For the benefit of its readers who frequent the theatres in Boston, the CRIMSON will hereafter publish on Wednesday mornings reviews of the plays which come to Boston. In addition to criticism, the dramatic column will contain jottings of interest to theatre goers.
With Elsie Janis and her gang hurrying off on their tour, "Bill" and "Mable" have come to the Tremont for a limited engagement in "Dere Mable," a musical comedy by Edward streeter and John Hodges. It is "the Same old Bill" that we read about in "Dere Mable" books, admirably taken by Louis Bennison. For two acts, the audience has fears that Bill, with his head turned by hero-worship, will never be the same again, but a little rough treatment by his prospective employers brings him to realize that the can't "live on medals," and he goes back to Philopolis sufficiently humbled to satisfy the most exacting.
After the tremendous success of his books, Mr. Streeter's ambition to put on the stage the further adventures of Bill is tempting the Gods--for every reader of "Dere Mable" will expect Bill and Mable to be just as he imagined them. A great deal of disappointment is inevitable under such conditions, but the splendid characterizations, especially by Mr. Bennison, and Mr. Wolsey, who takes the part of Angus, warrant the success of the production. In the words of Bill, "A good time was had by all" at the Tremont last night.
The story is of the return to America of Bill, who is a war hero due to his stumbling upon the heart of the German spy system while hunting for his dog "Harold" (shown in the movies before the curtain rises). The flattery of the delegation which meets him quite goes to Bill's head, in spite of the fact that he is disappointed when he learns it is from the mayor," as he doesn't "want anything more to do with horses." Fortunately Mable isn't neglected for long, and the audience is spared wasting sympathy over there plight, because a naval aviator, Jack Wing, keeps here from getting lonely while Gwendolyn, the step-daughter of the rich Mrs. Pettigrew, is pursuing Bill at a Long Island country club. For a short time, the audience can only pin their faith on the author to bring Bill and Mable together, because they are so far separated that there seems no power but the exigencies of the playwright hard put for a quick ending to cut the Gordian knot. But no one is disappointed, for Bill, brought to his senses by several refusals of work, walk the 256 miles back to Philopolis in true Prodigal son fashion, where Mable soon joins him. She has come to a rather ingenuous agreement with Wing on the basis that she will always love Bill better, and welcomes here old lover to the "little cottage with the green shutters."
To play the part of a national character like Bill in a way which will satisfy the millions of readers of "Dere Mable" is no easy task, but Mr. Bennison lives up to the specifications of the most exacting spectator. Fern Rogers as "Mable" has a little difficulty with some of the songs, but acts well and is admirably suited for the part. Robert Wolsey, as "Angus," Bill's buddy, is the most entertaining character in the play, and adds life and interest whenever he is on the stage. Elizabeth Hines makes an unusually attractive "Gwendolyn."
The music, which is all new to Boston audiences, is catchy and pleasing. "That's What They Like About Me," "When Love Comes Knocking at Your Heart," and "Mademoiselle Bon Nuit," would all become favorites if they were sung a little better. Most of the jokes are familiar to readers of "Dere Mable," but that in no way detracts from their bright, clean humor.