Behind the Scenes with Edwin Booth

By Katherine Molony Goodale | Go to book overview

CHAPTER X
SHE SPOILED HIS SCENE'

IN the Merchant of Venice, Mr. Edwin Royle's line rang out to stir his listeners on both sides of the curtain, 'But Antonio is certainly undone,' and in this scene of conflicting emotions Mr. Booth's unforgettable notes floated or crashed to one by turns. The voice which could be so hauntingly mournful, when charged with agony, also mounted to orchestral rhapsody. His line, 'I thank God! I thank God! Is it true?' made me turn cold, and his 'I had it of Leah when I was a bachelor' was so pitiful it started the tears.

Until Boston I had only heard the 'Tubal scene': -- now I resolved to take advantage of the spacious first entrance and see the acting. Necessarily I was wearing my Jessica elopement dress. That this costume might react upon Mr. Booth did not occur to me nor to our stage manager, who made room for me by his side. None amongst us would do a thing to upset Mr. Booth for reasons more potent far than conforming to stage etiquette. In the theatre sense, I had been formed by Mr. Barrett, and he would have thought nothing at all of glimpsing a character off stage while yet in the costume of -- any scene whatever. With him it was the unforeseen on the stage that made him nervous; nor had Mr. Booth at any time protested when actors watched his scenes from the wings. Then, too, there was the ever-reiterated 'Be anywhere, my boy, Mr. Booth will

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