George Washington Slept Here (1940)
By George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart
Newton Fuller fulfills a lifetime ambition: to own his very own colonial farmhouse—a home in the country. He drags his wife, Annabelle, and their daughter, Madge, out to Bucks County, Pennsylvania, to set up homesteading in a wreck of a house—broken windows, falling plaster, and a cow in the kitchen. But, Newton has faith—after all, George Washington slept there, so it's even a part of history.
Life in the country, however, is no bed of roses; Annabelle finds country life impossible, the local caretaker is nowhere to be found, a mechanical drill pounds mercilessly for water, Madge is having a dalliance with an actor playing at the local summer stock theater—and to top it off, the local historian reveals that it was Benedict Arnold, not George Washington who has slept there!
However, Annabelle and Newton manage to make a beautiful country home and fall in love it. Complications ensue when they discover they have spent their last penny on the house and stand in danger of defaulting on their mortgage. Enter Newton's Uncle Stanley, a rich old skinflint, who holds out the promise of a loan to save the house—or does he? Near catastrophe is averted at the last moment through a hilarious series of reversals and Newton turns into the country squire he always dreamed of becoming.
About the Play:
In the late 1930s, both Kaufman and Hart had bought country estates in Bucks County, PA. The arduous task of making a summer home had its humorous side, and so they wrote the granddaddy of all "Green Acres" scenarios—anyone who has ever had to deal with a contractor or mosquitoes or a renovation will sympathize immediately with the Fullers and their plight. A big success on Broadway and with summer stock audiences in the early 1940s (it was the most popular play on the straw hat circuit for many years), George Washington Slept Here was also turned into a popular 1942 film with Jack Benny and Ann Sheridan—although they switched roles from the original, and gave Benny the lines of the wisecracking Annabelle! One of the play's challenges is the complete destruction of the house in Act Three; in a new revision of the play by Laurence Maslon, the house (and the comedy) remains intact—and six unnecessary small roles are eliminated.
George Washington Slept Here opened at the Lyceum Theater on October 18, 1940. It ran 173 performances, but has never had a Broadway revival.
Original: 9 men, 8 women
A newly revised version of this comedy is available; all the laughs, but much easier to produce!