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

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54 The Playgoers' Year-Book. [September,

charge of illegitimacy strives to lead the young man to give up his
claim on Daisy, and thus leave an open field for Selby, and also by
the latter's desertion of Mabel, for Trevor in that direction. But
Harry ascertains that in fact he is the eldest son of Squire Selby, and,
therefore, heir to the estates that were thought to be destined for
George. Capt. Trevor meanwhile, by the aid of an agent of his,
Mrs. VVillmore, who pretends she wants Daisy to become a companion
to a rich lady, has the girl led into a house of questionable
reputation and drugged, and there the unfortunate maiden
is met by George Selby. The young man has been drinking
heavily and is naturally induced to look upon Mabel's pre-
sence in that house in a light bad to her name, though when
he learns the truth, then his innate manhood causes him to
aid Lucy Byefield, Trevor's repentant victim, in helping the
girl to escape. But Trevor, who is in favor with the old
Squire, slanders the boy so that even the father supposes him guilty
of leading Daisy astray. Squire Selby hears, too, of certain
promises to pay that the son has given conditional on the death of
the father, and an angry quarrel between the two is instigated.
Then comes the meet and the fall of the Squire while leaping a
hurdle, leading Trevor to claim of the expected heir the lands which
in an unsuspecting moment the betrayed youth had signed away.
But these plans of the villain are frustrated by Harry Copsley
announcing that he is the rightful heir. The race forms the central
scene for the climax. George has entered his race horse, '' Daisy,"
aiid if the animal wins the owner will gain a host of bets. The two
pursuing enemies, with a claim for debt to back them, attempt to
seize the horse before the run, but their first essay is turned to
naught by Harry's quick wit, which makes them think that an old
cob horse on a railroad train is the wished-for nag, and draws their
attention far away from the real racer. The fellows, however, return
in time to arrest Daisy just previous to the start, but here the father
comes to the front, borrows the necessary funds, frees the mare, and
away she goes to victory. The race is won, the Selby honor is
maintained, and the hero and the heroine, Harry and Daisy, secure
their hearts' desire also in a happy union.

The play is brimming with plot, and though it has no sign of



1887]. The Red Lamp. 55

literary quality, with its flowery love scenes and high-strung senti-
ment, yet there is plenty of terse, spirited action, an appropriate
mixture of humor and pathos, and some very attractive realistif
pictures of the meet and the race. The company carried the
various roles fairly well, the best acting being by Frank E. Lamb,
who proved an ideal sentimental good-natured groom, D. J. Ma-
guinnis whose special class of humor appeared to advantage as
Charlie Sandown, Frank Losee who ably pictured the cool, collected
schemer, and Miss Grace Thorne, whose representation of a duped
but repentant woman, wTas earnest, and at the critical moment full of
fiery energy.

The second new play of the season at the Museum was given
September 19, receiving its first presentation in America and follow-
ing by only a few months its initial production on any stage. TIu
Red La7/ip by W. Outram Tristram, was originally brought out at the
Comedy Theatre, London, April 20, 1S87, serving then to introduce
Herbert Beerbohm-Tree as a theatre manager and giving to that
actor opportunity for playing Demetrius, while Lady Monckton, the
talented ex-amateur and original of Mrs. Ralston in Ji?n, the Pen-
man created the role of the Princess Claudia. ]\Iiss Marion
Terry was at that time the Olga of the cast.

The story has a Nihilistic scheme for its central plot, and its title
comes from the signal used to warn the conspirators when danger is
at hand. The Princess Claudia, at the opening of the play, is a
warm supporter of the Czar, and a hater of the NihiUsts. Her
husband is Gen. Morakoff, and a friend with whom she works
assiduously against the plotters is Demetrius, chief of the secret
police. But one night while rejoicing over a successful raid which she
instigated, the Princess learns from Ivan Zazzulic, an editor who has
been supposed to be a most loyal Russian but who is in truth an
enemy of the Czar, that her brother, the Prince Alexis, is a Nihilist,
and more than that, is in the power of Ivan, for the latter possesses
a photograph of a group of conspirators in which is the young
Prince. The sister, devoutly loving her brother, needs must make
terms with this rejected lover of hers, Ivan, and henceforth when-
ever a raid is contemplated must signal the danger by placing a red
lamp in a particular window. But Fclise. a French lady's maid.



56 The Playgoers' Year-Book. [September,

notes the unusual location, and, with a bribe as her reward, discloses
to Demetrius the signal. The chief, imagining that it is a love in-
trigue with Ivan which occasions this treachery, informs the husband,
and as a result the lamp is removed to the General's own room. To
warn Alexis and his friends the Princess, accompanied by Allan Vil-
liers, an ever ready American journalist who is betrothed to Olga,
the stepdaughter of Claudia, goes to the Nihilist headquarters, the
studio of one Turgan, a sculptor, not, however, without being
detected by Felise, who informs the police chieftain. From this
studio a mine has been dug out to the street and everything prepared
to blow up the Czar when he passes, Alexis being chosen to fire the
fuse from a distant spot. Demetrius enters, but finds nothing
incriminating, though to the dismay of Alexis and Ivan he taps the
wall with his cane at points dangerously near the spring that would
fire the mine. The officer has barely left the house when Claudia
and the New York Herald correspondent approach. She pleads
with her brother, but he will not desert his comrades. When she
declares that she will take him away from these associations the
Russian journalist offers a threat with his dagger that is coolly met
by the revolver of the American newspaper man. The latter's quick
wit saves his sweetheart's step-mother from yet another danger, for
Demetrius is again seen at the gate with the (general. Allen then
has Alexis instantly write a letter to his sister saying that he is
suddenly stricken with sickness and calling upon her to come, and
when the two excited men rush in expecting to catch the Princess
with her lover, this letter and the prostrate form of the youth avert
suspicion. In the final act of the drama the traitorous Ivan indites
a letter offering to betray his companions in exchange for his own
pardon, and the letter being intercepted leads to Alexis demanding
a return of the incriminating photograph. The youth, however,
falls under the knife of Ivan, and I\'an himself, it is intimated,
becomes a victim to the dagger of a Nihilist servant. To prevent
the other conspirators from carrying out the plot the Czar is warned
by the Princess, through her faithful ally, Villiers, and she herself tells
her husband that Alexis has died for Russia, which seems to satisfy
everyone, and removes all cause for further deception or suspicion.
The play is interesting but is lacking in sustainetl strength and



1887]. The Red Lamp. 57

sentimental, or love, feature. It has no comedy and has but three
characters that fully hold attention, while the ending leaves the story
unfinished and tinged with uncertainty. Mr. Barron, as the shrewd
old man of mystery, was complete in his make-up, so disguised as to
be unrecognized until he spoke, while his acting was of highest order.
Miss Clark, who returned to the Museum after a year's vacation, was
admirable as the Princess, particularly in the scenes of defiance to
Ivan and later to Demetrius. Miss Annie Chester practically made
her first appearance as a member of the company, (she had played
in The Dominie's Daughter three nights after Mrs. Vincent was
stricken) and showed much ease of manner for a debutante, as well
as a good conception of good acting.



^f^ October. " I^-^



SOI'HIA AT THE MuSEUM. — BOUCICAULT IN PhRYNE : ThE RoMAXCE

OF A Young Wife. — Le Grand Mogul. — Philopene. — A Hole
IN THE Ground.

l(§h EARLY every enthusiastic play-goer delights in attending the
J A first night of a new play, but the Bostonians who wished to view
the openings of all the novel pieces of October found them-
selves in a quandary. Though there were five novelties, all but one
(and that a skit which can be left out of consideration) came on the
same night.

On the evening of October 17th, Robert Buchanan's pastoral
comedy of Sophia, founded on Fielding's famous novel, was pro-
duced at the Museum. To transform Tom Jones as Fielding left it,
into drama seems a delicate task, and when, as at the present time,
the novel itself is rightly withheld from younger readers it would
appear that a presentation on the stage would be dangerous. So it
would, indeed, if the moral, or, more properly speaking, immoral
tone of the book was preserved, for the theatrical representation
would certainly be more glaring and offensive than the written page.
But Robert Buchanan has adopted a happy solution of the difficulty,
and while he presents the vigorous and faithful portrayal of life that
characterized Fielding's tale, yet cleanses it of the taints that are so



1887]. Sophia. 59

condemnatory. Sophia was originally brought out at the Vaudeville,
London, April 12, 18S6, with Charles Glenney as Tom Jones, Thomas
Thome as Partridge and Miss Kate Rorke as Sophia. It was given
its first American performance at Wallack's Theatre, New York, the
fourth day of the following November, Kyrle Bellew in the latter
production playing the hero, and Miss Annie Robe the heroine.

The story in the play begins on the lawn before the house of
Sophia's father, Squire Western, and then the open-souled, happy-go-
lucky lover of pretty Sophia is introduced together with Blifil. the
double-faced prater on morals and philosophy, the detested rival for
die maid's hand. As the tale progresses, Tom is driven from the
home of his dear old guardian, Squire Allworthy, who has taken the
foundling to his heart but sends him off after Blifil's wily insinuations
have done their work, and seeks refuge in the barber shop of
Partridge, to whom the young man had shown kindness in past days.
Blifil now tries to get Tom to flee the country, but the latter refuses and
afterwards helps Sophia, who has run away from the disliked
marriage with the sneak, to escape to London, follows her there, and
to learn her whereabouts calls upon the woman of fashion, I>ady
Bellaston. That interesting person, although she has Sophia as a
visitor in the house at that moment, professes that the girl is not in
London and gives Tom several broad hints that he might look
higher in his love affairs. But our honest friend doesn't care to
change his affection, even if it would bring him wealth instead of
leaving him so financially embarrassed as to have in his wardrobe the
single spare shirt which I^artridge, his devoted follower, is soon dis-
covered putting through the washing process. To the wretched
quarters of the two men comes Mistress Honour, Sophia's maid, and
after her very comical, dignified reception by the barber, a second
visitor approaches. It is Lady Bellaston and, while Mistress Honour
concealed in a closet watches, the wealthy admirer of Tom thrusts
her attentions upon him, even to the point of presenting a kiss, but
at the announcement of Sophia's approach rushes away into Tom's
bedroom. The number of hiding ladies grows more embarrassing
when the entrance of Squire Western drives his daughter into con-
cealment, and the unfortunate situation of the hero may be
surmised as the indignant father, searching for his daughter, whom



6o The Playgoers' Year-Book. [October,

he had been following, brings forth Lady Bellaston. Sophia is of
course angry, and away she goes after speaking her mind to poor
Tom. But at the inn of the " Bull's Head " affairs are shortly
cleared up, for Sophia's maid has a story to tell regarding Mrs.
Bellaston's conduct in the attic, and besides that the falsity of Blifil
is discovered, and the aid of " Black George " Seagrim and of Molly
Seagrim, the gypsy daughter of the poacher, who has an amorous
claim on Blifil, brings Tom into good repute, making matrimony the
prospective feature for the hero and heroine, for the barber and the
maid, and also for Tom's inappreciative tutor. Square, and Squire
Western's maiden sister.

Sophia may unhesitatingly be pronounced a graceful, pretty play,
with a breezy atmosphere of the wholesome order pervading it, and
with many touches of nature to appeal to the observer, while
throughout all a line of pathos continues that affects the memory
more, perhaps, than any other characteristic of the piece. The
character drawing is very good. In Tom Jones and Blifil are found
the counterparts of the two Surfaces of The School for Scandal
but this is not to be wondered at since Sheridan went to Fielding's
work for his originals in these cases, and the same fact explains what
all who read the plot must notice as a similarity of ideas between the
screen scene in Surface's room and the closet scene in Jones's attic.
Mr. Barron's Tom Jones was a strong delineation in its marking of
the strength of character below the harum-scarum habits. Miss
Clark's Lady Bellaston was an artistic impersonation finished in every
particular and possessed of much fascination. Miss Evesson dropped
all her mfantile manners and tones, and with sweetness and simplicity
presented the personification of purity and innocence, while her
appearance was most charming. Mr. Seymour's own personality
was completely sunk in Squire Western, and his portrayal of the
irritable and irrational father was as bluff and hearty and natural as
life. Mr. Wilson's Partridge was a pleasing figure.

The author of Sophia in a letter to the London Era said : " I
contend that I have in no respect perverted the spirit, while carefully
suppressing the letter of Fielding's great fiction. The character of
Sofjhia Western, which I have transferred without a change from
mud-bespattered pages, dominates my drama as it really dominates



1887]. The Romance of a Young Wife. 61

the novel — a type of female purity, so fresh, so wholesome, and so
virginal that it imparts to the entire work an atmosphere of purity.
With regard to Tom Jones I have certainly purified that scapegrace
a little to fit him for a young lady so infinitely his superior, but it is
untrue to say that I have made him immaculate. "

Boucicault's new play of Pkryne was originally brought out in San
Francisco, Sept. 19, 1887. On the 17th. of October it was given its
first Boston production at the Hollis Street Theatre, the name,
however, having added to it the sub title which was later on to
become the sole title, The Romance of a Young Wife. Mr. Bouci-
cault in a letter said of this : " I am told that the tide of my last
work, Phryne, is suggestive of a play of the Camille or Marble Heart
class. I am sorry for that. There is no such matter in it. So I
intend to alter the title to The Romance of a Young Wife.
Without making any pretence to purism, I think it better to select
subjects and characters and incidents free from objection or offence.
Moliere used to try the effects of his plays on his old housekeeper.
I prefer to try mine on a child, and I enjoy no applause more than
that of a boy or girl who listens with open mouth and heart, eager to
laugh or cry. So I am content to sing my simple, clean strains to the
sympathies rather than to the passions."

Phryne is the wife of Mark Carrington, and thinking herself
neglected by her husband she seeks the company of gay people who
are not exacdy of the best class. Carrington locks her out and
afterwards, when Phryne seeking the shelter of a friend, Mrs.
Downey, is treacherously brought by a villainous lover of hers,
Shirley Vercker, to his villa, Mark finds his wife there and naturally
supposes she is utterly abandoned. But Phryne escapes without
harm, becomes a governess, and in the end returns to her husband,
for he at last discovers the truth. The play is well constructed and
the situations strong, so that it meets favor. Miss Thorndyke did
excellently as the foolish young wife while Mr. Boucicault's Jack
O'Beirne, the frank friend of husband and wife, was thoroughly
faithful to truth.

The new opera for Boston on the 1 7th. of October was .\udran's
Le Grand Mogul, presented by Maurice Grau's French Opera
])Ouffe Company at the Globe. The story relates to an Indian



62 The Playgoers' Year-Book. [October,

Prince, the heir to the Mogul, who is possessed of a necklace that
will turn black when its owner commits an indiscretion, and to his
love for Irma, a snake-charmer travelling with her mountebank
brother. An English captain enamored of Irma, and the Princess
Bengaline, enamored of her cousin, the Prince, seek to prevent the
love-match but are defeated, while an alteration of color in the
necklace is shown to be a trick of the Princess who changed the
beads with the vain hope that it would lead to the expulsion of the
Prince by his virtuous subjects, her own elevation to the Mogulship
and her intended forgiveness on condition of marriage. The
music was composed in 1877 to the libretto of M. Givot and was
first brought out in Paris in the Autumn of that year. On Oct. 29,
1 88 1, it was produced at the Bijou Theatre, New York, under the
name of The Snake Charmer. The music is tuneful, the text
improper and not particularly humorous. M'lle Julia Bennati, who
sang the role of Irma and made her first appearance in Boston, had
a well trained voice of agreeable quality.

Myra Goodwin gave at the Park Theatre on the evening of the
1 7th. of October the first performance in Boston of E. E. Kidder's
Philopene which had received its initial performance in Jersey City,
October 10. The pranks of a foundling, called Philopene because
she was the second child found by a merry doctor who had named
the first one Phillip, offer opportunity for a very light piece for a
vivacious star.

A new skit by Charles H. Hoyt, entitled A Hole in tlie Ground,
was first heard in Boston at the Park Theatre, October 31. It was
of the same nonsensical order that characterizes all of that author's
productions. Mrs. Charles H. Hoyt (Miss Flora Walsh) appeared
at the head of the company.



^1 November. |-»



Upside Down. — Pawn Ticket No. 210. — E. H. Sothern in The
Highest Bidder. — Mrs. Langtry in As in a Looking Glass. —
The Barrister at the Museum. — Frederick Warde in Gai.ba
AND in Gaston Cadol.

•jrN November the busy season of the theatre is near its height and
X ^^ ^^^^ ^^'^^ surprising to find an immense variety offered upon the
T local stage, from nonsensities to farces, farce-comedies, dramas
and tragedies. Passing over the two novelties of the 14th,
Thomas A. Daly and John J. McNally's Upside Down (first produced
at Ware, Mass., August 22) carried out at the Hollis by the Daly
family company, and Clay M. Greene and David Belasco's Pawn
Ticket No. 2 JO (first produced at Chicago, September 12) given by
Lotta at the Park — both designed to meet the requirements of the
so-called "skit" order of performance, and to go no farther, — one's
.serious attention is first drawn to Mrs. Langtry's production, at the
Globe, on the 21st, of the dramatization of F. L. Phillips's unsavory
novel As in a Looking Glass. The book is a flashy, abasing com-
bination of suggestive social immorality and covert evil, but the play
is considerably tempered down. Yet, with no single word to offend,
the tone and influence is bad.



64 The Playgoers' Year-Book. [November,

Lena Despard is not a character who openly affronts public
opinion. On the contrary, she has the outward semblance of a
gentlewoman. Her position, in fact, corresponds to that of the
man of the world, and she may well be termed •' a woman of the
world." Her aim is to go through this life, getting from it the most
of what she would call " its pleasures," and while hesitating at
nothing beyond the pale of morality, yet preserving the appearance
of respectability. It is the old comparison of character and rep-
utation ; nevermind what the former is so long as the latter is kept
clean. Lena has allied herself with another adventurer, Capt. Jack
Fortinbras, and though the more skilled in rascally finesse than her
male associate, yet is totally in his unscrupulous power by reason of
his knowledge of her life. She plans to wed Algernon Balfour, a
wealthy young fellow, and with this mercenary aim separates
Algernon from his guileless fiancee, Beatrice Vyse, by means of lies
and tricks, and then arranges for Captain Jack to pay court to the
deluded innocent. Lena fails to materialize this latter plan, but
svicceeds in winning Balfour, though often near exposure. A strange
old fellow. Count Paul Dromiroff, the head of the Russian secret
service, has taken an odd interest in the charming adventuress and
he it is who saves her from being exposed, at the end relieving her
of Captain Jack who has betrayed his " pal " to Balfour. But Lena
has a genuine affection for her husband and, rather than disgrace
him, commits suicide.

Lena Despard is a woman willing at all times to lie, to gamble, to
indulge in amours, to cheat, to play the hypocrite, in fact, to do
anything in the code of im-morals, and with this standing she goes
prosperously through life until the final collapse. She has the quality
of a Siren in her beauty, and this feature Mrs. Langtry fully supplied,
but in her attempt to meet the demands of the acting, Mrs. Langtry
failed by lack of genuine feeling. While the actress posed and
gestured with studied appropriateness, all seemed to be superficial and
hence non-affective in an emotional point of view. Her death scene
was repulsive, a gymnastic performance that was terribly inartistic.
The play itself is vapid and slow, without sufficient briskness to re-
deem its absence of wit and oftentimes unfinished in detail. This
was the first production of As in a Looking Glass in Boston. Mrs.



1887]. laE Highest Bidder. 65

Langtry had brought the play out in New York the 19th. of
September, having the questionable honor of giving then the first
American exposition of the tale. In London Mrs. Bernard Beere,
at the Opera Comique, on the i6th. of May had presented a version
by F. C. Grove as the pioneer in the field. Frank Rogers con-
itructed Mrs. Langtry's version.

On the same evening that the noted English actress appeared
at the Globe the son of a famous English actor made his Boston
debut as a star at the HoUis Street. His father, the late Edward A.
Sothern, of Dundreary fame, had left a " trunkful of plays " that
seemed destined to bring fortune to the younger of the name.
Edward H. Sothern had been intended as a painter by his father,
and he certainly has displayed talent as a sketch artist. But the
youth preferred to follow the path beaten out by his parent and to
that end served his apprenticeship under the elder Sothern in New
York and at the Boston Museum, and then in spite of the objections
of the older actor adopted the stage permanently, played in England,
at one time with his brother Lytton Sothern, and in America as
support to John McCuUough, Estelle Clayton (sister to Isabella
Evesson) and Helen Dauvray, besides touring in a farce of his own,
called IVhose Are They ? as well as with several combination
companies. Then in that " trunkful of plays " he discovered
The Tlighest Bidder, Q. {OiXce.-covi\Q(lY that was to lift him from the
ranks of ordinary actors to the eminence of a star. The elder
Sothern had intended to play the piece in this country, but death
intervened. He had suggested many of the incidents to the veteran
author of Box and Cox, Madison Morton, and that famous fiirce
creator, in conjunction with Robert Reece, another well-known
dramatist, worked up tiie humorous auctioneer story. Originally it
was called Trade, but when Manager Frohman of the New York
Lyceum Theatre secured the play from the younger son of the
comedian the title was changed to a more striking appellation, while
certain modernizing changes were made by David ]]elasco. Sothern
played the leading role at the initial performance at the Lyceum,
May 3, 1887.

The play shows the adventures of Jack Hammerton, a good-
hearted, blundering fiUow, who does his best for the father of his


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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 5 of 8)