Matinee Tomorrow: Fifty Years of Our Theater

Matinee Tomorrow: Fifty Years of Our Theater

Matinee Tomorrow: Fifty Years of Our Theater

Matinee Tomorrow: Fifty Years of Our Theater

Excerpt

In the writing of this book I have made an effort to put an informal history of the New York theater of the past half century into a single volume; to present an examination and, to some extent, an interpretation, of the Broadway stage from the days of Lillian Russell to Mary Martin, from the time of Clyde Fitch to that of Tennessee Williams.

I have sought to write of the theater's turbulence and excitement, its gusto and warmheartedness, and have concerned myself with its plays and its people, its trends and its crazes, its triumphs and its disappointments, its errors and its hysteria.

It has been my purpose to give the pageantry of the New York stage in a panoramic chronicle, and if there is revealed a certain reverence for the subject matter, it's a reverence that was inescapable. Something that has been with me since an afternoon in the long ago when I was taken to a matinee performance of Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch, given by an undoubtedly road-weary company that was trouping the South.

My own playgoing experience has been a source of impressions and memories without number, and I have talked with, and have had correspondence with, scores of people of the theater -- actors, actresses, managers, playwrights, composers, house managers, stage managers, road agents. I'm grateful to them all for assistance in my fact-finding, and for helpfulness in supplying details and anecdotical material.

Some very special acknowledgment must be made -- it is now being made -- for the assistance rendered by the staff of the Theater Collection of the New York Public Library, and by that of the library of the "New York Sun." I am particularly grateful to the "Sun's" reference chief, Charles Stolberg, and to the patient and cooperative Johnson Briscoe, whose memory is infallible, and whose stimulating love for the theater is unsurpassed in our time.

I am also deeply indebted, for counsel and encouragement and undiminishing interest, to Keats Speed, executive editor of the "New York Sun"; to John Mason Brown, critic, essayist, author, and lecturer; to Lois Dwight Cole of Whittlesey House; to Joan Marlowe and Betty Blake . . .

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