Make your own free website on Tripod.com
Footlight Notes banner with Doris Stocker


London, 7 July 2005

IN MEMORIAM
London, Thursday, 7 July 2005

http://footlightnotes.tripod.com

e-mail John Culme here
Please be sure to type your e-mail address in your message;
also, because of the heavy number of e-mail enquiries received,
please allow at least two weeks for a response before writing again.

Footlight Notes Collection Picture Archive - request for use of images

FOOTLIGHT NOTES
no. 416

updated
Saturday, 3 September 2005

The Prince of India,
a spectacular drama produced by Klaw & Erlanger,
Broadway Theatre, New York, 24 September 1906

a scene from Prince of India

'The Great Hall of Audience in the Imperial Palace'

A scene from The Prince of India, Broadway Theatre, New York, 24 September 1906.

(photo: Hall, New York, 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.

* * * * * * * *

'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 Standard and Vanity Fair, New York, Friday, 17 August 1906, p.15)

a scene from Prince of India


'The Rock Tomb of Hiram, King of Tyre'.

A scene from The Prince of India, Broadway Theatre, New York, 24 September 1906.

(photo: Hall, New York, 1906)

'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.
'The drama transpires in that period just preceding the fall of Constantinople, the conquest and pillaging of the Byzantine capital constituting in itself the final act. Between the Emperor Constantine and the peaceful father of Prince Mahommed a long truce has existed; but it is only the calm before the storm, for the Moslem sovereign is far advanced in years and his son is known to be of ambitious and warlike character. In spit of all the gayety and luxury of Constantinople, which is weakened by internal dissensions between adherents to the Green and Roman branches of the Christian church, the atmosphere is clouded with impending doom. The Prince of India, in conference with Uel, a Hebrew of the city, proclaims himself to be the mysterious Wandering Jew, that man cursed with eternal life for having scoffed at Christ on His ascent to Calvary; that man who, once every century, struck down by the lightning and the wrath of Jehovah, must forever rise again to a renewed lease of his accursed existence. To touch the mercy of God the Prince has planned one mighty atonement - the establishing of religious freedom for all the word and the dawn of universal brotherhood. The fabulous riches of King Solomon and Hiram of Tyre, and others of the ancient faith, now all in his possession, are to be devoted to furthering this project, in his desire for human love, and because he had himself once been the father of such a child, he adopts the maiden Lael, daughter of Uel, and now again is stirred to mortal affection. The Emperor Constantine is in love with his ward and relative, Princess Irene, whose power it is unconsciously to charm all beholders. Irene and Lael, shipwrecked on the hostile shore, pass one night in the White Castle as honored guests of Prince Mohammed, who, pretending to be merely the Governor, is immediately enamored of the Christian princess. This case of love at first sight is mutual, nor can Irene so school herself as to feel aught but admiration for the Moslem. In the second act Mahommed appears before Irene and the Emperor, whose suit she has just rejected, in the disguise of an Arab story-teller sent by the prince, and proceeds boldly to improvise on the beauty of the princess and the martial ability of his pagan faith. He makes good his escape, after leaving the emblem of his power on the palace gate, by jumping into the Bosphorus. Emir Mirza, Mahommed's companion, comes into the city as a spy to watch and guard the princess for his master; but, also smitten with her charms, he turns to Christianity and attempts to urge a personal suit instead. In the third act the holy conclave refuses to entertain the Prince of India's scheme for recognizing all Bibles and creeds as different revelations from the one supreme deity, and the Prince in anger turns again toward the Mohammedan, who, provided he becomes a conqueror, has already pledged himself to religious tolerance. At this point Uel arrives in dismay, declaring that Lael has been carried off by the dissolute Epicureans. The Prince, frantic in despair, offers yet to save Constantinople if the Emperor will but give him back his adopted child. The court believes him to be insane and jeers at his ravings; whereupon, glorying in the presage of disaster, the Prince of India announces that death has come to his father and Mahommed holds the throne. The fourth and fifth acts depict the capture of Constantinople, with incidents picturesque in passing but too numerous here to be set down. The entrance of the Janissaries through a breach in the city wall is unquestionably effective and wonderfully well contrived. Under the dome of St. Sophia Mahommed the victor takes to himself the Princess Irene as his Christian Queen. Meanwhile the Prince of India, gazing on the ruins of the city, is stricken down yet once again by the thunderbolt of avenging omnipotence. The darkness passes. He rises to his feet, clad in the legendary garments of the Wandering Jew, and goes forth again condemned by the voice of heaven still to live on until the second advent. The scenes of carnage are skillfully suggested without descending to specific horrors of ordinary stage "blood and thunder."
'Emmett Corrigan presented a majestic and imposing figure as the Prince of India; a figure so striking that, so to speak, it stood out in high relief against even that extravagant background. The tragedy of the centuries was revealed in the dignity of his manner; the pathos of unachieved atonement was evident in every note of his deep and somber voice. The passion of his declamation in denouncing the court of Constantine at the climax of the third act was astounding in its fervor, irrepreachable in the technique of dramatic utterance. William Farnum had all the fiery spirit essential to the role of that Moslem warrior and knight of romance, Prince Mahommed, and, when ever the occasion offered proved himself to be a "heroic" actor of ample ability. Adelaide Kelm was appropriately and most femininely appealing as the gentle Christian princess, and Julie Herne played her ingenuous role in a manner that was vital and distinctive if not precisely in keeping with the Olympian tempo of the performance. Boyd Putnam, happily possessing the right physical qualifications, gave a convincing impersonation of the magnanimous Constantine, and Julius McVicker capably sustained the character of the Emir Mirza, friend and confidant of Mahommed. In all, the names of thirty-nine performers appeared in type upon the programme. To criticize all of these individuals would be a task ill advised and superfluous, as many of them were, and a few of them were engaged in what can truthfully be described as histrionic endeavor. Most of the minor players not unnaturally fell to shouting, as if fearful that voices and personalities should be deadened by the gorgeous settings. Monroe Salisbury forced himself into some praiseworthy prominence as Demedes, leader of the Epicureans. Averill Harris made no distinct impression as Uel, the Jew, nor does Harrison Armstrong deserve especial credit fot his interpretation of Gennadius, the fanatical monk.'
(The New York Dramatic Mirror, New York, Saturday, 6 October 1906, pp.2d/3a)

* * * * * * * *


Sign My Guestbook Guestbook by GuestWorld View My Guestbook




Nedstat Counter

© John Culme, 2005