Theater: New Plays in Manhattan: Oct. 17, 1927

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Chauve-Souris. A "ver' goot audience" clattered generous hands, to see Nikita Balieff* in town again. Save a goatee in one scene and a dented derby in another he appeared in his usual evening clothes; and chattered between the acts. He spoke variously of Abraham Lincoln, Marie Antoinette, Otto Kahn (in the fifth row) ; his audience, his premiere danseuse, and his face. To all this the witnesses listened rapt; to his show they were only slightly less attentive.

It was straight vaudeville in Russian and French, and here and there cracked English. It was new. Neither the famed wooden soldiers nor the well remembered Katinka played their parts. A concentration of Verdi's La Traviata, burlesqued; a pantomime in the Sultan's harem; the lovely figure of the danseuse were most volubly received. As always it was fresh, delicate; strange to slangy Manhattan. Four weeks it will linger in the city and then start in Washington a tour of population centres reaching to California.

An Enemy of the People. Walter Hampden, the honorable mantle of president of The Players newly flung about his shoulders (TIME, Oct. 10), opens his season with Ibsen. It is a comfortable combination. Ibsen can scarcely be mangled by bad acting; Hampden can scarcely play a piece crudely. Many Ibsen plays have been given in Manhattan these past seasons; probably few better than this Enemy of the People. The play tells the story of a Norwegian doctor who found that the baths in his town were unsanitary and struggled desperately with the citizens, who felt it better for their individual bank account to let the germs flourish.

My Princess. For years now, Hope Hampton, onetime cinemactress, has been advancing the possibility that she would appear as a light opera prima donna. To this end she has been taking singing lessons and variously equipping herself. She also has a rich husband,* and on the whole things looked pretty black for the public.

But Hope Hampton produced the agreeably unexpected—a more than good enough voice, a fair acting talent and a head of red hair that in most prima donnas would make up for everything. Here she is occupied in crashing U. S. society with the help of an organ-grinder posing as a prince. There are a few, a very few, jokes.

But Miss Hampton, the plot and the jokes are not really important. The things that matter are the music by Sigmund Romberg,† and the ensemble singing. These factors measure up to the most rigorous standard of recent large scale, light opera in the Shubert manner. Contented patrons of The Student Prince and things like that may dedicate an evening to My Princess.

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