The Theater: There Goes the Showboat

As the curtain mercifully fell on the hammed-up Hamlet, a voice from the balcony yelled: "Author, author!" A stir ran through the audience aboard Cap'n J. W. (Bill) Menke's Goldenrod, last of the Mississippi's showboats, and up to the footlights stepped one of William Shakespeare's belated collaborators, Cap'n Billy Bryant, onetime showboat king of the Ohio. Hollered the voice: "Shoot him dead!"

Cap'n Bryant, 58, who gave up his own boat six years ago, could afford to beam at this stunt; today's showboat skipper can usually count the house by counting the hoots. For...

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