“Stage banquets, suppers and meals of all kinds often put the ingenuity of the property man to a severe test. If the manager is economical the most elegant banquets are but hollow mockeries. The turkeys and chickens, which seem to spectators to be roasted to such a delicious degree of brownness, are only brown holland stuffed with sawdust. The wines are cold tea or water colored with burnt sugar. Sometimes they are drunk from pasteboard goblets and then they are purely imaginary. Do you remember Dickens’ description of how Mr. Crummles used to take long draughts of nothing out of the pasteboard goblets in banquet scenes?”
“Yet in these banquet scenes the people eat something?”
“Oh, yes. It is essential to the action that they shall eat. There is always a plate of bread and one of cold meat. They look at the elegant turkeys, chickens, etc, and eat the bread and meat. If the manager is liberal, however, a stage banquet is sometimes a meal at which no epicure would turn up his nose. This is always the case under Lester Wallack’s management. He gives his companies splendid suppers and real champagne. Poor Matilda Heron always did so, too, when she played Camille, and Albina de Mer, the wife of M. B. Curtis revived this good old custom in the same play when she starred it last season, presenting a bill of fare which included oysters, raw and fried, roast turkey, chicken salad and real wines.”
â€œThe Property Manâ€, The Bismarck Weekly Tribune, Oct 31, 1884, pg 2. Reprinted from The Philadelphia Times.