by John Willard (Broadway, 1924; 63 performances). The plays tended toward comedy, mystery, and sentimental drama.
The acting companies were made up of young and unknown actors and actresses. Most had yet to play Broadway. Intermixed were infrequent Broadway names and an occasional actor or actress with a minor Broadway credit. Companies were generally no larger than ten, with at least six or seven men.
By and large, company actors, more than actresses, went on to active Broadway careers: Spencer Tracy, Hallam Bosworth, and Leo Curlay of the 1926 Grand Rapids company; Clifford Dunstan of the 1926 Jackson company; William Heyburn of the 1926 Lansing company; Beth Hanna, Betty Garde, Walter Vaugh, and Dean Jagger of the 1927 Flint company; George R. Taylor and Donald Keyes of the 1928 Flint company; and Ramon Greenleaf, Fred Sullivan, and Kathryn Card of the 1929 Battle Creek company. Many others never played Broadway. For example, William Leveau was with the first Grand Rapids company from 1924 to 1926. Mr. Wright, respecting his ability to generate a local following, transferred Leveau to the Jackson, Michigan, operation when it opened in 1926.
The work of the Wright Players was consistently praised in the newspapers. Reviews were lengthy and specific. General interest and promotional articles show knowledgeable writers and a management intent on developing a popular following. No doubt the gradual demise of a once-complex resident stock system had least to do with company appeal. Certainly by 1930, the Wright Players were yet another victim of a combination of attitudinal and economic forces.
Citizen Patriot ( Jackson, Michigan), 1926-31.
Daily Journal ( Flint, Michigan), 1926-31.
Enquirer and News ( Battle Creek, Michigan), 1926-31.
Gazette ( Kalamazoo, Michigan), 1926-31.
Press ( Grand Rapids, Michigan), 1926-31.
Lansing, Michigan. Michigan State Library.
Libraries and historical societies in Michigan cities named above have small collections of Wright Company miscellany.
J. Thomas Oosting
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: 488.
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