Cast and crew of the May 1943 production of “Yes, My Darling Daughter,” presented by The Little Theater of Jamestown, Inc. Can you identify anyone?
The theater season in Jamestown is well underway with Little Theater and the JCC Uncommoners having completed plays these past weekends. A recent donation to the Fenton History Center Special Collections is a scrapbook from the years 1942 through 1951 of many of the plays presented by Little Theater. Included are the playbills from the productions along with, usually, a photograph of the cast and crew for each. Sometimes a newspaper clipping about the play is included.
The only problem is that none of the people in the photographs are identified. In some cases, we can guess who is who because of the descriptions in the playbill or the newspaper clipping and the costumes that are worn in the photograph. But most often it is only a guess. After all, most of these people were adults 65 years or so ago and many of us on the staff and volunteers may be familiar with names from that time but not the faces, especially the ones that are sporting costumes and make-up!
The choice of productions is also of interest. Many of them seem to be comedies and that may be to help lighten the load during the war and soon after. Some of them were “Room Service” in 1943, “Tons of Money” in 1945 and “The Hasty Heart” in 1946.
One interesting note in the playbill for “Room Service” in April of 1943 was a short article “Why No Arsenic”. Over 300 members voted on the question if they wanted the Play Selection Committee to go ahead with the plans to close the season with “Arsenic and Old Lace”. The majority voted yes but it was far from decisive. At that time, the committee felt that it was proving a major problem to cast. So the play for the close of that season was “Yes, My Darling Daughter.” Does anyone know if, and how often, Little Theater has presented “Arsenic and Old Lace” between that decision and the recent presentation?
There are various tidbits found in the playbills such as when Hamlet was staged in 1949, furniture used was provided by Jamestown Lounge Company. But the photograph did not show any of the furniture since the entire cast and crew covered any furniture that may have been there. This is in contrast to the newspaper clippings that gives the particulars about the play “I Remember Mama”. With the Broadway production, the play required turntables to augment the regular stage. Since Jamestown’s Scottish Rite was not equipped with turntables, the local production used the barest of props. This left the actors the tough assignment of getting the lines across purely on what was said and how it is said. The review indicates that this was accomplished.
One actor in one of the plays was identified with no trouble after reading the short bios about the actors. The character “Duke” in “Love from a Stranger” was listed as being played by himself. The bio says that his claim to fame was his two-year record as War Dog OJ4, but was now a discharged veteran. Since there is only one dog in the cast and crew photograph, it must be Duke.
If anyone would like to try to identify any of the cast members in the photographs, please call the Fenton History Center at 664-6256 and set up an appointment with Karen Livsey, the archivist.