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WHEN IN ROME, a comedy by Austin Major, staged by the author, sets by Yellenti, presented by George Smithfield at the Forty-ninth Street Theater with the following cast: The parade of historical plays goes on. This time it is Rome, the city of Cicero, Catilene, Spartacus and Caesar, that is used as a background for this alleged comedy of life and manners among the ancients.

Instead of following historical fact, Austin Major, who is responsible for the writing of this piece, has made his Cicero, et, al., speak and act as though they were in the theatrical and political limelight of today. Innocently enough, I suspect that this is all done in the spirit of good, clean satire and his old Roman characters are dressed in costume to hide just a little, the fact that these boys and girls are really disguised as a Seabury, Winchell, Curry, Waxy Gordon, Mae West and LaGuardia.

According to the scheme of things, as the author has worked them out, Catiline is running for office. His opponent is the wordy and oratorical Cicero. Catiline wishes to displace that old-time boss and plans to stuff the ballot box on election day. This gives the author a chance to bring out all the corruption of present day electioneering. There is a murder, a seduction, a vestal virgin who falls for the good looking Catiline and other diverse and sometimes interesting happenings.

Although the costumes are ancient, the language and acting is of our time. At times the play is bright and often amusing but there are long stretches when the proceedings become very dull indeed. The acting is not bad but neither is it unusually good. All in all, “When in Rome” is one of those plays that might have been a good deal better and could have been a lot worse. You can take it or leave it without affecting greatly your ideas of what is entertainment?

SYLVIA SIDNEY’S NEW ROLE

Slvia Sidney is pretty tired of what she calls Sidney costumes. She has, ever since her first screen hits in “An American Tragedy” and “Street Scene,” been doomed to wear the simple little dresses of a poor, although not always honest, working girl. She got away form this with a bang in her new picture, “Thirty Day Princess,” which requires some thirty changes of costumes. But she’ll be back to simplicity in “One Way Ticket” if its setting is any indication. This is a novel of prison life written by Ethel Turner, Oliver H. P. Garrett is adapting it now, as B. P. Schulbergi plans to have Miss Sidney start it as soon as she’s finished “Thirty Day Princess.”

This won’t be Miss Sidney’s first prison drama. She and Gene Raymond were behind bars in at least one of Miss Sidney’s early talkies.

SEATS FOR “ROBERTA”

Good seats at prices ranging between $1 and $3 without tax are available at the New Amsterdam Theatre for Sunday night’s performance of “Roberta,” benefit for the Stage Relief Fund. The curtain will rise at 9:15.

NEW BOTTOMLEY COMEDY

Franklin and Stoner have engaged Robert Emmett Keane to play the male lead in the forthcoming “Olivia Bows to Mrs. Grundy,” the Roland Bottomley comedy, which will be their second production of the season. It will be Keane’s second play under the Franklin and Stoner aegis. His last performance was in “Hotel Alimony.”

LAPSON RECITALS

Dvora Lapson, Jewish dancer and pantomimist, will be seen in two programs of her own compositions Saturday evening, at the Menorah Temple, 5000 Fourteenth avenue, Brooklyn, for the benefit of the Mizrachi Women’s Organization, and on Sunday evening at the City College Auditorium for the benefit of the School of the Jewish Woman.

Her numbers will include “Shalachmonas” and “Ruth and Boaz.”

MONOGRAM ITEMS

Because an actress could not be found in Hollywood for the title role in “Jane Eyre,” Charlotte Bronte’s famous classic, Trem Carr, Monogram vice-president, has instructed Norton Ritchey of the Monogram foreign office, now in London, to test leading British actresses available for the part.

Claire Julianne, Monogram’s new costume designer, created the dresses worn by the feminine featured players, Verna Hillie and Dixie Lee in “The House of Mystery” and “Manhattan Love Song” respectively.

Miss Julianne studied art at the Art Student’s League in New York and Columbia University.

Production is going ahead rapidly on Monogram’s “Manhattan Love Song,” the romance of modern New York, which features Robert Armstrong, Dixie Lee and Nydia Westman.

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