As the nervous pressure mounted, people took to exploding all over the place in the most grotesquely inconceivable ways and from totally unpredictable causes. Freddy France, who played the comic detective (like most comedians he had no sense of humor whatever and treated his “art” with a sort of sacrificial solemnity), developed delusions of persecution, proclaimed himself the victim of a conspiracy to which the owners, the author, Galbraith and most of the principals were parties, and finally, when the director cut out a little scene that he had two feeble jokes in, reached up unexpectedly and hit McGill on the nose, flung his part on the stage, stamped on it and left the theater. Quan read his lines in a painstaking manner for two days and then, after a three-hour session in the Sherman House bar, Freddy was induced to come back.
Stewart Lester, one day, at the end of a long patient effort of Galbraith’s to improve his acting (he acted like a tenor; one needn’t say more than that), licked his thin red lips, and in a feline fury, announced his indifference as to whether the management accepted his resignation or that of Miss Devereux. As long as she insisted on treating her vis-a-vis like a chorus-man, she’d perhaps be happier if a chorus-man were given the part; and he would he only too happy, in case the management agreed with her, to make the substitution possible. Whereupon Miss Devereux remarked that even having been a failure in grand opera didn’t necessarily assure a man success in musical comedy, and that possibly a chorus-man would be an improvement. Galbraith had a long private conference with each of them—the fact that they would not speak at all off stage guaranteed him against their comparing notes as to what he’d said—and while the thing he effected could not be called a reconciliation, it amounted to a sort of armed truce. They went through their love scenes without actually scratching and biting.
Even little Anabel Astor, whose good humor for a long time had seemed invincible, tempestuously left the stage one day in the middle of one of her scenes with her dancing partner, and could be heard sobbing loudly in the wings through all that remained of that rehearsal.
Queer things began happening to the plot, resulting sometimes from the violent transposition of song numbers from one act to another, sometimes from the interpolation of songs or specialties. Two or three scenes, which the author regarded with special pride and was prepared to die in the defense of, were pronounced by Galbraith to be junk. He had made superhuman efforts, he told Goldsmith and Block, to put a little life into them, and had demonstrated that this miracle was impossible of performance. They were dead and they’d got to be buried before they became, to the olfactory sense, any more unpleasant.
There was an ominous breathlessness in the air after this ultimatum had been delivered, and at the next rehearsal, when the director announced the cut of six solid pages of manuscript, the voice of the author was heard from back of the hall proclaiming in a hollow Euripidean bellow that it was all over. He was going to his lawyer to get an injunction against the production of the piece.