Footlighters, part 4

When we consider from what a small group the Wayne Footlighers started it seems almost impossible to believe that by the end of the short first season membership should number 315! The opening play of the second season was “It Won’t Be Long Now”, given on Tuesday, November 18, and Wednesday, November 19, 1930 at the Saturday Club. Directed by T. Bayard Beatty, it had a cast of sixteen, including DeWitt C. Clement, Alan M. Fishburn, William M. Crook, Howard T. Leland, Laurene Rolf, Harold Dwight, Ruth Wetzel Cady, T. Bertram Genay, Jane E. Gray, Mary Obdyke, Edith McCartney Edrop, Arthur Edrop, Carey P. Williams, Barry E. Thompson, Charles C. Smith and Bayard Beatty, Jr.,

The fame of this rapidly growing organization was spreading. There was much publicity in connection with this play, not only in The Suburban, but in many neighboring weeklies as well as in the Philadelphia newspapers, inlucing three well-known ones that have since vanished from the scene, namely the “Public Ledger”, and the “Philadelphia Record”. Pictures of the large cast appeared not only in The Suburban, but in a number of other suburban newspapers. There were also special feature articles in several publications.

The December play, “The Vanishing Princess” featured Mary Whetstone, the former Mary Bay, who had had eight years on the professional stage. Given on two nights, this Christmas play had additional attractions in the way of a “Musical divertissement” in which Mrs William McKeever was the violinist; Mrs. Rowland Paull McKinley, the cellist, and Mrs. E. Bisbee Warner, the pianist. On Tuesday evening Franklin Forsht gave the soliloquy from “Hamlet” and on Wednesday evening Margaret Duncan Clark presented a monologue in French-Canadian dialect. This play was directed by Jean Stineman. February one act plays were “Columbine”, produced by Margaret Duncan Clark and “Suppressed Desires” under the direction of Mary Knorr Genay.

But the real efforts of the Footlighters for February went into the production of a large benefit for the Neighborhood League when “The First Year” was given in the high school auditorium on two successive nights. In the letter that went out to almost everyone in the Community, the Wayne Chamber of Commerce, who sponsored the benefit, explained that “the unemplyment situation in the Wayne area is such that special efforts must be made this winter to care for those who are in need because of it. . . for the purpose of raising money to be dusbursed by the Neighborhood League to those who are suffering because of lack of employment, the Foodlighters will donate the proceeds of their February performance to the Fund for relief of the unemployed”.

The tremendous urgency of the situation is dramatically disclosed in some of the “Suburban” publicity. “Wayne has no bread line. But in this community doctors are reporting cases of illness in self respecting families due to actual lack of food . . . the family diet in some households for an entire week has included only potatoes and tea and a little canned milk . . . malnutrition is producing rickets among the less fortunate children . . “

Unusual and striking programs tell the story of those two performances in which the Wayne Musical Coterie combined with the Footlighters to produce the almost unbelievable sum of $1156.39! “The First Year”, described as “a comic tragedy of married life in three acts” was produced under the direction of T. Bayard Beatty and had in its cast William J. McMillan, Hazel Rolf, Gladys Tilghman, W. N. Stilwell, Jules F. Prevost, De Witt C. Clement, Mary S. Obdyke, Carey P. Williams and Clara Beatty. Before the play Mrs Thomas A. Walton and Mrs. H. H. LaMent played two piano duos while between the first and second acts Ethel Door McKinley played a group of violincello selections. So unlimited was the musical talent that there were different numbers between acts two and three on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. On the former occasion the Coterie Chorus, assisted by Mrs. Charles B. Finley and Mrs. F. Ashby Wallace sang a number of old-time songs while on Wednesday Mary Whetstone danced. A humorous program note states “Gentlemen will be seated. It’s a solo”.

These programs were twenty page affairs, in which one advertiser evidently vied for another in taking space! Arthur Erop produced them while Benjamin F. James presented the engravings. “The Argus Printing Company”, a program note states, “printed them with little of no profit to themselves”. The Committee in charge of this more than successful Benefit consisted of Joseph M. Fronefield, 3d, as chairman; Helen S. Harris for the Musical Coterie; Susan B. Dawkins, Percy W. Clark and Arthur Edrop for the Footlighters and Marian D. Van Pelt for the Neighborhood League. Representing the Chamber of Commerce were Elizabeth S. Kay, A. A. H. de Canizares, Albert M. Ehart and Paul N. Furman, ex-officio.