It was officially announced yesterday that Mr. Frank C. Zehrung would assume the management of the Funke opera house with the beginning of the new season. The house was tendered him some time ago, but it was only last week that he decided to become its manager. He will not give up his present business, his removal to the opera house block making it possible for him to conduct both without neglecting either.
It is a part of the contract that the house shall be put in perfect order. This means the expenditure of several thousand dollars. First of all the place will be scoured outuntil all suggestion of the Crawford mismanagement is removed. Then a new hard maple floor will be placed on the stage, the dressing rooms will be overhauled, the scenery will be rebuilt and repainted, and a new drop curtain will take the place of the startling work of art that has done duty there for so many years. When the workmen are through behind the proscenium arch they will leave the stage in better condition than it was the day the house was opened.
The auditorium will receive equally radical treatment. The floor will be carpeted, the woodwork will be decorated in white and gold, the walls will be frescoed in a delicate olive tint, and the chairs will be newly upholstered to harmonize with the prevailing color of the house. The lobby will be tiled and the woodwork neatly painted. An outside entrance to the balcony will be provided, with a separate ticket office for the gallery gods. The ticket office for the theatre will be in the drug store below, except of course in the evening, when the regular box office will be in use.
As to the character of the house under the new management, Mrs. Funke stipulates that it shall not be a second class place under any circumstances, and Mr. Zehrung states positively that if he cannot conduct it as a first class theatre he will not keep the management. He will spend two or three weeks in New York in May or June for the purpose of securing attractions. "If I can't get good companies," he said to THE JOURNAL, "I won't get any. The house will stay dark rather than be opened for inferior entertainments. Now don't understand me to mean that we won't sometimes put in shows at less than first class prices. Nearly every first class theatre does that and we will do it now and then. But all shows must be good and worth the price charged at the doors, or they don't get into the Funke."
The contracts for renovating the house are now in process of completion and the work will begin without delay. The opening will probably be in August.
It is unncessary to say that the whole community will watch Mr. Zehrung's new venture with undisguised interest. He has lived in Lincoln practically all his life, and for ten years has been a very prominent young man in social and business circles. He has a wide theatrical acquaintance, due to his former activity as a member of the Order of Elks and to his steady and intelligent patronage of the theatre. It is conceded that there is nobody in Lincoln not actively connected with theatrical affairs who is better qualified by taste and experience as a patron to take the management of a theatre. His friends do not hesitate to predict that he will make a notable success as a manager, because he knows so thoroughly what the people want and what they ought to have.
Miss Morton's play, "Brother John," which is produced by Mr. Crane , shows life in a little Connecticut town and at gay and fashionable Long Branch, and all of its contrasts are sharply drawn. Cotton's lines —"The world has nothing to bestow, They are but fools who roam; From our own selves our joys must flow, And that dear hut — our home" —
suggested the play to Miss Morton. The principal character is John Hackett , a hat manufacturer, living in Bethel, Conn. He has accumulated a fortune and is entirely wrapped up in his little family, consisting of an elder sister, a younger sister, and his little brother Bobby . Money has not altered his ways or manners a little bit and he has a big, honest heart with a place in it for everyone. His younger sister Sophie has been attending a New York boarding school and upon her return home she finds the humdrum existence she is compelled to lead very disagreeable. She longs to see the gay world and to go to balls and parties, and soon her elder sister catches the infection. By the aid of the forewoman of John's factory, a former gentlewoman with whom John is unconsciously enamored, they secure their brother's permission to go on to Long Branch. The first act closes with the little family receiving John's permission to go to the seaside. The second act finds the family esconsced in a palatial cottage at Long Branch doing the honors to a crowd of sycophants and people who laugh at the little Yankees in secret. John visits them. He orders them home, but they defy him. Mortified and about to go alone, he is nearly struck dumb with astonishment to see Bobby, his little brother, who has never drank in his life, in a beastly state of intoxication. He then determines to remain and protect his family. The third act takes place during the progress of a lawn party, and finds the family paying the price of their folly. The fourth act finds the family back home, having learned the lesson that in pursuing pleasure away from their own fireside they were chasing a deluded phantom. In John Hackett Mr. Crane is said to have a character different from any he has ever attempted to portray heretofore. He is allowed to play on all the strings leading to the human heart, and there are occasional touches of pathos in his work which tell effectively. In Mr. Crane's support are Messrs. George Backus , Joseph Wheelock jr. , William Herbert , J. K. Padgett , George F. DeVere , Gus DeVere , Miss Lizzie Hudson Collier , Annie O'Neill , Amy Busby , Mrs. Augusta Foster , Gladys Wallis , Marie Dantes and Idalene Cotton .
The coming of "The Black Crook" will recall to the old timers the "Black Crook" of 1866 with, its academic premiers, its full skirted coryphees, and its mply draped figurantes, and those who last year gazed upon the spectacular carnival at the Academy of Music, New York, with its succession of scenes, are moved to reflection on a change in the times. Prior to the initial production of Charles Barras' spectacle, there had never been a regular ballet of any size in this country. Lolo Montez had flitted across the stage and Fanny Ellsler had danced a few characteristic steps, but a complete ballet with prima assoluta, secondi and ballerini was unknown. The little the public had seen of women in tights was confined to the performance of "Mazeppa," in which either an Adah Isaacs Menken , a Kate Fisher or a Leo Hudson was lashed to the back of a wild, untamed Barbary steed. The sensation can be imagined when all at once the stage of Niblo's garden, New York, was filled with what seemed to be myriads of women in short skirts, in trunks and in tights. It was a beautiful spectacle and it appealed to the senses as no theatrical performance ever had before.
For two years the theatre was filled. The moralist inveighed, the pulpits thundered, but all this served only to advertise the show. The fame of the "Black Crook" spread over the land and it became one of New York's attractions. Today there are family matinees given and even children are allowed to bite of a fruit which a quarter of a century ago was forbidden.
Miss Tempest's real name is Marie Hetherington , and she never supposed that necessity would force her upon the stage. Such was the case, however, as her grandmother died when she was twenty and it was then developed that the old lady's income was only a life's interest in her husband's estate. Her guardian, while unable to do much for her financially, gave her a charming home at Kensington, to which she returned after having completed her musical studies at Paris. She had become an expert linguist, and in fact is as thoroughly an educated woman as the Parisian finishing schools could turn out. After her return to London she met Garcia, the great singing master.
Miss Tempest's voice, though never remarkably strong, has always possessed qualities that never fail to charm. Her first appearance was a fair success, but London did not go crazy over her. "Dorothy" was then being presented to London with only a fair success. Marion Hood was the original Dorothy, but she did not suit and Miss Tempest was engaged. Her success was instantaneous. She played Dorothy over nine hundred times.
Three years ago she came to America and was seen in "The Red Hussar" and several other operas that were being presented by the Duff opera company . When "The Fencing Master" was secured from Messrs. De Koven and Smith only one woman on the operatic stage could be found to look, sing and act the role and that was Miss Tempest.
The story of Panjandrum begins at Subaya, a suburb of Manilla, the principal seaport of Luzon, one of the Philippine islands. Pedro — DeWolf Hopper — makes his debut as a bull fighter and is ignominiously vanquished. He is in love with Paquita — Della Fox — the keeper of the village inn, who has promised to marry him should he win fame as a toreador and who in the temporary absence of Pedro has become fascinated with Diego , a rival toreador, whose noble bearing and jaunty manner has captivated the hearts of all the pretty senoritas in the village. By some means all the characters get on board the same ship, bound for Spain, which is wrecked on the coast of Borneo during a furious storm. The people are made a prisoners by the savage natives of the island, who carry them to Kutching, the capital of the island, in which city is located the palace of King Panjandrum. Meanwhile while Pedro and Paquita have been left in a large cask labelled "rum" in the jungle by some natives who had anticipated a royal drunk on the supposed contents, but were frightened away by the roar of a tiger. The hero and his sweetheart finally escape from the cask, and a little later they arrive at the king's palace disguised as Chinese fakirs, where they discover the remainder of the party as captives and under sentence of death. Pedro determines to rescue his friends and he learns that Panjandrum, the king, has really been dead for six months, but owing to an inconvenient law, which provides that in the event of the death of the monarch the grand vizier, with all of his majesty's wives and numerous slaves, must be sacrificed at the obsequies, the wily vizier very sensibly keeps the demise of Panjandrum a profound secret, and when it was absolutely necessary for the king to make a public appearance a stuffed effigy bearing a marked resemblance to the dead ruler was exhibited to the people. Pedro learns of this canker worm in the grand vizier's breast and makes use of his knowledge to some purpose. After a brief negotiation, Pedro agrees to impersonate the dead monarch. He makes his first appearance on the throne at the feast of the sun, and is transformed into a young king by Paquita, his sweetheart. This delights the populace, who believe in the supernatural, and who have crowded about the place to witness the festivities. Pedro retains possession of the throne and pardons the grand vizier upon condition that the Spanish captives are returned in safety to their native home.
A Paris dispatch says that the most important theatrical event of the past month is the very unexpected but undeniable fact that the anarchist bomb outrages have caused the receipts of Paris playhouses to fall off in the most extraordinary way. The fear that some anarchist may take it into his head to throw a bomb in a theatre prevents many Parisians from going to places of amusement, and with the exception of the Vaudeville, where Sardou's "Mme. Sans Gene" continues to draw full houses, the theatres are all playing to empty benches.
The fun began at the circus yesterday afternoon. The garden was crowded, and when a fractious elephant, with the usual small, intelligent but vicious eyes, rushed up a gangway the multitude on either side scattered with great celerity. The pachyderm evidently wished to become acquainted with his audience, and he ambled up, trunk in air, and trumpeted defiance at his keepers, who kept jabbing him, but to no purpose. The brute got back of the boxes, and he may be there yet for all I know. One woman who sat near me jumped up so suddenly that her pocketbook flew out of her hand into the very path of the elephant. Did she shriek and fly forthwith? Yes, she shrieked, but did not fly. She stooped over and grabbed her property from the very jaws of death. It reminded me of the story of the Scotchman who saw a guinea on the other side of sheol. But he jumped for it, all the same.
When Mr. Stetson built his magnificent residence on Commonweatlth avenue he stocked it with works of art of which he knew little. A visitor one day was admiring his collection, and approaching a statue said: "Ah, you have an amazon here, I see!" Remembering his bad break about Michael Angelo, whom he wished to discharge from his corps of scene painters, Mr. Stetson took a safe ground this time, and merely replied in a non committal tone, "Yes, that's Amazon's latest!"