The "happy time" of the title is the growing up of twelve-year-old Bibi Bonnard, youngest member of a gay, uninhibited French family living in Ottawa. Bibi's father is a good-humored whimsical musician, leader of a vaudeville orchestra, who wants his son to grow up to appreciate the warmth and humor of life, and to understand that "to be truly a man one must know two things: One must know love, one must know truth." The other men of the family are: young, exuberant Uncle Desmonde, bon vivant, travelling salesman, and "Casanova of Canada"; Uncle Louis, who drinks wine from a water cooler, and "has not let the thought of work disturb his slumbers in twenty years"; and Grandpere, who believes that one lives only as long as one loves, and is determined to live forever. The quieting influence in this mercurial household is Bibi's mother, Maman, a Scot among Frenchmen, who tries with amused determination to rule her men with some kind of order and usually fails, though in so doing she manages to retain her good-humored tolerance. It is Maman who warns the men that their carefree ways may someday get Bibi into trouble, but when her prediction comes true and the trouble comes, she has reason to be proud of her, for they really rally like the Three Musketeers, rise to the occasion, and show their true honesty and humanity. They strike a blow for freedom, and in a scene that is warmly humorous and deeply touching, Bibi learns what it is "truly to be a man."
A great comedy success on Broadway, and a most happy and carefree theatrical treat.