OCR Interpretation


The Rio Grande rattler. ([McAllen], Hidalgo County, Tex.) 1916-1917, December 25, 1918, Image 21

Image and text provided by New York State Military History Museum

Persistent link: http://www.nyshistoricnewspapers.org/lccn/sn87030234/1918-12-25/ed-1/seq-21/


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e carried a bit of Broadway to France with us. W h e n e v e r our longing to get back to the incandes­ cent wonders of that w. k. rue became uncommonly strong, we went down to our imported Broadway and saw the Broadway Boys give their latest show, and returned to our dug-outs, invigorated and happier. The Broadway B o y s — the 27th Division S I io a v — Avas the busiest little morale factory we had. They put heart in us for our work, for their show was a breath from the big town - from home. The Broadway Boys barnstormed through France literally. Their theatre was often a capacious French stable or else the open air. Of course the scenery, designed and painted by C. C. Beall and built by Harold Printz gave old barns a Century Theatre look, and when Russ Brown came prancing out on the candle lit stage and put over the latest Jazz song, the boys forgot all about whiz-bangs, mustard gas and Machonochie. Brown was the mainspring of most of the shows. One minute he reminded one of A 1 Jolson — with “ Cleopatra’s Jazz Band ” , and the next of Joe Santley. Indeed he did everything one can do in vaudeville except a dog and pony act, and he did everything remark­ ably Avell. W e ' w i l l remember Jimmy Fallon and his original comedy long after w e ’ve forgotten many other French experiences. Jimmy’s black-face act and his Yiddish act always stopped the show. W e are going to pay beaucoup francs some of these days to see Brown and Fallon at the Palace. How good it seemed to see the flash of a pair of silk stockings again! Our chorus ladies — or leading ladies — w a g g e d a mean set of tibial. Bill Pauly, as chic as Irene Castle and more graceful, Eric Krebs of the winsome pout and the Russian accent, Eddie Crawford, who just couldn’t make her eyes behave, and Danny Burns, the nimble soubrette, made the corkingest quartet of girls that ever crashed a mess line. The Florodora semi-sextette they put across made the O. D. audience weep with joy. Later W a l t e r Roberts leading lady of “ You KnoAV Me, A 1 ” added his artistic impersonation of a Follies peach to the show. Harry Gribble, with professional finish, was always a feature Avhether he was an exasperated land lady or a gay young blood, and his recitations were sure to hold the fighting men beyond the foot-lights. Stan W o o d , as a venerable ham actor, had men all over the Division imitating him. Jack Roche, dancing and singing admirably, Avas the good looking center of most of the girl acts. The light fantastic was tripped — to the great deligbt of the Division — by Stan Hughes and Syd Marion av I io revived all the old steps and invented a lot of new ones. Syd also tickled a well- tamed ukelele in the orchestra. That Jazz orchestra — Bert Hamilton, Wittman, Schmidt and Marion transported us to Rector’s. All we needed to do was to close our eyes and listen to them gallop thru some syncopated blues, There was always plenty of good singing with Unger, Mahoney and Johannes reaching for the tonsorial parlor chords. Corp. Van Zandt was a star with his “ Shell Shocked act till he Avent to the O. T. S. Jim Morey bobbed up Avith a load of trick hats and a nut act that won him immediate fame. Carl M c C o r mack and George Anderson played stellar roles on the box office and Leon Pierce did valuable Avork in charge of the wardrobe. These were the rolls our Broadway Boys filled during periods of training and while the division was catching its breath between the grimmer business of war., but on the eve of actual battle the make-shift calcium was turned low, the candle foot lights were snuffed out, cos­ tumes were put among the moth balls and the scenery packed away. The actors themselves found other parts to play, they donned the olive drab and, washing away grease paint, sought out the casualty clearing stations in the forward area. There, tending the wounded, loading ambulances and hospital trains, they won something, which, though silent, was far more lasting than the ap plause of the theatre, Since the day more than a year ago when he sent the “ You Know Me A 1 ” Company, n o strong, to capture NeAv York, General O ’Ryan has taken deep personal interest in the divisional theatre. In New York the show performed the amazing miracle of breaking all theatrical records for the season : in France it has broken all records in driving away soldiers’ cares. Now the boys have their hopes set on Paris and London, apres la guerre. W h o knows what is in the wind? Lieute­ nant William H. Halloran, Jr. av I i o has been tireless in staging new bills and managing each performance, has little to say on this vital subject Avhile Lt. Joseph D. Eddy, holding the purse strings and many other good wires connected with the show is absolutely silent. AnyAvay, Avhether in Paris, London or on Broadway, Ave will never enjoy a show as much as that given by the Broadway Boys in the barns and fields of France and Belgium. w 20 —-

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