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

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the Ursini family has been condemned to death, but through the
intercession of Claudia is pardoned by Rienzi. Then the nobles
combine and choose as the time for action that hour which marks
the marriage feast of Angelo and Claudia. During the banquet
they intend to assassinate the Tribune, But their plot is discovered
and frustrated by Rienzi, who pardons their condemnatory act only
on condition that they take the oath of allegiance to the State. The



1 8 The Playgoers' Year-Book. [January,

nobles swear allegiance, yet soon break their pledge and again rise
in revolt against the man of the people. They are defeated and
sentenced to death. Meanwhile young Angelo has quarreled with
Rienzi and becomes a prisoner with the rest of the nobility. Rienzi
would forgive the youth, but the latter will make no submission for
the pardon. The pleading of Claudia leads Rienzi, in spite of all,
to follow out his natural inclinations, and he resolves to spare his
daughter's husband. The elder Colonna, the head of that family,
has been killed, and lady Colonna, taking his place, urges on the
nobles, who once more rise against the Tribune, and this time with
success, for the people, wearied with the demands that have come
upon them of late from Rienzi, desert their leader and leave him to
stand alone. Rienzi is stabbed to death, and with this tragic picture
the play ends.

The tragedy is essentially a one-part play. The hero of the stor)'
is the all-in-all and scarcely any interest is felt in the other char-
acters. One cares very little what they do or what becomes of them,
except so far as their distribution may affect the single figure pre-
dominating over all.^ Even tlie love-passage between Angelo and
Claudia is but a point of advantage offered to Rienzi for the display
of parental affections and solicitude. The Tribune is the absorbing
portrayal of the life picture and each scene resolves itself into a
series of great oratorical efforts by Rienzi. The play as a whole
must be pronounced dramatically dull though well written from a
literary point of view. Its attraction, as presented by Mr. Barrett,
lay in its mounting, for under his guidance the various opportunities
for scenic display were so elaborated as to make the production a
grand pageant. The leading character, with its many speeches, well
suited Mr. Barrett's declamatory style of acting and was sustained by
him with strength and consistency.

Mr. Barrett, in speaking of Rienzi to the writer, said, " I saw that
just at the present time the people would like a play of this spec-
tacular order, with grand scenic effects and good music, and so I
brought out Rienzi. The chief character is a stilted one, no doubt
of that, but it gives a chance for some excellent surroundings.
Another writer than Miss Mitford would have made the play
stronger for the stage. I have altered it considerably so as better to



1887]. The Humming Bird — Virginius. 19

meet the wants of our audiences. The feature of Rienzi's great
love for his child has been interpolated, and the church scene has
also been put in. The character of Rienzi is certainly a good one
for oratorical effect. That indeed, was what the people wanted in
those days when Miss Mitford wrote."

The Salsbury Troubadours presented at the Park Theatre, January
24, for the first time in Boston Fred. Williams and George Stout's
farcical comedy The Hummbig Bird which had been originally
acted in St. Louis Nov. 26, 1886. The meagre plot relates to com-
plications occasioned by Augustus Honeymoon advertising, under the
name of ■' Humming Bird," for an actress and Joseph Brass also ad-
vertising for a stage artiste, and by Mrs. Honeymoon and other ladies
answering one or the other advertisement. The piece is of varying
character, in some parts good in others bad, opening rather dull but
ending brightly. It was carried through with sparkling humor by
the Troubadours.

The first appearance as " stars " in Boston, of Louis James and
Marie Wainwright was signallized January 24, by the revival of
Sheridan Knowles's Virginius at the Globe. 'Mr. James possesses a
fine appearance for the stage as well as a grand voice, deep and
sonorous, two natural characteristics that are eminently fitting for
the noble Roman father of history. At times he was too heavy
in his acting but he was always sincere, earnest and strong. Miss
Wainwright, barring her inclination now and then to rant and
gesture out of place, was an adequate Virginia. At the matinees
Mr. James and Miss Wainwright appeared in Romeo and Julie f and
Aluck Adv about Nothing, plays given mainly for the sake of pre-
senting Miss Wainwright in roles more prominent than that she had
in Virginius.

On the last day of January, a new play was presented at the
Globe, Caught in a Corner, which M. B. Curtis had originally
brought out in Williamsburg, N. Y., Oct, 4, 1886. As the title
indicates, a risky operator is " caught in a corner " of wheat. The
sleek good natured Jewish hero, a hero of middle age this time,
breaks up the comer in order to save his old friend. The piece is
a noisy farce tinctured with tame melodrama, and was but fairly well
acted.



^^ February. ^ -^



Boucicault's Fin Mac Cool. — Elixir of Love by the Ideals. —
Joseph Haworth in Hoodm.\n Blind. — Lorraine. — Marga-
ret Mather in London Assurance. — Rosina Yokes in The
Schoolmistress. — Mrs. Langtry in Lady Cl.ancarit.

HEN Mr. Boucicault with a flourish of trumpets announced
his intention of favoring Boston with the first hearing of
a new play on which he had been at work, keen interest was
awakened, for the comedies of this veteran author are " standard "
on the American stage. But as the story of the new piece leaked
out, old theatre-goers began to probe their memory for the originals of
various incidents, and finally when the play was brought out at the
HoUis Street Theatre, they had no difficulty in discovering that it
was a revised version of Boucicault's B^//t: Lama/% which was a drama
first lieard in this city at the Boston Theatre, Oct. 12, 1874. Bc/Ze
Lamar was written for John McCullough. but in Boston L. R.
Shewell played the role designed for Mr. McCullough, while
Alexander Fitzgerald, C. Leslie Allen, Gustavus Levick, George W.
Wilson, Dan. Maguinnis (who played also in the revival at the
Hollis Street), Mrs. Thomas Barry and Miss Olivia Rand were in
the cast.

Fin Mac Cool, as the new version was called, was given on the
evening of Thursday, February 3. The first and last acts occur in



1887]. Fin Mac Cool. 21

Newport, the second and third being laid in the Shenandoah Valley
during the war of the rebellion. Isabel Bligh, the wife of Philip
Bligh, an officer in the United States army, possesses all that
passionate devotion for her native State that characterized the
woman of the South during the war, and when the first guns are
fired she seeks to lead her husband to throw up his commission and
join the Confederacy. But he remains firm to his duty. Isabel,
however, with her warmth of temperament will not stay at the North
but, leaving her husband, flies to the South, hoping also that he, in
his love, will follow. Along with her goes Katie, her Irish servant,
the sweetheart of Fin, and the departure of this Celtic lass is the
incident that induces the immigrant boy, arriving in America just
before Katie has started South, to follow, as a soldier, his colleen.
The flight of Isabel is dramatic in character, since she goes upon a
United States vessel, which has been seized by Chauncey Lamar, a
Southern gentleman, and his associates, and which, as it sails out of
the harbor, comes under the guns of the fort, only to be saved from
destruction by Fin's learning that his Katie is on board and his
refusal, in consequence, to give the signal to fire. Philip leads his
troops to the Shenandoah and there unexpectedly meets his wife,
who is taken as a female spy. Lamar, too, is captured and con-
demned to death, but is saved by Fin lending him his military coat.
The ultimate action of the play proves to Philip the innocence of
his wife and the couple are reunited. Meanwhile Fin has been
tumbled about this way and that blundering ahead in search of his
sweetheart and giving to the play the element of comedy that the
Irish characters of Mr. Boucicault can so well create.

The play is practically a series of incidents rather than a closely
knit story while the character of Fin has so little genuine connection
with the central idea that if he had been cut out entirely the fact would
not have been noticed. The piece is not the equal in construction
of Mr. Boucicault's well known popular plays and lacks the constant
flow of bright wit that marks his Irish comedies. It was, however,
admirably acted by a strong company, Mr. Boucicault himself find-
ing in the good natured, simple hearted Irish immigrant-boy one of
those characters that he can so cleverly delineate.

On February 4, Donizetti's Adina or the Elixir of Love was



22 The Playgoers' Year-Book. [February,

revived at the Boston Theatre by the Ideal Opera Company ; this
organization first giving the work March 15, 1886, in Chicago.
The bright, melodious opera proved one of the chief successes of
the engagement, M'lle De Lussan and Messrs. Bamabee, Karl and
Clark carrying very well the leading roles.

There were two points of interest about the performance at the
Park Theatre on the night of February 7th. One was the return,
as a " feature" if not as an entire " star ", of Joseph Haworth,
formerly of the Museum Company and afterward leading man of
John McCuUough, to this city, where he has always been regarded
with something akin to " home " interest, and the other was the pro-
duction, for the first time in Boston, of Hoodman Blind, the play
written by Henry Arthur Jones and Wilson Barrett for the latter joint
author and actor. The drama was originally brought out August,
1885 at Mr. Barrett's theatre, The Princess's in London. It was
given its first American production at Wallack's Theatre, New
York, during the season of i885-'86, but then failed to win
success.

The story deals with the separation of the hero. Jack Yeulett,
from his wife, Nance, through the machinations of an enemy, Mark
Lezsard, a man whom Jack had beaten in the contest of love.
Mark shows the husband what appears to be his wife in the arms of
a gipsy lover, and when Jack afterwards takes Nance to task for
this and she persistently denies the calumny, the deluded husband,
angered at the supposed guilt and hardihood ot his wife, leaves
the village and becomes a wanderer in London. There one day
upon the banks of the River Thames he sees a poor, degraded
creature throwing herself into the water to end her miserable
existence. He saves the woman, called Jess, from this self-destruc-
tion, and then, to his astonishment, learns that she is the sister of
the wronged wife, and that she impersonated Nance at the time of
the meeting with the gipsy. Her resemblance to her sister made
it easy to play the part, especially as the gipsy was her lover. Jess
dies, but Jack and Nance are reunited, and that everything may come
out well in the good old-fashioned style, the villains are meted out
their proper punishment, so that while virtue is rewarded, vice
suffers.



188/]. HooDMAN Blind — Lorraine. 23

Hoodman Blind is a melodrama of the truly heroic class. There
is no sham about its construction. No startling point is strained to
bring in realism; no situation cast away to allow natural results. It.
is a melodrama pure and simple, out and out. The strength of the
play lies in its climaxes ; its weakness lies in the monotonous level of
its ordinary scenes. The tale deals with the lower middle classes of
England, compressing within its compas": enough events to fill out
the lives of a dozen village populations, beginning with a murder
and a conspiracy and keeping up the flow of crime, with corres-
ponding touches of misery, until very near the end, introducing
only a few attempts at lightness and those very weak. The climaxes,
though, are remarkably strong and effective, and as they are not
infrequent, the play has attractions for the lovers of sensationalism.

Mr. Haworth's impersonation of the hero was brimming with fire
and enthusiasm and in keeping with the melodramatic story. He
rehed, however, more upon his finely modulated voice and impas-
sioned action than upon delicacy of facial expression. Mr.
Haworth had changed the part in a number of respects from the '
original, especially by cutting down the long speeches.

Lorraine, Rudolph Bellinger's latest opera, was presented for the
first time in Boston at the Globe Theatre on the 14th, of February.
The work was first given to the public in October, 1886, at the
theatre in Hamburg, where young Dellinger presides as musical
director. It was the second opera of the composer, his first one,
Do7i Ccesar, having been successfully brought out some time
before. Lorraine had its initial production in America at Chicago
about six weeks previous to its Boston production.

The story of the opera is as follows : Louis XIV. of France
while at his hunting castle becomes much interested in a young
man named Lorraine, who visits the court in order to find out the
mystery of his parentage. He had been told by his mother that his
father, whom he never knew, was of noble birth, and so he goes
with his foster father, Pierre, (who had seen the real father once) to
Louis's court to find out what he can. At the same time Gaspard, a
nobleman of high position but of limited mental capacities, visits the
castle with his wife, Oudarde, and his niece Madeleine. Everybody
becomes fascinated with the lovely niece, and Lorraine, too, yields



24 The Playgoers' Year-Book. [February,

to her charms. But Gaspard, anxious to be friends with all,
promises the girl's hand to every man who asks, and thereby gets
into endless trouble. Meanwhile Lorraine steps forward and wins
Madeleine's love, and to make things end well it is discovered that
the hero is really the son of Louis XIIL, and the King, while he
conceals the father's name, yet announces that Lorraine is of high
birth and places him where he belongs, in the peerage.

The opera is of the serio-comic order, and in its text dull, heavy
and uninteresting. The music, however ,is bright and graceful
enough to win acceptance and on this feature its merit depends.
Miss Gertrude Griswold, the prima donna, taking the part of Mad-
eleine made her first appearance in Boston and though her voice was
light and inflexible, yet she proved an agreeable singer so far as
quality of tone was concerned. Miss Emily Soldene returned to
Boston to impersonate in Lorraine an " old woman " character.

The role of Lady Gay Spanker in London Assurance was assumed
by Margaret Mather for the first time in Boston on the evening of
the 2ist of February, at the Boston Theatre. Miss Mather brought
beauty, vivacity, high spirits and intelligence to the impersonation,
elements that can readily make Lady Gay acceptable at all times.

A. W. Pinero's farce The Schoolmistress, a new piece for Boston,
opened the engagement of Rosina Yokes and her company of semi-
amateurs at the Park Theatre on February 28. Its first American
production was at Cleveland, Ohio, Oct. 11, 1886. A farce in every
respect is this work, and all things about it are of the dashing,
rollicking order. The story is very simple. The heroine is Peggy
Hesslerigge, an articled pupil in a fashionable young ladies' boarding
school. The Princij)al, Miss Dyott, has succeeded in marrying a
real, genuine member of a noble family, Hon. Yere Queckett, who,
however, though a " gentleman," is decidedly attached to himself
above all others and is ready to make his way i:)lcasant through
life by drawing on his wife's money. She, in order to increase her
diminishing store, determines to use her voice in opera, and that
the proud relatives on the husband's side may not be shocked at
such a proceeding, the venturesome amateur does not even tell her
spouse what her purpose is when she leaves the seminary, but pre-
tends she is going to visit a friend in the country. Peggy is left in



188;]. The Schoolmistress — Lady Clancarty. 25

charge of the household, and that frolicsome young lady, having
learned that Hon Mr. Queckett is going to celebrate, on the evening
after his wife's departure, by a little supper to which some naval
officers are invited, compels the Hon. Vere to invite the pupils^
including, of course, Peggy herself, to the banquet. This brings on
a complication, for the house catches fire, Mr. Quickett's wife
returns unexpectedly, and there is a general consternation and
complication of situations. Some of the funny business of the play
depends on another complication. Dinah Rankling has been so long
a pupil at the school that her father. Admiral Rankling, doesn't recog-
nize her when he sees her at the little banquet, and as she has secretly
married a young fellow, Reginald Paulover, some mixed-up
incidents are brought about thereby.

The whole piece resolves itself into this confusion of fun, making
a lively entertainment of just that kind to tickle the risibles of in-
dividuals who delight in complications and care nothing for sense.
If the auditor looks for anything deep or delicate in construction he
will fail to find it in The Schoolmistress. As Miss Vokes herself said
of the piece : " It is nothing but a piece of nonsense, of course,
but thoroughly clever, and what is better still, pure nonsense." Miss
Vokes impersonated the part of Peggy with just that " bounce " and
superabundance of animal spirits that befit the character, and even
if at times she seemed excessively exuberant, yet there was so much
of natural drollery to her acting in the most of the play that she
made the part a taking one both to the thinking and the unthinking.

Mrs. Langtry appeared in the title role of Tom Taylor's Lady
Clajicarty for the first time in Boston at the Boston Theatre on the
28th of February. Her initial appearance in the part had been at
Chicago a short time previous. The play was not new to Boston
though a number of years had elapsed since its last hearing. Then
George Rignold appeared in the drama. Miss Ada Cavendish and
Thomas W. Keene, as well as Miss Annie Clarke and Charles Barron
at the Museum, had also played the leading characters here. Tom
Taylor's Lady Clancarty was originally produced at the Olympic
Theatre, London, March 9, 1874, by Miss Ada Cavendish as Lady
Clancarty, Henry Neville as Lord Clancarty, W. H. Vernon as Lord
Spencer and Charles Sugden as King William. The story briefly



»



26 The Playgoers' Year-Book. [February.

told runs in this way : Lord Clancarty and the daughter of the
Earl of Sunderland were married in youth, and having immediately
parted do not know each other when next they meet, ten years
afterwards. On this later occasion they fall in love with each other
and are finally happily reunited, the wife having testified her devo-
tion by pleading before King William for the pardon of Clancarty
who has been arrested as a traitor because of political complication
and the husband displaying commendatory bravery and love for
his lady.

Mrs. Langtry appeared to good advantage in this play by reason
of her beauty and dignity, so eminently befitting the romance of the
chief character. With much of the amateur in her performance she
yet brought out with effect the dramatic scenes of the play, notably
in the bed-chamber scene when Lord Clancarty seeks shelter there
and then first discloses that he is her husband, and in the scene
before the King where she pleads for her husband's safety.




MRS. J. R. VINCENT.

Born in Portsmoutli, Ensjfland, Sept. iS, iSiS; died in Boston, Sept. 4, 1SS7.



-»-| March: | -^



Antoinette Rigaud at the Museum. — A Double Lesson and A
Game of Cards. — Genevieve Ward in The Queen's Fav-
orite. — The Gypsy Baron.

TT was remarkable, indeed, for the chronicle of the third play of
f the season at the Boston Museum to be dated March 7, yet the
* phenomenal runs of the first two attractions of the year, Harbor
Lights with its 137 performance and Held by the Enemy with its
eighty-one performances, had postponed Antoinette Rigaud until the
Spring date. Raymond Deslandes's Antoinette Rigaud had never
been heard in America previous to the Museum production. It was
originally brought out at the Comedie Francaise, Paris, Sept. 30,
1885, and there ran for forty nights, a remarkable run at that theatre,
where frequent changes are the rule. The text was translated into
English by Ernest Warren and given by Mr. and Mrs. Kendall at
the St. James' Theatre, London, Feb. 13, 1886. Its story goes as
follows : The heroine, who bears the name of the title, is the sister
of Capt. Henri De Tourvel and is the wife of the wealthy M. Rigaud.
She undertakes the task of obtaining from Gen. De Prefond his consent
to the marriage of his daughter Marie with the gallant Captain. De
Tourvel is the orderly of the general, and much liked by the old
officer, but the latter, having seen his own wife, unable to bear the
trials of war, pass away, had vowed at her death-bed never to allow



28 The Playgoers' Year-Book. [March,

his daughter to become a soldier's bride, Henri cannot give up his
commission ; he is too poor. And thus the case stands when Antoi-
nette takes hold. But she, too, has a delicate love_ affair to manage.
An artist, Paul Sannoy, has painted her picture, and with his impul-
sive, romantic mind has fallen in love with the young wife, but the
affair had gone no farther than an exchange of letters. Meeting
Paul afterwards by chance at the General's house, she requests of
him her letters, and he out of honest regard for her as well as friend-
ship for her brother who had saved his life, promises to return the
notes. But he is unfortunate in his efforts to remove all suspicious
evidence against the lady, and nearly compromises her badly, for
just as he is leaving Antoinette's apartments, after having received
from her a medallion as a token of friendship that can go no farther,
who should knock at the door but M. Rigaud himself A situation
is imminent. Then the quick witted Antoinette hides her lover, and
after getting her husband into another room opens the door, while
Paul hastens to escape. The hall doors are locked, and his only
way lies through the room of Marie De Prefond. Quickly he opens
the window, slips out and is away. The servants, however, have
seen him scaling the wall and arouse the house with the alarm of
burglars. M. Rigaud declares he saw a man coming from the
window of Marie's room. Then Gen. De Prefond thinks he sees
through the millstone. Henri, he declares, has been trying to com-
promise Marie in order to compel her father to allow the marriage.
A proof of this, as he thinks, lies in the medallion of Henri's sister,
which had been dropped in the room. The noble-hearted brother
comprehends the plight that his sister is in and accepts the guilt.
But Antoinette will not suffer this. She lets Marie's father understand
the true import of Henri's act, and then when the Captain shows
his resignation from military life the old veteran can no longer hold
out but gives the young man his daughter and makes the two happy,
while Antoinette returns to her dutiful, if not the happiest, life with-
out a shade upon her character, M. Rigaud having no inkling of the
true state of affairs.

Antoinette Rigaud is prettily written though it has no especial
salient witticism. The opening scene is inclined towards slowness
but afterwards the story is told with stronger dramatic effect, and



1887]. A Double Lesson — A Game of Cards. 29

though the general idea of the plot is far from novel, yet the
strength of the climax, the self-sacrifice of the noble brother, is a
telling feature. The comedy on the whole is light and without "stay-
ing" powers. Mr. Vanderfelt as Henri found little to do until the last
scene, wherein he takes the guilt of his sister upon himself; then he
was strong, manly and sincere. Miss Evesson, while lacking in
voice and power of action, redeemed her Antoinette by earnestness
and naturalness. Miss Craigen portrayed Marie in a way that fully
indicated the pure girl's character. Mr. Coulter's honest, open-
hearted Mr. Rigaud was excellent even if rough. Mr. Burbeck, as
the artist lover, failed to make the most of his part. Mr. Hudson
especially succeeded in the bluffer portions of Gen. De Prefond's
action.

Rosina Vokes's second new piece for Boston, B. C. Stephenson's


2 4 5 6 7 8

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 2 of 8)