They ignore agent Bessie Marbury's life with interior decorator Elsie De Wolfe, and when chorus girl Marion Davies, 18, shows up for the out-of-town tryout of their 1917 musical, "Oh, Boy!," smothered in mink and then checks into a hotel suite, they think it's swell that her mother wants to keep her warm amid all the comforts of home. While looking for modeling work, the celebrated cover girl Audrey Munson goes to a studio now rented to PG and his wife Ethel who wants a couch recovered. Scribbling lyrics for another show called "Oh, Lady, Lady!" (Oh, those titles!) PG tells Audrey the back and arms are okay -- it's the legs that are a problem. "How much will it be altogether?" he asks, thinking of the couch. "---the seat, it should be covered with a piece of chintz, to hide the legs in case they show too much wear and tear." Removing her coat, Audrey asks, "Do you have a screen?" "Should we, do you think?" PG completes a lyric.
The book does not attempt to catalogue Wodehouses whole life but focuses, instead, on his early years co-writing musical comedies, with Jerome Kern and Guy Bolton (the latter of whom also co-wrote this book). It offers some interesting insights into the perils that faced the aspiring producers, and indeed the writers, of musical comedies in New York in the early years of the twentieth century, which proved to be a rackety business Sadly, the effortless cadence and beauty o Wodehouses fiction never gets an airing.
Plum's musical comedy career started before World War I and this book follows his track through the war and the 1920s to the Great Depression, when he lost most of his money and moved to Hollywood to write for film, which had newly discovered sound.
It's a really wonderful book in spite of the above criticisms and people who like Wodehouse' books should definitely consider this one a must-read; you should certainly not keep away from it simply on account of the fact that Guy Bolton is the co-author.
Although Wodehouse is now known for the 80-plus novels he wrote over his life starring such wonderful characters as Bertie Wooster and his manservant Jeeves, in the 1920s, Wodehouse was better known as a lyricist for a string of hit Broadway plays to which Bolton wrote the book (the play itself or the story) and Jerome Kern wrote the music. The book itself reads like one of Wodehouses best, as it focuses often on humorous anecdotes of the flamboyant characters of the time like Flo Ziegfield (he of Follies fame) and Col. Savage (who used to trick authors to work on his boat under the pretense of listening to their ideas for new plays).
Alongside his career as a prolific novelist, Wodehouse was also highly productive in theatrical circles, providing lyrics for some thirty plays and collaborating on the book a further fifteen. Quite apart from the fact that this is untrue (you just have to look at his attack on eugenics in The Little Nugget or his send-up of fascists in the character of Spode) this book proves that he was reflecting his times.
Really this is a book of theatre anecdotes strung loosely together, and if it wasnt for Wodehouses prose style (and Im guessing it is Wodehousess rather than Boltons) it could all be quite tiresome.
He worked with Cole Porter on the musical Anything Goes (1934) and frequently collaborated with Jerome Kern and Guy Bolton.