The formal opening of the New Funke last night was one of unqualified brilliancy. The gathering of the clans began early and by 8 o'clock standing room was sold and crowds of people were being turned away. The audience represented all the better element of Lincoln and Mr. Frank Zehrung may congratulate himself upon the popularity of the new theatre and its manager.
The play, "The Woman Hater," is more of a refined farce than a comedy. The play is undoubtedly funny. King Henry himself would have "smiled again," but it abounds is rather too much wit that has no pretext, in dragged in by the hair, so to speak. Legitimate comedy should have only the fun that the situations evolve; a good deal of their comedy was of the intentionally erratic order of the school of Mr. Hoyt —scarcely legitimate, but very funny and sometimes a little far-stretched. The situations were laughable, though none of them were particularly pointed and lacked suddenness. They were anticipated too long before they went off. One could see the playwright load before he fired.
Mr. Roland Reed is a skilful and finished light comedian. He has the naturalness and spontaneity necessary to all good comedy. He has a good voice and admirable ease of action, but he is not an interpretive actor and his comedy is not the comedy of a man who analyzes character and motives or who sees far into life. Into his comedy he reads no deeper meaning than good farce comedy. One never feels that he knows more than he tells. If his mask of comedy were removed one wonders what they would find underneath. He gives individuality but not personality to his role. It is doubtful if he could handle a part in which the deeper and more touching side of comedy is brought out. Refined farce seems to be his limit, but in that limit he is a clever and skilful actor.
Mr. Sheridan Tupper as George Dobins was a marvel of make-up, and he succeeded in making the ancient merchant a clearly-defined and consistent character. Indeed the scenes between the two old boys were among the best in the play. Miss Isadore Rush as Mrs. Joy is one of the best actors in a very good company. She is beautiful and her face and carriage have a peculiar charm and adapt themselves readily to any change of expression. Her laugh is like low music and her gowns are things to haunt one in dreams. She leaves the impression that the role is rather too trivial for her and that she is fitted for much heavier work. Mr. Myers as Mr. Walton and Mr. Bunny as Dr. Lane did highly creditable work. The actors are all good and the performance last night was a finished and clever one.
The "Faust" company played again at the Lansing last evening and the play was successful as heretofore. The actors improve with every performance and are getting in excellent trim for their Chicago engagement. That they can keep the enthusiasm of Lincoln theatre-goers warm for a week's stand speaks well for the merit of the production. The company is very favorable noticed in the Chicago papers this week.