October 26, 2013

José Collins (1887-1958), English actress and singer, as she appeared in Alone at Last, an operetta in three acts with music by Franz Lehar, adapted from the German for the American stage by Edgar Smith and Joseph Herbert and produced at the Shubert Theatre, New York, on 19 October 1915.
(photo: Moffett, Chicago, 1915)

‘Jose Collins returned to the cast of Alone at Last this week after having walked out of the rehearsals last week. Miss Collins will open with the show when it comes into the Shubert theatre unless she changes her mind between now and the opening date.’
(Variety, New York, Friday, 8 October 1915, p. 1d)

‘White Alone at Last, the most recent operetta from the pen of Franz Lehar, famed as the composer of the celebrated and justly sensational success, The Merry Widow, is endowed with a fine musical score, it is only fair to state that the big song hit of the piece is an interpolation. The song in question, contrary to the usual rule, is not a dreamy waltz ballad of love and soul kisses, but a comic ditty entitled “Some Little Bug Will Find You Some Day.”
‘It occurs during the action of the second scene of the second act, and receives the best of treatment through the very able recitative attainments of Roy Atwell. Incidentally the latter collaborated in the writing of it in conjunction with Benjamin Hapgood Burt and Silvio Hein. Mr. Atwell tendered some ten extra verses of the ”Bug” song the opening night, and, to use a vaudeville colloquialism, “stopped the show.”
‘But there is a great deal more to Alone at Last besides this most excellent humorous lyric. Take, for instance, Mr. [Joseph Harry] Benrimo’s superior producing ability as evidenced in the Swiss mountain scene in the second act.
‘The effect obtained is atmospheric to a remarkable degree, thanks to extraordinary lighting and Mr. Benrimo’s superlative knowledge of stage craft.
‘There are other beautiful and convincing scenic backgrounds as well, notably in the first act, with brings froth a realistic hotel set. The third act set, a hotel interior, while good in its way, is not up to the outdoor effects.
‘Then the music, both solo and ensemble, is pleasing, sweet and melodious. The score on the whole, although it contains nothing startling in the way of an individual “hit,” is highly satisfactory. One might say that Lehar’s music was “pretentious,” inasmuch as it often approaches great opera standards.
‘The chorus costumes are correct, in no way vulgar or obtrusive, and sufficiently kaleidoscopic in coloring. They show a nice refinement of taste in their designing and selection.
‘The book is only fair, and judicious eliminations of long and tedious passages of dialogue would help considerably. Particularly is is lacking the comedy values. This fault, of course, must be charged up to its programmed foreign authors [Dr. A.M. Willner and Robert Bodansky]. Admittedly the book contains no horseplay or buffoonery.
‘The cast is exceptionally talented in almost every instance. Jose Collins, as Tilly Dachau, sings charmingly, acts competently and wears her numerous costume changes bewitchingly. A champagne colored riding suit work in the second act, with the cutest of tightly fitting “pants” imaginable, fills the eye in decidedly pleasure fashion. Miss Collins, it might be said in passing, fills the costume quite in the same manner.
‘John Charles Thomas, a strapping young fellow with a beautiful singing voice, that is quite as robust as his splendid physique, established himself in the good graces of the first nighters immediately after his first vocal number. His performance was highly enjoyable in every way.
‘Harry Conor, veteran American comedian, did splendidly with the material at hand. He was always at east and made his rather inane lines sound natural and convincing. A genuine achievement.
Madame Namara is a pretty girl of the frail, flower-like variety of beauty. The madame made the most of excellent opportunities offered her tat the finish of the second act. Her singing voice, a soprano of good range and fair quality, seemed to be not in the best of condition on the opening night.
‘Roy Atwell was very slightly remindful of Richard Carle as a mollycoddle sort of lover. Outside of the big song hit in the second act, Mr. Atwell was assigned little that was entertaining or amusing. He seemed to be mis-cast. However, the way in which he put over the “Bug” song more than made up for any deficiencies of singing or acting.
‘The rest of the large cast, including Ed. Mulcahey [Edward Mulcahy], who made a realistic looking and sonorous voiced Swiss mountaineer, and Elizabeth Goodall, who impersonated an American widow without unnecessary affectations, were eminently satisfactory with one or two exceptions.
‘The dialogue exchanged by three or four chorus men in the second act should either be given to competent principals or else left out altogether. It would never be missed.
Alone at Last is a big show scenically, a delightful show musically, and a pleasing show generally speaking.’
(The New York Clipper, New York, Saturday, 30 October 1915, p. 27a/b)


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