1913 Broadway Plays

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Monday, January 27, 1913: We went to town this evening to practice for our play.

broadway.3

Nearly Married at the Gaiety Theatre on Broadway in New York City

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Grandma wrote the previous Monday that she was going to be in a her class play. This was the first play practice.

In my imagination I see a  member of the cast saying, “If we practice hard, I bet our play will be as good as a Broadway play.”

Here’s what the November, 1913 issue of Dress and Vanity Fair magazine had to say about several Broadway plays that were playing in New York a hundred years ago:

In a Lighter Vein on Broadway

The Marriage Market at the Knickerbocker Theatre

The Marriage Market at the Knickerbocker Theatre

In this picture from The Marriage Market the small but sweet voice of Mr. Donald Brian is being lifted up in a duet with Miss Venita Fitzhugh. Until this moment when he has just taken her hand she had not recognized him once since the first act. She met him as a cowboy then and married him in a fit of pique. Since that time he has been disguised as a common sailor on her father’s yacht, but she did not recognize his face at all, and now that he looks so stunning in evening clothes and a clean shirt she cannot believe that it is really he.

Who's Who at the Criterion

Who’s Who at the Criterion

Mr. Richard Harding Davis’s’ comic mystery play Who’s Who finds Mr. William Collier and his adopted son William Collier, Jr. The youngster has a savings bank in his hand with which he is constantly blackmailing the villagers in his bland and child-like way. Mr. Collier who has been held up by the child is expostulating vigorously, paternally, almost expletively.

Dress and Vanity Fair (November, 1913)

20 Responses

  1. My , how times have changed!

  2. oh, I bet the music was live and the costumes amazing.

  3. Yes I can’t believe how times have changed. I can’t wait to see what she says about her part and the success of the play.

  4. Stage plays were such an important part of rural community life in the time period I’m researching (1900-1930), I can’t imagine that it would have been much different for your grandmother. Everyone from miles around made every effort to attend the event. The plays were almost always amateur but that didn’t seem to make a difference.

  5. I loved being in High School plays – we did a musical when I was a freshman. It is so fun to ‘be someone else’ at that age! I’m sure she was enjoying it, a lot! ;-)

  6. Greetings from Mrs. Padilly. I want to let you know that I have nominated you for the Liebster Blog Award, as I enjoy reading your blog.

    Congratulations, and all the best to you and your blog!

  7. I thought it was so interesting they went to town to practice. Why not at school or in someone’s barn? Did they walk and was it dark?

    • The school was small, so they probably couldn’t hold the play there. McEwensville has a really nice community hall with a stage. It is a really old building, so I’m guessing that is where the play was held.

  8. Sheryl, I enjoyed this post so much! What a riot – to get married “in a fit of pique”? And a child blandly blackmailing?
    You did an excellent job assembling all the pieces of your post for our entertainment.
    Enjoy your week!
    Maria

  9. Hi. I wonder what part Helena played??? Jane

  10. As a young girl,Helena, did love music, theater and her literary society. Did she continue that interest throughout her life?

    • Unfortunately, I don’t have any memories of her enjoying theater, music or the arts when she was older. This seems sort of sad to me since she was interested in so many things when she was younger.. Grandma did read a lot of books. Sometimes I wonder if her interests narrowed over the years–or if, as a child, I was so focused on my own life that I didn’t really know what my Grandmother was interested in.

  11. [...] had been going to play practices since January 27. She had the role of Chloe, the servant.  It seems somewhat surprising that the date of the play [...]

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