The Brooklyn Daily Eagle from Brooklyn, New York on December 13, 1931 · Page 57
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The Brooklyn Daily Eagle from Brooklyn, New York · Page 57

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Sunday, December 13, 1931
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BROOKLYN DAILY EAGLE Theaters and Photoplays SECTION , Music and Art - TEN CENTS NEW YORK CITY, SUNDAY, DECEMBER 13, 1931 Theaters Offer Attractive Plays for Early Christmas Shopper Theaters and Photoplays Music and Art Book Reviews Plays and Br ARTHUR Plays for the Early Christmas Shopper 'Springtime for Henry,' 'The Passing Present' and '1931' An Actor Who Saw the Tragedy of It BUSINESS in the theaters is good! It may be a very Merry Christmas. Who knows? "Reunion in Vienna" is a hit. "Mourning Becomes Electra" is hit. "Cynara" is a hit. "Counselor-at-Law," "The Cat and the Fiddle," "The Good Fairy" are hits. "The Band Wagon" is still a hit, after running all Summer. So is "The Barretts of Wimpole Street." "The Scandals" is a hit. "Vanities" is a hit. Ed Wynn's "Laugh Parade" is a hit and should not be mentioned so far down the list. This is a joke on a good many Brooklynites who did not go to see it while it played at the Majestic Theater here. They weren't good enough guessers to know it was going to be a hit! And if first-night laughter, the laughter of those case-hardened theatergoers who are supposed to be bored and hard to please, means anything, "Springtime for Henry," which opened at the little Bijou Theater last Wednesday evening will be a hit, too. You can't imagine how loud was the laughter. And how the laughers seem to enjoy laughing. Really, it was awfully funny. "The Passing Present," which opened on Monday evening at the Ethel Barrymore Theater, will find many to praise it. Hope Williams is the star. There are thousands who think Miss Williams is wonderful. And to be sure, she has an engaging manner. She is easy to laugh at. The trouble is that she creates laughter when she doesn't mean to. That is because she is always natural, at least always herself. And she is naturally amusing. She hasn't the' equipment for making one cry. When she speaks she does so in dry unemotional tones (or tone). It makes what she says seem comical. That, in comedy, is very useful indeed. But in plays more serious, luck is against her. At those moments in which she is meant to be feeling deeply, she can do nothing about it but speak in the same dry, unemotional tones. And they are still comical. The play itself, "The Passing Present" (rather a tricky title for so dignified an effort), is a little pale. It pictures a family in which linsers the pleasant flavor of the past. We see the family fade and separate, disintegrate as the result of a slip by its youngest male. He gets into financial troubles and it is necessary to sell the old family house to get him out. The play is a kind of "Cherry Ochard," but no "Cherry Orchard" either. Its author, Oretchen 43am- rosch, is no Chekov. The Group Theater Company, those youngsters who presented "The House of Connelly" not long ago, brought to the Mansfield Theater the other night a new play by Claire and Paul Sifton. It is called "1931 ." It would be possible to say that "1931 ." being depressing, is pre cisely the kind of play that ought not to be presented at mis time. it. would be possible to say so if it were not for the fact that this is exactly the time for the presenting of a. rjlav like "1831 It is a play about unemployment. And it is very moving. The young ladies who were making collections for the Red Cross on the opening night bad no trouble in doing well Their containers must have been full at the end of the evening. "1931 " is done with dexterity and sincerity at the same time, an admirable duet of qualities. It hits you. Also it is persuasively acted and fervently written. Fervent though it is, it does no preaching. The Siftons have been nice about that and sagacious. They tell tory and let it alone. Its hero has youth, strength, eagerness. He is one of those hU' mans so healthy and happy that it never occurs to him that he, he of all people, can starve. Starving, he would have said if he had. been asked, Is something one hears about, reads about, something others doit could never happen to him. But It does. Independent, spirited, he throws up his -job and with blissful confi dence tell the girl he loves he'll nave another in a day or two. Then he begins to try to get one. And makes the hideous discovery that there aren't any to be had. And soon he is filled with terror. He borrows, he begs, he holds i man up and then hasn't the dis honesty to gd through with it, to take the man s money. He loses the girl he loves because she loses her job, can get no other and ends on the streets. At last, by chance, he gets a job at 112 a week, a job thrown up by another boy, independent and snlrlted as he once was. The girl is by this time below his '"he dispiriting part of "1931 ' is that its tragedy happens to I man who thought it was the kind of tragedy that happens only to others in some way unlike himself. The Group Theater has done it beautifully and it is very sad. An odd thing happened the first nlnht. The boy got his job at last from the boss of a restaurant, who had just fired his man-of-all-work for being too slow in cleaning me win dows. The bos was a selfish old fellow. To the boy who had been out of work for months and starved Things POLLOCK - and suffered terribly he was unkind. One felt that he, having a nice little restaurant and people to work for 'him, had nothing at all to worry about. At any rate, nothing compared to the poor fellow he ordered about. But when the play ended and the actors ranged themselves across the stage as the curtain went up and down while the audience remained to applaud, you might have noticed that the hard-hearted boss was crying. There were tears in the audience, but none more real than those of the actor on the stage. A reader whose name looks, the way he writes it, as if it were Lauderbach, sends in a card to say, "How could you rob old Billy Shakespeare so boldly? Stevenson may have quoted it even I have-but "The Passionate Pilgrim' pro claimed against 'crabbed age' first." This as a result of my having said last Sunday that Robert Louis Stevenson said youth and crabbed age cannot live together. This department has been at tributing that phrase to Stevenson for years. I dont mind being cor rected, but if Mr. Lauderbach (is he the Mr. Lauderbach of Tm Lauderbach hab' Ich meiner Strumpf verloren--?) is right, why couldn't he nave told me before? Perhaps it isn't nice of me to criti cize, but it does seem as if he were the sort of lazy fellow who lets the grass grow under his feet. I have no desire to rob Shake speare. Some of my best friends are ShaKespeares. Is it "verloren," Mr. Lauderbach, or "verlorn"? Answer at once, if you don't mind. . . . v springtime lor Henry" is as merry an entertainment as you will una in town. In Fifth Week When Cornelia Otis Skinner re sumes her extended engagement at the Avon Theater on Tuesday evening after Sunday and Monday performances at the National Theater in Washington, she will introduce a new group of character sketches preceding "The Wives of Henry VIII" for her fifth consecutive week on Broadway under the management of James B. Pond. They will Include "A Southern Girl in a Sistine Chapel," "On the Calais-Paris Express," "On a Beach at LENORE Star of 'The Sorial Rrgitter' at Barbados," "Motoring in the Wi" and "Sailing Time." For the popular-priced matinees on Thursday and Saturday, this group will be varied, including "The Eve of Departure." "A Lady Explorer," Woman's Crowning Glory," "Homework" and "Sailing Time." Thextraordinary success of Miss Skinner's' single-handed performances has necessitated the continuation of her New York engagement at least through Dec. 26, with tickets selling at the box office through that dat ..... IMIWM-ililf III S ; L f 11111; iiiiliiiiiiiSTO f mmmm'k timmmmmmsmiF mm JM0mmmsmm i . V ' ' ''' - ' iJ;;: ';.ir;s! &.:;y::??V::''-f''i$$' 3 . -4. ! f .;X " V Walter Connolly No Use to Be rERE seems to be a comforting balance to affairs in the fact that Leslie Banks is now starring in "Springtime for Henry" at the Bijou Theater. For, having played the leading role in "March Hares" when that American farce was presented in London, he is more or less filling out the equation by appearing now in an English farce In New York. "March Hares" has not been Banks' only experience in this form of exaggerated comedy, and thus he ULR1C tha George M. Cohan Theater. has come to his hilarious role of the reforming-backsliding Henry Dcwlip with ripe knowledge of just how this difficult type of acting should be accomplished. In preparing to act in such a play as "Springtime for Henry," says Banks, he continually bears In mind the dictionary i definition of a farce a comedy with exaggerated effects and incidents. Remembering that exaggeration is the chief qual lty to be put forth. Banks plays his role broadly, seeking to make his performance cretUbla only within IN THE MOLNAR PLAY AT THE HENRY MILLER THEATER mar if In Thm Good Fairy He it the olmcur lawyer to whom Helen Hayei ptayt fairy prinrent. Sane, Says Mr. the limits of farce which means that it is really very little like life itself, but is a sort of boiled-down comical essence of life. "A farce," says Banks, "is, in reality,, the most theatrical type . of play that can be written, for it is all make-bellve. Who would really think it plausible, for example, that my secretary in 'Springtime for Henry' could be take in by the obviously fraudulent lovemaking of Mr. Jelliwell? Or that all the absurd complications could ensue because he told her his name was Brown? Such a thing might really happen in actual life, but on a much smaller scale. In farce, the amusing things of the daily round are pointed up and emphasized for the sake of sheer amusement, and without any second thought about Something Significant or a True Picture of Conditions. 'The chief character of a farce can never be a rational person he must be Just a little crazy in some respect. My own effort in playing Henry Dewlip is to make him seem highly "peculiar" to say the least. Who else but a farce-character It's True! Actors Feminists who are interested in the theater might do well to make a survey of the married couples busy on Broadway, where they would find numerous Instances exemplifying the equality of the sexes in this profession at least. Of course, theatrical -managers often keep it a dark secret that their leading ladies and leading men are married, since the matinee crowds of young debutantes might not adore an actor who was devoted to his wife while the rising young blades of the town might react adversely to however glamorous an actress if they knew husband was in the offtng. But so prevalent Is this business of husbands and wives continuing their careers on the stage simultaneously that it becomes a matter almost of public interest to reveal the records. Since Elmer Rice is producing two plays on Broadway at the same time and is author of both, we will enter his secret archives first. Horace Braham, the egocentric author in "The Left Bank" at the Little Theater, often has a bevy of worshiping girls waiting at the stage entrance. We wonder how long they would stand by If they knew he was happily married had been for years to Oladys Feldman', who Is now playing the murderess in "Counsellor-at-Law." Mr. Rices drama at the Plymouth. When the latter play opened. Braham sent his wife a basket of flowers with a Te volver attached to the handle, but he meant no malice, a the weapon a Iac-.-. .. Bancs, When You Play Farce would angrily thrown his corre- spondence on the floor, leave it there and then command his visitors to watch where they are walking so they shouldn't disturb his Important papers? "Of course, a secondary character can play straight and be as sane as you please, getting laughs by just remaining bewildered, or horrified or exasperated at the Insanity of the proceedings around him. But in 'Springtime for Henry' there are only four characters. And none of them is sane. Each of them is mad as a March hare. The conclusion is that none of us is a secondary character, I suppose. We must all be primary. "The laughter that Is given to farcical situations is very dffficult to analyze it doesn't fit into the usual categories of mean laughter and tender laughter. Mean laughter is reserved for situations in the theater when an unpleasant character Is given his come-uppance. Tender laughter is given to characters and situations that touch our hearts for example, the laughter we give to Charlie Chaplin or to a charming Nou; Qet Married was merely a toy, and the note attached warned her that she need not try her lethal antics at home. Donald MacDonald, who is Bra- ham's rival in "The Left Bank," is also a safely married man, his wife being the blond Ruth Hammond who has an Important role in Gilbert Miller's "The Good Fairy." While MacDonald has had a varied career in musical comedy and in straight legitimate plays his last before the Rice opus was in Lon don in "Strange Interlude" Miss Hammond has concentrated on straight roles and has besides achieved some reputation as an etcher, many of her portraits of stage people having been exhibited In various cities. As a contrast to these semi-Lucy Stoners we might point to the wife of Paul Muni (the featured player of "Counsellor-at-Law"), whose professional name when she appeared with him in "Four Walls" was Rose Flnkel, but who now proudly uses only Mrs. Paul Muni and remains away from the stage except to be his "best friend and severest critic." Like Horace Braham and Oladys Feldman, who are on 44th and 45th Sts., respectively, there is another married couple of actors separated by the same pavements. These are Raymond Miwsey, the Hamlet of the Broadway Theater, and his wife, Adrlenne Allen, the sensitive English girl in "Cynara" at the Morosco. Continuing along 45th St. one comes upon the distinguished couple, Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fon-tanne, who have gained such universal plaudits as they act in the same vehicle, this time the Theater Guild's "Reunion in Vienna.'' ,5 child. Laughter provoked by farce is neither of these. It is merely a laughter provoked by an irresistible absurdity, such as the nose-tweaking I administer to Helen Chandler in the first act of 'Springtime for Henry' or Nigel Bruce's total Incomprehension of what I mean when I tell him I'm going to steal his wife." Farce, Mr. Banks thinks, is the oldest form of the theater, as may be Judged from such ancient examples as "The Frogs" of "The Brothers Menaechmus," it is the most artificial form of play and therefore more genuinely theatrical than plain comedy or tragedy. And, finally, he thinks It has the widest appeal of all types of plays. AT THE BROOKLYN MAJESTIC Irene Eitinger, one of the German, playert In the Viennete film . operetta, 'Two tteartt in Walt Time, .. In Local 'Society Girl,' New Play, Comes to Majestic Dec. 21' Two Hearts in Waltz Time,' Viennese Film, Remains This Week THE majestic Theater will return to its regular legitimate policy on Monday evening, Dec. 21, when "Society Girl." a new William Brandt production begins a weeks engagement prior to its opening In Manhattan. "Society Girl" is a play of Park John Larkin Jr., from a story by of a debutante who thinks she can casually and light-heartedly without Becoming too aeepiy uivoivcu emotionally. , William Brandt has assembled Russell Hardle in the leading roles. "Follies" and the Music Box Revues Russell Hardle was seen in the Manhattan productions of "The Criminal pany include Brian Donlevy, Helen Snlpman, Gordon Richards, Robert Allen, John Taylor and Charles Palo7.zi. The play is being directed by Stanley Logan, long associated with the Shuberts. for whom he staged some of their biggest t recent suc cesses. Seats for "Society Girl" are now on sale at the Majestic box omce. Matinees will be given on Christmas Day and Saturday. m m w Two Hearts' In 2d Week at Majestic No screen offering yet shown at the Majestic Theater has attracted larger or more appreciative audiences than "Zwet Herzcn Im Takt ('Two Hearts in Waltz Time"), the German film operetta wnicn Charles Waldron, Villain Cornell Play Is Easy to Like "W HEN I leave the theater. I leave Barrett in the theatre." - says Charles Waldron, who for ten months has been acting that arch villain of modern drama, Edward Moulton Earrett, father of Elizabeth, in Katharine Cornell's production of "The Barretts of Wimpole Street" at the Empire Theater. "As It happens, Barrett is everything I am not. I studied him for two months before I could get into his skin. Until then I was 'Interpreting him. It was a slow and difficult process to give him un-derstandingly and sympathy, which are necessary before an actor can make a character convincing across the footlights. I have acted many roles; I never have played one I like to act so much as I do the father of the famous poetess." Charles Waldron is not to be found in any who's who, for he declines to send in his own account of his career, but theatergoers of this generation have a gallery of many portraits this actor has given the stage. He will be remembered in the title role of "Daddy Long Legs," which made a star of Ruth Chatterton. His Colonel Schwartze In "Magda" is the nearest approach he has made to the role of Barrett in the Cornell play. Ha was the Southern father with Helen Hayes in "Coquette" and those who saw him with Miss Cornell in "The Bill of Divorcement" will not forget his memorable acting in that drama. "The fact that tiro audience loathes Barrett does not disturb me as a person and stimulates me as an actor," says Waldron. 'The re- , Playhouses Ave., written by a newspaperman. Charles Beanan. it is me love story play at love the way a man does. a cast that has Claire Luce and Miss Luce appeared in the Zlegleia before graduating into the drama. begins its second and final week at the Brooklyn playhouse tomorrow. Since no performances of "Two Hearts" are given on Sundays the local engagement must terminate, on Saturday, Dec. 19. The schedule of showings instituted during the past week will not be changed during the coming week when the musical film will be screened continuously from noon to midnight. On Broadway, the picture recently completed a run of one year. It is a story of Viennese night life. As told at the Majestic, with English titles, It is simple for non-German speaking spectators to follow the plot. The score Is by Robert Stolz. sponse of spectators tells a player whether ire Is succeeding or not. It is the thermometer, a sensitive un- falling gage. I sometimes think it Is to be regretted that Anglo-Saxon audiences are not so expressive as continental ones are, but the fact that they seldom his does not mean that their reactions are not so vividly felt by the people on the stage. There is an intangible but unmistakable atmosphere created in the auditorium which no player escapes. "Sometimes, in developing stage characters, I draw upon actual human belnes I have met, but in the idse of Barrett I found him entirely in the author's lines. It is a beautifully written part. I owe a very great deal to Guthrie Mc-Cllntic's direction. There were certain things I saw in Barrett which suggested certain things I wanted to do on the stage, but Mc-Cllntlc did not sanction all of them. Now I see how right he was. A fine director, like such as he Is. docs that for the actor. He is the editor, who deletes, who corrects, whii amplifies, who retards or speeds the imagination and the technical process of the player. Without him, actors are seriously handicapped, for no person can see himself. "My makeup for Barrett Is not a portrait of the actual man. In fact, I found no picture of him. I followed more or less the period in regard to the whiskers, but otherwise I made him look as nearly as I could the man I thought he would be after his life of self-denial, self-centered egotism and domination of his household. He was In his own mind a deeply religious person and a pious man, and this left Its mark on his face and In his carriage. "It Is not often that an actor is so fortunate as to get a part so well written as Barrett. Modern authors so frequently merely sketch In their character and leave it to the actors to fill in the mold, which may be all very well whan the Dlav- wrights are lucky ensign to get expert interpreters. "There has been much discussion of Barrett's love for hia daughter. I believe the public reads into this more than the author intended or than actually there is In the manuscript. Barrett had. as he tells Elizabeth, repressed lovw throughout the major portion of his life. As a fact, it is not until Barrett takes Elizabeth in his arms In the final scene between them that there is any Indication of an emotion other than that of father to daughter." Shrewd Printer Is Back of This Play The management of "Sing High, Sing Low," consisting mainly of a successful printer, is combating the critics, who said the play was inaccurate as to its operatic Joshing, by mailing thousands of favorable reviews to opera and theater followers. This printing would normally mount into a prohibitive sum. Here's a sample, quoting Leonard Liebling in the Musical Courier"! current issue: " 'Sing High, Sing Low deals with grand opera life behind the scenes and in the mysterious precincts of the managerial offices. Never before have these subjects been handled in the theater with such boldness and hllariousness. Sometimes the facts are almost too photographic." And much more. "Am I happy I have a printer for partner in this enterprise?" said one of the backers. "Why do you think I went into show business?" snapped the printing gentleman. "I had to figure some way to keep my plant busy, didn't I?" . '

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