Sunday, June 14, 2009

Florodora Premiered in S.F. on September 30, 1901

Florodora premiered in San Francisco on September 30, 1901 in the Columbia Theatre, once at Powell and Ellis streets, destroyed in the 1906 earthquake and fire (resurrected in 1910 as the home of the A.C.T.). This is much earlier than I had previously thought! The Oct 1st 1901 review of the original S.F. production is online in the Library of Congress archives of the San Francisco Call newspaper (text below):

SAN FRANCISCO is now lined up with the rest of the earth on the "Florodora" question; "Floradora" has come, been seen, and has conquered. Every seat was filled last night at the Columbia to greet the tuneful comedy, and almost as many people forgot they were standing for the two acts and three hours of the bright nonsense that "Florodora" brings to town. Owen Hall, who wrote the book of "The Geisha," has written a vastly smarter one for '"Florodora." achieving an almost Oscar Wilde figure in the satiric society widow, Lady Holyrood. The plot has a little more fiber than is common with its kind, the lines are sufficiently bright, and the book is fitted to catchy, sparkling melodies throughout, for which Mr. Leslie Stewart [sic] is responsible. The mountings are rich and picturesque, and the costumes bright, smart, novel and fresh, and there is a chorus that goes like clockwork, with the aid of an apparently unlimited number of pretty girls and spruce young men. The orchestra, too, is a considerable feature, and under Mr. Pallma's [?] competent baton is very pleasing.

Florodora as everybody knows, is one of the Philippine islands, that has been stolen from a lone, lorn orphan, Dolores, by a respectable British [sic] pirate, Cyrus W. Gilfain by name. Gilfain has also pirated Dolores' lamented papa's recipe for the famous Florodora perfume, by which the bloated monopolist has succeeded in acquiring a millionaireship. His attempt to keep the secret of his odorous crime by trying to marry the orphan, and his amusing adventures among the English aristocracy, form the basis of the story, worked out with a rich and racy humor by Owen Hall, who has had more American millionaires than Astor in London to draw from.

The part of Gilfain is well taken by W. T. Carleton. who makes his appearance here after too long an absence. He looks the planter excellently, sings his songs in a sweet, though not strong voice, and filling all other requirements of the role. The prettiest thing in the play is Miss Grace Dudley, a delicate and dainty little lady who takes the Lady Holyrood part. She dances like a fairy, as the children say and has snap, air, vim enough to supply the crowd. She is everything she should be, this chic and piquant little damsel, pretty as a picture, too, but she can't sing, any more than can Miss Millard, who is the Dolores of the cast. Miss-Millard wears the only tights in the "Florodora" crowd to admiration, and looks just the petulant Tivoli [The S.F. Opera House at the time] cherub we all remember, but she has not yet learned how to sing. Frances Gordon is another pretty maiden, and is charming as Angela Gilfain.

Mr. Bowers, as Frank Abercoed. was very pleasing, and has a smooth and sweet voice that appears in "Under the Palms" to best advantage, Philip Ryley is the comedian, and a beautifully unearthly figure he is as Anthony Tweedlepunch. He is funny in a felicitously original fashion and has a splendid part as Tweedlepuneh. "Tell Me, Pretty Maiden." sung by the double sextet, is probably one of the prettiest numbers ever seen on the local stage, and was encored time and again by the audience, which went away at 11:15 whistling it.

"Florodora" has certainly "arrived.
And on August 1st and 2nd, 2009 it will again!

One could spend hours reading these online newspapers for references to Florodora. There are 3080 search results for Florodora in the newspaper archive just through 1910, though a lot of them are cigar advertisements, and those are only the pages where the word was indexed.

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