Frank Mayo Makes a Successful Hit in
"Pudd'nhead Wilson" At the Columbia.
Frank Mayo has found his role and "Pudd'nhead Wilson" is its name. It hardly sounds romantic, but it is a part which calls for certain lights and shades of expression and intonation which constitute the very refinement of the phrasing of acting. These touches of high art Mr. Mayo manages to employ with so masterly an ability as to render fascinating and absorbing a role which in other hands would be farcical or tiresome. His droll remarks, couched in classic barristerial phrase, and his heroic patience during the quarter of a century which he spends waiting for his first client, are only equaled by the eloquence and regal manliness which Pudd'nhead develops when the long-awaited client comes, and with him the chance of the hero's lifetime
The play deals, as those know who have read Mark Twain's delightful book, with Southern life in ante-bellum days, and nothing could be more artistic than the costumes worn by the members of the cast. Dowdy and fantastic enough they seem, but they are historically correct. The bristling shirt-frill, the antiquated stock, the broad, sweeping train and the cumbrous crinoline fit in charmingly with the broad dialect yet heard in some out-of-the-way places "down South," rendering the play a peculiarly interesting and satisfying study in American history.
Emmet C. King as Howard Pembroke, a bachelor lawyer, was very cordially received by last night's audience. His methods are singularly natural, while his voice, though soft and well modulated, has a ringing, carrying quality rarely met save in those strident, sibillant tones which render the work of many otherwise excellent actors so very tiresome.
Miss Eleanor Moretti, who was so successful as the queen in "Ruy Blas" not long ago, shines with perhaps even greater luster as Roxy, while her son Chambers, represented by Arnold Daly, is so much at home in his exacting part that he seems not to be acting at all.
Miss Lucille Laverne is exceedingly good as Wilson's sister, her quaint, old-fashioned ways and kindly arts and graces winning many a round of applause. The other characters are well sustained.
The scenery is particularly deserving of mention, the arrangement of "Driscoll's yard" in the prologue and first act and of Wilson's ruined mill in the second being specially artistic. The house was crowded last night, and every indiction points to a most successful run.