The most intelligent and cultured audience that has assembled in the Lansing Theatre this year last night gathered to do homage to the great genius of Clara Morris . Conspicuous and decidedly pleasing to the eye were the boxes, in which Dr. Giffin and wife entertained the governor and staff and their wives. The gentlemen were all in full uniform and the ladies in elegant evening costumes.
To commend, even to speak of the great work done on the Lansing stage last night seems almost presumption. Better work has never been done by any actress in any country. Nothing can be more natural than nature, more lifelike than life. There are heights beyond which even art cannot rise. Comment upon the wonderful power of Clara Morris' voice, upon the technical perfection of her acting are utterly unnecessary. One may comment upon excellencies of average acting, but when we find a perfect individual creation, we accept it as unquestioning as we accept nature's work, and upon it we build a whole philosophy of art. To criticize the way in which Clara Morris dies in "Camille" would be as impertinent as to criticize any real death. One can only say of perfection that it is perfect; we have no adjectives that go any higher; we can only try to see what the great artist does with this creation of hers, and perhaps how she attains her perfection.
Clara Morris' acting certainly cannot be placed in the same class or viewed in the same light as that of Modjeska and Julia Marlowe in Shakesperian productions. One is the high appreciation and complete sympathy with the great works of the great master, the other is a medley of passions and emotions so great, so boundless that even the most emotional plays of the most emotional age can scarcely give them room to vent themselves. Clara Morris acts by feeling alone. One can see her gestures and poses have never been practiced before a mirror. Sometimes they are almost grotesque in their violence, and her body writhes as though it were being literally torn asunder to let out the great soul within her.
"Camille" is an awful play. Clara Morris plays only awful plays. Her realism is terrible and relentless. It is her art and mission to see all that is terrible and painful and unexplained in life. It is a dark and gloomy work that has been laid upon more geniuses than one.
But after all is said there is so little said where so much is felt, so much reverenced. There is the terrible scene with Monsieur Duval , the last kiss upon Armand's forehead which was pure as a wife's, holy as a mother's, and the last embrace which was restrained, which are beyond all words, which we can only remember and shudder and suffer at the memory. Men cannot say where art gets its beauty, where power gets its strength. The greatest perfection a work of art can ever attain is when it ceases to be a work of art and becomes a living fact. Art and science may make a creation perfect in symmetry and form, but it is only the genius which forever evades analysis that can breathe into it a living soul and make it great.
To remember the many laughs caused by the mishaps of Pottgeiser and others who figure in the dramatic story is to break into a broad smile. Loder is quietly natural and excessively droll, every look, gesture, raise of the eyebrows, etc., indicating something to laugh at. In "Oh, What a Night" there are a thousand laughs for the audience that will assemble at the Lansing theatre tonight.