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May 19, 1935 - Image 6

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1935-05-19

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SUNDAY, MAY 19, 1935

_ __ _ _

Dramatic Season Opens

Edmund Gwenn
Plays Lead In
English Comedy
Melville, Risdon Appear
In Supporting Roles In
Priestly Mystery
The entire New York company of
J. B. Priestly's "Laburnum Grove"
including the jovial British stage and
film star, Edmund Gwenn, the dis-
tinguished comedian, Melville Coop-
er, Elizabeth Risdon, Molly Pear-
son, Margery Pickard and 'Lloyd
Gough will bring the 1935 Dramatic
Season to its gala opening tomorrow
night in the Lydia Mendelssohn Thea-
This current comedy, success is
brought to Ann Arbor by Robert Hen-
derson, founder of the American festi-
val idea, after its 18 month run at
the Duchess and Queens theaters in
London, with the same cast, a six
month New York showing, and a tour
which has included festivals in Mi-
waukee and in Detroit under his di-
"Laburnum Grove" is a mystery
comedy written with a warm appre-
ciation of suburban life and of
theatrical sleight of hand. In Shoot-
ers' Green, a suburb of North Lon-
don, George Radfern, played by Ed-
mund Gwenn, is known as a prosper-
ous gentleman with quiet tastes.
When he is not attending to his
wholesale paper business he loves to
putter around his garden and is de-
voted to his wife and daughter. Just
for the moment he is encumbed by a
sister-in-law and a brother-in-law,
late of Singapore, who are lounging
around his house and seeking to bor-
row money. A prospective son-in-law
comes on the same mission.
Deals With Counterfeiter
Whereupon George Radfern as-
tounds them all out of their senses
by declaring he has been making all
of his money out of a counterfeiting
ring. Since "Laburnum Grove" is
a neighborly mystery play, it would
be improper to label it as either a
bluff or a simple statement of incred-
ible fact before Priestly's own char-
acters are given an opportunity to
unravel the whole delightful mess.
"Mr. Gwenn convinces you without
much effort that he is a good British
citizen, taxpayer and householder,
fond of his family and fireside, but
given to financial practices regarded
by the law as unwholesome," says
Percy Hammond in the New York1
Herald-Tribune, "His study of eco-'
nomics has made him an inflationist.
Like Mr. Brisbane, and other deep
thinkers, he believes that the more
money there is the better, and sets
out to fill a long felt want.
"He engages himself, therefore, in
the manufacture of his currency, or
so his story runs to his startled fam-
ily - just as artistically engraved as
a government's paper promises to pay.
Its lesson seems to be that a re-'
spectable man, faithful to his wife
and offspring, may be his own mint,
coining his own money as he needs it,
regardless of police forces and de-'
tective bureaus."
Edmund Gwenn, brilliant star of
the production rather reversed things
by getting his present role through
his appearances in moving pictures.
Priestly was so pleased with his char-.
acterization of Jess Oakroyd in his
"The Good Companions" that he
wrote "Laburnum Grove" especially
for him.
First Appeared In 1895
He first appeared in England in
1895 in a comedy called "Rogue and
Vagabond," toured the provinces for
six years playing every possible kind
of a part, spent three years in Aus-
tralia playing everything from "Alice
in Wonderland" to Shakespeare and

was brought back to London to join
the famous Vendrenne-Barker com-
pany at the Court theater, where he
made his first great success as Henry
Straker in Shaw's "Man and Super-
man." After the war he appeared
with great success in London in
"Three Wise Fools" at the Comedy
theater, Galworthy's "Skin Game" at
St. Martin's theater and in the revue,'
"Pins and Needles."
Gwenn then came to New York to
play Leslie Caryll in "The Voice from
the Minaret" and on his return to
London played "Old Bill, M. P." and
Samuel Pepys in "And So To Bed."
His last appearance before entering
the movies was with Sir John Mar-
tin Harvey in Shaw's "The Devil's
Disciple." Gwenn is now on his way
to Hollywood with Mr. Cooper to ful-
fill a picture contract with M.G.M.
I..fil l

Gwenn To Play Lead In 'Laburnun C

Tomorrow N~
trove' Coward Revue
Opening June 3
Stars Bordoni



Nazimova To Play Shaw

Laburnum Grove'
Role For Season Shaw's Latest
Comedy Mixes
'Simpleton Of Unexpected
Isles,' Here May 27, Is
Second For Season

'Up To The Stars' Will
Presented; Premiere
Musical Comedy


Edmund Gwenn, dihtinguished star of "Laburnumi Grove" who will
play the role of George Radfern,written expressly for him by the author,
in the Dramatic Season's gala opening tomorrow night.

British Stars To Civ e Priestly Play Here

"Up to the Stars," the revue withI
Noel Coward's songs and sketches,j
and starring Irene Bordoni and Wal-
ter Slezak has been given a prominent
place in the 1935 Dramatic Season!
program to meet the demand for a!
smart musical show as evinced last
year when "Meet My Sister" played
to enthusiastic audiences throughout
its entire run.
This is the American premiere of
this revue which includes the Coward
hits from his London "Words and
Music," several of the Norman Zeno
sketches and several scenes from
current musical comedy. It has been
woven into a compact musical show
with the American numbers added for
variety. Other stars include Ilka
Chase, Nina Tarasova, the Rocky
Twins, Imogene Coca, the dancers
Felicia Sorel and Demetrios Vilan,
and Jesse Royce Landis.
Irene Bordoni To Sing
Irene Bordoni will appear in many
of the French songs that made her
internationally famous including her
inimitable "Let's Do It" from "Paris"
and "Ninnon Was a Naughty Girl."
Walter Slezak, who has starred in
America in "Meet My Sister," "Music
In The Air" and this season in "Ode
to Liberty" will be featured in Ger-
man and Bavarian songs with Mlle.
Tarasova who has been making such
a hit with her Soviet songs this win-
ter in the Barbizon-Plaza Sunday
Slezak will also be featured in the
Dionne Quintuplets sketch as Mr.
Dionne with Ilka Chase as Marion
Davies who christens the nursery.
He will sing the Coward songs, "Mad
Dogs and Englishmen," "Let's Live
Dangerously" and "The Younger
Generation." He will appear with Ilka
Chase in Coward's sketch "Mild
Oats," and in "Ignorance Is Bliss" he
will show the difference between an
1890 honeymoon and the 1935 prod-
The Coward skit, "Rule of Three"
deals with the same triangular sit-
uation in the manner of Sir James
Barrie, with Jesse Royce Landis; in
the manner of Frederick Lonsdale,
with Ilka Chase and Demetrios Vilan,
and in the manner of a French bed-
room farce with Irene Bordoni and
Walter Slezak.
Rocky Twins To Appear
The "Rocky Twins," featured danc-
ers with Josephine Baker and Mis-
tinguette at the Casino de Paris in
Paris will be seen with their dancing
partner Helen Gray from the "Ro-
berta" cast in two waltzes with scen-
ery and costumes especially created
for them by Stewart Chaney, Sea-
son designer; and in their interna-
tionally famous Dorian Grey Ballet,
originally staged by Max Reinhardt.
Felicia Sorel, of the brilliant dance'
team, has appeared on Broadway in
Michio Itow's "Pinwheel Revue." In
the Earl Carroll's "Vanities" which
opened the new Carroll theater she
staged the ballets together with Gluck
Sandor, and also appeared as pri-
miere ballerina. It is understood, ac-
cording to John Martin in the New
York Times, that Miss Sorel will be
the new ballerina at the Metropolitan
Opera House next year.

Nazimeva and Romney Brent as the Priestess Prola and the
Priest Pra in George Bernard Shaw's latest comedy, "The Simpleton of
the Unexpected Isles" which opens the second week of the 1935 Dramatic
Saason Monday, May 27. The same pair will also be seen in Ibsen's
"Ghosts" later in the same week.

(Director of theI
The Dramatic
ganized so that
have a theater s
enough to attrac
and all that foll
if some of it sou
brain-cracked it is
eral afterglow of a
For six years, thi
using every ruse to
or, as AlexanderI
"Alla, the Magnif
her in Boston in h
the Tremont thea
playing "A Mont
for the Theater G
to my proposal in
panded on the glor
time) I HOPEDv
the seasons. "An
this season of yo
West?" she ask
dry Russian accer
"We are to call
tival'" I replied
hastily, "on then
pean theater fes
looked at this ove
'man for a mome
then said very q
of a smile, "Arer
Heaven knowsl
but somehow this
expanded fairlyo
until now it is sp
- a rich, "gala"
for the Festivals
"gala." And at las
ing, which is impo
Because the en
mova has been su
session with me
- and consequen
ent enthusiasm
with all the large

va's Appearance Will'
ulfill Henderson's Dreams
HENDERSON that I realize there are perhaps some
Dramatic Festivals) people, some few people, to whom
Festivals were or- Nazimova is merely a name in some
lush silent pictures which she, first
someday we might of all, remembers to her hofror. The
eason distinguished Nazimova of today, first actress of our
t Nazimova. This, stage, the Nazimova of "The Cherry
ows, is literal fact; Orchard" and "Mourning Becomes
ands fey or slightly Electra" and the new Shaw play may
s no more than gen- perhaps by some few people - be-
ll the theater world. cause we are far from New York -
eref ore, I have been be a figure of sheer rumor.j
o interest Nazimova; After all, this is not Nazimova's
Woollcott calls her, fault; it is the curse of our present
ficent.". I first met centralized Broadway theater, which
her dressing room at
pater where she was (in modest measure) the whole Fes-
h in the Country" tival idea hopes to remedy. Thel
Guild. She listened memory of two years' standing is still
aloof silence; I ex- fresh in my mind of the local re-
ries of what (at that
would be a part of porter who gave me a blank look
Ld what do you call when I told him I had secured Jane
ours in the Middle Cowl for the Festival. "Who's she?"
ed finally in her he asked bluntly, as though I had
nt. mentioned the lady from the moon.
it a 'Dramatic Fes- I have just called Nazimova the first
, and then added actress of our stage. This may be
model of the Euro- personal enthusiasm; you may in-
stivals." Nazimova elude, if you are judicious, Katharine
x-enthusiastic young Cornell and Miss Fontanne and Leon-
lent in silence, and tovich and Judith Anderson. But
uietly with a trace even with such latitude, surely every-
n't you a. little am- one in New York places Nazimova
in the forerank of this shining array.
how right she was, In a way, now that we have secured
raw young idea has Nazimova, I cannot vision any future
out of its own skin Festivals, because I cannot think how
reading like a weed to top her. In thinking of Nazimova,
weed, let us hope, however, one should picture her as
always have to be she is today, a great figure in our
st, Nazimova is com- living theater, the leading star of the
ortant. New York Theater Guild. It is a
ngagement of Nazi- Nazimova risen to new heights. Nazi-
uch a pervading ob- mova comes to the Festival in the full
for so many years flower of her genius, at the climax of
itly because my pres- her career. And genius, as all New
is so great - it is York agrees, is not too strong a word
er measure of shock for her exotic talent.

"In Bernard Shaw's latest comedy
'The Simpleton of the Unexpected
Isles,' Robert Henderson. director
of this latest Shavian comedy which
opens the second week of the Dra-
matic Festival, pointed out, "we have
quite a new Bernard Shaw.
"He has apparently forgotten all of
his problems and complexes, and f air-
ly dances through his play, mixing
every kind of gay nonsense and fan-
tasy with brilliant comments on such
present world ills as dictators, Hitler
and Mussolini included, marriage, the
younger generation, politicians and
even club-women."
"The Simpleton of the Unexpected
Isles" comes to Ann Arbor May 27,
with the glamorous Nazimova, Rom-
ney Brent, McKay Morris, distin-
guished leading man for Ethel Barry-
more, Lionel Pape, Viola Roache, and
Patricia Calvert, all from the recent
world premiere at the Guild Theater
in New York City. The settings have
been designed by Stewart Chaney,
regarded in New York as the brilliant
discovery of the season among scenic
designers, and the costumes by Lee
Simonson of the New York Theater
Program Is Announced
For Dramatic Season
May 20-27 - "Laburnum Grove'
with Edmund Gwenn, Melville
Cooper, Elizabeth Risdon, Molly
Pearson, Margery Pickard. Mati-
nees Wednesday and Saturday.
May 27-29 - "The Simpleton of
the Unexpected Isles" with Nazi-
mova, Romney Brent, McKay Mor-
ris, Lionel Pape, and Patricia Cal-
vert. Matinee Wednesday.
May 30-June 1 - "Ghosts" with
Nazimova, Romney Brent and
company. Matinees Friday and
June 3-8 - "Up To The Stars,"
Noel Coward songs and sketches
with Irene Bordoni, Walter Slezak,
Ilka Chase, Sorel and Vilan. Mati-
nees Wednesday and Saturday.
June 10 -World Premiere of
Robert Raynolds' "The Ugly
Runts" with Tom Powers, Vivienne
Giesen, McKay Morris, and Sorel
and Vilan.
June 11- "Up To The Stars."
June 12- "The Ugly Runts."
Matinee and night.
June 13-18 -"The Bishop Mis-
behaves" with Violet Heming,
Ainsworth Arnold, Estelle Win-
wood, Paul McGrath and Francis
Compton. Matinee Saturday.
June 14- "The Ugly Runts."
Added Friday matinee.
June 19-22-"Ode To Liberty"
with Walter Slezak and Ilka Chase.
Matiness Wednesday and Satur-
June 21- "TIle Bishop Misbe-
haves." Added Friday matinee.
June 22 - Gala closing. "Ode
To Liberty."

Elizabeth RidAn, Margery Pickard,'and Melville Cooper, as Mrs.
Lucy Baxley, Elsie Radfern, and the banana eating, golf playing Ber-
nard Baxley from Singapore, who will be seen with Edmund Gwinn in
the mystery comreedy of British suburban life by J. B. Priestly, "Laburnum
Greve" which opens the Dramatic Festival tomorrow night.
Outstanding Plays Herald Rise
Of Dramatic Season Since 1930

In something less than eight weeks,1
from May 6 to June 22, Robert Hen-
derson will have presented his Dra-
matic festivals in whole or in part in
seven cities in the Midwest. Start-
ing with Milwaukee, his distinguished
companies have played in Madison,
Rockford, Ill, Battle Creek, and De-
troit. After their Detroit engage-
ments several of the units will play
in Chicago, also under Henderson's
And what is a Dramatic Festival
production? Burns Mantle, ranking
New York critic and editor of the an-
nual "Best Plays" recently sumnied it
up. "Robert Henderson," he wrote,
"comes like a young Winthrop Ames
out of the East. Each year the thea-
ter festivals under his direction are
taking on a greater national interest
and importance.
In 1930 the irs Dramatic Sea-
son, the first theater festival in
America, included a cross section of
brilliant plays and distinguished play-
ers. Among the artists were Mar-I
garet Anglin and Katherine WickI
Kelly. "Lady Windemere's Fan,"
"Excess Baggage," "The Royal Fam-

ily," and "The Sea Gull" were given.
Th following spiing the Season
branched out and brought an even
more select list of stars to Ann Arbor.
Among the plays were the "Electra"
of Sophocles with Blanche Yurka
and Martha Graham, Shaw's "Arms
and the Man" with Violet Heming,
In 1932 "There's Always Juliet"
,opened the Season and was followed
with "Candida" with Patricia Col-
linge, Geoffrey Kerr in "The Animal
Kingdom" and Violet Kemble Coop-
er in "The Vinegar Tree." In 1933
"The Lady of the Camelias," Jane
Cowl's production of "Twelfth Night,"
"Design for Living," "Another Lan-
guage," "Springtime for Henry" and
"The Mad Hopes" by Romney Brent
were presented.
Last year saw a distinguished cast
headed by Eugenie Leontovitch,
Elizabeth Risdon, Rollo Peters, Ian
Keith, Florence Reed, Doris Hum-
phreys and Charles Weidman, Walter
Slezak, Violet Kemble Cooper and
Selena Royle in a series of plays start-
ing with "The Brontes" and including
"And So To Bed," "Meet My Sister,'
"The Shining Hour," and "Macbeth."



Thrillf the Living Theatre:
SPRING IN ANN ARBOR - and again the brilliant theatre festival at
the Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre for five weeks, from May 14 through
June 22. Nazimova, Romney Brent, Edmund Gwenn, Melville Cooper,
Irene Bordoni, Walter Slezak, Tom Powers, Violet Heming, the dancers
Felicia Sorel and Demetrios Vilan and many others.
The ranking New York stars, the latest and most interesting of the New
York plays - an important World Premiere - glamour and excite-
ment and distinction in the finest of the Dramatic Seasons, opening
TOMORROW NIGHT at 8:15 with J. 8. Priestly's brilliant New York
and London Success.
ahurnuni Grove"


These Current Plays....
Heading the List in Our
Lending Library
LABURNUM GROVE by Joseph B. Priestly
THE GLORY ROAD by Arthur Hopkins
I HE CHILDREN'S HOUR by Lillian Hellman


/. . .'""' - . ..ate,.. ^ - s


with the Distinguished British Stars
And the New York Cast Intact


Blue Bird Book Nook


" Laburnum Grove" mixes mirth with mystery...in the hands of Edmund Gwenn and Melville
Cooper it is funny and dramatic in a quiet Dic kensian way. I enjoyed it."
is r 1 " m /'+A "A AT A 7 V )_ 3 W7 ___1 l P _f,_W_ _

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