of February 20, 1922, the Orpheum Players announced the "unique offering" of a play written by a company actor: Bernard McOwen Step Lively, Hazel. For that same week the Mae Desmond Players used the same ploy: a play written by their very own Sumner Nichols expressly for Miss Desmond, Kiss and Make Up. Presumably to offset Miss Desmond's popularity as a hometown girl, the Orpheum Players frequently added new members to their troupe. Most of these much-advertised newcomers, such as Marie Warren and Bernard McOwen, were former members of other Philadelphia stock companies and were considered "favorites" among stock devotees. McOwen went on to a modest career as a Broadway playwright in the late 1920s, composing such commercially viable if flawed vehicles as Paid Companions and The Blue Ghost.
Despite the efforts made to establish the Orpheum Players, the company was permanently disbanded at the end of March 1922 due to insufficient profits. The Orpheum Theatre reverted to presenting vaudeville until 1924, when it was sold to the Stanley Amusement Company and converted into a motion picture house. In that same year, J. Fred Zimmerman retired from his theatrical pursuits.
Management: J. Frederick Zimmerman, Sr., proprietor; Marshall W. (Buck) Taylor, manager.
Stage Director: Arthur Ritchie.
Actors and Actresses: Edmund Carroll, William Davinge, Molly Fishern, Lester Howard, Bernard McOwen, Bessie Maxwell, Dwight A. Mead, Marie Reels, Gertrude Ritchie, Ruth Robinson, Adele Saunders, William Slider, Marie Warren, Harry Wilgus.
1921-22: Scandal, The Girl in the Limousine, The Acquittal, The Lion and the Mouse, Baby Mine, At 9:45, The Cave Girl, Over the Hill to the Poorhouse, Dawn O' the Mountains, The Christian, The Other Wife, The Dairy Farm, Lombardi, Ltd., Smooth as Silk, The Naughty Wife, Confession, Daddy Dumplin', A Fool There Was, Our Wives, Three Live Ghosts, Bought and Paid For, The High Cost of Living, Three Faces East, Ten Nights in a Barroom, Step Lively, Hazel.
Philadelphia Inquirer, 1921-22.
Fielder Mari Kathleen. "Theatre and Community in Early Twentieth Century Philadelphia: The Mae Desmond Players, 1917-1932." Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles, 1986.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Free Library of Philadelphia. Philadelphia Theatre Collection. J. Fred Zimmerman file. Theatre files for theatres owned by J. Fred Zimmerman.
Mari Kathleen Fielder
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Book title: American Theatre Companies, 1888-1930. Contributors: Weldon B. Durham - Editor. Publisher: Greenwood Press. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1987. Page number: 348.
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