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Review of the New York Production from The Era
Sunday, January 11th, 1880
 
THE DRAMA IN AMERICA.
(FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.)

NEW YORK, DECEMBER 20. – Princess Toto, by Messrs. Gilbert and Clay, was produced, for the first time in America, last Saturday night, at the Standard Theatre, and is undeniably the most important event in theatrical circles since the date of my last letter.

It is Mr. Clay’s misfortune that he is obliged to stand the comparison that is inevitably made between the music of Pinafore and that of Princess Toto. The latter is not devoid of pleasing numbers and characteristic music. It is always sprightly, though occasionally commonplace. The best pieces are the “Softly we come” of Prince Caromel [sic] and his companions, the “Cheer up, old man,” of the Brigands’ chorus, the “Hop and Jump” of the King and his Ministers, and the barcarolle by Jelly in the third act. These will undoubtedly become popular. The concerted music and orchestration are not worthy of high praise.

The acting and singing were good throughout. Miss Leonore [sic] Braham’s Princess Toto is a most excellent performance, both vocally and histrionically. She has a sweet, light soprano, finely cultivated, and executed very effectively. Mr. Montgomery as the King, Mr. Hamilton as Zapeter, and Mr. Paul as Jamilek, were really fine, and deserving more praise than I have time and space to give them.

The following is the cast:– Princess Toto, Miss Lenore Braham; Jelly, Mdlle. Jarbeau; Follette, Miss Lawrence; Divine, Miss Shandley; King Portico, Mr. H. W. Montgomery; Zapeter, Mr. William Hamilton; Jamilek, Mr. W. A. Paul; Prince Doro, Mr. H. C. Campbell; Prince Caramel, Mr. O. W. Wren; Count Floss, Mr. Alfred Holland; Baron Jacquier, Mr. H. R. Humphries; Prisoner, Mr. J. A. Oliver.

In Princess Toto Mr. Gilbert appears to follow his seemingly Cervantes purpose – pursued so relentlessly in Pinafore – of crushing out under the weight of ridicule the extravagances of melodrama and the wild improbabilities of the romantic play, thus opening the way for dramatic legitimacy, and the higher, purer walks of the natural and artistic drama. Judging from Mr. Gilbert’s manifest abilities, I believe he has the stuff in him to enact the role of a modern Cervantes, and by purging the English-speaking Stage, confer upon the British and American Drama a lasting and inestimable blessing.

Messrs. Gilbert and Sullivan, it is stated, contemplate the permanent establishment in New York of a Vaudeville Theatre.


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