Pike's Opera House, 1892

Recollections of Stage Suppers

The following first appeared in a 1916 book titled “Recollections of a Scene Painter”,  written by an E.T. Harvey. We’ve heard about Matilda and the food in “Camille” in this previous blog post.

Matilda Heron had very strong likes and dislikes, and if you were not a favorite of hers, it was best to keep out of her way. Coming to Pike’s one season [editor note: Pike’s Opera House, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1863], she was overjoyed to find an old friend of hers, the property man, Jim Charles. She opened in “Camille,” and her first greeting was, “Now I am sure of getting a good supper to-night.” The supper room scene in the second act is one of the features of the play.

This leads me to say there is much more realism about supper room scenes then is generally supposed. One time here John T. Raymond opened in a play called “Risks.” George Morris, one of the best property men in the business, had worked for two weeks making artificial plants for the garden scene, and a French fireplace for a fancy interior. But he was called down badly because there was “too much salt in the soup.”

When Grace George had the “try-out” at the Grand some time ago in “Divorcons” (this was the play it will be remembered that she took to London with such success), it had been rehearsed at the Grand during the week and a trial performance was given Thursday afternoon. The quiet “tete-a-tete” between man and wife at the cafe, where the obnoxious lover is kicked out, is the most delightful scene in the play. W. A. Brady, whose devotion to his lovely and accomplished wife is one of the beautiful things of the modern stage, had ordered real champagne for the scene. Grace George was carried away with the character. And when the curtain had gone down and they were talking it over on the stage, she said to Frank (Frank Worthing): “What do you think? I drank four glasses of that champagne, upon an empty stomach.”

Pike's Opera House, 1892
Pike’s Opera House, 1892

Original Publication: Harvey, E. T. Recollections of a Scene Painter. Cincinnati: W.A. Sorin, 1916. 32. Google Books, 15 Feb. 2008. Web. 5 Sept. 2012.

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