Charles E. L. (Charles Edgar Lewis) Wingate.

The playgoers' year-book, for 1888. Story of the stage the past year with especial reference to Boston .. online

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Online LibraryCharles E. L. (Charles Edgar Lewis) WingateThe playgoers' year-book, for 1888. Story of the stage the past year with especial reference to Boston .. → online text (page 1 of 8)
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' This i> the night that either makes me or fordoes me quite."— Act V.




FOR 1888.





Narrative of the plots of all the new Plays and Operas, histories

of each work, analyses of the plays and the acting, comments

of many authors and actors on their own pieces, full casts

of characters of the principal performances, complete

record of the theatrical year in Boston^ lists

of theatre officials, biographical sketches, and


With Illustrations of Plays.




Entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1887, by Charles E. L. Wingate, in
the office of the Librarian of Congress, at 'Washington.

f=l ScoTT ^^(T^

3(. 1^5-


It is hoped by means of The Playgoers' Year-Book to
preserve in convenient form the records of the stage, and
though written essentially for Boston, yet, as every leading
.ttraction visits this city and as the history of each play is
riven, the book is practically a record of the American
ctage for the time covered within the dates. It is the first
dramatic year-book to be published in this country,
although corresponding publications exist in London and in
Paris. Most of the pictures are from The Theatre, a maga-
zine whose general excellence guarantees their fidelity to
life. For the sake of ccomparison in future, it may be well to
state that there have been given during the year, besides the
farnil'ar works, forty-nine plays, five operas and two ballets
new to Boston.





Nearly a quarter of a century ago a young man left his desk in
the office of a Boston newspaper to accept the management of one
of the leading theatrical institutions of the country, assuming upon
the shortest notice responsible duties that required both energy,
tact and executive ability to carry through successfully. That he
did succeed completely is made evident by the fact that now his
name stands among the highest in the roll of able and brilliant
theatre directors.

It was on the 15th. of February, 1864, that Mr. Richard M. Field
became manager of the Boston Museum. Mr. E. F. Keach, who
for three and a half years had carried on the work mapped out by
the first stage manager of the Museum, Mr. W. H. Smith, died on
the last day of January, and before twenty-four hours had elapsed
he proprietor of the theatre, Hon. Moses Kimball, had offered the
vacant position to his journalist friend. Mr. Field delayed a few
ays for deliberation, and then accepted the proffer, taking charge of

vi. Dedicatory Preface.

the theatre at once and continuing at his post without intermission
to the present time, thus making himself the senior in official service
of all theatre managers in Boston.

He was a Boston boy, the son of a well-known Boston teacher.
After graduating from the Latin School and finding, upon the death
of his father, that his plans for a collegiate course must be aban-
doned, the young man had taken up the following of a sailor until
near his twentieth year. Then returning from a cruise around the
world he accepted an appointment on the staff ot the Boston Post
and there remained several years, at the same time having a con-
nection with the Saturday Gazette. During this period he not only
obtained an insight into dramatic affairs, through the connection
brought about by his newspaper work, but also won the friendship of
Mr. Keach and of Mr. Kimball. It was, therefore, not unnatural
that the proprietor of the Museum should turn to Mr. Field when
there came the necessity for a new business chief.

From the day when Rosedale ushered m his management at the
Museum, with its first performance in Boston, up to the present
time there has been manifested that sincerity and uprightness, co-
operating with administrative ability and keenness of foresight
which have resulted in giving to the Boston Museum continued suc-
cess and lasting fame, and in establishing fixedly the high reputa-
tion of Mr. Field as a theatre manager.


/3J — fe\

^^ January, f -^

Miss Fortescue in Gretchen and King Rene's Daughter. — Gala-
tea AND Bal Costume Ballet. — Mme. Modjeska in Daniela.

— Coppelia Ballet, — The Main Line. — Lawrence Barrett
in Rienzi. — The Humming Bird. — Louis James in Virginius.

— Caught in a Corner.

^^HE playgoer who at the opening of the new year, 1887, glanced
{^ at the prospectus of the theatrical events with the expectation

T of seeing many novelties proffered for his selection at the out-
set could not have been disappointed, for January was brimming with
musical and dramatic first performances. Taking opera, drama and
ballet, there were eight works given their initial Boston production,
besides three important revivals of old pieces.

Running at the various theatres as the year came in were Princess
Ida at the Globe, The Black Crook at the Boston, The Chouans at
the HoUis Street, Sol Smith Russell in Pa at the Park, and Held by
the Enemy at the Museum. The latter play was destined for a long
run, its successful picturing of domestic and military life during the
Rebellion serving as a great attraction, while the story, narrating the
love of a Union officer for a Southern maiden and his honorable but


The Playgoers' Year-Book. [January,

The Court Martial is Held by the Enemy at the Museum.

trying action when the spy, whom he suspects as his rival, is cap-
tured, proved very interesting. Among the most striking scenes
were those where Col. Prescott, the hero, is obHged to search the

home of the heroine
to capture her cousin,
the spy ; where Rachel
at the court martial, in
a moment of j>assion,
accuses the Union of-
ficer of desiring to con -
vict the Rebel youth
because they are ri
vals ; and where the
escape of the spy is
attempted under plea
that he has died, the result sliowing that such really was the case though
his friends supposed the stretcher bore a living man.

The theatre patron, eagerly attending the first new piece of the
year, went on the evening of January t, to the Park Theatre there
to see Miss May Fortescue, the English actress, in the play which W.
S. Gilbert, the well known satirist, had written expressly for her, and
called Gretchen. Founded upon the noble drama of the great
German poet, the piece attempts to picture, in modernized form, the
mythical tale of the rejuvenated Faust, not in the shape of a bur-
lesque, but rather of a serious parody. It was first given in America
at the New York Lyceum, Oct. i8, i8S6, and was first heard in Bos-
ton on this January 3. There is little to justify the parody of
Goethe's work, and it merits but scanty commendation. To be
sure there are bright lines and witty phrases, — such must be the
case when Mr. Gilbert tries his hand at any style of writing, — but
beyond that not much is to be said. The general question of the
utility or propriety of parodying a dramatic poem of the exalted
character of Faust is also open to consideration. Miss Fortescue,
made her first appearance in Boston and as an actress was found
wanting. She had personal qualifications, prettiness of features,
exquisite form and an attractive voice that adapt her for public
appearance, but her action was limited and weak.





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Online LibraryCharles E. L. (Charles Edgar Lewis) WingateThe playgoers' year-book, for 1888. Story of the stage the past year with especial reference to Boston .. → online text (page 1 of 8)