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Footlight Notes Collection Picture Archive - request for use of images
The Prince of India,
a spectacular drama produced by Klaw & Erlanger,
Broadway Theatre, New York, 24 September 1906
Prince of India, a spectacular drama produced by Klaw & Erlanger at the Broadway Theatre, New York, on 24 September 1906, was written by J.I.C. Clarke from the novel of the same name by General Lew Wallace. Incidental music was written by Horatio Parker.
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'Klaw & Erlanger's wonderful production of The Prince of India will be presented for the first time in New York at the Broadway Theatre, Monday evening, September 24, instead of October 1, as previously announced. This is the companion drama to Ben Hur, and is a stage version of Gen. Lew Wallace's romantic novel involving the war between the Greeks and the Turks, the fall of Constantinople and the world-famous love romance of Sultan Mahommed, the conqueror, and Princess Irene of the Greeks. The Prince of India is the greatest dramatic production ever made in this country, and represents an outlay of over $100,000 in scenery and costumes alone. This great play is staged in a prologue of six acts, with thirteen scenes. These massive stage pictures represent the rock tomb of Hiram, King of Tyre; Constantinople and the Golden Horn from Galatea; the home of the Prince of India in Constantinople; the gate of Blacherne on the Golden Horn and panorama of the Bosphorus to the white castle during the storm which leads the Prince and the Princess Irene to take refuge in the stronghold of the Turks the Palace of Therapia on the Bosphorus; the Great Hall of Audience in the imperial palace of Blacherne; the tent of Mahommed before Constantinople; the palace of the Princess Irene in Constantinople; within the walls of Constantinople during the siege; without the walls during the assault by the Turks; night on the broken wall, where the Prince of India, really the Great Wanderer, hears again the voice, "Tarry thou till I come," and finally, under the dome of Sancta Sophia, where Mahommed and Irene meet, acknowledge their love and the conqueror promises religious freedom to all her race under the Moslem flag. The scenes of the great storm on the Bosphorus, the assault on the walls of Constantinople, and the interior of the church of Sancta Sophia, will prove revelations in stagecraft, even to the most blasť New York theatregoers. In the battle and church scenes over 600 people will appear.'
'The Prince of India, as staged at the Broadway Theatre, is primarily a spectacle of extraordinary magnificence, and must be criticized as such. This statement in no way precludes the commendation of those players who ably impersonated some few of the leading roles, thought except in moments of declamatory effect acting was necessarily overshadowed by the very splendor of scenic mechanism. J.I.C. Clarke was confronted by a serious undertaking when he attempted to dramatize the voluminous story of General Lew Wallace, ponderous as it is and confused with a multiplicity of historic, religious, legendary and romantic motives. Mr. Clarke wisely selected the mysterious Wandering Jew - who is none other than the Price of India - as presiding spirit of the spectacle and as the element of eternal tragedy; with equally sound judgment he made the development of love interest the central theme of the intrigue, employing the final union of Prince Mahommed and the Christian Princess Irene as a symbol of that religious tolerance for which the Jew had so heroically toiled. Performers were literally marshaled in cohorts; the production bespoke a heavy drain on almost unlimited resources. Though it would be fatuous to consider The Prince of India in the light of a great dramatic achievement, the most unimpressionable of men might well be excused for being more or less awestricken at the spectacle as a whole.
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© John Culme, 2005