THE LUCKY ONE is the timeless story of antagonism between two brothers: Gerald, who stands in the sun and Bob, who stands in Gerald’s shadow. When Bob finds himself in serious legal trouble, he turns to Gerald for rescue. When Gerald fails to come through, years of simmering resentment boil over in a confrontation that is as stirring as it is surprising.

“Few plays have ever been more directly and deeply searching of the springs of conduct; more subtle in depicting essential character.” The New York Times, 1922

Alan Alexander Milne had been the assistant editor and a regular contributor to Punch Magazine for ten years before he joined the war effort at the age of 32, as a signals officer. It was in the Army that Milne first turned his hand to playwriting, which he considered a luxury for a journalist. “When an article is written,” Milne explained, “the financial reward is a matter of certainty…But when a play is written, there is no certainty of anything save disillusionment…I thought I could write one (we all do) but I could not afford so unpromising a gamble. But once in the Army the case was altered.”

As a soldier, Milne felt entitled to spend his leisure time as he wished, and he began writing plays. His earliest efforts were published in 1919 in a volume called First Plays. Milne remarked in the Introduction, “THE LUCKY ONE was doomed from the start with a name like that…I see no hope of its being produced.”

Despite Milne’s prediction THE LUCKY ONE was produced in 1922 in New York, his sixth Broadway production in less than two years, including Mr. Pim Pases By and The Truth About Blayds, both produced by the Mint. A.A. Milne was now “that extraordinarily brilliant theatrical prospect,” and provoking envy and dismay from fellow playwrights:

“Something, preferably of a harsh nature, will have to be done about Mr. Milne. He is steadily monopolizing the theatres of the habitable globe for the performance of his plays…He has not yet taken possession of the sixty theatres of New York, but if he continues to occupy them at his present pace, the whole lot will soon be labelled, ‘Reserved for Mr. Milne!” (St. John Ervine, The Observer)

At once ironic and fanciful, the work of A.A. Milne spanned novels, light verse, essays, and children’s literature. Yet beyond his beloved Winnie-the-Pooh books, Milne wrote over two dozen plays marked by “enchanting ingenuity” (E.V. Lucas), skillful craftsmanship, and subtle wit. Peering beneath the polite surfaces and semblances of English life, Milne concealed a serious and penetrating eye under a charmingly light touch.

The youngest son of educator John Vine Milne, Alan Alexander Milne was born in London on January 18th, 1882. He attended his father’s Henley House school, followed by Westminster School and Trinity College, Cambridge. Admired for his humorous verse and sketches, Milne became editor of Cambridge’s The Granta, and displayed so much promise in the pages of Punch that, at the age of twenty-four, he was promoted to assistant editor. With the advent of WWI, Milne departed Punch to serve as a signals officer with the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. In his spare hours, Milne devised his first play: Wurzel-Flummery, produced in the West End in 1917.

Milne’s breakthrough came with the sensational 1920 London premiere of Mr. Pim Passes By, followed by its 1921 production by the Theatre Guild. The Stage praised Mr. Pim as “one of the most delightful comedies (New York) has seen in many months,” and predicted that “Mr. Milne’s…future work will find a ready market in America and England.” Indeed, no less than three Milne comedies opened during the 1921-22 Broadway season: The Great Broxopp, The Dover Road, and The Truth About Blayds, for which Alexander Woollcott named Milne “the happiest acquisition the English theatre has made since it captured Shaw and Barrie.” Though increasingly saddled with a reputation for “whimsy,” Milne demonstrated his versatility with Broadway productions of The Romantic Age, and his 1917 play The Lucky One, produced by the Theatre Guild in 1922.

The 1924 publication of When We Were Very Young, followed by Winnie-the-Pooh (1926), marked a pivotal change in Milne’s fortunes. Immortalized by his creation of the Hundred Acre Wood, Milne was increasingly passed by as a writer for adults. Milne later reminisced in his Autobiography of his critical decline, “…The hero of my latest play, God help it, was ‘just Christopher Robin grown up.’” Enjoying his last stage successes in the late 1920s, Milne’s career in the theatre gave way to fiction and essays. He died on January 31, 1956. By this time, his children’s books had sold some seven million copies, though much of Milne’s other writing languished out of print.

With its 2004 production of Milne at the Mint—an effervescent pairing of Mr. Pim Passes By with The Truth About Blayds—Mint Theater memorably restored Milne to the stage’s spotlight. Wilborn Hampton commented in The New York Times, “Seeing Mr. Pim and Blayds in repertory reveals Milne as an able craftsman with a droll sense of humor whose work maintains a valid theatrical vitality.” With The Lucky One, the Mint is delighted to return to the work of A.A. Milne, a playwright of enduring charm, depth, and surprise.

 

Cast

Paton Ashbrook
Ari Brand
Andrew Fallaize
Michael Frederic
Robert David Grant
Wynn Harmon
Cynthia Harris
Deanne Lorette
Peggy J. Scott
Mia Hutchinson-Shaw

Creatives

  • Directing Jesse Marchese
  • Sets Vicki R. Davis
  • Costumes Martha Hally
  • Lights Christian DeAngelis
  • Sound Toby Algya
  • Props Joshua Yocom
  • Dialects and Dramaturgy Amy Stoller
  • Casting Stephanie Klapper, CSA
  • Production Stage Manager Jeff Meyers
  • Assistant Stage Manager Kelly Burns
  • Illustration Stefano Imbert
  • Graphics Hey Jude Design, Inc.
  • Advertising The Pekoe Group
  • Press David Gersten & Associates

MEET THE DESIGNERS

SATURDAY, APRIL 15 after the matinee

Director Jesse Marchese and his design team will talk about the process, the production and the play—and answer your questions.

JEANNE SAFER, AUTHOR OF CAIN’S LEGACY: LIBERATING SIBLINGS FROM A LIFETIME OF RAGE, SHAME, SECRECY AND REGRET

SUNDAY, APRIL 23 after the matinee

Jeanne Safer, PhD is a psychotherapist who has been in private practice for over forty years, and the author of six acclaimed and thought-provoking books on neglected psychological issues including Cain’s Legacy: Liberating Siblings from a Lifetime of Rage, Shame, Secrecy and Regret. She has appeared on television (“The Today Show,” “Good Morning America,” and “CBS World News Tonight”) and contributed articles to The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and other publications. Dr. Safer’s discussion will focus on the play’s depiction of a sibling rivalry.

'As Charming as Usual?' A.A. Milne and The Lucky One
MAYA CANTU, THEATER HISTORIAN AND DRAMATURG

SATURDAY, APRIL 29 after the matinee

Maya Cantu is a theater historian, scholar, and Dramaturgical Advisor for the Mint. She received a D.F.A. in Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism at Yale School of Drama, and joins the Drama faculty of Bennington College this fall. Maya is the author of the book, American Cinderellas on the Broadway Musical Stage: Imagining the Working Girl from “Irene” to “Gypsy.” Her discussion will focus on the life and work of A.A. Milne, and on the contexts and influences informing The Lucky One.

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