What strikes me about all the snippets of chat I overhear in the lobby of the Beaumont during a show's run - see latest edition below - is how sincere most of them are. The speakers don't seem to think there's the slightest thing odd or amusing about what they are saying - which, of course, is what makes them odd and amusing.
Younger Man: It's a short evening so we'll make it to dinner by 9:30.
Older Man: Why do you think it's short?
Younger Man: Because there's no intermission.
Older: Wrong. It's called Act One, not "One Act."
* * *
Woman in Plaid: (humming a tune)
Woman in Pant Suit: What's that song?
Woman in Plaid: "My Funny Valentine."
Woman in Pant Suit: Oh, right: Rodgers and Hart.
Woman in Plaid: I thought it was appropriate to the play today.
Woman in Pant Suit: But the play today is Kaufman and Hart.
Woman in Plaid: But it's the same Hart, isn't it?
Woman in Pant Suit: No.
Woman in Plaid: Oh. I always thought he wrote his plays with Kaufman, and his musicals with Rodgers.
* * *
Tall Man at Intermission: The show's got a great set, hasn't it?
Taller Man: Absolutely. I was reading the Playbill, and it was designed by Beowulf Boritt.
Tall Man: His father must have been an English professor.
Taller Man: Or a Tolkien fan.
* * *
Older Woman: You know, your grandfather grew up in the Bronx, in the same neighborhood as Moss Hart.
Teenage Boy: I've never even been to the Bronx.
Older Woman: You've been to Yankee Stadium.
Teenage Boy: Grandma, seeing a Yankees game from a luxury box isn't going to the Bronx. It's going to Manhattan North.
* * *
Woman in Red: Wasn't Moss Hart married to Kitty Carlisle Hart?
Woman in White: Yes.
Woman in Red: So why isn't she in the play?
Woman in White: It takes place before she and Hart met. She'd be in the sequel.
Woman in Red: Which would be called "Act Two," I suppose.
Woman in White: No. "Life with Kitty."
* * *
First Man: I'm so lucky. I saw Tony Shalhoub in "Lend Me A Tenor."
Second Man: I'm lucky, too. I saw Santino Fontana in "Cinderella."
Third Man: I saw Andrea Martin hanging upside down from a trapeze.
First Man: You win.
* * *
Stout Man: Did you know that Moss Hart directed "My Fair Lady"? And apparently had quite a time with Julie Andrews.
Thin Woman: I saw Audra McDonald in that part.
Stout Man: You did not. Audra has never done that part.
Thin Woman: Yes, she did. In California.
Stout Man: I don't believe you. But what I do believe is that if she ever sang Eliza Doolittle on Broadway she would win a Tony.
[Editor's note: Audra McDonald has never done "My Fair Lady" professionally. She does, however, regularly include the musical's "I Could Have Danced All Night" in her concert performances.]
* * *
Young Man: During the first act, I kept imagining what this play would be like as a musical.
Young Woman: Me, too. They'd have to shorten the book to make room for songs, but they could keep the set and costumes.
Young Man: I think they'd have to adjust the set.
Young Woman: Why?
Young Man: Have you ever tried to sing while running up and down stairs?
Brendan Lemon is the American theater critic for the Financial Times and the editor of lemonwade.com