"Pinafore" drew a crowded house at the Lansing last night and the dress circle and balcony were filled with palpitating papas and mammas. They were all there, even to the sisters and the cousins and the aunts, all a little nervous and very enthusiastic. People never realize the dignity and importance of the stage so much as when the actors happen to be of their own family. When at last the curtains rose the temperature on both sides of the footlights went up alarmingly.
The chorus was strong and sang with vim and spirit. The chorus singers had been carefully trained and showed no inclination to drag.
Miss Josie Hoffman sang the role of Buttercup . When Miss Hoffman made her debut in the "Chimes of Normandy" last spring she showed unusual talent; last night this was even more marked. Miss Hoffman's voice is limited, but there is no doubt that she has the instinct of almost unconsciously suiting actions to words, of using her hands and feet and head as though they belonged to her and were not borrowed or rented for the occasion. She did not drop her role when the others had the centre of the stage and then hastily put it on again when her cue came. She acted all the time with vigor and considerable individuality and just that little dash of assertiveness which is to the comedienne what soul is to the tragedienne. Her speaking voice is particularly good, and in singing it is her manner and expression that please more than her tones. The oily demureness with which she informed the audience that "she mixed those children up" and the exultant persistency with which she insisted that "he said damn it" were good instances of how amazingly much may be done with a rather ordinary voice when it has spirit behind it.
Miss Adele Simons sang Josephine better than she acted it, but she sang it very well indeed. Her voice contains as much quantity and quality as the part demands. Her speaking voice, however, was light and ineffectual, and especially in the first act her manner lacked the dignity and reserve to be expected of a high-born maiden very desperately in love. In the second act, under the exhilarating influences of a charming gown and a prospective elopement, she grew more spirited, and into her last scenes with Ralph Rakestraw she put considerable action. The "fond embracing" act, which most amateurs do so abominably, she did gracefully and naturally, "and it's greatly to her credit."
Mr. Hayden Meyer made a handsome Ralph Rakestraw and sang with considerable feeling. Mr. K. W. Tuttle did Dick Deadeye and himself credit, and succeeded in producing more tears than many emotional actors. Mr. Arthur Kellum rather overdid the English insipioddess, and his manner which was meant to be stiff was instead rather awkward. His voice was not sufficient to stand the strain of his one small solo. Mr. Carl Tucker put a good deal of action into his part and enunciated distinctly, but he used his hands rather too elaborately and in the first act the excessively low cut of his jacket called to mind the lines of the old song: "Her brow is like the snowdrift, Her throat is like the swan." Particularly the last line.