Walter Mencken 3:39 p.m., June 18
Between December 16 and 18, 1911, San Diego theatergoers had choices:
At the GRAND THEATRE (east side of Fifth, between B and C): The Louis Morrison Stock Company performs Clyde Fitch's comedy, The Blue Mouse. The Union reviewer assures readers that "this is the most talked of farce the American stage has ever known." It was so popular, several touring companies brought it to town before Morrison's group gave it a staging.
Reviews have been quite positive, for the "dainty and delightful" Jane Urban — a local favorite — in the lead role. The San Diego Sun reviewer cautions readers that the show is popular because it "borders on the risque or worse."
Nonetheless, the "first nighters seemed pleased last night."
At the SAVOY (236 C, northwest corner of Third and C streets). The Armstrong Follies Company continues its successful run of A Trip to Coney Island (since most shows run for a week, at best, this three-week-long production qualifies as a smash hit).
W.H. Armstrong plays stalwart Mike Magee and sings the show-stoping He Falls for the Ladies Every Time. Eddie Mitchell plays A. Shark, and always funny Clarence Burton is E.Z. Mark. Ethel Davis earned booming applause for her renditions of "Railroad Rag" and "The Spring Maid."
Also on the bill, replacing a "grotesque prize fight" that proved unpopular, the famous Budd sisters break out a new act for the occasion. Coney Island runs through this weekend.
The QUEEN, (1245 Fifth Avenue), which often presents live entertainment, is showing a "picture" — The Awakening of John Bond — about the Red Cross Seal campaign to regenerate tenement conditions in the larger cities. Opening-night audiences gave the award-winning movie "enthusiastic applause," says the San Diego Sun, adding that two Vitograph comedies, A Slight Mistake and Hypnotizing the Hypnotist, provided a necessary balance for the evening.
At the 1400-seat ISIS (formerly the Fisher Opera House at Fourth, between B and C streets), Tempest and Sunshine. Woods and Chalker's dramatic group, "one of the highest salaried companies playing on local stages," do full justice to this Southern drama about opposing sisters. One has an uncontrollable temper; the other, gentle and patient, keeps getting her sister out of trouble.
The result, says the Sun reviewer, is "sumptuously mounted and presented in a first class manner,"
The Union reviewer agrees: "an idyll of loyalty and love thrilled through and through with the tender grace of a day that is dead."
At the PRINCESS (1134 Fourth Avenue), the press agent promises an even bigger show than last week's Dynamite the Donkey, which "shattered all attendance records."
Dynamite returns in a double bill with ten "feathered warriors" — roosters trained by "patient Prof. Kurtis, who declared two years ago that he would show the world that a rooster could learn tricks just like a dog."
Called the only complete rooster act in existence, the birds crow, singly and in unison, and perform "a series of feats that have never been expected of the industrious backyard fowl."
A writer for the Sun caught a rehearsal and promised readers there is "not a poor actor or a 'hamfat' in the entire rooster troop."
At the EMPRESS (formerly the Garrick Theatre at Sixth and B), "a condensed version of the very best in vaudeville."
The "Two Roses" open the show. One plays violin, the other, cello. "Richard Hamlin does a song and dance turn "and works mighty hard to please. Few better are seen" (Sun).
Bert Howard and Eme Lawrence perform the one-act comedy, "The Stage Manager." Howard plays "several parts and does them all well." Edward Clark follows with impersonations: a man of 50, a girl of 20, and a boy of 13 ("the latter is the best, but all are good").
Charles Montrell, the English juggler, headlines the evening. He does stunts "that take your breath away." He is assisted by "a colored partner who breaks a thousand plates at each performance."