That strong and admirable picture of old-time American life, "Pudd'nhead Wilson," is again to be seen and enjoyed by New-Yorkers, this time at the Murray Hill Theatre. It was watched last night by a throng of people large enough to fill that house completely, and the closeness of their attention and the frequency and sincerity of their applause showed that the play has lost none of its power to interest or to move.
And this is true, though the title role is no longer played by the man who created it, and whose acting in the part was the triumph of a life that had been marked by not a few artistic successes. Frank Mayo is dead, and no portrayal of David Wilson, however good, will ever be the real David Wilson for those who saw Mayo draw the original and perfect picture. That, however, is no reason for reluctance to recognize that David Wilson, as shown by his new personator, Mr. Theodore Hamilton, is a living man, as gentle, shrewd, whimsical, and lovable as was the other despised philosopher of Dawson's Landing. He is another, and that fault, though hard to forgive, is in reality only a misfortune, and must of necessity be overlooked.
Mr. Hamilton's work is careful, adroit, and effective. It is an imitation, obvious though not servile, and it lacks that spontaneity which alone carries absolute conviction, but, that apart, there is nothing in it to which just objections can be made and much deserving most cordial praise.
Practically all the other parts, too, are now in new hands, but the company is, on the whole, quite as good as the old one, and in some respects it is decidedly better. Mr. Newton Chisnell as the grotesque Sheriff Blake, for instance, has no reason to envy the well-deserved honors won by his predecessor. Mr. Chisnell's make-up was a brilliant triumph in itself, and his every word and motion fitted it with amazing accuracy. Miss Eleanor Moretti, the new Roxy, is a thoroughly satisfactory realization of a type with which all have at least a literary familiarity. Mr. Frank Campeau, as the wretched Tom, and Mr. Arnold Daly as Chambers, have fewer lines to speak than did the first players of those parts, but from such as remain to them they enabled a spectator thoroughly to understand the power of blood. The Rowy of Miss Frances Graham was attractive constantly, and occasionally vigorous, and Miss Lucille Laverne as Mrs. Patsy won a lot of applause.