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Critical Moments

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The young S. M. Chartock, one of our favored people, presented “Trial By Jury” and “Pinafore” last night at the Majestic Theatre as the third week’s offering in the annual Gilbert and Sullivan cycle. The efforts of the company were acclaimed by the rabid G. and S. rooters who turned out in sizable numbers to witness the proceedings.

With William Danforth, Vera Ross, Herbert Waterous and son, John Cherry and others in the cast the two Gilbert and Sullivan favorites were rendered in a manner both fitting and proper. John Cherry was all over the stage, had a good voice and was as funny as he can be. Cherry is considered a newcomer to the ranks of G. and S. performers. Although his hair is graying and although he first performed in “Mikado” twenty-five years ago, the fact that he has been out of the G. and S. repertoir since put him back in the novice class. Fine work in his three weeks of performance, has however, lifted him up with the veterans.


“Trial By Jury,” which opened the evening’s entertainment, represents one of the earliest of the combined efforts of Gilbert and Sullivan. It was originally a short ballad written by Gilbert for a humorous London weekly called “Fun.” He was encouraged to lengthen it and Sullivan, who liked it, wrote the accompanying music. As you old G. and S. fans know it tells with rollicking satire the proceedings in a court room where a poor fellow is being sued for breach of promise by a not so fair lady. It is probably the most amusing of the G. and S. short operettas. Last night it was sung with pace and veer and put the audience in a proper mood.


About “Pinafore” there is little that can be said. Some people like one Gilbert and Sullivan piece better than others, but everyone agrees that “Pinafore” is beyond criticism. Just the other day I was reading Gilbert’s Bab Ballads and I realized how much he had borrowed from these early efforts and put into “Pinafore.” It was “Pinafore” that brought eternal fame to this team of famous collaborators. Its record run of more than 400 performances in London has yet to be equaled and it introduced Gilbert and Sullivan to America. When “Pinafore” was produced here America, with its customary enthusiasm, almost made a fetish of the lyrics that Gilbert had written about the British navy. I am told that in those old days such a phrase as “What never–Well, hardly ever” were as popular as “Banana Oil” and “Nuts.” Popular as it was, the authors received no royalties because of copyright laws. This bothered the Englishmen and they arrived here and put on their own company.

“Pinafore” has since become almost a tradition. The lyrics are better known, even today, than those of our national anthem. Without meaning to be disloyal I must confess they are a good deal easier to sing.

Speaking of loyalty reminds me that G. and S. audiences are deserving of great praise. Last night an audience familiar with every line and bar of music in the operettas was present, yet no one tried to compete with the actors on the stage although I did notice that at one point when one of the actors hesitated over a word, any number of people supplied it.

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