Let it be said first, for the benefit of those who will read an ulterior motive even into the Book of Ecclesiastes, that the title of the current or just-completed Hasty Pudding Show, "Take a Brace", has nothing to do with the Fourteenth Amendment, or whichever the amendment is. Nothing, except the Bahamas, and there is nothing about the Bahamas as treated in the play to excite the thirst of the most bitter-ender of those who have paid their dollar and become members of the Association for Inneffectual but Vocal Protest against the (now it comes back to us) Eighteenth Amendment.
Barklie Henry (what matter if middle initials have been omitted) and F. H. Nichols said to themselves: "Here is the same old tailoring job. Here likewise is the same old cloth. Let's see what can be done to make another Pudding Show. Not a new Pudding Show--just another. The Formula prescribes that the first act shall be in a modern environment, that the action shall somehow translate the cast to a foreign and somewhat exciting clime, and that until quarter of eleven trouble without end shall visit upon the personnel until a naval leftanent (or its equivalent) shall bust clean through the back drop and settle the whole problem of how many of the audience not related to the cast get home before the next calendar date. With these handicaps"--said Mr. Henry and Mr. Nichols--"let's go!"
Jamie Wilder Jr. Appears
And they has went. They has went so far that the Pudding show comes perilously close to being in fact the thing which is reported annually of the Show--the best show since Jamie Wilder batted the first imported ukulele in "Hamlet" of '93. Jamie Wilder's son is in the chorus of "Take a Brace", which only goes to show how time flies. To return to Mr. Henry and Mr. Nichols, who after all are legally responsible for the trouble that last night caused two or three hundred graduates to throw up their sweaty nightcaps and stop the show, they have made a perfectly plausible and frequently delightful continuity out of the Formula. Mr. Henry and Mr. Nichols, it is predicted, will go far, if they have not done so already.
"No Fault of the Pratts"
A good theatrical reporter reports the plot and restricts himself to a minimum of personal opinion. The plot therefore is this: after an open chorus in which the male members of the cast who are obliged to impersonate females go through what is probably the most unpleasant ordeal of their lives, it develops that J. McK. Kimball is a hotel clerk, and not so very good either. To his hotel come a nouveau riche family from the frequently-pulverized Middle West, accompanied by a "French maid". Let us explain the character: the exterior finish is by Vivaudou, Inc., the housing by Behrens (courtesy of Louis Silvers) but underneath is the one-hundred- per-cent, red-blooded, honest-to-God frame and speaking voice of H. N. Pratt '24, and our personal prediction is that if he doesn't make a name for himself in the performance in Boston, New York, Baltimore and Washington, it is no fault of the Pratts. Anyhow, one thing leads to another, one act leads to another, the hero, R. P. Bullard '24, who does the entire singing of the piece, gets into endless amatory difficulties with the girl who planted on him and the girl whom he loves with every ounce of red blood in his manly frame, and after a very pleasant second act at the Bahamas, during which there is a whacking-good number called "Will you marry me?", the company returns to a third act at the Cost-leigh-Pleasure in civilization, some admirable specialties, and the final curtain. Not a new plot, to be sure, but it has its new twists and angles.
"To Carson Go the Orchids"
With the plot clear in the reader's mind, it is a simple and gratifying task to ascend to the level of personal performance. In the order of their appearance, J. McK., Kimball, as the hotel clerk, was perfectly terrible, but you couldn't possibly get sore with him about it. D. A. Williams, as Byron Victory Dawes, the head of the nouveau riche family and head of the suspender-trust, carried on in a fine fervor of unsubstantial middle-aged choler throughout. Mrs. Dawes, played by B. S. Cogan, carried on in a fine fervor of substantial middle-aged choler throughout, and sang very pleasantly indeed. B. K. Little, as their daughter, was the real hit of the entire piece--a character part descended directly from the Jukeses, so real that she was terrifying. Pratt and his lure have already been discussed, Bullard will never get the medal of honor he deserves for continuous and intrepid service at the old pipes--a clear, fine voice coming out of his ever-ready frame--a sort of fire-horse, always on the job. To Carson, the heroine, goes the genuine-orchid-shower-bouquet for being quite the demurest piece of work that the Hasty Pudding Ladies' Auxiliary has presented since Vinton Freedley shaved particularly close in order to do justice to the role of Princess of Loravia. J. M. Brown '23 was consistently effective and self-effacing--the only actor in the cast. Rumor hath it that he is a subject of English 47 and therefore a ringer; if it is so, let there be the clanging of more ringers like him. W. N. Gates, as a radio fan, did his job, and the bell boys did theirs, and the unsung heroes of the chorus, m. and f., did theirs. For the most part the musical numbers bearing the symbols of Salinger '23, and Alger '22 (who is evidently out of course, of course) were the most coherent. To mention those who contributed to the lyrics and music would require space for which the CRIMSON would charge full advertising rates. The cooks did it--let it go.
What is the net result? Henry and Nichols built a workable plot and play. Somebody--evidently the body politic of the Hasty Pudding--said "let's not be content with the average performance. Let's not aim to compete with the Mask and Wig and the Triangle--not just yet. But let's entertain. Let's not try to imitate a Shubert revue. Let's jimmy up a show, give everybody a whack at it, get a competent coach, do what he says, and have an awful lot of fun doing it." The proof of the Pudding was the eating last night. It was a little more savory, a great deal smoother, and it contained a great deal more nourishment than the usual pastry. With the assistance of Mr. Silvers and Mr. Schwab, the Hasty Pudding has Taken a Brace--and the audience profits by the result.
P. S. It should be added, in explanation of the title, that gents wear pants, vests and suspenders, while Gentlemen wear Waistcoats, Trousers, and Braces