Variety (December 1912)

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20 VARIETY 3=E 1" I » '"■- - - YEARS OF DISCRETION. "The Darlings of the Gods" played two coiiMtuti\e : a.i«jiis in the pres ent Hi-public theatre (jhen the Belas- co). At the- end ui one of the most successful runs of a production in New York City. David I'elasco found him- self the possessor of $2,500 profit on an cn^a^ement that had heen continu- ously capacity With that in mind there is little to wonder at in the flawless and expen- sive cast Mr. Bclasco has selected to present the finely drawn three-act comedy, "Years of Discretion." written by Frederic Hatton and his wife. Fanny Locke llatton. It opened at the Bclasco Christmas night. With the piece, production and players perfectly keyed to one another and the enjoyment pulse of the public, "Years of Discretion" will run on. teaching the young mid old 'tis folly to be false to oneself, with the lesson written in lines of comedy. There is no "slapstick" in the laugh ter of this play, or in other words it is not noisy. "Kasy and smooth" (as one person remarked) would best de- scribe it. Mr. and Mrs. Hatton sketched in a human theme, and the Belasco com- pany is playing it right down to the ground. Effic Shannon has the lead- ing role, that of a widow at forty-eight. who flies from the suburbs of Boston obsessed with the aim to become youthful, gay, frivolous and flirtatious in New York. She accomplishes the first by the aid of a newly acquired French maid, and all that goes with the French maidery profession. Trans- formed from a mild mannered home woman, with plenty of money and a son twenty-four, into a glittering beauty of no age at all, the widow draws on bacholorites in about her same age class, at last engaging her- self to one. The third (and last) act is perhaps the truest note struck on the New York stage this season. The love-at- fifty couple reclaim themselves, admit that age after all is not to be denied, and leave their shells of sham to be- come natural and normal. It's a pretty scene, prettily set in the garden of a country house. Playing opposite Miss Shannon are Lyn Harding, the English actor and fortunate suitor; Bruce McRae, an Irish politician who illustrates his former profession by concocting new things in drink (and the cocktails Mr. McRae mixed seemed very real), and Robert McWade, in a wild role of a money seeking eccentric that fitted his style of stage work. If there is a choice between Messrs. Harding and McRae for second honors to Miss Shannon, it lies with "The Irish- man." Grant Mitchell as the twen- ty-four-year-old hopeful did well, and E. M. Holland, as a butler, gave an excellent performance. Herbert Kel- cey was another elderly suitor of an- other elderly widow. Alice Putnam and Mabel Bunyea (the French maid without a book-made accent) were in important roles. Ethel Petit and Grace Edmondston are also pro- gramed. A Victrola is the centre of a comedy scene. Miss Shannon's troubles in her modern accoutrements of a citifi d belle won large peals from the women, while the dialog often drew laughter and applause from all the house. Mr. Hatton is a Chicago newspaper man. He and his wife were called be- fore the curtain following the finale of the second act. Mr. Belasco like- wise appeared then. In "Years of Dis- cretion" the Hatton family has given New York dissolving views of love and life, with humor as the light, tiitne. FRIVOLOUS GERALDINE. Chicago, Dec. 26. Joseph E. Howard has written nu- merous good songs and has given the stagj several good musical comedies. He has once more arrived in the lime- light, this time with a musical farce, called "Frivolous Geraldine." The piece had its first Chicago hearing at the Olympic Sunday night before a house that was demonstrative to a degree. All the musical comedy fans were present, and Mr. Howard's many ad- mirers were there to see that his new- venture was properly received. llie show is one of those Parisian ;<flairs in which numerous figurantes H' in and out and cut up capers of more or less interest. Theodore Stemfel wrote the book and lyrics, and it is said that the piece was presented by amateurs at the University of Wisconsin at Madison a year ago, where it was received with much warmth. The story is not of any great con- science. It has to do with the love affairs of a young manicurist, with a flirtatious disposition. Mabel McCanc has this role. She sings well and is vivac.ous. Jack Gardner is the debon- air y.vjng hero, in which part he is manly and has some songs that are hits. George Fox, who has a manner of hi& ( wi. adds much to the general hilarity by his comic antics. Nita Al- len, recently one of the chief players in "The Military Girl," has a role in which her abilities have full play. She holds the interest well when on the stage. Leona Stephens is Vivctte, a gay young Parisiennc, and her hand- ling of the part is effective. The piece is in two acts. The first scene shows the interior of the Petite Blonde beauty parlors, and the second the exterior of the Cafe Blonde, both in Paris. The songs are melodious and there arc several which will find their way to the pianolas before long. While the show is not what might be called a rousing hit, it has elements of success, and will probably have a prosperous run at the Olympic. The reviewers for the daily press gave it fair, if not enthusiastic, com- ment. Mr. Howard is not taking part in his latest offering, but he was present for the premiere and received an ova- tion at the close of the first act. Reed. The Mrs. Francis Howlett Bowne, of Long Island, who figures so promi- nently in the celebrated elopement to the Orient with Jordan Lawrence Mott, also married, and the pursuit by Hector Fuller, the war correspond- ent, who sought to separate them, was formerly Frances Gibson, a chorus girl who appeared at the old Tivoli in San Francisco. THE QUESTION Local option as a subject for dramatic exploitation did not work out with en- tire success at Daly's where -"The Question," described as "a play of to- day," by Sherman Dix, was given its premiere late last week. It was uncommonly bad play for one thing, so bad the best acting in the world could not have saved it from swift and positive extinction. Mr. Dix appeared to be actuated by a desire to demonstrate that the hand is quicker than the eye and he did that with ab- solute conviction. There were situa- tions in the action that escaped the ^understanding of the audience entirely, as, for example, the climax of the sec- ond act. Not to dwell too long on a painful story, the Colonel's daughter and Bur- ton Carpenter, distiller, marry, and the daughter finally becomes a victim of her own husband's booze. Incidentally she spends a whole night away from home, presumably under the influence of Carpenter's red eye and under cir- cumstances which make it possible to put the worst possible construction on her absence. Of course, after his wife has "gone to the bad," Carpenter real- izes the error of his ways, and decides to use no more tanglefoot. But by that time the audience had been so har- rowed and made so uncomfortable it didn't care particularly what happened to the characters in the play. Olive May played the northern so- ciety matron, entertainingly, although the part was poorly constructed and rather futile. The best of the acting was handled by George W. Wilson, but his role of the half-seas-over South- erner was so entirely devoid of sym- pathy that his skillful work went for naught. "The Question" should never have been put on in the first place. It is not a pretty subject for discussion. The fact that Mr. Dix made it an excru- ciatingly bad play only added to the weight against it. Rush. AMERICAN ROOF. With a decided holiday spirit hovering over the audience the show at the American the last hair of last week got a lot more attention and applause than it deserved. The bill was good in spots, but as the audience was prob- ably thinking whut it was going to get at Christmas, they didn't seem to care what kind of a show was unfolded. As a Yuletide appetizer the management announced as a special feature. "Trapping Santa Claus' (New Acts), and the playlet proved a delightful surprise. Apollo is the ou Callon of the pop houses with his tottering ladder. Apollo, while not as daring as the KngliKhman, has enough thrills in his act to hold the small timers. The imitation of Crea- tore doesn t get the results expected. He should work up another "original bit" or two which would help. Jerge arid Hamilton sang and danced. The last number was the beHt liked. The woman Is growing careless about her dancing. Seymour and Robinson went along swim- mingly with their acrobats. The man took some hard falls which struck the American audience as being very funny. Jack Allman didn't appear to be in the best voice imagin- able Thursday night. A change of song pro- gram would help him. Just before intermission came the Santa Claus sketch. The Reld Sisters gave the sec- ond part a "big time" Dash. The audience got considerable laughter out of the "drunk" done by Kllta Proctor Otis in her comedy sketch, "Mrs. Hunners Bun." The Bell Boy Trio were the big hit of the second half. The boys have chopped a lot of their dialog and are going Just as well. They are also well aware that their pop house audiences like the raggedy songs and are giving them aplenty. The Rornanos held everybody in for the fin- ish. One of the men can make his muscles do every thing but talk. Mark. "The Pearl of Holland," a new mu- sical show, directed by the Norcross Amusement Company, had its premiere at Camden, N. J., Saturday night. PEG O* MY HEART. The Matinee Girl lingered a moment outside the Cort theatre after the open- ing performance and inspected the framed photos of Laurette Taylor in "Peg o' My Heart," the latest J. Hart ley Manners' play, which holds tin boards in the newly opened establish- ment of the western manager in West 48th street. "It isn't so much of a play," she murmured, pensively, "but the star is a dar-r-rling." The "r" rolled with a delightful brogue that suggested the exquisite enunciation of Miss Taylor herself in this new offering, quite the best thing that has been uncorked on Broadway since that day some time since when Henrietta Crosman rol- licked through George Hiazelton's "Mistress Nell." "Peg o' My Heart" is all Miss Tay lor when it is agreeable. She is indeed the pretty, slender "Peg" upon which the production hangs. The story's whole heart interest revolves about her blond person. In the Manners' play (wherein, by a strange paradox, most of the char- acters are sadly lacking in manners) Peg is an Irish-American "poor rela- tion" who has been shipped back to Britain to be educated by her aristo- cratic relatives. Of course, it turns out that Peg is the "heiress," while her high-and-mighty relatives are really aristocratic paupers, living on her bounty—and, as one of them aptly de- scribes it: "In a state of unsettled, irritable intolerance." In fact, they are much the same people that Mr. Manners cartooned in his "House Next Door"—but without such polished players as Emilie Melville, Christine Norman, Hassard Short and Clarence Handyside as interpreters, they would be frankly farce-comical or near-me'o- dramatic. Into a "fine" old English family is suddenly projected the "mongrel 'brat* from America"—as one perfect lady describes Peg, who herself admits that she is full of "original sin" and at times possessed of a "divvle." However, it is a "good little devil" (with due acknowledgment to Mr. Belasco), and Peg abuses the British and brags about the Irish in style that would "warm the cockles of the hearts" of admirers of the Andy Mack school of American drama. But it is impossible to describe how delightful- ly Laurette Taylor does it; how she flips insults into the faces of her ad- versaries so neatly that the only mar- vel is they can keep straight. The only member of this remarkable hou? . hold possessed of the slightest serse of humor is a gentleman who i querades under the nickname of "Jer- ry," and becomes as chummy with Peg as if her name were really "Tom." Of course, he turns out later to be a baronet, and Peg's guardian. "Jerry" appears in the polished person of H. Reeves-Smith, and he not only appre- citcs Peg's sallies, but passes the laughs out to the audience so spon- taneously that it is difficult to believe he is really British, and consequently merely "acting a part" when he pre- tends to understand a subtle Irish- Americ.n jest at the first telling. He contributes the only human element to the play. Rush.