoque.' Her husband
tried to keep her quiet, but she protested, 'I deed not say
zee show was good -- I shuzz say zee fuck was
good -- zee fuck, only zee fuck, and oh, how I loved
zat fuck.' By this time the whole aisle was laughing.

I stood in my box saying to myself, 'At last, a funny
scene -- but it's not onstage.'

Next morning the notices were as gruesome as I knew
they would be. The show ran as long as the advance
sale lasted, a few months.