Mr. Hoyt's plays always draw well in Lincoln and last night was no exception. The audience was large and responsive. While of course a road company seldom equals a No. 1 company, and while no presentation of "A Trip to Chinatown" will ever be quite perfect without the matchless Anna Boyd , there was certainly no reason to complain of the company last night. Several members of the company were fully as good as those in those in the original cast. Mr. Frank Land as Welland Strong , the invalid whose temperature always rises at the approach of widows, was highly satisfactory. He was just as incompatible and inconsistent as the author meant him to be, which is saying a good deal. Mr. Gerald Griffin was Ben Gay , the man who had an "appointment." He succeeds well with the character because he makes him odd enough to be ridiculous and yet lively enough to be probable. His varied and telling facial work made the long scene in the private supper room anything but tedious, and he thoroughly proved that "those also serve who only watch and wait." Miss Maddern's principle fault as the widow is that she is a brunette and acts like a brunette, while a widow should be a blonde and act like a blonde. There are so few dark-haired widows; their husbands always seem to live. Georgie Bryton as Willie was the properly assertive nonentity, with no ambition bnt of boots and no culture but of hair.
Lottie-Mortimer is one of the few high-kicking dancers whose dainty slipper seeks the heights without apparent effort. With too many dancers the audience is always conscious of effort, but Miss Mortimer seems to enjoy dancing as much as Strong enjoyed watching her. She warms to her work, her spirits rise and, what is more to the point, her slippers rise with them. She has the French accent and also the French shrug and several other delightful little things which, like most delightful and unorthodox things, come from France, the France of Guilbert . Her "Won't You Be My Sweetheart" was so very full of other racy things that meant more than speech that one paid very little attention to the words—or the music.
The songs were as catchy as ever, though, to the regret of everyone, "Love Me Little, Love Me Long," was omitted. "The Bowery," however, was given in toto, and years have not aged it any. "The Trip to Chinatown" is just as absurd, as plotless and as funny as it was last year and the year before that. There has been a good deal of talk about Mr. Hoyt lately, most of it unjust and uncalled for. The critics have declared that Mr. Hoyt is immoral and indecent. Ten years ago, when Mr. Hoyt's success was not quite so sure as it is now, these same critics went to see him play and laughed as hard as anybody and kindly allowed him to amuse them. But now Mr. Hoyt has become a greater man than they gave him permission to be, and with the critics that is the one unpardonable sin. They demand that whom they bind shall be bound and whom they loose shall be loosed. Now the critics may bind and loose at will in the next world, but in this rocky and sordid sphere they can't keep the American public from liking Mr. Hoyt. Mr. Hoyt's great hold on the people of this country lies in the fact that his humor is thoroughly American, just as much as Mark Twain's . It is not borrowed from England or stolen from France. It comes right up from the streets and the shops and the everyday life of the American people. His satire is appreciated and understood because it is directed against the simple every day matters that everybody understands. Coarse it may be, but Mr. Hoyt is almost the first really American satirist, and the early comedy of all peoples has always been blunt, from Aristophanes and Plautus down. No one pretends that Hoyt is artistic, least of all he himself. No one pretends that he will rank with Moliere and the immortals, but sometimes jolly, ordinary little men are awfully comfortable, just by way of a rest from the immortals. Hoyt will not be played in fifty years from now; he will be unintelligible to another generation. He is like a daily newspaper, like oysters, like champagne that has been uncorked, he won't last forever, but he is mighty refreshing while he lasts.
Of all the Lincoln organists it appears that Mr. William Leonard Gray is the only one who has ventured up to this time to offer a series of organ recitals to help the people to an appreciation of one of the noblest of all musical instruments. He gave his third annual recital in St. Paul's church last evening before an audience that was large enough and enthusiastic enough to rather discredit the statement so commonly made that the Lincoln public does not care for the organ. His program was made up of thoroughly substantial works. It comprised a Bach fugue in G minor, Wagner - Eddy's "Evening Star," the offertory in D flat major by Salome , Mandelssohn's sonate, opus 65, No. 5, a transcription of "Home, Sweet Home" by Dudley Buck , Meyerbeer's Schiller march arranged by Best , and Batisto's "Grand Offertoire in F."
Mr. Gray prefaced his playing with a few remarks about the place of the organ and its seeming neglect in Lincoln, where but six recitals had been given, if he remembered rightly, in four years. Then he went through his program with the self-possession that comes from a clear head and a feeling of mastery over the music and the instrument. His playing was marked by breadth of style and dignity of interpretation. He might have produced better effects in some instances by a different choice of soft stops. At times his execution lacked clearness. These were but minor faults and hardly detracted from the effect of a strong and successful performance.
Mr. Gray was assisted by Mrs. Mary Latimer Gray , who sang two soprano solos, Faure's "Sancta Maria" and Handel's "Come Unto Him," in good voice and in excellent style. The last song was marred by a noticeably faulty accompaniment.
Young ladies from the Nebraska conservatory of music, at L and Thirteenth streets, acted as ushers and looked after the general comfort of the audience.
The Fowler players rendered "The World Against Him" last night to a very well-filled house. The music was of a character to satisfy everyone. Miss Margaret Eastman as Frances Lee played her part very nicely. Jerry, the Tramp ( Jack Fowler ), was soon on good terms with the audience by his comic songs. But when the villainous Blackburn ( Earl Craddock ) tried to corrupt him, his sterling refusal to in any manner harm the young lady for the benefit of Blackburn won repeated applause from the audience.
In the second act Hal Brown seemed to have the audience with him. After rendering a piece on the guitar he was applauded and encored. The second act was pathos and absurdity mixed thoroughly. Tears and bursts of laughter followed each other in rapid succession.
The acting of Fowler in the third act was commendable and was frequently applauded by the audience. The fourth act was applauded whenever Blackburn was shown to be a hypocritical villain. The acting was not of the highest art, but it would be hard to find anyone who could say he was dissatisfied.