American Theatre Companies, 1888-1930

By Weldon B. Durham | Go to book overview
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BIBLIOGRAPHY

Published Sources:

Clipper ( New York), 1901-3.

New York Dramatic Mirror, 1901-4.

Archival Resources:

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Free Library of Philadelphia. Philadelphia Theatre Collection. Philadelphia Theatre index, Star Theatre file, Columbia Theatre file.

Mari Kathleen Fielder

REPERTORY THEATRE OF BOSTON. See [HENRY] JEWETT PLAYERS.

RITCHIE-RUSSELL PLAYERS. The Ritchie-Russell Players were Schenectady's last resident stock company. Schenectady, New York, with a population of approximately 95,000 in the 1920s, frequently had supported one or more theatrical stock companies during the first two decades of the twentieth century. The most renowned of these were the Crane-Shirley Players ( 1915-16), the Mae Desmond Players* ( 1917-19), and the Harry Bond Players* ( 1924-26). Schenectady's populace was composed of predominantly white, middle-class, churchgoing folk of Dutch, Irish, and Anglo-Saxon heritage. As such, the city was an ideal environment for the wholesome, optimistic, and conventionally moral fare of the typical stock organization.

The company was assembled hastily in the summer of 1926 after the tragic accidental death of Harry Bond and the subsequent dispersal of his troupe. The Harry Bond Players had just completed two extremely successful seasons at Schenectady's Hudson Theatre, 10-14 South College Street, when Bond was killed. In an attempt to retain the financial prosperity Bond had brought to his theatre, owner A. Vedder Magee contacted Richie Russell and proposed that she head a resident company to fill the theatre's 1926-27 season. Russell had been the Harry Bond Players' popular character woman during most of the previous season, although she had left the company shortly before its completion to perform in St. Louis.

Russell, with the assistance of her director and coproprietor, Arthur Ritchie, opened the 1926-27 season at the Hudson Theatre on schedule, on Labor Day, with a production of the Guy Bolton and George Middleton comedy Polly with a Past. Ritchie was a seasoned stock director, having staged productions for numerous companies including Philadelphia's Orpheum Players, Orpheum Theatre*. The Ritchie-Russell Players were organized on the pattern of the standard stock company so prevalent on the East Coast during the first quarter of the twentieth century. They provided local professional theatre by means of a resident company of actors, each of whom performed a stock role such as juvenile or leading lady in a new play each week. The plays presented were generally recent Broadway successes or old popular favorites. An eight-piece

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