Lawrance D’Orsay in his dressing room at the Manhattan Theatre, New York, preparing for his role in the comedy, The Earl of Pawtucket, 1903February 16, 2014
Lawrance D’Orsay (1853-1931), English actor, in his dressing room at the Manhattan Theatre, New York, preparing for the 3rd Act of The Earl of Pawtucket, the comedy by Augustus Thomas, which opened at that theatre on 23 March 1903. The young man in costume as a page who is assisting Mr D’Orsay is probably James Gardner, who was also a cast member in this production.
(photo: Van der Weyde, New York, 1903)
‘DORSAY’S A FUNNY EARL
‘New Play at the Madison Square Theatre Bristles with Laughmaking Lines.
‘NOT MUCH POT, BUT FULL OF FUN
‘Miss Elizabeth Tyree Appears to Advantage, and Other Members of Company add to Ensemble.
‘Since Augustus Thomas wiped away the stain of Colorado by giving us a dramatization of Richard Harding Davis’ Soldiers of Fortune the theatre-going public has been asking him to get out his atlas and write another of his geographical dramas.
‘this request was granted last night. Mr. Thomas had visited Providence at one time in his life and recalled a suburb of that city names Pawtucket, and his Rhode island town furnished a geographical setting for his latest play, The Earl of Pawtucket.
‘For a third time this season Miss Elizabeth Tyree was almost a star. Lawrance D’Orsay was to share the honors of the production, and between them and Mr. Thomas, Kirk La Shelle promised a comedy which would make the Madison Square Theatre ring with the laughter which has been missing since William Collier took his leave in On the Quiet, another comedy by this same author.
‘After last night’s performance Mr. La Shelle’s promises will be good for face value in any theatre along Broadway. Whenever he and Augustus Thomas jointly sign a note making themselves liable to present a comedy of excellence the theatrical district will raise sufficient money to provide a crowded house on the opening night.
‘Bristled with Bright Lines.
‘Excepting a few short but dreary stretched in the opening act, when it was difficult to tell what all the conversation was about, the play simply bristled with bright lines, sparkled and rippled along like the waves of laughter throughout the house.
‘With no delving into anything but wholesome fun, with no effort to add to anything but the laughs of a nation, Mr. Thomas has taken a local setting, a modern period and persons of real life, placed them in ludicrous situations and evolved one of the very best comedies of his repertoire.
‘The honors of the evening went to Lawrance D’Orsay. Those familiar with Mr. D’Orsay’s excellent work in A Royal Family and The Wilderness well knew the finish he would give the role of an English lord who comes to this country and attempts to pose as a native.
‘It was never difficult for Mr. D’Orsay to assume the broad accent of the well bred Englishman. His accent is a trifle broader now and his inherent stupidity less mystifying than formerly. He was the [The Earl of Pawtucket‘s] Lord Cardington of real life to a nicety. He ordred his coffee like a lord, and he used his monocle like a lord, to say nothing of the faculty he has always possessed of wearing his clothes like one.
‘Plot Delightfully Simple.
‘In plot The Earl of Pawtucket is delightfully simple. Lord Cardington meets Miss Fordyce in London and Paris – a concession to Thomas’ geographical tendencies – and follows her to America. By chance he has met her divorced husband and assumes the man’s name for an alias. The remainder was easy enough for Mr. Thomas. He gave the foreign lord a notebook filled with American expressions, placed him in the Waldorf Astoria, where he met all grades of society, and made his every line count.
‘It was in the brightness of the dialogue and Mr. D’Orsay’s methods that the comedy achieved its success. Mr. Thomas has gone Clyde Fitch one better this time in attacking the weaknesses of society and pinning them to a merry laugh with a single sentence of satire. He has missed few opportunities in The Earl of Pawtucket.
‘It was good to see ElizabethTyree again in a real play, devoid of the straining for anything but possible incidents and possible characters. Miss Tyree herself seemed to appreciate the change. The nervousness that marred her skill in her last boisterous character [in Gretna Green] has gone. She was delightfully natural and jus fitted in the place that had been made for her.
‘Miss June Van Buskirk justified her selection for the important role of Ella Seaford. She, like the others, had been infected by the microbe of naturalness. Charles W. Stokes, too, was a real human being without extraneous assistance. Robert McWade, a stertling actor, was miscast as Senator Barker, and seemed ill at ease.
‘There is a place in New York for The Earl of Pawtucket and other plays like it which Mr. Thomas may have in mind. Thoroughly American, in spite of the fact that an English lord is the principal character, and genuinely humorous, it provides two hours of entertainment that is distinctly worth while.’
(The Morning Telegraph, New York, New York, Friday, 6 February 1903, p. 10a)
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Lawrance D’Orsay reprised the character of Lord Cardington for the film version of The Earl of Pawtucket, which was made in the United States of America and released on 26 July 1915.