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Nebraska State Journal

September 16, 1894
page 13

Utterly Irrelevant.

It looks as though in stage matters the day of wrath has come, when barely the elect shall be saved. Not all of the elect even, for half the best leading men and women in New York have been obliged to confess through the Mirror, that they are "at liberty." Every actor who has an engagement feels contented with his humble lot, realizing that he is fortunate to have any lot at all. Several proud and haughty prima donnas have been forced to accept positions as chorus girls and more than one ambitious young star has drawn in his horns and gone meekly back into leading business. It is a good thing to clip the aspiring wings of genius once in a while; their flight is all the swifter and stronger for it.


What would happen in this world if a state fair should ever rise to the lofty dignity of hanging only original paintings in the art department? That state of things will probably never come about, but if people will exhibit studies they might at least give in the study itself first hand and spare us their copy. Now and then you can find a copy that has merit in it. One of the best pictures at the fair was a copy of a Corot by Miss Parker . Sympathy with a great master means something, but the better one imitates a chromo "study" the worse painter he is. The fact is that half of the crazy stuff that is sent about to state and county fairs is just a kind of fancy work on canvas, with which dear old ladies are wont to console their loneliness, when they had far better employ themselves with poodle dogs and parrots. The fact must be forced upon the dear people some day that a man who can't draw can't paint, and a man who has not had good instruction can't do either.


During the very successful week which the Royal Entertainers have had at the Funke no one has been more successful than Mr. William Zanetti, the magician. Mr. William Zanetti (O'Shea) has for a long time been a resident of Lincoln, and although he has been well known as a man of business, a musician and a social favorite, he has all the while been constantly working at legerdemain. In that quiet and unobtrusive way in which most good work is done he has attained wonderful skill and dexterity in his line.


"Yes," said Mr. Zanetti, with a more affable air than interview victims generally have, "I have always wanted and expected to be a magician. When I was quite a lad and was attending a military school near Boston, I always took charge of the magic of the school entertainments. Ever since then I have worked at it more or less. I have given the subject a great deal of study and practice and Mr. Hermann has helped me a good deal by his suggestions. Of course when I was very young I had to resort to mechanical tricks, but now I use almost no prepared apparatus at all. My dress suit is just an ordinary dress suit and I could do any of my tricks in tights. I depend on mere skill and nimbleness of hand. The key to all honest work in magic is in the training of the muscles of the hand. A magician should take the greatest care of his hands and avoid all work that would strain or stiffen them. When he performs they should always be warm and soft, in good form, so to speak, like a singer's voice. Many magicians wear woollen mittens until they go on for their act. The trick in which I shoot a ladies' watch into a box at the rear of the hall and the one in which I take a cabbage and a dozen fresh roses from a stiff hat are both my own tricks. I invented them. My two little goldfish and my rabbit I have had for two years and they traveled thousands of miles with me this summer on our western tour. What do I consider most essential in a magician? Practice, coolness and self-confidence. The magician who hesitates is lost.

"Have I done anything with hypnotism? Yes, a good deal, but in that line my ability exceeds my taste. I have been very successful in it, but I don't like it. There is something uncanny about hypnotism and something rather vulgar about a professional hypnotist. I prefer to amuse people by magic rather than frighten them by hypnotism."


Sometimes, after all, water does seek its own level and people fall into their proper places. An instance of this kind has recently happened apropos of Mr. Ulric Collins , the young man of whom we have painful memories from the suffering he caused us by his impersonation of Faust in Mr. "Ado" Church's "Faust" company last spring. We can all recall how this milk and water youth trotted about after that ungainly Amazon Olive Martin , with his mouth open and generally with his tongue out, and how in the ardorous passages of his wooing he jumped up and down like a pleased child or a sportive calf when the spring stirs in its blood. Well, Mr. Collins has found his mission at last. He is playing the nigger in Jim Corbett's "Gentleman Jack" company . From Faust to a negro pugilist is enough to make Goethe have a chill in hades , but Mr. Ulric Collins probably makes a very fair negro and he makes a very poor Faust.


She has come to us at last in book form— Trilby the much talked of, Trilby the well-beloved. There has not been a heroine made for years that people have taken into their hearts and lives and loved as they have Trilby. Critics say "Thackeray, Thackeray," but Thackeray's heroines are not lovable, though his heroes are. Thackeray never made a woman whom one could love. Of course there have been noble women enough in fiction, indeed almost too many "noble women." There is even Charles Dudley Warner's "Edith of the Golden Home," concerning whom we are all anxiously awaiting further intelligence. O yes! there are plenty of admirable heroines, perfect Minervas and Hermiones , but some way poor little Trilby seemed to need love so and everybody gave it to her. The merchant in his country home, the broker at his desk, the painter at his easel, the actor in the flies, we all of us loved her so dearly that she was an experience in our lives. The strange part of it was that it was the good people who loved her the most. The people who were really and greatly good like little Billee loved her just as he did. The world has been just to Trilby; it has loved her and not been ashamed to say so. For six months the English-speaking peoples have talked of little else. It may be unreasonable, but it is true that this little studio girl, who posed for the "altogether," with her pretty foot, her army coat and taint of Bohemia. will go to her place in literature and on our book shelves more beloved than all the righteous and cultured Evadnes and Bernardines and Marcellas which these fretful times have called forth.


It looks as though Puck had been scattering his magic herb juice pretty freely among theatrical people this year and every actor is courting the wrong muse. During this season Alexander Salvini is going to try tragedy, James O'Neill is going to play "Hamlet," Julia Marlowe is going to play "Lady Macbeth," and Lillian Lewis "Cleopatra." Such diversions from nature must result in a number of pitiable fiascos. Nature put herself to a great deal of trouble to make the young Salvini a romantic actor. She made him dashing, handsome and buoyant and very much a man, and he is doing a rash thing in turning his back upon the old lady. In tragedy he will necessarily fail and the reputation of a failure is not a pleasant thing for an actor to carry. As for Mr. James O'Neill , it is too late for him to return to his first love. There was a time when Mr. O'Neill could play tragedy, but he has given his youth and strength and enthusiasm to the world and the tastes of the world, and it is not fair to tragedy to bestow on her at last the talents that have so long served baser ends. It is safe to guess that out of all these preverted people Lillian Lewis , the poorest actress and most uncultured woman of them all, comes nearest to success. Lillian won't gauge her success by press comments, but by box office statements. She has thoroughly up-to-date ideas and a sharp eye for business and she is going to play "Cleopatra" with twelve carloads of special scenery, electricity, calcium lights, living pictures and a ballet. Thus adorned—and thus unadorned—tragedy ought to take with the American public.


As for Miss Marlowe , she has surprised her best friends. Marriage seems to have unsettled her artistic repose. She insists upon taking her husband's name, Puritan fashion, and upon playing tragedy—and it is all too probable that she will do that Puritan fashion as well. The limits of Miss Marlowe's power are so clearly defined; her every success in comedy bars her from success in tragedy. Miss Marlowe is as cold as she is bewitching, as heartless as she is dainty. She knows nothing of the stronger, coarser emotions, "the ungovernable fury of the blood," with which high tragedy deals. If Miss Marlowe goes to England in those rare old comedies in which we love to see her, her sweetness, her charm, the exquisite perfume of her acting must win for her unqualified success. The English like those delicate interpretations of classic comedy; it goes with their green meadows and hawthorne hedges. But if she goes to London, that is still all a throb with the tragedy of Duse, of Bernhardt and of Olga Nethersole , she will not make a ripple in the troubled tide. Her classic tones will be literally drowned by the great passions that have surged over the London stage as by the roar of a torrent.


Miss Delia Stacy , who is playing leading business with the "Charley's Aunt" company in Omaha, was one of the "high contracting parties" in the recent sensational Stacy-Burchell divorce suit. It is simply another illustration of the fact that actresses should never marry, and that a husband and wife can't live peaceably together in New Rochelle. The trouble is said to have begun over some neglect of Miss Stacy's mother by Mr. Burchell. Miss Stacy took her mother's part and solemnly delivered an epigram which will long be remembered in stage annals: "An actress can have just as many husbands as she likes, but she can only have one mother."


The many friends Miss Electa Gifford made while she was singing at Crete last summer will be pleased to learn of her brilliant success at the Toledo sangerfest. She received the most favorable press notices from the New York and Boston papers and made several important concert engagements in the east.


Manager Ed Church is becoming such an expansive feature in the theatrical world that Lincoln is not large enough to hold him any more. He has donned tanned shoes and checked trousers and diamonds and gone into the business with a vengeance. He has taken his "Faust" company to fill an engagement at Havlin's theatre in Chicago. Mr. Church naturally thinks he has one of the best companies on earth, and he knows he has as good electricity as Irving himself. We are a little curious to know what Chicago will think about it. One thing is sure, the devil is bound to be roasted a little in his own fire and it will do him good, as it may help him to cultivate some repose of manner and to have some mercy on his throat. Mr. Church will be out with his company about eight months and during his absence the Lansing will be under the management of Mr. John Dowden and Mr. "Johnny" Church , who by the way, is a young man well up in theatrical affairs and bids fair to follow the career of his father. Although the season looks rather dark for most companies, Mr. Church is confident of success. Last season he proved his tact and talent as a manager and in spite of floods and trikes played his season out, and it is understood that he made money.