American Theatre Companies, 1888-1930

By Weldon B. Durham | Go to book overview

he chose the popular and vivacious Jane Urban, leading lady with the Wilkes company, to play female leads with the American Players. His leading man, Ralph Cloninger, had likewise been with Wilkes in Spokane in 1915-16 as lead juvenile and had a local following. Leland chose other experienced stock players such as Carl Caldwell, L. Victor Gillard, and Etta Farnsworth to round out the major lines of business in the company. The Spokane audiences were delighted to see their favorites again and greeted them opening night with prolonged applause and mounds of floral tributes. As the season progressed, Leland kept his company virtually intact except for the female leads ( Jane Urban left in January 1917, to be replaced first by Broadway actress Jessie Arnold, then by Ruth Gates). When Cloninger fell ill in December, Leland temporarily replaced him with another old Spokane favorite, Henry Hall. Leland also pleased the crowd by filling some roles with local talent such as Laura Bullivant. Some of his choices for smaller roles apparently did not prove so happy, as the critics at times complained that some productions were "encumbered" with nervous and amateurish extras. However, there were few complaints overall, and the company continued to draw respectable houses until its demise.


PERSONNEL

Management: Harry J. Leland, managing director ( 1916-17).

Scenic Director: William Heater ( 1916-17).

Stage Directors: Harry J. Leland, director; Neil McKinnon, assistant director ( 1916- 17); L. Victor Gillard, temporary director ( 1917).

Actors and Actresses: Helene Alfstad; James Anderson; Jessie Arnold, leading lady ( 1917); Laura Bullivant, ingenue ( 1916-17); Carl Caldwell, character actor ( 1916-17); Ralph Cloninger, leading man ( 1916-17); Bertha Dreicer; Ben Erway, juvenile ( 1916- 17); Etta Farnsworth, ingenue ( 1916); Jack Fraser, character actor ( 1916-17); Ruth Gates, leading lady ( 1917); Mabel Gilbert; L. Victor Gillard, heavy ( 1916-17); Grace Gray, character actress (1917); Henry Hall, leading man ( 1916-17); Alice Kennedy, ingenue ( 1916-17); Violet Kinnear; Mercedes Lambert; Grace La Mont, second leads ( 1916); Harry J. Leland, character actor ( 1916-17); Neil McKinnon, light comedy ( 1916- 17); Earl Moore; Howard Moore; May Roberts, character actress ( 1916-17); Guy K. Sheehan; Frank Taylor; Jane Urban, leading lady, ( 1916-17).


REPERTORY (incomplete)

1916-17: The Miracle Man, The Rainbow, Elevating a Husband, The Song of Songs, David Harum, A Gentleman of Leisure, Tess of the Storm Country, Innocent, Too Many Cooks, The Easiest Way, Polly of the Circus, The Escape, Shore Acres, In the Bishop's Carriage, On Trial, Graustark, The Misleading Lady, Sinners, The Trail of the Lonesome Pine, The Eternal Magdalene, The Road to Happiness, What Happened to Mary, Broadway Jones, One Day, The Deep Purple, Outcast, The Sweetest Girl in Dixie.


BIBLIOGRAPHY

Published Source:

Spokane Spokesman-Review, 1916-17.

Laurilyn J. Harris

-24-

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