"Up in the Clouds", a musical play in two acts, was tried out on Boston theatregoers last Monday night, and proved to be still another of the many pieces which have held forth upon the Wilbur stage this season. In plot, in music and in cast, however, the show may be distinguished from its predecessors: in the first, through a rather vaudevillian mingling of Capital and Labor concord, patriotic tableaux, and half-humorous idealism; in the second, through two or three tunes which actually survive the evening as such; and in the third, through a list of characters none of whom has ever been heard of before.
The story deals mainly with the fortunes of an amateur movie company which is trying to make the United States a Utopia through the filming of a soul-stirring, star-spangled-bannered photoplay called "The Birth of America". It is fortunate indeed that the authors have treated this subject in a semi-jocular mood, for handled seriously it would be "100 percent Americanism" carried to impossible limits. As it is, the plot pretends at no more than do the plots of countless other pieces which seek chiefly to divert through situations, humor and music. It affords the usual opportunity for the hero to fall in love with the heroine at first sight,, to love her through several acts and scenes in the face of paternal opposition, and to receive the expected "bless you my children" at the end; it affords appropriate chances for such customary jokes as "Don't look, dear, the gears are stripped", and a few others of somewhat higher calibre; and it affords the intervals suitable for tunes of more or less substance as the case may be. Most of these tunes one hears only to forget, but "Up in the Clouds", "Nobody Knows" and "I See Your Face" are three that are decidedly worth-while.
It is difficult to see why Patricia O'Hearn was chosen as leading lady, for her acting as the awkward country girl, coupled with her elastic mouth seem to fit her instead for the role of comedienne. Her obvious substitute is Florence Hedges, who, in spite of a most vivacious and attractive presence, is relegated to a minor role. Gertrude O'Connor, who takes the part of Ruby Airedale, effectively fulfills her description as "a well-kept grave"; Skeet Gallagher is easily the best actor in the play and handles a majority of the laugh-provoking lines. For the rest, none deserve special mention save the novelty dancers and the three "aged" Tuttles. The settings are well done, the costumes are excellent and the chorus (paintless and powder-less according to advertisements) is well trained; the play itself was too long on Monday night and will undoubtedly be improved by illuminating sundry unessentials.