Thomas Q. Seabrooke played "The Isle of Champagne" to good business at the Lansing last night. The isle of the intoxicating name is really so effervescent that there is very little to say of it. It has some very attractive scenery, moderately interesting lines, more plot than is usual in comic operas, and it has not as yet been uncorked long enough to be flat. It carries a good deal of foam, and while it is hardly sparkling enough to necessitate an extravagant use of congress water the next morning, it would certainly be unfair to pronounce it "extra dry." Indeed, it is rather more amusing that most comic operas.
Mr. Seabrooke himself is just as funny as he used to be. He is never loud or offensive and his fun is of the sly and quiet kind that hits the mark. He can behave himself and be funny at the same time, which is rather unusual and always appreciated. He is not gifted with the strong individual mannerisms which are a boon to the comic opera men who are fortunate enough to possess them. With the exception of the dance with his legs at right angle and the neat little red bow which gathered his few thin locks, he rather lacks original "business," and sometimes savors of a slight immitation of De Wolfe Hopper .
Mr. Seabrook's wife, Elvia Croix , was doubtless delighted to see her name printed on the program as Elisa. Miss Croix is getting just a shade too plump, but she certainly cannot be accused of waning energy. She dances well and does her best all the time. You feel that she is giving you just the sweetest smiles she has and is not saving the choice ones for the next town. She is not very effective because she lacks any particular cleverness. Indeed, if there is any fault at all to be found with the company it is that it does not have enough of its own way and too much of the way of comic opera in general. It lacks strong specific features.
The song, "She Could Not Understand," by Miss Croix a d Mr. Seabrooke was thoroughly funny and they had to furnish fully half a dozen encores.
The finale of act II was an illustration of how beautiful stage effects can be. The applause was loud and continuous and most of the audience will need a little pounded ice this morning.
Thomas Q. Seabrooke: American actor and singer Thomas Q. Seabrooke (1860-1913) was born Thomas James Quigley in New York. He spent some years as a bank teller, then decided to go into show business, making his debut in Rhode Island about 1880. Although he played leading juvenile parts in various stock companies, his talent for comedy was discovered, and he played in several Charles Hoyt farce comedies, making a hit as the Deacon in A Midnight Bell (1889). His first comic opera role was in The Little Tycoon (1888) and he afterwards appeared with De Wolfe Hopper in Castles in the Air (1890). His greatest success was with The Isle of Champagne (1892), which he toured with for several years and revived occasionally. This was followed by Tobasco (1894); his last big hit was with A Chinese Honeymoon (1902). He tried straight comedy and drama several times, unsuccessfully; after 1906 he played in vaudeville.
Seabrooke's first wife was actress Elvia Croix (or Crox), whom he married in 1883; they were separated in 1896, and she sued for divorce in 1899. He later married actress Jeannette Lowrie; a month before his death he married actress Mattie Quinn (Martha Shepard).
"The Isle of Champagne": The Isle of Champagne (1892), a musical by Louis Harrison and Charles Alfred Byrne, with music by William W. Furst, was one of Thomas Q. Seabrooke's greatest successes. The plot concerns the inhabitants of an isolated island, the descendants of Frenchmen driven out of France in Charlemagne's time; when a New England ship capsizes on the island, they discover a new drink—water—and discover what it is like to be sober. Seabrooke played King Pommeroy Sec'd; his wife. Elvia Croix, played the soubrette role of Diana.
Image availabe at the New York Public Library Digital Gallery.
Lansing Theatre: The Lansing Theater, on the southwest corner of 13th and P Streets, was built in 1891, displacing the Funke Opera House as the largest and finest theater in Lincoln. The owners were J.F. Lansing (b. 1842), a Lincoln real estate man, and his brother-in-law Henry Oliver (b. 1857); Edward A. Church was the manager. According to the program of the opening week (November 23-28, 1891) the auditorium consisted of the orchestra and parquet seating on the main level, with dress circle at the rear and sides; three tiers of five boxes each and six loges were at the sides. Above were the balcony and the gallery. With standing room, about 2500 people could be present.
The building also housed offices, including that of Cather's friend and fellow reviewer, Dr. Julius H. Tyndale. It was renamed the Oliver Theater in 1898.
DeWolf Hopper: William DeWolf Hopper (1858-1935) made his stage debut in 1878. At 6 feet 2 inches he was considered too tall for serious acting roles, and his big bass singing voice drew him to musical theater; he starred in The Black Hussar in 1885, and had his first pairing with Della Fox in Castles in the Air in 1890, followed by Wang in 1891 and Panjandrum in 1893; he starred in many more Broadway shows. One of his most popular acts was his recitation of Thayer's poem, "Casey at the Bat," which he helped to make popular; he recited it at curtain calls, recorded it in 1906, and performed it in a silent movie in 1916, and on the radio.
Hopper married six times, most notably to actress Elda Furry, best known as the feared gossip columnist Hedda Hopper. His son by her, William DeWolf Hopper, Jr., played Paul Drake on the 1950s Perry Mason televion series.
Elvia Croix: American actress and singer Elvia Croix (d. 1911) was born in Philadelphia, where she first met Thomas Q. Seabrooke. They were married in 1883, and she appeared in a number of productions with him, including several of Charles Hoyt's farces. She had some success with the role of Dolly in The Little Tycoon (1888), and understudied Marion Manola in Castles in the Air (1890). She played the role of Diana in The Isle of Champagne (1892). Croix retired from the stage early in 1895 because of illness; in 1896 she sued for a separation in 1896 and for divorce in 1899. At that time she was described as prima donna in a West Coast opera company; she was still performing in 1906, with Edith Mason in The Primrose Girl.