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FOOTLIGHT NOTES
no. 417

updated
Saturday, 10 September 2005

The Mayor of Tokio,
an operetta by Richard Carle,
with music by William Frederick Peters,
New York Theatre, New York, Monday, 4 December 1905,
following its original presentation at the
Studebaker Theatre, Chicago, Monday, 5 June 1905

chorus girls, The Mayor of Tokio

Four Yachting Girls in The Mayor of Tokio,
left to right: Florence Meigs, Effie Hamilton, James Friffith and Lora Castle.

(photo: unknown, USA, 1905)

The Mayor of Tokio, Studebaker Theatre, Chicago,
Monday, 5 June 1905

'Critics are Pleased With Mayor of Tokio.
'New Comic Opera, the Music by a Sandusky Man, Has Made Good - Honors Go to the Composer,
Says One Writer'

'According to the Chicago papers, the new comic opera, The Mayor of Tokio, by Richard Carle and William Frederick Peters, the latter a Sandusky man has been well received, the music being especially commended.
'The piece was given its first presentation Monday evening. Among the noticeable criticisms that of "J O'D B" in the Chicago Record Herald is about a column in length. The critic says
'"In The Mayor of Tokio Richard Carle has hit upon a promising comic opera theme - the adventures of a troupe of stranded actors in the orient. The adventures should furnish abundant fun and in the oriental background there is the color and oddity for brilliant pictorial contrast both as to music and investure. As to the latter aspects the new Carle piece amply fulfilled its promise when it was disclosed, for the first time in Chicago at the Studebaker theater Monday. Hence the immediate honors of the venture must go to the composer William Frederick Peters, and to the scenic artists and costumers, who are - curiously enough in these days when wigmaker and shoemaker usually come in for particular mention - not named at all in the program. Wherever The Mayor of Tokio production came from, it certainly deserves hearty praise for it with the music is the most pleasing feature of the entertainment. It is rich and harmonious, notably free from all suggestion of the garishness and obtrusiveness that too often mark the efforts of a stage manager when he is let loose with a lot of money. Nothing in better taste in the may of musical comedy setting has been seen on the local stage since The Sho-Gun was presented, a piece to which Mr Carle's effort may roughly speaking be compared - without reflections upon either work.
'"The book of The Mayor is at present rather thin, but it is the kind of book that can easily be elaborated and filled in by a librettist so experienced and so resourceful as is Mr Carle. He has the framework in his reasonable if rather conventional story, he has introduced several unique characters that ought to build up admirably he has the swinging songs, the graceful dances and the lovely scenic background. What with framework and background to meritorious the missing quality - dialogue of more substance and point - should not be impossible of achievement.
'"The piece was received with much applause Monday, a fact that proves something in view of the terrific heat that had everybody in a listless frame of mind when he took his seat. The freshness and spirit of the music and the daintiness of the pictures soon captivated the audience however and it gave Mr Carle a rousing greeting when he appeared as Marcus Orlando Kidder, manager of Kidder's Komiques just arrived in Tokio after a disastrous tour of Australia - 'the most successful failyah that ever struck Australy' as Kidder's mournful artists sang while they gazed wistfully upon the splendors of a public garden in Tokio. The remnants of the organization that had left America sixty strong included a wardrobe mistress who had been a toe dancer - but stubbed her toe, a soubrette who declared that things might have been different if she had been allowed to play Juliet, a tenor, a song book boy, nine members of the peanut ballet. All these characters are neatly sketched in and the wardrobe mistress played with a vinegary kind of zest by Miss Emma Janvier, is really a discovery."
'The critic gives much attention to Miss Janvier and also speaks well of May Boley and Edward Garvie, both of whom were seen here in The Maid and the Mummy.'
(The Sandusky Star-Journal, Sandusky, Ohio, Thursday, 8 June 1905, p.3a-e)

* * * * * * * *

The Mayor of Tokio, New York Theatre, New York,
Monday, 4 December 1905

'The Mayor of Tokio is another visible proof of the advantage to be gained by playing a piece on the road before bringing it to New York. That remarkable second act was never crammed with such a sustained and inexhaustible supply of merriment at the outset. Richard Carle, who is his own manager, author and star performer, has evidently expended a great deal of talent, good judgment and patience on this production - and the effort emphatically has not been in vain. He has collected some of the brightest and most original jokes which have been cracked on Broadway in many a day, he has arranged beautifully appropriate scenery and costumes, he has discovered a number of young girls who can really dance, he has selected a remarkably fresh and attractive chorus, and he has engaged at least two people who can really sing - Hortense Marurette and Albert Wellerstedt. In the course of the dialogue Mr. Carle observed that his cranium was "the headquarters for ideas and not a mere loafing place for hair," and he never told a more obvious truth. Mr. Peters' music was not especially distinctive in style, but it had something more enjoyable than trade-mark cadences; it was illustrative, which is to say that when the words were funny the orchestra chimed in and laughed, too. For instance, that melancholy staccato accompaniment to the hit of the evening, Carle's "Foolishness" song, was a capital piece of harmonic satire. [Another popular song from the production was 'I Like You'.]
'The plot is almost inextricably tangled up in the maze of dialogue and dances, yet its existence is not completely to be ignored. Marcus Orlando Kidder, an American road "impresario" - for surely he could never have broken into the metropolis - took his "Konsolidated Komiques" on a tour to Japan, in hope of reaping a harvest of yen in the Oriental empire. Julian Lincoln, a college man and the wayward son of wealthy parents, was the tenor; Rusty was the song book boy; Madame Stitch, wardrobe mistress, had been a "toer" in the ballet twenty-two years earlier in her career; and Birdie Talcum was the soubrette, cursed with Shakespearean pipe - or cigarette - dreams. In Tokio these principals and the whole "peanut ballet" were generously mistaken for princes and princesses and were received by Mayor Kow Tow with Eastern courtesy. This rotund and jolly official, the Mayor, was continually hounded by a conspirator, a Russian spy who never appeared on the scene without a huge india-rubber bomb. Lincoln, the tenor, true to musical tradition, immediately captured the heart of Oloto San, the Mayor's daughter, for whom Satake unfortunately cherished a mighty passion. To get even, Satake informed the Mikado that Kow Tow told state secrets in his sleep, the Mayor forthwith being sentenced to be tickled to death with ostrich feathers. Happily, the Mayor himself owned the only ostrich on the island. Rusty finally won the heart of the soubrette, the tenor got his Oloto San, and Kidder himself wooed Betsy Lincon. The Lincolns' yacht appeared, which accounted for the presence of the tenor's sister, and bore the Americans, together with a select assortment of Japs, back to the land of the free.
'Richard Carle was immensely funnier than many comedians who consider themselves in quite another and more elevated class. He has not the phantom or the vestige of a voice, which only made his songs so much the more amusing, since he made up for his vocal deficiency with any amount of ingeniously humorous pantomime. Fred Frear created many a laugh as Kow Tow, Sylvain Langlois was a vindictive conspirator, Jo Marba was a "fearsome" Slav, and Edwin Baker was a most ridiculous travesty on the office of royal messenger. Mr. Wellerstedt sang better then he acted, and William Rock as Rusty did some ludicrous vocal and pantomimic "stunts" with the able assistance of the soubrette. Hortense Mazurette had a superb contralto voice and only needs training in diction to be a singer of considerable promise. Adele Rowland was charming Betsy Lincoln, but the character hit of the evening was made by Emma Janvier as the ancient relic of the ballet. The minor roles were well done - or some one else would have been doing them. The ballet was as notable for its hearty good spirit as for its dancing and good looks; one girl on the end danced so well that the audience vociferously applauded her individual performance. Several of these choruses, such as the finale of the first act, the festival of mourning and La Dance Blanche et Noire, were exceptionally attractive.'
(The New York Dramatic Mirror, New York, Saturday, 16 December 1905, p.2a/b)

* * * * * * * *

The Mayor of Tokio, Walnut Street Theatre, Philadelphia,
January 1906

'Richard Carle in The Mayor of Tokio is at the Walnut Street Theatre for a fortnight's stay. It has already had a three weeks' run in this city at the opening of the season and is likely to prove a fair card as an attraction for the "benefit racket."'
(The New York Dramatic Mirror, New York, Saturday, 27 January 1906, p.12d)

'The Mayor of Tokio, with Richard Carle and Emma Janvier in special hits, is in its second and final week at the Walnut Street Theater.'
(The New York Dramatic Mirror, New York, Saturday, 2 February 1906, p.14d)

* * * * * * * *

A Mayor of Tokio Chorus Girl dies accidentally from gas in Philadelphia.
(From The New York American)

'Philadelphia, Feb. 1 [1906]. - A seventeen-year-old girl who became a chorus girl in order to aid her mother to maintain a home, and held her position for a year and a half, was found dead to-day in Zeisse's Hotel, and the police are divided between theories of suicide and accidental asphyxiation.
'The victim is Miss Florence Meigs, of Richmond Hill, L.I. No motive for suicide is known to the members of The Mayor of Tokio company, with which the girl was playing.
'Mrs Minnie Meigs, mother of the girl, lives on Fulton street, between Maple and Chestnut streets, Richmond Hill. She was almost insane with grief last night, and neighbors flocked to her home when they heard of the daughter's death. Miss Meigs was regarded as not only unusually handsome, but a worthy girl, who thought more of her mother's welfare than she did of her own.
'Mrs. Meigs said that no love affair was involved, and refused to believe that her "little girl," as she called her, had committed suicide.
'"Florence went on the stage because she wanted to help me," said Mrs. Meigs, "and for a year and a half she had done so nobly."'
'Philadelphia, Feb. 2 [1906]. - In the case of Florence Meigs, the chorus girl, who was yesterday found dead from asphyxiation in her room, the coroner's jury to-day rendered a verdict of accidental death.'
(The Standard and Vanity Fair, Friday, 23 February 1906, New York, p.8)

* * * * * * * *


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