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Critical Moments

Add this column’s unqualified cheers to the unanimously favorable reception accorded the work of the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company which nightly performs Gilbert and Sullivan operettas at the Martin Beck Theatre. So far not even the whisper of a dissenting voice has been heard. Opening with “The Gondoliers” which this well-trained English troupe acted and sang with a spirit and expertness never before seen on Broadway, even a first night audience which came expecting to be disappointed because of the exuberance of the advance publicity, nodded vigorously in approval.

Tonight the same company offers as a curtain raiser “Cox and Box” which will be followed by the main dish of the evening, “The Pirates of Penzance.” This program will continue until the end of the week. Beginning next Monday the feature will be the ever sweet and beautiful “Iolanthe.” The second half of the week will be devoted to “Trial by Jury” and ” H. M. S. Pinafore.”

Most Americans are familiar with “The Pirates of Penzance” but few have heard “Cox and Box,” this last named is the work of Sullivan and two collaborators, Maddison Morton and F. C. Burnand. Burnand wrote out many Sullivan works. “Cox and Box” was originally played at a private gathering given in the home of an English gentleman, but it was so successful that when a public benefit was to be performed Sullivan’s friends insisted that he prepare it for the professional stage. It is a short piece calling for but three characters.

TALENTED COMPANY

The Gilbert and Sullivan companies which we are accustomed to hear usually consist of one or two better than average voices, three or four possible voices and the rest give the impression that they were related by marriage to the producer. In addition, these companies act as though they had learned their roles between meals and were not too sure of themselves. The D’Oyly Carte troupe, on the other hand, seem born to their parts. Every voice is trained, the acting is intelligent, the directing sane and the sets have some relevance to the spirit in which the operettas were conceived.

Muriel Dickson, Marjorie Eyre, Derek Oldham, Leslie Rands, Sydney Granville, Martyn Green, Eileen Moody, Dorothy Gill and Darrell Fancourt, can not only sing but they can act. They do not appear as wooden puppets with voices who go through the stage business as though it were nothing but an interlude between songs. They are a group of artists who deserve your patronage. If Broadway doesn’t support the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company it will be Broadway’s loss.

AROUND THE CINEMA REEL

Of the new pictures that arrived in town since last week first place must go to the first of the Ben Hecht-Charles MacArthur productions which is playing at the Rialto under the title of “Crime Without Passion.” This is a new idea in cinemas dealing with the psychological reactions of a successful criminal lawyer (Claude Rains) who commits what he believes is the murder of a beautiful girl of whom he has tired. His great knowledge of criminal law convinces him that he can perfect an air-tight alibi and escape the consequences of his act. There are many surprises including a smashing climax. The dialogue is unusually fine, the acting good and the photography excellent. “Crime Without Passion” is well worth your attention.

THE FOUNTAIN

Ann Harding in the highly ballyhooed “The Fountain,” from the novel by Charles Morgan, which was the Music Hall’s offering last week, is, I am afraid, just a trifle dull. Although Miss Harding gives an excellent performance the story itself has a tendency to drag. If you are an ardent Harding fan you will not mind; otherwise I suggest that you skip this one.

“Chained,” featuring Joan Crawford, the craze for whom I could never understand, and Clark Gable is the Capitol’s contribution this week. A more trite plot I haven’t seen in some months and this is set down as a warning.

Today’s opening at the Music Hall is announced as the most glorious musical romance of all time. It is called “One Night of Love” and Grace Moore is the star, but more about that anon.

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