The Show-off

   George Kelly's three-act comedy opened at the Playhouse Theatre on 5 February 1924 for a remarkable 571 performances, followed by numerous tours and revivals, making it one of the most popular plays of its era. The Pulitzer Prize committee selected it for the award, but Columbia University officials overturned the choice, selecting Hatcher Hughes's Hell-Bent fer Heaven instead. In the lower middle-class Philadelphia home of the Fishers, news that their daughter Amy is in love with the ostentatious braggart Aubrey Piper sets off an uproar. Amy and Aubrey are married despite parental protests and the warning of Amy's sister Clara that Aubrey will end up living in their house. Aubrey proves generally unsuccessful in his endeavors, a fact sarcastically remarked upon by his dour mother-in-law, Mrs. Fisher. When Aubrey borrows a car and crashes into a trolley car, it is left to Clara's husband, Frank, to bail him out. Mr. Fisher dies and the family's financial stability is in doubt, but Amy's brother Joe is given $100,000 for an invention. When he informs the family that Aubrey had provided the necessary connections and muscled the backers into doubling Joe's cut, Aubrey genially acknowledges that "a little bluff goes a long way sometimes." All are impressed except a skeptical Mrs. Fisher, who remains unconvinced of Aubrey's worth. Numerous revivals and stock productions, including a 1950 Broadway staging advertised as the first "arena*" production in New York, abounded, and a 1967 revival starring Helen Hayes was well-received, as were motion picture versions in 1926, 1934, and 1946.

The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater. .

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