William H. Crane and his excellent company played "Brother John" to a good house at the Lansing last night. A more delightful and sympathetic audience has not filled the Lansing theatre this season. Everyone expected something great and no one was disappointed. In this wicked and perverse generation plays like "Brother John" and actors like William H. Crane are restful and wholesome. They are realistic with the realism of good and remind one that realism after all may not be an absolute synonym for evil, Mr. Crane is an artist with a great heart. I don't know any higher praise to give him. His John Hackett is effective because he has warm blood in him. Romeo and Hermanis sigh and sing and die the world over without half the genuine emotion and warmth that John Hackett had last night. Mr. Crane makes the latter loving and loveable.
On stage most men love according to tradition, and with all their art and tradition and Delsarte grace they can only squeeze out enough of very intangible love for one woman. Brother John loved everything; even his hats. He could love his brother and his sister, a thing that is almost a forgotten art among actors, who as a rule recognize but one kind of love. Some way it stirred one up to see a man hug his brother on the stage like he meant it and got some comfort out of it. As a rule when one sees a particularly impassioned Romeo one pities his wife, but Mr. Crane's stage love is so warm and frank and sensible that it leaves the impression that his friends and relatives may be fairly comfortable and may not have to pay such an awful price for fame as the kindred of genius generally do. Some one has said that in his impersonation of Brother John Mr. Crane has done what Howells failed to do in Silas Lapham . It is a high and noble art to so take the scales from men's eyes that they can see the good that is near to them. In this century it is not the man who plays classic roles or who paints classic pictures, but the man who can distill poetry out of the commonplace, who is the truest artist.
Mr. Crane's company was the best that has been in Lincoln for many moons. The success of the play last night was, in athletic language, largely due to the good line work. A good play cannot be presented by one star any more than a good novel can be made out of one character. Every actor deserves special mention and there is neither time nor space for that. Mrs. Augusta Foster as Beck , Miss Busby as Helen , Miss Anne O'Neill as Sophie and Miss Glady Walter as Maggie are beautiful women and strong artists. Miss Idalene Cotton was a perfect genius of a servant girl. Mr. Joseph Wheelock as Bobbie Hackett did some very strong acting and is an actor of great promise. Mr. Boyd Putnam as De Rutyer was sufficiently detestable and pitiable. The blonde villain is rather a novelty on the stage and is a departure that deserves encouragement.
As for the play itself, it is the work of a very clever woman and a very poor playwright. It is loose in plot and lacks finished technique. It has neither completeness nor logical sequence. The crisis on which the play turns, namely, the sudden desire of the Hacketts to go home, is wholly supposition on the author's part. She gives no good reason for it. A repetition of an overheard bathing room conversation is not enough to convince an audience. The playwright should have introduced an open insult or some visible pretext to warrant such a sudden change of feeling. The men in the play are well done, the women are simply treated as articles of convenience, which is a pleasant way that female authors have of handling their own sex. Women can never take women seriously. Men, it seems, can. Women can paint pictures and write novels, but never while the world stands will a woman mould a great statue or write a great play. No woman has ever done anything good in marble, and the limitations of the drama are as severe as those of sculpture. If a woman has perfect liberty and plenty of rope she may do something good, but she cannot be great within limitations.
The C. U. C. minstrel show attracted a good sized house at Lyceum hall last night, and the entertainment surpassed, if anything, the expectations of the audience. Part 1 opend with a grand overture especially prepared for the occasion by F. Lorenz . This was followed by the opening chorus, "Climb Up, Ye Little Children, Climb," which brought down the house. The following selections were rendered during the prelude: "Give Him a Welcome Home," Professor Arlington ; "Coon Down from the Moon," Mr. Rice ; "German Medley," Professor Emerson ; "You Can't Lose Me, Cholly," Mr. Sweatnam .
The closing chorus, which also appeared to please the audience, was "Knights of the Mystic Star."
Part 2 was made up of specialties. The "Upper Ten and the Lower Five" was executed in excellent shape by Messrs. B. F. C. Baker and W. H. Cunningham . Will O'Shea renewed his great popularity with Lincoln people by giving a half hour's trip to Wonderland, in which, as adverstised, the "more you looked the less you saw." Mr. O'Shea is rapidly rivalling Hermann in his feats of magic. Professor Arlington appeared as a monologue comedian to the satisfaction of the spectators.
Part 3 was devoted to sketches, in which a variety of good things was sprung upon the audience in succession almost too rapid for digestion. Mr. E. R. Butler appeared in his new selction, "A Battered Tin Horn," a vocal solo just written and never before rendered before an audience in Lincoln. The program closed with a laughable fake entitled "The Trial of a Member in the Colored Gentlemen's '400' Club." The performance will be repeated this evening.