The Andrews Family
The Andrews Opera Company in "The Mikado," Ed Andrews, center.
BURNED TO A CRISP.
HORRIBLE CATASTROPHE ON THE NORTHERN PACIFIC.
Two Killed, Twenty Injured--A Special Train Conveying an Opera Company
Ditched and the Sleeping Car Destroyed by Fire--A Wreck in Minnesota.
BRAINERD, Minn., Jan. 15.--A horrible accident occurred on the Northern Pacific railroad at Jonesville, the first station east of here, at 3:50 this morning, by which two women met death in horrible form, being burned to death, while twenty others were injured. The dead are:Writer Tells of Early Opera in Rogue Valley
MRS. EDWARD ANDREWS.
MRS. LILLY WALLACE, Mrs. Andrews' nurse.
The train was a special, consisting of the sleeping car Petrel and a baggage car, and was running as the second section of No. 9, the regular train from Superior. The special left South Superior at 11:30 last evening, having on board the Andrews Opera Company, going from Duluth to Grand Forks. The train was running at the usual rate of speed, when it struck a broken rail. The sleeper left the track and went down an embankment, landing bottom side up. The flames broke out from all sides of the car immediately and burned so rapidly that the crew could do nothing but extricate the passengers from the wreck. When it was thought all had been rescued a search revealed the fact that Mrs. Ed. Andrews, wife of the proprietor of the troupe, and her nurse, Mrs. Lilly Wallace, were missing. By this time the flames were turning so fiercely that it was impossible to get near the car. When the flames were finally subdued the remains were discovered, but so badly burned that it was impossible to identify one from the other.
Twenty passengers, more or less seriously injured, were taken from the wreck. Physicians were taken from Brainerd on a special train. The injured were brought back to this city and taken to the Northern Pacific hospital as soon as possible, where they were given the best of care and medical attention.
Davenport [Iowa] Morning Tribune, January 16, 1892, page 1
Special Train Derailed at Jonesville, Minnesota.
THE SLEEPING CAR BURNED.
Two Women Cremated in the Fire and Twenty People Injured in the Wreck.
BRAINERD, Minn., Jan. 16.--A horrible accident occurred on the Northern Pacific, at Jonesville, the first station east of here, at 3:50 yesterday morning. A special train consisting of the sleeping car "Petrel" and a baggage car was running as second section of No. 9, the regular train from Superior.
The special left South Superior at 11:30 the previous evening, having on board the Andrews Opera Company, going from Duluth to Grand Forks. The train was running at the usual rate of speed, when it struck a broken rail. The sleeper left the track and went down an embankment, landing bottom side up.
The flames broke out from all parts of the car immediately, and burned so rapidly that the crew could do nothing but extricate the passengers from the wreck.
When all had been rescued, as it was thought, a search revealed the fact that Mrs. Andrews, wife of the proprietor of the troupe, and her nurse, Mrs. Lily Wallace, were missing.
By this time the flames were burning so fiercely that it was impossible to get near the car. When the flames were finally subdued the remains were discovered, but so badly burned that it was impossible to identify one from the other. Mrs. Andrews and Mrs. Wallace had occupied an upper berth at the forward end of the car and were wrapped in the bedclothes. It is supposed that both occupants were killed instantly. The rapidity with which the flames caught hold and spread through the car caused no little surprise.
Twenty passengers, more or less seriously injured, were taken from the wreck, and the physicians were taken from Brainerd and on a special train. The injured were brought to this city and taken to the Northern Pacific hospital as soon as possible. Here they were given the best of care and medical attention. The hospital is one of the best in the country, and the injured will be well cared for.
Mrs. Andrews was better known by her stage name of Miss Nannie Wilmington. She was the soubrette of the company and very popular.
Conductor Ball, who was in charge of the train, says the sight was the most appalling of any he had ever witnessed. The shrieks and moans of the injured could be heard half a mile away. When Miss Douglass was brought from the car she was literally enveloped in flames, her hair being on fire.
Mr. Andrews rescued their little baby and supposed his wife was safe. He is wild with grief.
List of Injured.Miss Metia Fritch, prima donna, burned on hands and arms.
Mrs. L. F. Baker, her sister, shoulder dislocated.
Miss Mary Roe, soprano, slightly burned and bruised.
George Andrews, baritone, burned on arms.
Miss Ella Harris, chorus girl, burned on neck and arms.
Jay A. Taylor, tenor, cut and bruised.
H. Allen, chorus, burned on neck.
Fred Allen, chorus, bruised.
Miss Shearer, chorus girl, slightly burned.
L. F. Barker, son of Mrs. Barker, burned on hands and arms.
Florence Joy, chorus girl, severely burned on neck and head; will probably die.
May Douglass, chorus girl, burned on head and arms; will probably recover.
Hamilton [Ohio] Daily Democrat, January 16, 1892, page 2. Other accounts refer to Mrs. Wallace as a maid, and point out that the temperature at the time of the wreck was some forty degrees below zero. The passengers were forced to escape into the cold clad only in their nightclothes.
When Farmers Sang Opera
Friends of Ed Andrews, the veteran comedian of the American Light Opera Company, which closes its Portland engagement at the Auditorium today, tell an interesting story of how he first came to Oregon. Andrews was born in Minnesota but now claims Oregon his home because he owns a pear orchard in the Medford district, where he spends his leisure time when not impersonating Ko-Ko, the sheriff of Nottingham, the old miser of "The Chimes of Normandy," or other equally well-known light opera characters.
Charles Hyskell, newspaper man, of Portland, is responsible for Andrews becoming an Oregon fruitgrower, for in 1907 Hyskell came west from the middle states to give the state the once-over. [Ed Andrews settled in the Rogue Valley in 1905.] At that time Andrews was touring the states with an opera company and Hyskell, who had also been connected with ventures of that kind, had become one of his fast friends.
Arriving at Medford, Hyskell wrote Andrews that things looked good to him, and a few weeks later Andrews with his family and the greater part of the opera troupe landed in Medford. All of them planned to become farmers or fruit growers; some took up homesteads, others purchased lands.
Ivan Humason of Portland was at that time the druggist at Medford, and his store was the rendezvous of all newcomers. The first day in town Andrews and his musical director, Charles D. Hazelrigg, and other members of the former opera troupe, were escorted to the Humason store. When evening came, Humason, who was one of the leaders in the community's musical activities, as he was also here in the earlier days of Portland, excused himself, saying he had to attend a rehearsal of "The Mikado," to be given by local talent. He had not the slightest suspicion of the newcomers being opera folk. [Andrews moved to the valley months before rehearsals began.]
"Come back tomorrow," he said to Mr. Andrews and his companions, "and I'll take you around town and introduce you to the business men."
Andrews hinted they'd like to attend the rehearsal, and they were invited.
The young lady who had played the piano accompaniments was delayed somehow, and while waiting for her Hazelrigg entertained with a number of piano selections. That was fine, perhaps he could fill in until the pianist arrived. He thought so and began to play the opening scene from the opera.
Hazelrigg discovered that the singers had only a few books of the score and handed his to Mr. Humason, who was directing.
"Take mine," he said, "I think I can get along without it," and continued playing letter perfect.
Humason was astounded, but went on with the rehearsal.
A young banker was to sing the role of Pooh-Bah. He did not know his lines very well, and his acting was somewhat crude.
By this time Andrews had climbed upon the stage.
"Perhaps I can help you a little," he suggested as he stepped in and sang the role with great abandon.
"What's this?" exclaimed the now thoroughly amazed Mr. Humason. "Stop the show!"
Everything was explained, and it was decided to postpone the public performance a few weeks so that all the new principals could be given their respective roles.
The night of the performance, a gala event in the town, which was at that time getting on the map largely through the development of the Olwell Brothers' pear orchard, a Portland business man visited Jesse Enyart, Medford banker.
"After supper I want you to be my guest at the opera," said Enyart. "We have some good local talent. They are to sing 'The Mikado.'"
The Portland man was not very keen about it. He had attended small town amateur performances before and offered various excuses, saying among other things his education in musical appreciation had been neglected, and so forth. However, he finally accepted.
"They are all farmers; but can sing and act," Humason assured him.
The opening scene was put over in a way that revealed years of training. Then entered Henry Garson, as Nang-ki-Po, a tall, handsome tenor with a bell-like voice. He was originally from New York.
"You say he's a farmer?" asked the Portlander, turning to his host Humason.
"Yep, he's a farmer from the Dry Creek district."
Ko-Ko entered and threw the house into convulsions of laughter.
"Another farmer, I suppose," whispered the visitor.
"He's from the woods back of town, a homesteader."
When Yum-Yum, Pitti-Sing and Peep-Boo, the three maids, tripped fairy-like upon the stage, the Portland business man and opera connoisseur became mildly sarcastic.
"Suppose these are farmers' wives?"
"That they be," answered Humason truthfully.
"Well, then, the dinner's on me; you certainly have some remarkable farmers down here."
Medford Mail Tribune, January 12, 1923
Interesting Sidelights of Medford Life 23 Years Ago Described
In Telling of First Operetta; Newspapers Were at War
(From Portland Telegram)
It was 23 years ago this spring, when Medford was a village of 1200 souls, that the local talent decided to put on a light opera. The young folks were slightly weary of the monotony of an occasional buggy ride, or going down to the depot to see the train come in, or taking a trip on Barnum's dummy over to Jacksonville. At that time Johnny Olwell was beginning to brag about the money he could make raising Newtown apples, Julian Perkins had bought the Suncrest Orchard and was planting out some of the first pears, Doc Reddy was landlord of the swell Nash Hotel, Jess Enyart was president of the Medford Bank, while Charlie Nickell and Albert Bliton were engaged in a violent controversy as to which of the two rival weekly newspapers had the largest bona fide circulation, Albert claiming that Nickell's Tribune circulation was the bunk because he went through every incoming Southern Pacific train and passed his papers out free to all travelers, while Nickell retaliated with the allegation that Bliton's circulation was not only "nix kommeraus" but infra dig, for the reason that Albert, being the local land commissioner, compelled every homesteader when filing on a claim to subscribe for the Weekly Mail.
Plenty of Local Talent
All of these things, along with an occasional dance at the roller rink, of course, furnished constant community diversion more or less, in those days, but at times the interest lagged. It was during one of these mass reactions that the live wires voted to enact an amateur production of "The Mikado." The ringleaders in this ambitious project included Ivan Humason, who kept the local drug store; Billy Isaacs, proprietor of The Toggery; Carl Narregan, the abstractor; Lawyer Holbrook Withington; Ed. Gore, the merchant; Miss Eifert, organist at the Presbyterian Church; Mrs. Clarence Hafer, Hazel Enyart and other prominent local talent.
In the early evening of an April day three emigrants, Ed Andrews, opera comedian; Charles Hazelrigg, musical director, and the writer got off a train and ambled down the main street to the drug store. The party was armed with a letter of introduction from the late E. P. Rogers, general passenger agent at Portland for the Southern Pacific railroad, addressed to Ivan Humason, stating briefly that they were eastern business men and abjuring Humason to tune up and sing the praises of the Rogue River Valley.
Hazelrigg Turns DirectorBut Ivan at the moment had other songs in mind. It was within a few minutes of the hour set for a rehearsal of "The Mikado." [Andrews had moved to the valley months before rehearsals began.] He invited the party to accompany him to the rehearsal and get acquainted with the people, which bid they gladly accepted. The pianist and director, Miss Eifert, was playing the organ at a choir practice and was late arriving at the rehearsal. So Hazelrigg modestly admitted that he could play the piano and offered to help. Although there was no extra score, Hazelrigg, a few moments later, had forgotten about his modesty and was playing "The Mikado" music with one hand and directing the rehearsal with the other, to the mild surprise of the company. Presently the action began for the principals, and Andrews offered some suggestions as to characterization and singing. The company's curiosity as to the identity of the strangers reached the breaking point when Andrews, having played the part of Ko-Ko some three thousand times from Broadway to San Antone, found himself the center of the rehearsal and demonstrating the business of all the characters.
"Who are you people, anyhow?" one of the actors demanded to know. The truth of the matter then came forth, and there were general introductions all over again.
Rehearsals Put Off"Say," said Humason, "if you people are going to settle in here we will put this rehearsal off till next fall and then have a regular show."
It was done. In the following fall, when the opera was produced, half a dozen or more members of the former Andrews Opera Company had settled in the valley, and the skating rink was transformed into a theater. Jess Enyart, the banker, had as a guest at his home a Portland business man, whom he invited to accompany him to the opera. Believing he would be bored, the Portlander declined.
"But my daughter's in the show," Enyart urged. "Come on, you'll like it." Thus importuned, the Portlander accepted. When Nanki-poo had sung his bit the Portlander perked up quite noticeably. The singer was Henry Gunson, a noted tenor who had sung all the standard operas and had a turn in grand opera.
"You got a professional to sing that part, eh?" said Portland.
"He's Just a Farmer""Oh, no," Enyart said, "he's just a farmer over in the Big Sticky neighborhood." By this time they were listening to the "Three Little Maids from School," a trio that included Nellie Andrews and Caroline Andrews, two experienced prima donnas, and Mrs. Clarence Hafer. Then Ed. Andrews came on in the role of Ko-Ko. The Portlander watched silently a few minutes, then turned to his host.
"I suppose," he grunted, "you will say this is another farmer over on the Big Sticky, although he is playing the best Ko-Ko I ever saw."
"No, he doesn't live on the Big Sticky," Enyart said casually. "He's got a ranch over by Roxy Ann Mountain and keeps a few cows."
Later in the evening the Portlander, being fully convinced that he had witnessed a great performance of "The Mikado" by what was literally local talent, went out and bought supper for the entire party.
Jackson County News, July 16, 1926, page 9
Opera on Wheels
By Cornelia Andrews Du Bois
The life of the early pioneer entertainers was quite different from that of today's stage stars. The story of the Andrews family is typical of the early troupes, and is told by Mrs. Dubois, whose grandfather was a brother of the famous troupers.
A large red bandwagon pulled by six plumed and prancing grey horses and accompanied by the sound of lively march music played on six cornets and a snare drum could be seen traveling down the main street of a small town of the American frontier one afternoon in the fall of 1876. It was the type of wagon used by circuses, with tiers of seats going up to a high point in back; but this wagon was not part of a circus, for across the side was printed in large gold letters, that caught the rays of the sun, the words "ANDREWS FAMILY SWISS BELL RINGERS."
The bandwagon belonged to a family of entertainers who had traveled in it, with a baggage wagon following, all the way from St. Peter, Minnesota, across the dusty, bumpy roads of Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska. They had reached the Indian territory which today is part of the state of Oklahoma, and it was wild country indeed. Cowboys with six-shooters in their belts walked boldly down the street. Indians, feathered and blanketed, stared with hostile-looking faces as the bandwagon moved past them.
To the members of the family, and particularly to the youngest, Florence, a pretty, black-eyed girl of 14 years, it was rather strange and terrifying. She knew that in the town hall that evening she would have to face an audience of the same kind of people she saw in the streets, not friendly people like those in the Methodist Church back in St. Peter where her father was the minister, and where she and her older brothers and sisters had often given concerts.
How had the children of a Methodist minister, brought up on a farm in rural Minnesota, been started on the road as a troupe of entertainers? It seems strange to us now, but in those days there were a number of such troupes, of which the "Singing Hutchinsons" are a good example. Families were large, and there were many mouths to feed. If some of the family traveled they could sustain themselves and help out at home for those who were left behind. The grasshoppers had laid waste more than once to the fields of Minnesota and left depression in their wake, and the Andrews family, as well as others, were affected by it. Also, the people, especially in pioneer areas, were eager for music and laughter. There were no radios, no movies, only a few home-talent shows in churches or town halls. Traveling troupes were welcomed, and their small admission fees gladly paid. Some of the companies were first-rate, some not. Those of high quality, like the Hutchinsons and the Andrews, managed to stay on the road for many years. The Andrews family was unique in that it was not a concert troupe only. After adding Swiss bells, which were very popular then, they went on to form a light-opera company, and near the end of their long career before the public they added grand opera to their repertoire. They gave grand opera in English, and it was of surprisingly high caliber, considering the pioneer background of the family.
John Andrews, the minister-father of ten children--six boys and four girls--had come to Minnesota by covered wagon in 1856. His father before him had come with the tide of pioneers from Virginia into Indiana and Illinois, and he was of English-Spanish stock, having voyaged from a West Indies plantation at the time of the Revolutionary War. This ancestry (the Spanish blood gave dark skin to all the Andrews children) may have accounted for some of their own adventurous spirit. Reverend Andrews was a circuit-riding minister in his early days on the Minnesota frontier at a time when he must go on horseback between remote wilderness churches, under hazardous conditions.
But it was their father's love of music which really started the Andrews family on their long career. He brought to his log cabin home near St. Peter a small melodeon, which he laboriously hauled in a lumber wagon from Munger's Music Store in St. Paul. On it he hoped his children would learn to play and sing the hymns he loved. They did, and formed a double quartette of brothers and sisters; but they went on to organize a concert troupe and eventually an opera company, much to their father's embarrassment, since opera was frowned upon by the church. However, he loyally defended them, as long as they kept to high ideals of entertainment and as long as they maintained family relationships, taking husbands and wives and children with them on the road.
At the height of their career as an opera company the Andrews family traveled in their own private railroad car, which had been converted into staterooms. Their tours carried them all over the country, into the East, South and Southwest, as well as the Middle West. They presented a season of summer opera in Peoria, Illinois, in an open-air theater, with great success, until the burning of the theater halted their performances there. Not long afterwards, in the late '90s, they established their summer headquarters at Lake Tetonka, near Waterville, Minnesota, where they ran a resort hotel, raised racehorses and gave opera on a stage built over the lake.
The opera company had its share of misfortunes. Their special train, on the way to the West Coast, was wrecked near Brainerd, Minnesota, on a bitter cold January night in 1891, and Nannie Andrews, wife of Ed Andrews, was burned to death. Ed, who was famous for his role as Ko-Ko in Gilbert and Sullivan's "Mikado," continued on the road for a long time after this--even after the Andrews Opera Company itself had disbanded. Another tragedy occurred when Charlie Andrews was killed in a railroad accident near Chicago. Charlie was advance agent and general manager for the company. After his death, George Andrews took over as manager as well as star performer. George, whose baritone voice was heard in the famous light-opera arias of those days, such as "The Heart Bowed Down" from "The Bohemian Girl," was a matinee idol whose fans requested special solos not called for in the score. Of the four daughters, Laura sang coloratura soprano roles, Alice played the piano and directed the orchestra (she lost her voice from too much singing at an early age), and Florence was the prima donna contralto who played character parts like Katisha in "The Mikado," and in later years was the star of the opera "Carmen."
But when Florence was young, her older brothers and sisters didn't consider that she was much of a singer, or an actress, either; and on her first tour in the bandwagon when the troupe arrived in the Indian territory, her brothers taunted her for being afraid and told her she would never last on the road as a trouper. She had already learned to play the cornet in the band for their street parades, could handle the second soprano bells--there were about 80 of the Swiss bells of all sizes, which were rung together for a chime-like effect--and besides this she could do comedy skits and dances with her brother Ed. Florence was to sing a solo called "My Mother's Little Broken Ring."
When she faced her audience that night in the town hall, wearing her sister Laura's red cashmere dress with a real bustle, Florence did not feel very confident. As she had feared, the audience was composed of cowboys and Indians, and she couldn't see a woman in the place. They were noisy and restless, but when she began to sing pleadingly, with her hands crossed as Laura had taught her, they became strangely quiet, and then, suddenly, when the she had finished, there was an explosion! Guns went off--not one, but several, and there was shouting. Florence fled in terror from the stage, almost tripping over her short train, and when she reached safety backstage, she was in tears. "They shot at me! They tried to kill me!" she told her brothers.
But Charlie quieted her and said they weren't shooting at her at all, that the guns were pointed at the ceiling. They were merely applauding her! And as the shouting and shooting continued, he told her that she would have to return to the stage for a bow. This was a severe test of her courage, but she knew that if she didn't go back her brothers would never accept her as a trouper, and she turned and walked back onto the stage, with her knees trembling, and took her bow!
In all the years the Andrews were on the stage, there were many hardships to meet. Performances had to be given in spite of illness and even death--disasters which would seem for a time to force the company off the road. But they went on, year after year, with laughter as well as tears, bringing entertainment into small communities as well as large ones. Their prices were never high and they gave the public, especially throughout the Middle West, an opportunity to hear good music at a low price, which in those days was rare. It is hard to realize now, with our wealth of entertainment for old and young, what troupes like the Andrews meant to the people of that time; but they were part of the pioneer spirit of character and courage which built Minnesota, just as much as those who fought the Indians and cleared the wilderness.
Dr. Arthur Taylor, undated typescript circa 1960s, Southern Oregon Historical Society vertical files
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Ed. Andrews, a gentleman who has been living upon and improving a homestead out near Climax post office, has purchased the L. P. Hansen farm of eighty acres. The land is situated north and east of Medford about six miles, near the Dr. Pickel orchard. The price paid, including stock, tools and this season's crops, was $1500. Of the land six acres is planted to orchard and is, and has been, bearing fruit. Mr. Andrews expects to plant a considerable of the place to orchard the coming winter. The soil is sticky, but the thrift of the trees tells plainly that it's all right for fruit. The opinion prevails generally that Mr. Andrews has made an investment that will profit him big one of these days, as soon as a goodly portion of it is planted to trees. Land which will grow fruit has no license to go begging for buyers at a price much in advance of that paid by Mr. Andrews. Mr. Hansen, we understand, will go to the old country upon a visit.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, September 8, 1905, page 5
BRINGS SETTLERS TO STATEIllustrative of the good results coming from railroad advertising being done by the Harriman lines, A. L. Craig, general passenger agent for the O.R.&N. and Southern Pacific lines in Oregon, tells of the effects had by one copy of the book on Oregon, Washington and Idaho sent to C. N. Hyskell, of Burlington, Ia.: "In March, 1904, C. N. Hyskell, of Burlington, Ia., received a copy of our Oregon, Washington and Idaho book," said Mr. Craig. "After reading it carefully, he brought his wife and three children to Oregon and secured 160 acres of land. Before coming he showed the same book to Edward Andrews, of Burlington, Ia., who brought his wife and one child. Mr. Andrews also secured 160 acres of Oregon land. He also showed the book to C. D. Hazelrigg, who brought his wife and secured 160 acres of land. Mr. Hazelrigg, through this book, induced his father-in-law and mother-in-law, Major and Mrs. Erdman, of Washington, D. C., to come to Oregon. They secured 160 acres of land and a house at Medford. Mr. Andrews, through this book, induced his brother-in-law, Edward White, of Minnesota, and two friends to locate in Oregon. These three bought 200 acres of Oregon land. Mr. White, through this book, induced his three sisters and mother to come to Oregon and they bought a house in Medford. Mr. Andrews lent the book to Lucin Wakefield, of Mankato, Minn., who came to Oregon and secured 160 acres of land. Mr. Wakefield induced his brother, Del Wakefield, and three children, to come to Oregon; also his sister, who is now teaching school in the vicinity of Medford. Del Wakefield bought 80 acres of land near Medford, and also a house in that town. The book is still working some place in the East."
Railway Booklet Induces Immigration to Oregon.
Morning Oregonian, Portland, September 30, 1905, page 9
Medford theater-goers are promised a rare treat in the near future when Chas. D. Hazelrigg will present Gilbert and Sullivan's famous comic opera "The Mikado." This is unquestionably the best comic opera ever written, and on this occasion will be produced in its entirety. The solo parts will be handled by the principals of the Andrews Opera Company, and in addition there will be a chorus of twenty-five of the best local singers. Special attention will be given to the costuming and the stage settings--everything being brought complete from the Tivoli Opera House in San Francisco. In our next issue the exact date of production will be announced, together with a complete cast.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, January 26, 1906, page 5
The Mikado rehearsals are progressing most satisfactorily, and the claim is made that this will be the best production of opera ever given in the state outside of Portland or Salem. The people taking part have entered into the spirit of Gilbert's witty lines with a zest, while the big chorus of thirty-five picked voices are rendering Sullivan's catchy music in such a way that it will be odd indeed if we don't hear them whistled on the street by the outdoing audience.THE MIKADO.
Mr. Ed. Andrews is cast for Koko, the lord high executive of Japan, the part that made him famous and which he has played almost 2000 times. Mrs. Andrews will make her debut in Medford as "Yum Yum," while the other "Little Maids" will be Mrs. Hazelrigg as "Pitti Sing" and Mrs. Hafer as "Peep Bo." Miss Mabel Jones has a great part as "Katisha," a Japanese old maid, and Mr. Withington has the main part, "The Mikado." Mr. Gunson as "Nanki Poo," Mr. Narregan as "Pooh Bah" and Mr. Isaacs as "Pish Tush" complete the cast.
Thursday, February 8th is the date of production, and seats will be on sale at Haskin's drug store Monday, February 5th, at 10 o'clock a.m. Positively no seats will be marked off before that hour, thus giving all an equal chance.
Medford Mail, February 2, 1906, page 1
Thursday night of last week Gilbert and Sullivan's great comic opera was presented to one of the largest and most appreciative audiences ever gathered in the local opera house, and by the request of a large majority of the audience the opera was repeated on Tuesday of this week.
It was the greatest performance ever given in Medford--either professional or amateur--and it is absolutely beyond our powers of description to do justice to it. "The Mikado" is one of the funniest musical comedies ever written, and the members of the company brought out every bit of fun there was in it. As a consequence the audience was kept in a continual fit of laughter from start to finish.
Ed. Andrews, as Ko Ko, convulsed the audience very time he appeared upon the stage. He has played this role more times than he can remember, and he gets funnier every time he plays it.
Henry Gunson, as Nanki Pooh, had the audience with him from the start. His acting and singing were great. The duet between him and Yum Yum, "Were you not to Ko Ko plighted," was encored again and again.
Yum Yum, in the person of Mrs. Andrews, was the most fascinating of "children of nature," and her solos were always encored.
Mrs. Hazelrigg as Pitti Sing came in for her share of appreciation, and her rendition of "He's Going to Marry Yum Yum" brought encore after encore.
Mrs. Clarence Hafer, who made a hit as Peep Bo, the third of the "Little Maids from School," Thursday, was ill and unable to appear at Tuesday's performance, and the part was taken by Mrs. McMillan in an artistic and pleasing manner. The mystery to one in the audience was how either Ko Ko or Nanki Pooh could decide which one of those fascinating little maids he wanted.
Miss Mabel Jones had a very difficult role in Katisha--but she carried it in a way that showed exceptional dramatic ability. Although her makeup was such as to cause one to endorse Ko Ko's pathetic "bring on your boiling oil," her splendid voice was there and won applause on every occasion.
L. C. Narregan's Pooh Bah was great with a capital "G." In voice, manner, carriage and appearance he was all that the "Lord High Admiral and Lord High Everythingelse" should be, and it is impossible that the "anatomical globules of his protoplasmal ancestors" could have been in any way "insulted" by his rendition of the part.
W. F. Isaacs, as Pish Tush, made all there was of the part, and his two solos were rendered in a manner far ahead of usual amateur work.
H. Withington, "The Mikado," filled the part--and the stage nearly. He isn't small, and when clothed in his voluminous robes of office towered above everybody and everything.
Emil Payette, as Nee Ban, brought down the house in his only appearance. His dancing and facial contortions were simply side-splitting. Besides he introduced a new stunt that touched the risibilities of even the seasoned professionals and created a laugh in the audience that shook the building.
The chorus--well, we never knew there were so many pretty girls in Medford, and the singing and drilling were as good as a whole lot of professional choruses. The male portion of the chorus was about as savage a looking bunch of highbinders--in their make-up--as one would care to see, but they could sing and they did it.
Mr. Hazelrigg, the musical director, is to be congratulated upon his success in training the chorus to such perfection.
The stage settings were beautiful and appropriate, and the costumes rich and elegant, the latter having been secured from the Tivoli Theater in San Francisco especially for this occasion.
After the play Mr. Hazelrigg gave the company a pleasant surprise in the shape of an invitation to a splendid supper at the Anderson restaurant. Toasts were proposed and drunk and a general good time enjoyed.
The opera was a complete success on each night and could be repeated again.
Monday night the company played at Central Point to a good-sized audience, and last night Ashland was favored with a presentation of the play.
Medford Mail, February 16, 1906, page 1
"The Mikado" made a hit at Ashland, just as it has wherever presented in the valley. The Ashland Tribune says that the audience was somewhat unresponsive in the first act, but they were unable to resist the fun, catchy music and good singing and acting which were offered them, so that at the last it became one of the most enthusiastic of audiences.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, February 23, 1906, page 5
GOING TO BRING SETTLERS.Ed. Andrews left Thursday for the East, to be gone six weeks or two months, during which time he will do missionary work for Southern Oregon.
He took with him several hundred pounds of the products of Southern Oregon, including wheat, corn in stalk and other grains, fruit, minerals and wood, and last, but not least, samples of the famous black sticky soil, which he opines is the best on earth.
"I am taking this exhibit along," said Mr. Andrews, "in order to show those people what can be produced here. There is a pretty strong impression in some parts of the country that the soil here is principally gravel. I will tell them to moisten a portion of that sticky and rub it between their fingers, and see whether there is any gravel about it or not."
Mr. Andrews' plan is to endeavor to get up excursions of one or more carloads, bring them out to Southern Oregon and demonstrate to them that the country is worthy of all that has been written and said of it.
He will go direct to Omaha, and from there work up through Iowa, South Dakota and Minnesota. Already he has made partial arrangements for two carloads of excursionists--one at Mitchell, South Dakota, and one at Mankato, Minn. These he expects to easily fill. The enterprise is experimental as yet, but Mr. Andrews expects to be able to show the local people that it can be successfully done, as well as to show the easterners the kind of a country we have. If he succeeds, as he is certain he will do, he will make a regular business of getting up such excursions.
In this he is aided by the railroad companies in carrying exhibits free of charge and assisting in other ways.
Several such excursions coming into the valley every year will result in not only a widespread dissemination of information regarding this country, but also in securing many valuable additions to our population. Not all of them will remain, it is true, but some of them will and those who return will, by telling of what they saw, induce others to come to the Rogue River Valley.
Medford Mail, February 23, 1906, page 1
ED. ANDREWS IN A NEW ROLE
The Opera Man on an Eastern Trip.
For the Portland Journal.
Edward Andrews, said to be the greatest Ko-Ko who ever played that part in the famous opera of "The Mikado," is in Portland today with a fruit and mineral exhibit from Jackson County, en route to the Middle West to show the people of that section what is produced in Southern Oregon. He was for years leading comedian of the Andrews Opera Company, and many times played in every city of considerable size in the Mississippi Valley, but is now a ranchman in Jackson County.
"I am now in the real show business," he said, referring with pride to his Jackson County exhibit. "After twenty years of trying to entertain the willing people of the West with the 'tit-willow' type of music, I am now going back there to sing the praises of Oregon, a land I have known only three years--but in that brief space I have, I may truly say, become a fairly eloquent performer."
Ed. Andrews as Ko-Ko
WILL TOUR MIDDLE WEST.
Mr. Andrews' plan is to take his exhibit through portions of Iowa, Minnesota and South Dakota, and interest people to join excursion parties to Southern Oregon. Partial arrangements have already been made for two or three carloads of homeseekers and their effects from the neighborhood of Mitchell, South Dakota. His exhibit includes crates of the splendid fruits produced in Jackson County and specimens of the minerals and woods. He has some of the world's record pears and peaches, produced in Southern Oregon last year; also several boxes of Newtown, Spitzenberg and Winesap apples.
"What Southern Oregon needs is farmers. I shall avoid the large cities on my route and confine my work to the smaller towns and rural districts," he said.
"The heart-to-heart talk with the individual is the kind that is necessary to move him and get him started to seek the home that he wants but has not. Show him what he can do in a Southern Oregon home, and convince him that your evidence is bona fide, and he will come and see for himself. That is all we want. When an eastern man comes to Southern Oregon he will, in nine cases out of ten, conclude it is the most beautiful place he ever saw, as well as the most productive, and he will conclude to remain."
RAILROADS LEND A HAND.The railroads are aiding and encouraging the project. The Harriman lines, the Milwaukee and the Northwestern are interested in the work Andrews has mapped out. A. L. Craig, general passenger agent of the Harriman lines, who for many years knew Mr. Andrews as an operatic artist on annual tours through Northern Pacific territory, said:
"The last time I saw Mr. Andrews was one bitterly cold winter day some years ago at West Superior, Wisconsin. The company had played that city. Traveling in their own car, they were leaving that night after the performance for points farther west. I had made up my mind to go on the same train, but at the last moment changed my mind, retired to bed and waited for a morning train."
At the breakfast table next morning he took up the morning paper and found an account of one of the worst train wrecks in the history of the theatrical business.
Near Brainerd, Minnesota, sometime past midnight, when all were asleep in their berths, the train went into the ditch, the opera company's car was broken to pieces and destroyed by fire, a number of the company perishing in the flames, and among them members of Mr. Andrews' family. The story of the wreck is remembered and recounted among theatrical people the country over, but few are aware that the principal figure among the survivors is now a fruit farmer in a remote section of Southern Oregon.
"I am getting whatever land I can acquire in Jackson County, for I am a firm believer in the great future of that county as a commercial fruit country," said Mr. Andrews. "I have found health, the greatest joy of living, and profit, along with the sports of hunting and fishing in the hills of Southern Oregon. While during the last three or four weeks there has been bitterly cold weather in the East, and rain in the Willamette Valley, we have had three weeks of the most beautiful, clear weather."
Medford Mail, March 9, 1906, page B8
Ed. Andrews "Makes Good"
Five or six weeks ago Ed. Andrews, the "Ko Ko" farmer, left Medford for South Dakota and Minnesota. His mission was to interest those eastern people in the Rogue River Valley. He was sure he could do it. We did not know for sure at that time that he could "make good," but he has--and he did it strenuously. Tuesday evening he arrived here with seventeen people direct from the states named above, and on Wednesday another bunch of fourteen arrived--thirty-one in all--and there are more to follow. These are all men of means and undoubtedly many of them will invest here.
Medford Mail, April 13, 1906 supplement, page 1
Ed. Andrews:--"No, I am not going to enter the theatrical business again, but I am going to stay in the land business and attend to my farm and orchard. No more theater business for me; I'm done. The impression has gotten out, however, that I will form a part of the company soon to take the road, under Mr. Hazelrigg's direction, but such is not the case. Mr. and Mrs. Hazelrigg and Mrs. Andrews will be of the company, but yours truly is going to give his undivided attention to growing fruit trees and inducing people to settle in this valley, and I believe I can get more enjoyment and profit out of these pursuits than anything else."
"Street Echoes," Medford Mail, August 24, 1906, page 1
Nearly everyone knows of the Andrews Opera Company, which used to show through this territory. It has disbanded, and Wm. T. and Ed Andrews, after a stage life of forty years, will apply their attention and energies to running a recently acquired farm pear Medford, Oregon.
"News and Comments," Western Call, Beloit, Kansas, August 31, 1906, page 6
Few of us are aware that there was a colony of actors in Southern Oregon who deserted the stage nearly two years ago to become fruit farmers. After viewing the Rogue River country from the platform of an observation car a number of times, the principal members of the well-known Andrews Opera Company found the call of the soil so strong that they concluded to invest in orchard lands and live happily ever afterwards under their own vines and fig trees.
One night toward the close of a prosperous season the company found itself in a thriving city of the Middle West, where they had just completed a very satisfactory week. Ed Andrews, one of the funniest "Kokos" who ever appeared in this country, said to Charlie Hazelrigg, his manager:
"Charlie, let's close now, send the people back to New York and light out for Oregon."
Hazelrigg agreed. The chorus and some of the principals were given return tickets while Ed Andrews and his wife, Charles D. Hazelrigg and his wife (Nellie Andrews), the prima donna, and the other members took the train for Medford, in this state. Arrived here, they soon found places to suit them and bought a dozen farms in one neighborhood. For two years they have been planting and harvesting with great success, and the boards have known the Andrews Opera Company no more forever.
Ed Andrews dug postholes and Hazelrigg mowed hay. They have prospered and are more and more devoted to the pastoral life. 'They keep hunting dogs and horses and use them at their leisure, while the waters of Rogue River are frequently soundly whipped with their flies. They are making as much money or more than they did on the stage, and are having lots more fun. Recently, however, Considine & Sullivan made some of them a flattering offer to make a short tour of the vaudeville circuit, and so while the others look after things down on the farm, Nellie Andrews, Hazelrigg, Henri Gunson and Grover Nell have decided to take a little flyer at the old, old game. They will appear at the Grand this week, doing the first act and the tower scene from "Il Trovatore." They are all artists and will be worth hearing.
"The Stage," Sunday Oregonian, Portland, September 23, 1906, page 34
A few years ago a small but popular comic opera company headed by the comedian Ed Andrews played a circuit regularly in the Northwest, and suddenly the name, which had become well known, disappeared from public view. It is now learned, from a Portland paper, that the company, or several members of it, are engaged in fruit-growing in Oregon, not merely contented but prosperous.
"Musical Notes," The Argonaut, San Francisco, October 6, 1906, page 127
Ed. Andrews, the celebrated "Ko Ko" comedian--in fact celebrated in anything and everything funny he has had to do with for several years--is preparing a number of the young men of Medford for the presentation of a thoroughly up-to-date, clean minstrel show on the evening of December 26th. It was expected to give this entertainment on New Year's night, but the fact that the Jacksonville fire boys are to give their annual fireman's ball on that date our boys have buried theirs a little, so as not to conflict. The entertainment is to be given as a benefit for the Medford band.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, December 7, 1906, page 5
Mr. Ed Andrews left Wednesday for San Francisco, where he is to appear in a special production of "Mikado." Mr. Andrews has appeared 1200 times in the role of "Ko Ko" with unbounded success. He expects to be absent about three weeks.
"Purely Personal," Medford Mail, January 25, 1907, page 5
Home from the Golden State.Announcement has been made of the reopening of the Andrews studios in the Sparta Building, which have been temporarily closed during Mrs. Geo. Andrews' recent illness. Mrs. Nellie Andrews Hazelrigg will give vocal instruction here beginning Monday, April 20th, and she will meet all prospective students or those desiring information at the studio on Friday and Saturday of this week from 10 to 12 a.m. and from 2 to 4 p.m.
Ed Andrews, the versatile actor, who has been filling engagements with the Nellie Andrews Opera Co. in the Golden State, is back among us for a brief visit with his family and to attend to business matters. While on his trip his company appeared in the National Theater in San Francisco, the Bell in Oakland and the Acme in Sacramento. On his return to San Francisco the company will play in the Wigwam, a new theater. Mr. Andrews is accompanied by Harold Kelly, a well-known theatrical, who has become interested in fruit culture, and on his arrival here purchased the Pruett ranch in Roxy Ann District, where he will make his home during the summer months.SALEM ANGRY AT MEDFORD BOOSTER
Mr. Andrews is always looking out for everything that is good for Rogue River Valley. He recently received a letter from his wife's brother-in-law, C. E. Wise, publisher of the Review, Mankato, Minnesota, in which he requested Mr. Andrews to purchase him a good tract of fruit land in this valley. Mr. Andrews has other propositions of the same nature.
Excerpt, Medford Mail, February 15, 1907, page 1
A new lumber mill will be installed in the Antelope section, the foundation of which is now being laid and the machinery for which is on the way from the East. Robert L. Hale, formerly of the Rogue River Electrical Construction Company, and Ed Andrews, the well-known actor and booster of good things for this valley, are the chief promoters, assisted by John M. Root, of Minneapolis, Minn.
"Lumber Mill for Antelope," Medford Mail, April 26, 1907, page 8
FRUIT FARMERCharles D. Hazelrigg and wife arrived here Tuesday from their home in Medford, Oregon, and will spend the greater part of the summer here visiting his children, his mother, Mrs. Marv Hazelrigg, brothers, sisters, old home and friends.
Is Charles D. Hazelrigg, Former Greensburg Boy.
Mr. Hazelrigg has abandoned the show business, quit the road, settled down and is now engaged in the fruit farming business near Medford, Oregon, in what is known as the Rogue River country, where he owns two hundred acres of good land--forty acres of which has upon it small fruit trees to the number of two thousand, which Charley dug the holes for and set out with his own hands.
The following extract from a newspaper published in that section will be of interest to our readers:
Few of us are aware that there is a colony of actors in Southern Oregon who deserted the stage nearly two years ago to become fruit farmers.After viewing the Rogue River country from the platform of an observation car a number of times the principal members of the well-known Andrews Opera Company found the call of the soil so strong that they concluded to invest in orchard lands and live happily ever afterwards under their own vines and fig trees.
One night toward the close of a prosperous season the company found itself in a thriving city of the Middle West, where they had just completed a very satisfactory week. Ed Andrews, one of the funniest "Kokos" who ever appeared in this country, said to Charlie Hazelrigg, his manager:
"Charlie, let's close now, send the people back to New York and light out for Oregon."
Hazelrigg agreed. The chorus and some of the principals were given return tickets while Ed Andrews and his wife, Charles D. Hazelrigg and his wife (Nellie Andrews) the prim donna, and the other members took the train for Medford, in this state. Arriving here they soon found places to suit them and bought a dozen farms in one neighborhood. For two years they have been planting and harvesting with great success, and the boards have known the Andrews Opera Company no more forever.
Ed Andrews dug post holes and Hazelrigg mowed hay. They have prospered and are more and more devoted to the pastoral life. They keep hunting dogs and horses and use them at their leisure, while the waters of Rogue River are frequently soundly whipped with their flies. They are making as much money or more than they did on the stage, and are having lots more fun.
Greensburg Standard, Greensburg, Indiana, June 14, 1907, page 3
Those who wish instruction in singing have an opportunity now to avail themselves of the best of instruction. Mrs. Ed. Andrews has opened a studio at her residence for the instruction in voice culture. Mrs. Andrews' long experience as an operatic singer and her thorough knowledge of the art make her an exceptionally good instructress.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, January 17, 1908, page 5
Dr. and Mrs. J. K. Andrews of Mankato, Minn. arrived yesterday and will remain for some time. The doctor owns a fine farm out near the 401 Ranch that he purchased about one year ago when visiting here. He is a brother of W. T. and Ed Andrews of this city.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail, June 4, 1909, page 2
SINGER WILL GROW APPLESThere will be an operatic colony of fruitgrowers in the Rogue River Valley before long. James Stevens, leading baritone with the National Opera Company, is one of the prospective members of the colony. He already has bought a ten-acre tract of orchard land, which he is setting out to Yellow Newtown apples, with enough other varieties for pollinators, and he is saving his money to continue to improve it and to make a home.
Leading Baritone of National Opera Company Buys Orchard.
Stevens is young and he has a future in his profession, but he counts on keeping his orchard for his old age.
Stevens became interested through his wife. Miss Edith Andrews on the bill, who has played Buda, the nurse, in "The Bohemian Girl." She was formerly a member of the Andrews Opera Company, many of whose members on their last visit to the Coast made investments near Medford. Stevens liked the idea and bought a place in the same locality. Fruitgrowing is his hobby, when he can spare time for it from his studies. He is an authority among theatrical people upon orchard management, pollenization and kindred subjects.
Stevens' original ambition was to be a naval officer. He passed the academic tests, but failed when the colored blocks were placed before him and it was discovered that he was color blind. He is a university man, and turning to account the musical talent he had shown in college days he went into opera instead of war and has made a hit.
Morning Oregonian, Portland, May 12, 1910, page 11
The wedding of Miss Grace Andrews and Mr. A. Conro Fiero was solemnized at high noon Wednesday. The affair was a quiet home wedding, and only the immediate relatives and intimate friends of the contracting parties were present. Miss Andrews, who is a fascinating brunette, made a most charming bride, in an elaborate gown of white chiffon over white satin. Her attendants were Mrs. P. W. Hamil as matron of honor; Miss Emilie Fiero, maid of honor. Both were beautifully gowned in white lingerie gowns made of pink silk. Mr. P. W. Hamil acted as best man.
After the ceremony an elaborate wedding breakfast was held, and the happy couple left on the afternoon train for Shasta Springs, where they will spend their honeymoon, returning in about ten days, when they will reside on Mr. Fiero's ranch. Those present were: Mr. and Mrs. Hamil, Mrs. Harvey, Captain and Mrs. Voorhies, Mr. and Mrs. J. D. Olwell, Mr. and Mrs. William Andrews, Mrs. Fiero, Mrs. James Stevens, Mrs. Caroline Andrews, Miss Emilie Fiero and Rev. Lucas.
"In Medford's Social Realm," Medford Mail Tribune, June 5, 1910, page B1
NARROW ESCAPE FOR ANDREWS
Local Man Rises Early To Take Medicine and Gets Carbolic Acid by Mistake--
Realizes Mistake in Time To Keep from Swallowing It, But
His Mouth Badly Burned--Results Not Serious.
George Andrews narrowly escaped great torture, if not death itself, at an early hour Monday when, thinking he had a cough medicine, took a swallow of carbolic acid by mistake. Realizing instantly his error, Mr. Andrews spat the acid out without swallowing and escaped with a badly burned mouth.
Mr. Andrews rose in the early dawn to take some cough medicine. Thinking that he knew where the medicine was, he took a bottle and, placing it to his lips, took a mouthful. He realized instantly that he had taken carbolic acid and saved himself from swallowing it.
A physician was called, who checked the pain to a considerable extent. Mr. Andrews' mouth is badly burned by the acid, but no other bad results obtained.
Medford Mail Tribune, November 21, 1910, page 1
COLONISTS FOR MEDFORD
Real Estate Man Leaves for Portland to Influence Newcomers.
MEDFORD, Or., March 28.--(Special.)--With the official endorsement of the Medford Commercial Club and the local realty association, Ed M. Andrews, a local real estate man, left tonight for Portland, where he will open offices and endeavor to interest more of the arriving colonists in the Rogue River Valley.
This move was decided upon today at a meeting of the real estate men in the city, who are anxious to see more of the colonists reach this city. To date but a very small number have arrived here despite the fact that nearly 25,000 have reached the state.
Morning Oregonian, Portland, March 29, 1911, page 19
Colonists "Misinformed" on the Conditions by Colonist Agent Ed Andrews,
Is Claim Made in Capital City.
SALEM, Or., April 11.--A communication was read to the members of the Salem board of trade last night from Earle Race, Salem representative, who is to meet the colonists who come to Portland, in which Ed Andrews, a representative of the Medford board of trade, is accused of misrepresenting the Willamette Valley by informing eastern visitors that land in the Rogue River Valley is much more productive than that in the Willamette Valley, and that Willamette Valley farms were never so valuable as those located in southern Oregon. Secretary Hofer of the local board of trade has addressed a letter to the Medford board informing that body of its representative's action, and calling the Medford boosters' attention to the fact that an agreement had been made at the Oregon Development League to the effect there was to be no misrepresentation between locations in this state.
Excerpt, Medford Mail Tribune, April 14, 1911, page 1
Replies to Salem.
To the Editor: I regret to note in Friday evening's Mail Tribune that I stand in disfavor with one of Salem's boosters. I met the gentleman in question while I was in Portland recently as the representative of the Rogue River Valley, and tried to extend to him such brotherly love as one booster should have for another. And I regret to learn that I have sailed into the icy north of Salem's affections. I realize that Medford should maintain the closest friendly relations with that portion of the Willamette Valley noted for whiskers and rolled barley. They have been of so much assistance to us when we wanted a road to Crater Lake that we should not now make them feel the sting of ingratitude. They advertise in their booklet "The district from which the famous Comice pear is shipped, that brings $7.50 on the New York market." We should be careful in offending a famous pear district like Salem, and I very much regret ever having dropped an idle word about the pear culture in our valley. We should stand uncovered before our superiors, and speak only when Salem nods consent.
The writer does not remember of ever having said one word in disparagement of any legitimate claims made by Salem's booster, or by representatives of any other part of the Willamette Valley. I may have in an unguarded moment mentioned the excellent pears we raise in the Rogue River Valley, for which I am willing to apologize, if Salem really insists upon it.
Medford Mail Tribune, April 16, 1911, page 4
C. E. Wise of Mankato, Minn., editor of the Mankato Review, is in Medford for a visit with relatives. He is a brother-in-law of Ed Andrews and John M. Root.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, August 19, 1911, page 2
Mrs. Ed Andrews, who has had a severe attack of la grippe and has been confined to her bed for some time, will be able to resume her lessons next week.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, July 13, 1912, page 2
LOCAL TALENT SCORES SUCCESS IN THE MIKADO
The performance of "Mikado" last night given by local talent was in every way a splendid success. Local talent in Medford means very much more than in any other town in the state of Oregon, for when it comes to producing opera, Medford has a real opera company, and people who attend these entertainments given by local talent need not feel that they are giving anything to charity when they buy their tickets. While the receipts of those entertainments go to make a happy Christmas for some who are not financially able to do for the little ones what they would like to, and while this cause within itself would be worthy of patronage, it should be remembered that the performance itself is in a class with the few first-class operatic performances that Medford has the good fortune to see.MRS. ED. M. ANDREWS, SINGER AND TEACHER
The "Mikado" of last night is in a class with the "Chocolate Soldier" and "The Merry Widow," and neither of these operas has a better comedian in their cast than Art Burgess.
The writer of this article has played the leading comedy part in the "Mikado" more than twelve hundred times, and yet the opera of last night contained a freshness and spontaneity of wit that made it as enjoyable as any entertainment that he has witnessed in years.
Frank Burgess is a splendid Pooh Bah. He is suited to the part both in voice and appearance, and has a keen conception of the dignified man of all offices.
Judge Withington has rubbed against the grease paint so long that he can hardly be classed with amateurs. His performance of Mikado was fully up to the best professional rendition of that part.
Bob Burgess made a fine-looking Nanki Poo and acted the part with grace and dignity.
Quisenberry is good anywhere you put him, from a cigar counter to a second comedian in comic opera.
Beveridge made an active Neeban. It is a big thinking part, and Beveridge thought so hard in the role that the veins stood out all over his forehead.
The three little Maids were splendid. Mrs. Andrews sang and acted the part of Yum Yum in a thoroughly artistic manner. Peep Bo and Pitti Sing were played by Mrs. Edna Isaacs and Mrs. Enid Creely, and they are just as pretty and charming as they used to be when we knew them as Edna Eifert and Enid Hamilton.
Mrs. Art Burgess was very good as Katisha. She is a lady of experience and showed it in last night's performance.
One more word for Koko, for he was the big laugh. Art Burgess really possesses a keen sense of humor, and it is worth anybody's dollar to see him in the part of Koko.
The orchestra was directed by George Andrews, a role somewhat new to him, although he did his work in a thoroughly satisfactory manner.
The chorus was unusually good. The girls are all pretty, and all of them possess voices. The whole ensemble made a very pretty picture. The orchestra was also fully up to the requirements of the score.
Come out tonight and help the good cause along and have a laugh that will make the recent fogs look to you like a clear sky.
The costumes and scenery were furnished by George T. Wilson.
Koko . . . A. C. Burgess
Pooh Bah . . . F. O. Burgess
Pish Tush . . . W. F. Quisenberry
Nanki Poo . . . R. O. Burgess
The Mikado . . . Holbrook Withington
Neeban . . . W. T. Beveridge
Yum Yum . . . Mrs. E. M. Andrews
Peep Bo . . . Mrs. Edna Isaacs
Pitti Sing . . . Mrs. Enid Creely
Katisha . . . Mrs. A. C. Burgess
Japanese School Maids: Misses Lota Burgess,Olah Chaffee, Anna Coffin, Inez Coffin, Ivy Coffin, Maria Eifert, Hazel Enyart, Lois Estes, Ione Flynn, Katherine Murphy, Orbie Natwick, Stella Quisenberry, Maude Ragsdale, Blanche Wood, Clara Wood.
Japanese Noblemen: Ralph Burgess, Con H. Cady, Grover Corum, C. W. Glasgow, Lawrence Gregory, Albert Lawrence, Wilson Waite.
Medford Mail Tribune, December 13, 1912, page 6
Mrs. Ed. M. Andrews, who is at the head of the voice department of the Medford Conservatory of Music, has done much for music in Medford and southern Oregon. She is a lady of wide experience both as a singer and teacher. Having been prima-donna soprano with the Andrews Opera Company for many years, she was trained in a large repertoire of grand and comic operas under the direction of the late Wm. Courtney, of New York, one of the foremost masters of his time. The best recommendation of Mrs. Andrews as a teacher is to hear her pupils sing. She has many young students in Medford and vicinity that show more than ordinary promise.OPEN STUDIO FOR VOICE CULTURE
Medford Mail Tribune, January 1, 1913, page 7
Edward Andrews, the Medford theatre man, spent yesterday in Roseburg enjoying the Wild West exhibition at the fairgrounds. Mr. Andrews formerly spent a considerable time in Roseburg when he was associated with J. W. Perkins in coal experiments in Camas Valley.
"City News," The Evening News, Roseburg, May 24, 1913, page 3
Edward Andrews, the Medford theatre magnate, returned home last evening after a few days spent in Roseburg and vicinity. Mr. Andrews took occasion to look over the plans for the new Elks theatre during his stay in Roseburg, as he did the plans for the club rooms. Speaking to a News representative yesterday Mr. Andrews said Roseburg's new theatre would be among the finest in the state, and would be sufficiently well equipped to accommodate the largest and best theatrical companies traveling this section of the state. The stage will be standard, according to Mr. Andrews, and will handle the scenery carried by the average show troupes. It is Mr. Andrews' opinion that the new playhouse will prove a dividend payer, and will fill a long-felt want in this city.
"City News," Umpqua Valley News, Roseburg, May 26, 1913, page 7
MEDFORD TO HEAR OPERAS
Tour of Arizona Planned and Oregon Town Gets Finale.
MEDFORD, Or., March 7.--(Special.)--Medford is to have a real opera company in a few days.
Mr. and Mrs. A. C. Burgess, Ralph Burgess, Mrs. Charles Hazelrigg, Mr. and Mrs. W. E. Quisenberry, Robert Burgess, Frank Burgess and other former members of the Andrews Opera Company, which settled here several years ago, have formed the Boston Ideal Opera Company and already have arranged for performances in various parts of Arizona.
"Fra Diavolo," "Chimes of Normandy" and other old-time operas of the more popular type will be presented. The company will make the trip back to Medford, playing on the way, and give a final performance here.
Sunday Oregonian, March 8, 1914, page 9
MEDFORD OPERA SINGERS MAKE HIT AT PHOENIX, ARIZ.
To the Editor:
Thinking perhaps the relatives and friends of Medford's opera company might like to know what we are doing here, I am enclosing a notice from tonight's Gazette. It's legitimate--no "box-office write-up."
So far our reception has been all we could ask for, and business is immense. Of course, one swallow don't make a summer, and one week's business doesn't necessarily mean a long engagement. But things do look as if we could be here quite some time.
With regards, yours,
CHAS. D. HAZELRIGG.
(From the Phoenix Gazette.)
Did'st ever, gentle reader, open an old envelope and find therein a bunch of withered and faded violets whose delicate perfume insistently recalled the days of auld lang syne and, perchance, a romance half forgotten, of the days of youth?
A season such as manager Reeves is giving his patrons at the Empress just now is an oasis in the thirsty desert to all lovers of opera.
Audran's good old classic, "The Mascot," or rather the first act of it, holds the boards this week, and the following act will be given commencing Monday. The production is well staged, and the people are so uniformly good that one wonders how they do it for the money.
The old writers of librettos seemed obsessed with the idea that the first scene of an opera comique must be the village maids and boys dancing on a green somewhere, garlanded and with wine cup in hand all ready to welcome the unexpected (?) hero or heroine, as the case may be, and, true to tradition, "The Mascot" opens just this way. If this time-honored custom does nothing else it gives the auditor a chance to size up the chorus, and the Boston Ideal Chorus will stand some sizing up, too. The young ladies are [as] pretty as one could wish and, best of all, they are modest and well trained. Right here may be a good place to say a word about the musical director, Charles D. Hazelrigg. He rules that chorus evidently with a rod of iron and keeps them right to the mark all the time. He knows the traditional tempos and sees to it that they are observed.
Of the principals, it being a comic opera, one may with propriety speak first of the comedians, A. C. Burgess as Lorenzo XVII and W. F. Quisenberry as Rocco. The work of these gentlemen is clean and excellent throughout. Never condescending to horseplay, they give an example of clean comedy that could not well be surpassed. They both sing acceptably and, mirabile dictu, one can understand what they sing. They slip over a modern one now and again as well as the comedy provided in the score, and Lorenzo brought down the house last night when he said, "I am no bull moose; I know when I've got enough."
Robert Burgess as Prince Frederick and F. O. Burgess as Pippo looked, acted and sang the parts, the latter being particularly good in the two duets with Bettina, on which the musical fame of the opera so largely depends.
Of the ladies, the Bettina of Miss Nellie Andrews was as good as one often sees and hears. The young lady can both sing and act, and it was noted by many in the audience last night that she evidently loves the Bettina part more than the Zerline of "Fra Diavolo."
Miss Arloine Andrews as Flametta was excellent. She has a particularly good stage presence, and her acting left nothing to be desired. She was in good voice and sings true and in tune at all times, although in this she has nothing on the rest of the company, as their tune was good throughout.
It has been said already that the chorus was just what opera comique chorus should be. They sing well, dance well and look well, and what more could one ask of any chorus than that?
Anyone who misses this series of performances is passing up a real treat and also passing up the chance of getting a dollar's worth of enjoyment at a ridiculously small price.
Medford Mail Tribune, March 31, 1914, page 6
The Andrews Opera Company is in Roseburg rehearsing some new operas. They will present "Martha" at that city under the auspices of the Elks next Monday night.
"Local and Personal," Medford Sun, April 1, 1915, page 6
The Andrews Opera Company is meeting with very gratifying success on their tour. They played to good houses in Klamath Falls and Yreka, where they have made return engagements. At Redding they were billed for one night only, but the success of "Martha" was so great on the first night that the manager of the opera house insisted on a second night's performance, and the Redding's [sic] music lovers packed the house to the doors.
Two foreseen circumstances compelled them to cancel their remaining southern engagements and make the northern tour instead. They have secured bookings through Oregon and Washington and the mountain states, which will keep them en route for several months. The Redding press gave the company the most flattering encomiums. Signor Giordano takes his audiences by storm everywhere, while Mrs. Andrews in the title role of Martha is winning the most appreciative applause, her rendition of "The Last Rose of Summer" being received by all as a most finished and artistic performance.
"Society," Medford Sun, April 4, 1915, page 5
The operatic production which was given by the Andrews Opera Company last Monday evening well deserves to be ranked among the most finished and best. When we consider that we have been given the rare opportunity of hearing one of the greatest tenors now in this country, we cannot but feel grateful to those who were instrumental in bringing an artist of such rank as Giordano to Medford. And this, by the way, reminds us of many other musical treats Mr. and Mrs. Andrews have secured for us in the past, as well as recently. To them we owe the best of what has been cultural in music impulse in our community.
Mrs. Andrews' work not only shows the careful training and experience of an extended career on the stage, but also reveals a great histrionic ability, coupled with a charm and grace rarely found in prima donnas of today.
We are, indeed, fortunate to have in our midst the little Andrews colony, for to them we have looked, and never in vain, for the generous public-spirited interest which gave us not only pleasure, but also the inspiration for the highest in musical art.
We of the Drama League, therefore, offer our appreciation of work of this quality and shall greet, with a promise of hearty welcome and effective support, any production which the Andrews family may present in the future.
"Appreciation of Andrews Family by Medford Drama League," Medford Sun, April 25, 1915, page 4
Mrs. Ed Andrews, Miss Sadie Lacey and Mr. W. Carlton Janes have opened a studio jointly in Room 1, College Block, for voice culture, musical kindergarten and violin. They have adopted the name of "The Andrews Studio." Frequent musical soirees will be held throughout the year in which the pupils will take part. Special attention will be given to ensemble work. Miss Lacey has been very successful in musical kindergarten work through the summer and will continue her classes during the winter. Mrs. Andrews and Mr. James have taught in our city for the last three years, and their work is too well known to need recommendation.
Medford Mail Tribune, September 11, 1915, page 6
Local interest attaches to the appearance of Carolyn Andrews at the Heilig in "Robin Hood" next week. Miss Andrews is an Oregonian and was reared and received her education in Medford. Her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Edward Andrews, once of the old Andrews Opera Company, still reside in Medford. Carolyn Andrews is yet in her teens and has inherited a beautiful voice and dramatic ability from a long line of theatrical and musical folk. She is one of the principals in "Robin Hood."
Leone Cass Baker, "Stars and Star Makers," Morning Oregonian, Portland, April 13, 1916, page 10
George Andrews, a well-known musical director of Medford, is reported seriously ill, having received a partial stroke of paralysis Tuesday.
"Local News," Jacksonville Post, May 10, 1919, page 3
In the morning service of the First Presbyterian Church today there will be afforded the music lovers of Medford the opportunity to hear Mrs. Adoline Andrews Scutte, the talented daughter of George Andrews, whose home is in San Francisco, where she is well known in musical circles. Mrs. Scutte has been soloist with Creatore's Band and also associated with other musical organizations, which is a tribute to her musical art. Her voice, a rich contralto, is of great power, and those who hear her Sunday will be fortunate. Mrs. Scutte is visiting her father for a time but returns to her home in the near future.
"Local and Personal," Medford Sun, July 27, 1919, page 2
ANDREWS STUDIO TO BE REOPENED
Mrs. Hazelrigg is well known and esteemed here, and the announcement that she is to open the studios will be especially well received by the many who remember her appearances in opera here and by many of her old friends.
During her residence in San Francisco and Berkeley, Mrs. Hazelrigg had a studio in San Francisco and had splendid success, especially in voice placing and coaching in operatic roles and songs for public recital.
Medford Mail Tribune, April 15, 1925, page 3
For many years the dramatic world has been familiar with "The Andrews Opera Company," which played practically every city in the Middle West. Ed Andrews is still starring in musical comedy. Myrtle Andrews, one of this well-known family, is a teacher of voice and a special coach for radio work with a studio located in the Sparta Building.
"Business and Professional Women Achieve Much During the Past Year," Medford Mail Tribune, January 1, 1928, page F4
Miss Andrews, one of the outstanding coloratura sopranos of the present day, is naturally best known by reason of the Sunday evening Capitol Theatre programs, which have been heard by countless thousands of radio listeners. She also has had many notable successes on the operatic and concert stages. It has been said if a canvass of all the feminine artists on the air were made, it is doubtful if one would find a much more popular voice than that of Caroline Andrews, the "Lark" of the Capitol Family. She can boast of musical connections with such organizations as the DeKoven Opera Company, the Philadelphia Opera, the St. Louis Municipal Opera and the Student Prince Operetta. Her coloratura voice is really a delight whether heard in an ambitious operatic aria or in a simple ballad or folk song.
"Masonic Club Brings Radio Stars Here," Westfield Leader, Westfield, New Jersey, February 29, 1928, page 1
GEORGE ANDREWS FAMED IN SONG TO LAST REWARD
George Andrews died at his home on the Oak Grove Road last night about 8:30 o'clock, following a paralytic stroke Thursday. He was 69 years of age. Thirty years ago he was one of the foremost baritones on the American stage, and won high honors in the theatrical world, being one of the founders of the famous Andrews Opera Company.
He was a sweet singer and a gentle soul and a man of many friends and noble qualities.
Born at Lake Washington, Minnesota, November 29, 1859. He was the son of a Methodist minister, and of a family of ten children, all musical. Mr. Andrews was the head of the Andrews Opera Company up to the time he located here in Medford in 1910.
Since locating in the valley he was interested in the orchard business and resided for a long time at the Bennett orchard on North Pacific Highway, owned by his brother, later purchasing the home and orchard in the Oak Grove district.
Mr. Andrews was married twice and leaves a daughter by his first marriage, Mrs. Arlone Scutti of Chicago, Ill. October eighth 1908 he was married to Ella Stewart at Baldwin, Miss., and to them two sons were born, Charles Darwin, who died in 1912, and today is survived by his wife and one son, George Edward, aged 12 years. He also leaves two brothers, Dr. J. W. Andrews, Mankato, Minn., and Edward Andrews, New York City; also three sisters, Mrs. Mary Stone and Mrs. Florence Clayton, St. Paul, and Mrs. Alice Parker, New York City.
The funeral services will be announced later. Funeral arrangements in charge of the Perl Funeral Home.
Medford Mail Tribune, February 24, 1929, page 8\
An Appreciation of George AndrewsTen years is a long period to be ill at one's country home, separated, for much of that time, from active participation in the life of the community. In a commercial age, an industrial age, an age when the value of an idea is weighed with reference to the reaction of the commonwealth, the service rendered the cause of music and general culture by our beloved friend and neighbor, George Andrews, is outstanding.
Born at Lake Washington, Minnesota in 1859, Mr. Andrews was one of a family of ten children, all of whom possessed musical talent of a high order. Educated in the public schools at the University of Ann Arbor, Michigan and under the best private teachers in America, he was for many years the head of the nationally known Andrews Opera Co. and toured the United States, appearing in practically every state in the Union. While directing his own company he had many invitations to leave the road and join the great metropolitan organizations.
Since coming to the Rogue River Valley in 1910, Mr. Andrews was very closely identified with the musical and cultural life of the community as well as with his business and horticultural interests. He and his wife opened studios in Medford for teaching the art of singing, and associated with them were those also interested in that line of work, and it was from these studios that his greatest influence emanated. No sincere young musician ever left his presence without a word of encouragement and inspiration. His rooms, both in the Sparta Building and in the St. Mark's Building, were a gathering place for friends and pupils where took place open discussions of books, literature, philosophy, economics and current events as well as music. Here daily were gathered leaders of thought, while visitors were often dropping in for a word of greeting and to say they had heard him in such a year in Texas, Florida or Montana singing the "Toreadore," "Mother o' Mine," "Nearer My God to Thee."
Promptness in keeping all appointments, important or trivial, was to him one of the greatest virtues.
The Medford Choral Society, successfully conducted for many years, was indeed a labor of love, and all who wished to sing were welcome to participate in the study of the greatest choral music. No less important was his musical activity in various churches, where no music except the best was ever heard under his baton.
Because of climatic and other attractive conditions, many musical people, former associates, were located in the valley, and by having an easily assembled local chorus of 50 or 100 voices it was possible to put on many light operas and to stage out-of-door pageants. He could go out on our beautiful encircling foothill orchards and pick up "Martha," "Arline," "Devils Hoof" or "Escamillo," and by the time the chorus was ready and the details of staging and costuming were attended to an opera of professional merit could be presented. College men of pronounced versatility were available for an elaborate extravaganza. Talent came to him like steel filings to a magnet.
Associated with him were the Burgess family, father, son and grandsons, the Hazelriggs, the Browns, Frank Walters, his brother Ed. Andrews, all local residents at that time, also Henri Gunson and Salvatore Giordano. When because of difficulty in scenery and staging the entire opera such as "Rigoletto" or "Lucia" could not be given, then he used the "Quartette," the "Sextette" and the solos or possibly one act.
Among the many musical attractions he brought to the valley were the United States Marine Band, Paderewski, Galli Curel, the Damroch operetta, and when Geo. Hunt brought the Minneapolis Symphony and Fletcher Fish brought Nordien, Gadsky and Schumann-Heink he gave his interest and support as a community service.
None but those most intimately associated with George Andrews knew his love for children, home, family life; his appreciation of great literature, his patience under pain and disappointment and his ability to be a friend. The page is turned over but [the] book is not closed.
HATTIE GOREMedford Mail Tribune, March 3, 1929, page 6
Caroline Andrews can remember when, at the age of six, she one day climbed to the top of her actress mother's trunk, and suddenly startled all of the members of the Andrews Opera Company, owned by her father, by singing, along with the star out front, the jewel song from "Faust."
The star, who was her mother, heard this unasked-for accompaniment quite clearly, and so did the audience. But no harm was done, because by that time the townsfolk where the Andrews were playing, in traveling repertoire engagements, had become quite as fond of Andrews' little daughter as they long had of her parents, yearly recalled to the same engagements throughout the Middle West and the South.
Caroline's family fostered love and understanding of operatic music, stood for the highest renditions of such music, and themselves played and sang such music to the country-folk who could not come to New York to hear it. They loved their work, and they prospered in it. And yet, strangely, just as soon as Caroline began to show talent for singing and keen interest in a career similar to their own, her parents all but frantically "folded their tents like the Arabs" and silently retired to a fruit ranch in Oregon, never again to tour the country nor to entertain for their daughter in the atmosphere that had created her own longing for an operatic career.
Caroline says, "Father and Mother just did not want me to go through the hardships that had been theirs in rising to the pinnacle of their success. Besides, they had made much money, for traveling stage folk, and they wanted to retire and rear me in an environment befitting a young lady daughter who "did not need to work for a living."
"A foolish notion, as they now agree, since, being their daughter, I could not be happy unless I were busy all the time. And being busy means engaged in the two things they both loved best, music, operatic study and singing, and for avocation, horticulture and growing prize-winning fruit--pears preferred!
"And, so, today that's just what I am engaged in--while Mother and Father are content to watch the pears and work the restful ranch, while I carry on their former operatic work in a new field.
"Incidentally, this new field, radio, is devoid of every one of those hardships of professional life that caused my parents to fear my entrance upon it. And, also, incidentally, when old friends of the Andrews Opera Company look askance at my desertion of the operatic stage and all but say to me that I have sold my birthright for a microphone, I promptly answer them, "but what a wonderful thing is that microphone."
"Most artists are in radio to make a living. Of course I, too, make a living from it, but I am in it for more than that--its lure for me is that I cannot yet conceive of its being quite real, and cannot be anything else but awed by its great possibilities for bringing a musical education as thorough as it is unique into the homes of the many in this nation who could not otherwise enjoy music's broad and beneficial influence.
"I could never desert the radio for the stage because I know what the radio can and does do for great masses of culture-longing people. And to be permitted to perform for them through the medium of radio is, to me, at once an awe-inspiring privilege, as well as the greatest pleasure that I know anything about."
Caroline was born near Minneapolis, Minn., while her father's opera company was singing an engagement there. Her lullabies were the arias of the Italian masters. Her nursery rhymes were converted from operatic scores.
When the Andrews family folded their tents, as it were, and retired to their Oregon pear orchards to save daughter Caroline from the lure of the operatic stage, it just naturally happened that Madame Andrews, the prima donna mother, could not quite forget to practice her arias as she worked about the ranch home nor her father forget to try his voice in the open air of the orchards. And, so, wee Caroline, just as naturally--although both parents seemed unaware of it--kept right on learning at the orchard home quite as much about the opera, its arias and its music, as she might ever have learned from these same well-versed parents had they all remained members of the one-time Andrews Opera Company.
It was Caroline's favorite aunt who first awoke the Andrews to the realization that their little daughter had acquired all of the essentials of a promising operatic career, and that she had inherited a voice that should not be denied further study and a chance to express itself.
Said the aunt, who held the authority of one who long had been a vocal teacher of operatic stars yearly graduating to the stage of the grand opera:
"Why, it's a shame not to teach that child the latest and best methods of singing."
"Well, I suppose it wouldn't do any harm, if she would be satisfied with a few lessons so as just to sing for her friends, and for us--" parried her mother.
"All right, but remember, Auntie, you're not to encourage her to become a professional musician, an operatic or concert singer. Any notions of that sort and your singing lessons will stop. If you'll just teach her parlor singing, well, you can take her for a visit to New York sometime and teach her along with your other pupils, since she would be under your chaperonage and guardianship."
And so, when school was over for Caroline, a young lady who did not intend to sell her birthright for anything less than a microphone followed an indulgent, yet wise, aunt to New York. With this aunt, one of the leading vocal teachers of America, Caroline has made her home and lived a happy and successful life, only occasionally going home to the pear ranch to see what the orchard holds that may have prize-winning quality. And to be told just how proud of their opera-singing daughter mother and father Andrews now are.
Strangely, Caroline's first success came in light opera, not grand opera. And little by little, she evinced a greater interest in lighter roles. She left "Robin Hood" for the musical comedy "Sunshine," and after that came the crowning engagement of her short stage career, in which she was prima donna in "The Student Prince." Roxy, the great showman, heard her sing this role, and instantly nicknamed her "the lark." Soon as possible, he appropriated her services, and she sang at the Capitol Theatre for him, under the stage title of "The Lark," until the National Broadcasting Company talent scouts discovered her and claimed her for radio . . . then and there--and forever after (says Caroline).
Jean Campbell, "Radiographs," Radio Digest, April 1930, page 48
Story of Andrews' Career to Be Told in Tribune SerialMedford Mail Tribune, September 9, 1934, page 3
All oldtimers in Medford and Jackson County know Ed Andrews, the one surviving member of the famous Andrews Opera Company. They also remember the late George Andrews and Mrs. Andrews, who until recently was a resident of this city. Ed is now a resident of New York and has told his experiences in opera work to his close friend Charles Hyskell of Portland, Oregon.
Mr. Hyskell has written the story for the Mail Tribune, and the first installment will start Sunday, September 9, and will continue thereafter on succeeding Sundays. The Mail Tribune believes this will prove to be a very interesting feature. Readers are advised to look for the first installment this coming Sunday.
Medford Mail Tribune, September 6, 1934, page 1
The Andrews Opera Company
20 Years of Opera from a Rail Fence Circuit
Interesting History of Medford's Pioneer Musical Family in One-Night Stands
in the Middle West Many Years Ago as Told by Ed Andrews to Charles Hyskell.
I didn't come into opera through the stage door. I came through the Methodist Church. There are hymns that carry spiritual drama as profound as any music heard from the stage, and for centuries there have been great showmen in the pulpit.
I have sung Ko-Ko more than twelve hundred times in theaters and halls over the wide country between St. Paul, New Orleans, Philadelphia and Portland, Oregon, and never once was I hit with any concrete evidence in the form of farm produce. This alibi comforts an old trouper, believe it or not.
Criticism is a thing about which one ought to be reasonable. My first professional operatic performance, given at St. Peter, Minn., was attended by my preacher-farmer father, who had his opinions about the moral status of "opera," although he was passionately fond of the choir music of 1880.
I was extremely anxious to have paternal blessing on what, to a God-fearing people of that period, was a morally radical project, to say the least; and so I told Father that "Pinafore," written by Professor Sullivan, an English composer of choir music, would be high class, probably a sort of oratorio.
After the show Father took me aside and said:
"Eddie, 'Pinafore' seems to be a very beautiful oratorio with nothing immoral in it, except where Dead-Eye said 'Dam-me, that too bad!' Can't you possibly change that?"
It was my first crisis as a producer, and I hemmed and hawed a few times. Recalling Mr. Gilbert's rule in serious situations I said:
"Maybe you're right, Pa; I can make Dead-Eye say 'Darn it'!"
That was the way I gave the line so long as we were in St. Peter, and Father was perfectly satisfied with the show.
Fifty years have passed since five of a family of ten children of that preacher father started the only opera company that the Middle West ever knew as its very own. The organization in its genesis took the family name, and in the next twenty years became well known to cities and towns in two-thirds of the United States as the "Andrews Opera Company." Throughout its career I was supposed to be its comedian.
Compared with today, amusements were vastly different in the eighties. There were traveling minstrels, concert companies, bell ringers. I first saw the Ringling Brothers with a concert company and brass quartet, traveling by wagon, before they got into the circus.
Even the youth of that day were different, I might say more versatile, for by various devices they produced their own amusements.
When Lincoln was getting fairly into politics my parents were married at Clarksburg, Ill., and moved to a homestead near LeSueur, Minnesota. Both sang well, although with untrained voices.
The laws of heredity sometimes work strange apotheses. On my mother's side there was a grand-dam who fixed the features of Aragon upon every one of the ten children whom her Kentucky daughter bore to the Minnesota Scotch-Irish circuit rider.
Even to third and fourth generations they bred true to type, with the dark eyes, tawny skin, small, nervous hands and feet of the tribes of Castile. When the Andrews Opera Company began coming to town the citizenry probably muttered, "Troubadours from Spain." It may have helped business, for it was an epoch of the American transition when a foreign stamp on anything in the line of musical entertainment drew the big money.
At a risk of being pedantic I wish to fix the atmosphere out of which fifty years ago a group of young jaspers from the Minnesota wilds stepped into the opera business and made it click for nearly two decades. There was a certain inborn force of personality. My father was of a stern school, but was one of the mildly persistent sort who could say "No" gently, with a slight circumlocution that was also final. His method reminds me of Abe Lincoln's flat refusal in 1848 to loan one John D. Johnson the sum of eighty dollars. Lincoln wrote:
"Dear Johnson: Your request for eighty dollars I do not think it best to comply with now."
What could be milder, firmer? And Johnson never did get the $80.
While on the LeSueur homestead Father performed a feat that may have ultimately led to the fall from grace of his five younger cherubs born in Minnesota (the elder five had been born in Illinois). In the dead of a white winter he bought a four-octave melodeon from Monger Brothers and hauled it home in the bobsled.
His dear soul harbored the idea that this marvelous instrument would inspire and promote in the minds of his progeny a devotion such as he felt for hymn-book music. Alas and alack! The melodeon with some other relics of the Andrews Opera Company now has a corner in the Minnesota Historical Museum.
Five years later the family moved three miles east, to Lake Washington, where Father bought a farm. There must have been something in the air, perhaps the romantic beauty of this lake, for it was here the spiritual drifting began. Within a few years an Andrews concert company was actually traveling on the road, overland--by wagon. Two seasons we trouped thus, on a rail-fence circuit as far as southern Missouri and Kansas, with indifferent success.
While at home for our vacation the Leavitt Swiss Bell Ringers, mostly Irish, came along and gave a concert. They traveled with baggage in one wagon and the company of eight in a sort of bandwagon drawn by four horses; the company also playing in brass for street parades, for which both wagons were hitched together, with the six horses ahead.
I was so taken with this flourish that I joined up as a ballad singer. That season I learned the bell ringer business. We then formed the Andrews "Swiss" Bell Ringers, and followed our former itinerary. The paradox seemed to cause no resentment among the proletariat. An evening's take at the door was $35 to $100. Over $75 was a banner business.
After two season of this, we happened to hear a performance of "Pinafore" by a small company from Chicago. It was the first opera we had witnessed, and we were infatuated. Soon Fate came in the form of a small advertisement in the New York Clipper:
"Wanted--Singers for an opera company. Good amateurs may apply. Address Trelor & Spencer, 25 Clark Street, Chicago."
With our fortune of $250 concealed in a calfskin billfold George Andrews and I arrived in Chicago about 7:30 a.m. and told the Parmelee bus driver to hasten us to 25 Clark Street. The hour proved to be too early for Trelor & Spencer. We ate and waited at a nearby restaurant and at 9 o'clock found Trelor in his office. He consented to try our voices.
George sang "I Fear No Foe in Shining Armour," and I sang a comic song: "The Dustman's Wife." We were highly elated when Trelor decided that we were engaged.
(To be continued)
The Andrews Opera CompanyMedford Mail Tribune, September 16, 1934, page 5
20 Years of Opera from a Rail Fence Circuit
We learned that the opera company, mainly amateurs, was rehearsing "The Little Duke." We had rehearsed a few days when Trelor took George and me and one Allison, a baritone, into a saloon and over some beer he proceeded to have a "conference." By a species of psychic magic that every really great impresario must possess, Trelor had detected in us the close proximity of what at that time was great wealth in the show business.
He told us in confidence that his partner, Spencer, had gone to St. Louis to arrange for a theater and could not at the moment be located to supply the necessary deposits on costumes and printing for our opera. From the three of us he got about $250.
Well, the first performance of "The Little Duke" was a sorry affair. The manager needed more money, only until his partner, Spencer, could return from St. Louis. Trelor tried hard to get another loan from the troupe, but they were as short on cash as they were long on enthusiasm. In this momentous hour a rawboned young school teacher from the hill country of Kentucky made his appearance--a belated response to the New York Clipper advertisement.
After the Kentuckian had seen me act and sing a comic song he regarded me with deep respect, wide-eyed and open-mouthed. It was terrible. He had lost three upper front teeth, presumably in some sort of a Kentucky feud. I took him aside to bask a few minutes in this new but baleful glory.
"What are you going to do in the opera company, with no teeth to speak of?" I asked.
"I am to be the treasurer," he said, and confided that he had put up with Trelor a bond of $250 for his honesty!
That $250 put us on the road with "The Little Duke." Our first date was South Chicago, and from there Michigan City and LaPorte. Business was so bad that we swung north into Wisconsin, where we might have done fairly well if we had had a show. Trelor was with us and still muttering about the strange absence of his partner, Spencer. By that time we reached Beaver Dam and we knew that the alleged "Spencer" was Martin Chuzzlewit's "Mrs. Harris." There was no such person!
Garr, the tenor; Allison, the baritone; George Andrews and I held a highly important conference at Beaver Dam, and decided there was no future for the company. But nothing further came of it, except the departure of George Andrews for Minnesota. He had decided to raise money and start an opera company of our own.
We who remained held with "The Little Duke" a few days more and then went busted in Oshkosh. It was there I demonstrated my ability as a book agent. I sold the works of Shakespeare and Dickens for P. F. Collier & Sons, averaging a profit of a dollar a day for three days. After I had divided this with Garr and Allison I had not much left when I started for Minnesota. There was 50 cents in my pocket when I took the train at Oshkosh for St. Paul.
A washout held up the train at Madison. As I stood on the station platform, trying to peer into the future, a man hurried up to me and gave me his trunk check and said he wanted his trunk taken to the Lake Madison wharf. I got the platform truck, found his trunk and we wheeled it to the wharf. I charged him 25 cents, which secured a bed for the night.
On the train next morning, still following my happy destiny, but with two meals missing, I was humming a stanza from "The Little Duke" when who should enter but a motherly farm lady, followed by her daughter. And that daughter! The angelic but husky child was lugging a yellowish wicker basket, which, with rural travelers of that period, invariably spelled food. I felt hungrier the moment they took the vacant seat in front of mine.
Meditating on a possible introduction, I overheard the old lady asking the candy butcher if they had to change trains at St. Paul. It seemed sufficient and, like Othello, I spoke.
"Pardon me, Madam, but how far are you going?" I asked, trying hard to be guileless and succeeding no better than the Sheriff of Nottingham disguised as a tinker.
However, this glorious lady was too big for suspicion. She apologized for eating on the train, saying they had left the farm early. I explained that I had gotten up too late for breakfast. It was just that easy!
When we had finished the fried chicken I knew that her son had a homestead near Aberdeen, S.D., and that she was going there. I had often been at Aberdeen and was able to give her a good description of everything. When we reached St. Paul at noon she gave me her purse and asked me to get her tickets for Aberdeen.
I first explained to the station agent and he helped me to buy the tickets. When we went back to the old lady he told her to be more careful about giving her purse to strangers. She was just a bit indignant.
"Why, Mister, he's no stranger," she said, "he knows my son in Aberdeen!" Yes, people were more gullible in those days, back yonder; but they were, by and large, a shade more honest, mister, if you don't mind having the opinion of a man who took both chicken legs away from a child.
(To be continued)
The Andrews Opera CompanyMedford Mail Tribune, September 23, 1934, page 17
20 Years of Opera from a Rail Fence Circuit
When I arrived at St. Peter I found that George had landed a backer, by name of John Coleston, a young Englishman, who had a pocketful of money and a musical soul full of enthusiasm for the opera business. We at once ordered our printing at Chicago and recalled Garr and Allison, the former from Kokomo, Indiana, and the latter from Denver.
This was about 1883. Edison had invented electric lights, but the Andrews family hadn't seen one yet and the opera house at St. Peter was lighted with kerosene lamps. Gilbert and Sullivan had written in rapid succession the English light operas "Trial by Jury," "The Sorcerer," "Pinafore," "Pirates of Penzance," and "Patience." As there was no American copyright, early producers on this side were quick to seize these operas.
In the farmhouse parlor, surrounding the fateful melodeon, now a bit wheezy in the bellows after 16 years of pedaling, we tackled "Pinafore" with a vim that drove the Rev. John Reddin Andrews almost to desperation. The only interruption he was able to enforce was for nightly family prayers when he asserted his authority. And compelled Sir Joseph Porter and the entire Queen's nav-ee to kneel a few minutes on the oaken floor.
We imported a professional tenor and as a final precaution we sent our baritone, my brother George, to Minneapolis to hear "Girofle-Girofla," a French light opera that the Bostonians were singing there on their first western tour. We already had the score.
With a chorus of local talent our first public operatic performance of it was given at the St. Peter opera house. It proved to be a wow, and the Andrews Opera Company with repertoire including "Pinafore," "Doctor of Alcantra" and "Chimes of Normandy" was launched on a career that was to run through a quarter of a century replete with adventure, triumphs, failures, joys and griefs. This first cast included John Garr, tenor; myself and Fred Clayton, comedians; George Andrews and Jack Allison, baritones; Laura Andrews and Hattie Robb, sopranos; Florence Andrews, contralto; Will Andrews, basso. Alice Andrews, now a voice teacher in New York, played the piano accompaniment for a violinist. Frank Rhodes was business manager and Lucian Wakefield went in advance.
Artistically we were good enough from the start, but we made the mistake of playing too many small towns. Church people in general had not yet approved of opera. We would take in $80 to $200 a night--oftener $80.
The present network of railways west of Chicago did not then exist. There was Salisbury's Troubadours and there was Rosina Vokes. She was singing in burlettas, and her big hit was "You Should See Me Dance the Polka." The preachers were still denouncing the Black Crook and Lydia Thompson's English Blondes. "Baby Mine" was a popular song. Imry and Bolossy Kiralfy had just brought out the spectacular ballet "Enchantment," but only the larger cities saw it in the West. Pat Rooney and Dion Boucicault were among the most popular idols. Richard Mansfield had made only his first stage appearance, playing a comedy part in "Black Mantles"; petite Emma Abbott was already singing the first light opera of Gilbert and Sullivan.
The big guns in the opera business were the lawyer-impresario Colonel McCaull and J. C. Duff, and later Edward Rice, who couldn't read music but composed "Evangeline" on a piano "by ear." It was in "Evangeline" that the rising young actor Henry E. Dixey was accused of playing the hind legs of the pet heifer, which he publicly and fiercely denied, but afterward admitted that he played the front legs.
At that time Fay Templeton was a 16-year-old operatic star and Harry B. Smith was clerking for a Chicago publisher of Sunday school tracts and writing secretly on the side his first opera, entitled "Rosita, or Cupid and Cupidity," for which John Templeton paid his five dollars cash. Gilbert, in London, surpassed this figure by a few dollars with his first play, "Dulcamara; or the Little Duck and the Great Quack," a burlesque of Donnizetti's "Elisir d'Amore," for which the St. James Music Hall in 1866 paid him thirty pounds--twelve years before he wrote "Pinafore."
But Gilbert, who wrote 47 years for the stage, fell far behind Harry Smith's record of 300 librettos within a period from 1884 to 1915. Perhaps Gilbert's most bizarre title was "Robert, the Devil; or the Nun, the Dun and the Son of a Gun," a Gaiety Theater burlesque the year before he first met Arthur Sullivan.
The Chicago Church Choir in 1883 had taken to the road singing "Patience" and some other Gilbert and Sullivan pieces, playing as far west as Texas, where some of their audiences wearing sidearms had forced entrance to the show without paying admission. But the idea of purveying opera to Main Streeters of the frontier appealed to the Andrews family and we started our company west and south. Pioneering was no new thing in our young lives. It was not until 1885 that Roland Reed, McVickers Theater comedian at Chicago, was to play Ko-Ko in the first American production of "The Mikado" and inspire me with a love of the comedy role that I was thereafter to play so many times with singular success.
(To be continued)
The Andrews Opera CompanyMedford Mail Tribune, September 30, 1934, page 5
20 Years of Opera from a Rail Fence Circuit
Traveling overland from Minnesota to Texas, we became expert horse traders. There were some pretty bad roads, and frequently a horse went lame. But the company must meet its dates, and there could be no waiting for a lame horse to mend. So thought a sympathetic David Harum at Sucker Creek, Kansas, who sacrificed to us a handsome gelding in exchange for our good Dobbin with a stone bruise. Mr. Harum said we were just like home folks to him.
Next morning the opera company's conveyances lined up in front of the tavern for departure to the next town, and in the street here was a grinning audience larger than we had drawn to the town hall on the preceding evening. Struck by their friendliness, I paused on the front porch to address a few words to them in parting: "My dear friends, we are grateful for your generous support of the higher things in art," I said, "and we hope to see you all again, especially the good Samaritan who helped us with yonder fine gelding. We certainly appreciate it."
The landlord snickered aloud. "That hoss? Mister, that hoss," he said, "wouldn't pull the hat off of your head!"
Without a word I walked out to the bandwagon and observed the gelding more closely. There was a glare in its eyes. One of its front hooves was pawing the dirt. I began to suspect the true reason for the large audience of the cheerful citizenry.
With a sinking in my chest, I climbed to my seat by the band leader. "If we've been rammed and sunk by this obscure horse trader we may as well go down playing some good music," I said sotto voce. "Give 'em the March from Faust."
It was zipping good music, and the band on this morning played it well. While we played the driver chirruped to the four-horse team. The balky horse fidgeted a moment, then suddenly threw himself into the collar and away we went. We left a bitterly disappointed audience. A mile ahead the road lay across a long stretch of deep sand.
"Here is where we spend the day," the driver said, as the horses slowed down to a hard pull. The Hunting Chorus from "Martha" again averted disaster. The balky horse went on, and on. Within a week it was cured.
From that time we never missed trading for a balky horse, if it were the better horse. We had learned the important fact that most balky horses are only victims of "nerves" and nearly always can be lifted out of the mood by inspiring music.
All we gained in that first operatic tour was experience. There was no cash profit. We concluded there was no money in the opera business, and on arrival home we disbanded and packed our stuff away.
But this was not the first sinking of "His Majesty's Ship Pinafore, or The Lass That Loved a Sailor." It narrowly escaped oblivion in its very first week, away back in 1878, when the total receipts on its second night were less than $60. The London Savoy Company consented to a reduction of 35 percent of salary, including the chorus, which was getting only $6 a week. Sullivan got a job directing a series of concerts at Covent Garden, and on the programs of these he advertised the opera at the Savoy. Business at the Savoy picked up and saved the show.
All of which illustrates the eternal fickleness of the theater and the changing public's viewpoint. In a recent reminiscence by the aged actress Miss Mabel Jay, of London, who played the original Plaintiff in "Trial by Jury," she related that on learning that she would have to produce a pair of silk stockings in the courtroom scene, she was deeply shocked. She protested, and Gilbert allowed her to omit that part of the scene. Fancy a city audience today shocked at beholding an actress pulling a pair of silk stockings from her reticule! But they were dealing then with the Victorian era; and there you have it: The atmosphere that inseparably permeates the Gilbert and Sullivan operas.
Of Gilbert and Sullivan there have been printed volumes of memorabilia. Isaac Goldberg, who wrote one of the most extensive, ranked Gilbert and Sullivan as "the greatest theatrical institution of Great Britain since Shakespeare."
Inasmuch as I played for so many years in their pieces, I have often been asked as to the relative merits of the operas. In the 21 years of their collaboration they produced 13 pieces: "Trial by Jury," "The Sorcerer," "Pinafore," "Pirates of Penzance," "Patience," "Iolanthe," "Princess Ida," "The Mikado," "Ruddigore," "Yeomen of the Guard," "The Gondoliers," "Utopia Limited" and "The Grand Duke," in the order here given. Their masterpiece was, of course, "The Mikado," for various reasons: first, because its humor was not English but universal. Also, it made the most money. "The Mikado" was banned from England in 1907 by the Lord Chamberlain to avoid giving offense to Prince Fushimi on a visit to London. The ban was removed the next year.
D'Oyly Carte, business manager, who with Gilbert and Sullivan comprised the firm at the Savoy Theater throughout its career, died in 1907, leaving an estate of nearly a million dollars, four times the estate left by Sullivan and double that left by Gilbert.
Sullivan died in his bed, after years of suffering through which he had composed all his operas. Gilbert died in the water, while trying to rescue a young woman drowning in a lake on his estate. They were never really close friends and were more or less openly at loggerheads through the last fifteen years of their association.
(To be continued)
March 29, 1890 Elkhart, Indiana Daily Review
The Andrews Opera CompanyMedford Mail Tribune, October 7, 1934, page 7
20 Years of Opera from a Rail Fence Circuit
In every man's life comes, from time to time, an interval when he seems to face a crisis. One of these appeared to the Andrews opera family when it closed its season late in 1884. Our career as an opera company was apparently at an end.
I had married a musician, Irene White, and we settled at Mankato, Minn., where George Andrews and I became managers of the Mankato theater and booked traveling companies, among them the Fay Templeton Opera Company, the Abbie Carrington Opera Company and others. The Carrington company gave scenes from grand operas. My wife, who had just recovered from an attack of typhoid, attended the Carrington performance against the advice of her physician. A relapse followed and she survived only two days. She was buried in the St. Peter cemetery, beside my mother.
When spring came we gave up the theater and became agents of Dyer Brothers, of St. Paul, to sell their pianos. They located me at Delano, where I organized a choral society. Out of this crew grew the germ of an idea, new at the time, which ultimately put us back into the opera business permanently. We gave a concert that fall, assisted by two Minneapolis women, Constance Hein, a pianist, and Harriet Robb, a soprano. Constance Hein was blind. Yet she afterward went to Germany and became the favorite pianist of the Empress Dowager, mother of Kaiser Wilhelm II.
Johnny Rohan, a local editor, and I were sponsoring the choral society's concert, and we had guaranteed the salaries of the professional performers. We didn't want to lose money and so we went around and induced the townspeople to sign up in advance for tickets. The result was that we had a packed house and made some profit.
Thinking over this plan later, I asked myself if such a system would work for an opera company on the road.
It would, and did.
Here and there are newspaper men with the urge for a higher expression in art. In that day they didn't have typewriters and a mere lead pencil was more in the nature of hard labor. John MacIntyre, an able reporter on a daily paper, published by Alden J. Blethen in Minneapolis, had the opera bee, and he put it on us with a lease on the Pence Opera House.
With Mac's assistance we organized a real opera company, headed by Marie Roe, soprano, and Henri Laurent, tenor; a second comedian, by name Charlie Gilbert; Fanny McIntyre, a character woman, and others, all from Chicago. Billy Matchet was our musical director and a very good one. We picked up a good chorus from Chicago and Minneapolis. This was the first time we had a regular orchestra--nine pieces, the director playing piano. We played Minneapolis five weeks and sent Lucien Wakefield out on the road making dates and listing advance sales. Then we moved over to St. Paul for another successful run. We charged 75, 50 and 25 cents admission and took in an average of $1000 and upwards a week right from the start over the states of the upper Mississippi Valley, playing "Pinafore," "Chimes of Normandy" and some of the older standard operas. It was at this time that we abandoned horses and took to the railroads.
Marie Roe, a good singer and actress, had got her experience with the Holman Opera Company of Canada. Among others that Mrs. Holman put into the business were Perogini, whose real name was John Chatterton, at one time husband of Lillian Russell, and Roland Reed, long a popular comedian throughout the West. Miss Roe was with our company six or seven years and retired from the stage when she married an insurance man at Des Moines, Iowa. Some years afterward we played Des Moines. Our prima donna was ill and unable to sing in "Maritana." I went out to the farm to see Marie and found her wearing a pair of rubber boots in a rain-soaked chicken yard, surrounded by sunflowers in full bearing.
"You are certainly doing a big bit here in 'Patience,' but you're booked this evening for the star part in 'Maritana'," I said to Marie. She went into the city with me and sang the part very beautifully that night.
Henri Laurent was an important person in the history of the Andrews Opera Company. He had been a tenor in the Paris Opera Comique, and came to this country first with Mme. Sauldine, who was the first prima donna to popularize French light opera here. Laurent was a finished opera singer, and I have never seen a greater interpreter of the French operas. When he joined us he was a bit too mature and gray around the temples for Broadway roles.
He taught George Andrews and me how to act and stage the French light operas, and more than anything else he taught us phrasing, in which he was a consummate artist. He avoided directing us in the Gilbert and Sullivan operas and was quick to see that Gilbert could not be tampered with.
"Gilbert's idea of comedy is always to play the role as if you were in a peck of trouble," he said. And that is the basis on which I worked with it throughout my career.
After closing our season in St. Paul in 1884 we took our profits and fitted out an elaborate "Mikado" production. To this company we added some members of the Andrews family, notably Florence, who became the outstanding Katisha in this opera. Alice Andrews Clayton became musical director. Fred Clayton understudied Ko-Ko with me, later becoming a fine all-round comedian. I have never seen his equal as Farmer Rocco in "Mascot" and Brother Pelican in "Falka."
Laurent's work with us being concluded, he accepted a place as stage manager with an eastern company. Charlie Gilbert became our stage manager--and a good one, too.
In that season our leading tenor was Charlie Dennis. Through a music teacher's introduction while we were playing at Sioux City, a young lady came to sing for me, and her voice was so good that I engaged her for chorus work. Soon she was singing small parts. She developed so rapidly, both as singer and actress, that before the season ended she was our prima donna. This young lady was Nan Wilkinson, who a year later became my wife, and ultimately lost her life in a railroad wreck.
In our repertoire at that time was "Girofle-Girofla," composed by a Frenchman, Charles Lecocq, text by Vanloo and Leterrier, first produced in Brussels in 1874, and the next year at the Park Theater, New York. In this country it was almost the first important production involving the comic portrayal of drunkenness on the stage. We had to soft-pedal the revelry to avoid a walkout by our esteemed temperance customers, who formed a considerable element that always patronized the Andrews Opera Company because of its known Methodist origin.
Nan Wilkinson's exceptional voice and her vivacious artistry as an actress were always depended on to put over the difficult role of Girofle, a daughter of the grandee, Don Bolero Alcaranzas.
He has betrothed Girofle to Marasquin, a banker, who loaned him a lot of money; and Girofla to a pirate, Mourzouk, who has long been coolly levying tribute on the Don. Mourzouk was an original grafter who would rival present-day racketeers.
On the wedding day Girofle marries the banker, but Girofla is abducted by rival pirates and when Mourzouk arrives to find no bride he is in a terrible rage. In the Don's desperation Girofle, the twin, is introduced as Girofla to Mourzouk and her extra wedding is set for the next day.
The wedding festivities in the second act became a spree in which even the double bride became tipsy. Drunkenness as comedy material has always been of questionable utility, and to be really effective has to be tempered with art to the nth degree. But when the entire cast goes whiffed the job becomes a near-tragedy for any self-respecting stage manager.
(To be continued)
December 27, 1891 Duluth News-Tribune
The Andrews Opera CompanyMedford Mail Tribune, October 14, 1934, page 4
20 Years of Opera from a Rail Fence Circuit
Forces, often unseen and but little reckoned with, move men from place to place. By some chance that I cannot explain, our company never went east farther than Philadelphia. And so, we never played in New York state. In the early days there were companies that made reputations and fortunes but never appeared in New York City. When Emma Abbott died her fortune was close to the million mark. The Bostonians did not appear in New York City until they were compelled to do so with "Robin Hood" under a contract with DeKoven. Other producers that met with great success on the road were Grau, Baker, Andrews, DeShon and Aborn.
Of the actors, young Ezra Kendall had acquired literally millions of rooters in the West before he came, a middle-aged man, to New York. And Harry Beresford, too, who succeeded to Roland Reed's place in comedy. Occasionally I met Harry on tour in the three decades that he trouped, much of the time under John Coleman's or Henry Savage's direction.
Thirty-five years ago our professional paths crossed at Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Already he was playing elderly leads. He had come upon a little book entitled "Papa Bouchard," written by Molly Elliott Seawell, at that period one of America's popular authors. Harry was carried away by this French story of a quaint old Paris lawyer, and was bent on crashing New York's Broadway with it, but his quandary was that Miss Seawell's dramatization of it had been read and found impossible.
I told him that I knew at Burlington, only a few hours' ride from Cedar Rapids, a young dramatic writer who could do a creditable job of it and gave him a letter of introduction. He sent Arkmiller, his road manager, to Burlington that night, with the book. Six weeks later the new dramatization, accepted by Beresford, was in the hands of Mr. Coleman, who sent at once to Washington to bargain with Miss Seawell for the dramatic rights.
But the lady insisted on production of her own version of the play or nothing, and she stood pat. "Papa Bouchard" has never been produced. It was not until 1934 that Beresford reached Broadway in "Shavings" and "The Old Soak." Writing to me he said:
"Strange it is that for thirty years I've been doing better work on the road, and only now Broadway has discovered me." Yes, after the spoken drama had failed. In Hollywood, where he now does some rare bits in pictures, they will probably discover his genius . . . after the show is closed.
Our second "Mikado" tour took us as far east as Cleveland, west to Garden City, Kansas, and south to New Orleans. On our way north we played at Keokuk, Iowa, and there saw a pretentious private car that seemed to us the ne plus ultra of style in trouping. It stood on a sidetrack and was surrounded by a milling crowd. Inside was a gentleman known to the early medicine industry as "Diamond Dick." This car, I have always believed, turned our heads a little to one side and led us away from the true path of the pioneer.
Diamond Dick was one of the Old Masters in the show business. Like Mr. Barnum, he had an uncanny understanding of the plain people of an era before the term "psychic" came into common usage. He had fixed up an office in one end of the car and next to it a little dark room with a peephole through which he could both see and hear what took place in the reception room, where the patients were received and questioned by his assistant.
When the patient had disgorged all of the facts necessary for a scenario, Dick proceeded to put on the play. Usually he entered quietly at the front door and, without preliminaries, he would describe in detail the patient's troubles, whether bronchial, cranial, pedal, abdominal, or whatnot, and thereupon dispense his wonder potion at the reasonable price of one dollar per bottle. He wasted neither time nor effort, and he made a great deal of money. In his particular line, Dick, like Harry Wilson's Mr. Sooner Jackson, was the "superb gazookus."
But he had a fatal weakness. He would go on spending sprees. On the installment plan he had bought the car from a wealthy widow, Mrs. Tuch, and found himself broke so much of the time that he was unable to pay the installments. The result was that the widow took the car away from him and sold it to us for spot cash.
It is probable the Andrews Opera Company was the first on record to take its organization in a private car and go for an entire vacation at the northern lakes. We spent the next three months fishing and dawdling at lake resorts in northern Michigan, occasionally singing an opera, by invitation, at some of the small towns where they tendered us an auditorium and a profitable audience.
From the middle eighties, for about twenty years there was an era when "summer seasons of light opera" were popular and profitable. Today this field, as indeed all the opera stage, is singularly deserted. I can see no good reason for it, except that the radio is just sufficient to take the edge off of public desire to hear and witness operatic productions. The old-time and potent pleasure felt in the spectacular side of it has been lost sight of. There is not in the show business of today that intangible but indescribably pleasant theatrical atmosphere that was present with audiences in the old-time theater; an atmosphere that is unknown to the newer generations of moving picture audiences.
As for open-air summer opera, the parks have multiplied, the weather remains about the same, the stars are as beautiful, the charm of night-time is as potent as ever, the automobile has made transportation easy, but the public manifests desire mainly for road houses or movies. Perhaps it is because strongly organized and talented opera organizations no longer come to offer their wares.
(To be continued)
The Andrews Opera CompanyMedford Mail Tribune, October 21, 1934, page 5
20 Years of Opera from a Rail Fence Circuit
Well-produced light opera still possesses a powerful charm in its combination of music, spectacle, comedy and action, and it will ultimately get a new hold upon the public in America. But with present competition, it can be done only with highly competent organizations of singers and actors, at low salaries and the low admission prices that have always prevailed in European cities for the high-class standard operas of the "Fra Diavolo" type.
This opera, long one of our standbys, has survived more than a hundred years. Its humor and romance are laid on lines so sound that it remains today an effective work. Its musical score was so good that it made Daniel Francois Esprit Dauber's permanent reputation when produced first at the Paris Opera Comique in 1880. It was especially useful to us because the baritone lead was particularly suited to the personality of my brother George, and he sang it with marked success in hundreds of performances we gave throughout our career.
The book was by Scribe, who adapted it from Le Sueur's opera "La Caverne," and produced it in Paris in 1808 and in Vienna in 1822 under the title of "The Robber of the Abruzzi."
"Fra Diavolo" is said to have been the first French or Italian opera to introduce English principals in the cast. The opera is built around a mountain bandit and his manner of robbing two English tourists, Lord and Lady Allcash.
For the season of 1886 we enlarged our repertoire until we were up in half a score of the better operas. We outfitted especially for "Iolanthe," "Pirates of Penzance," "Patience," "The Mikado," "Mascot" and "Bohemian Girl."
At about this time we met George Broadhurst at Marion, Ohio. He was advance man for a dramatic company, with aspirations for play writing. Making the same towns for a week or two, we became well acquainted and discussed with him an idea for rewriting the book of Friedrich von Flotow's "Martha" for a light opera in English. When one day he came glumly in at our rehearsal, with a telegram from his manager advising that their company had disbanded for lack of funds, we at once gave him the job of rewriting "Martha." We gave the first performance with the new script at Charleston, W. Va., and it was a success from the start.
With that deathless solo for tenor, "Ah, So Pure," our Jay Taylor never failed of recall by audiences of every type, in either rural or metropolitan centers. The music of this opera has universal appeal. The part of Lady Henrietta was particularly adapted to one of our prima donnas, Catharine Lee, a lyric soprano with a voice of great sweetness and tonal purity, and whom I afterward married.
Her only daughter, known to present-day radio audiences as "The Lark," is the Caroline Andrews who is often heard on NBC programs broadcast from the Capitol Theater, New York.
"Martha" is a very old opera, first produced in Vienna in 1847. It originated at the Paris Grand Opera House when in 1852 M. de St. Georges, a newspaper man, wrote the libretto to a ballet entitled "Lady Henrietta, or the Servant of Greenwich," dealing with two ladies of his acquaintance who had attended in disguise a servants' fair. The ballet score was contributed by three composers, Herr von Flotow, Herr Burgmuller and M. Deldeves. The remarkable success of the ballet led Flotow and St. Georges later to collaborate in writing it into an opera, and the result was one of the most popular operatic works in the history of the stage.
We frequently played Bizet's "Carmen," because of the adaptability of its contralto title role to my sister, Florence Andrews Clayton. Very many people have read Prosper Merimee's romance, from which the opera of "Carmen" was adapted and first produced at the Paris Opera Comique in 1875. It has been a favorite of standard and grand opera companies for nearly sixty years and has made the reputation of many modern singers, notably Calve. In color it is distinctly Spanish. This one opera made the reputation of the Frenchman Georges Bizet secure for all time as a great musical artist and composer.
Of the various Middle West cities that I have known in the business of giving "summer opera" in the parks, Peoria and St. Louis were the pioneers.
To a Peoria newspaper man, E. F. Baldwin by name, belongs the credit for building one of the most successful of these theaters, seating about 3500 people, in Sylvan Park. The first time we played this theater we had an excellent company, including the prima donna, Laura Bellini; Jay Taylor, a New York tenor; and Herman Purley for musical director. Isaac Norcross was our stage manager, Joe Brown was business manager and George Andrews was, as always, the general boss. Business was not good, and Mr. Baldwin conceived an unusual advertising idea. He gave a reception at the theater and invited all the business people of Peoria. We gave a show after the reception, and they were so pleased with our work that Peoria started coming to the opera. Business boomed and we played at Sylvan Park twelve weeks.
We made money and spent it. We were as irresponsible as most show people are, and I don't believe the breed has changed much to this day. Our weakness was a lack of any definite plan for expansion. When business was bad the family members were the first to go without salaries, looking to the uncertain future with a careless confidence that now puzzles me in the light of subsequent events.
That a good show, if it will weather a poor start, can win a reluctant public, was proved by a summer opera season that we played at Minneapolis. We had barely started when Frank DeShon and his opera company came in and began an engagement. We decided that Minneapolis couldn't stand two opera companies and went to see Frank. It was agreed that we should toss a nickel to see whether he would hire us or we would hire him.
It resulted in a consolidation of DeShon with the Andrews Opera Company, so we selected the best of both companies and went on with our engagement. Still business sulked, although we knew that we were putting on a real show. In desperation we sent our road missionaries, Lucien Wakefield and Clay Burgess, to Peoria again to book Sylvan Park Theater.
They made a tremendous advance sale of tickets at Peoria and we were all set to go when Minneapolis began coming in great crowds to our show. We tried vainly to cancel the Peoria engagement, and in the height of a smashing business at Minneapolis we were forced to leave it and go to Peoria. We had lost Laura Bellini and taken Latishe Fritsch, a bella donna from the Hess Opera Company.
We had played only the first week at Sylvan Park when the theater caught fire from some unknown cause and burned everything--scenery and costumes for ten operas, thirty-six trunks--we didn't save a stick of grease paint. And no insurance. We paid off the disconsolate company and went to a 300-acre farm that we had bought at Lake Tetonka, near Waterville, Minn. It lay in that lush, bluegrass LeSueur County, where there are 36 beautiful lakes.
(To be continued)
The Andrews Opera CompanyMedford Mail Tribune, October 28, 1934, page 9
20 Years of Opera from a Rail Fence Circuit
While touring Kentucky we had found time to sit at the feet of a horseman friend, one Alexander, breeder and trainer of race horses. I well remember one bit of his worldly wisdom:
"Raise them, train them, but never bet on them!"
In those days we had plenty of money, and that summer we built a half-mile racetrack at Lake Tetonka, bought some young horses and employed George Spear as trainer. Again a crisis was looming in our career. Should we abandon the opera business and go into the game of breeding race horses?
A deep-seated love of the musical profession decided the question that fall and we organized a company and equipped for one opera--"Falka." For a brief time we played one-night stands. But railroad fares for an entire opera company proved too heavy and we again expanded into repertoire. We also decided to extend our territory to include the Pacific coast. After a four weeks' engagement at Minneapolis and one week at Duluth we started on our western tour, in the dead of winter, with the temperature running 20 to 40 below zero.
Business was good, our company was satisfactory and we were quite happy in our belief that added prestige and success awaited us on the long sunset trail. But Fate had planned otherwise.
The northern roads had adopted a rule of running only passenger cars with paper wheels in winter trains. Because of this we left our private car at Mankato and started west over the Northern Pacific with a special train composed of baggage car, Pullman sleeper and locomotive. Our next stop was to be Grand Forks, N.D.
In the middle of the night, seven miles from Brainerd, Minn., the train struck a rail that had cracked from extreme cold. The locomotive passed over it safely, taking the baggage car.
The Pullman sleeper, containing a slumbering opera company, left the track and rolled down an embankment. It was a wooden car, heated by a system known as the Baker hot water heater, as most Pullmans were in those days. The car caught fire almost immediately.
An attack of grippe had put me out of the show, and I was sleeping in a lower berth with my little daughter, Bessie. Nan Wilkinson, my wife, and her maid, Lillie Wallace, were in the upper berth. The car crashed upon a telegraph pole about half down the embankment, the pole hitting our section. Nan Wilkinson and the maid were killed.
The double windows were broken and I managed to get free with the baby, wrapped in blankets. Practically all of the company were injured in one way or another, mostly by crawling out through broken, jagged glass. By the time that those living were rescued, the flames had burned the telegraph pole off and a quarter of a mile distant a crew came to help us.
In our night clothes, we took shelter in the baggage car, where a crate of costumes was opened to meet the emergency. It proved to contain the costumes for "Mikado." It was a sorry-looking company, far from "the flowers that bloom in the spring," that trooped into the Brainerd hotel about daybreak.
Pauline Hall, whose opera company was playing at Minneapolis that night, wired me to ask if we needed assistance, a kind thought that I shall always remember.
By this wreck the Andrews Opera Company was again completely disorganized. We canceled all our dates, George and I, taking little Bessie and other members of the family back to our Lake Tetonka stock farm.
(To be continued)
The Andrews Opera CompanyMedford Mail Tribune, November 4, 1934, page 3
20 Years of Opera from a Rail Fence Circuit
Crushed by the disaster, we were pretty much disheartened during the spring and summer months. But the year was to bring another loss that hit deep into our hearts. While we were booking for a fall and winter tour into the Michigan peninsula region, my brother, Charlie, who had accepted the management, took the company's private car and went down through Iowa and Illinois to succor a dramatic company to which he had loaned some money with a hope of putting it on its feet.
He was in Morrison, Ill., and late at night, after the performance, he got his railroad transportation and proceed to his car down in the yards. On one of the tracks a fast freight was running northbound through the town, while Charlie walked south. The noise of a freight train prevented his hearing a passenger train that came from behind, on another track close beside him. He was struck and killed by the passenger train.
In the course of the next three years, although we continued to sing opera in the winter season, we developed the Lake Tetonka farm into a model livestock plant and added a string of brood mares with racing records. We wanted a farm that would give us a livelihood and a place we could call home.
That is to say, we "thought" that we wanted a farm. The fact was--we wanted a racetrack. And we built one at Tetonka. It was a good one, too.
On our tour southward we had swung into Kentuck again and stopped to see our friend Alexander, breeder of race horses. He was the owner of Maude S, at that time the world's most famous trotting mare.
He sent us to Daniel Taylor, a banker at Kankakee, who bred racing stock as a pastime. The opera business was hard work, and we were always looking for a bit of pastime. So we bought from Mr. Taylor, for $12,000, a 4-year-old stallion known as Alturus. This horse was a half-brother of Maude S. He could trot the mile in 2:12½, which was not so slow, for the world champion Allerton at that time had a record of only 2:09½.
It was in that fashion the Andrews Opera Company tried the race horse breeding business and, later, the hotel business. After a year we found that the race horse business was a millionaire's game. Inasmuch as the opera business would not support it, we sold the horses and again concentrated on opera.
The era of the lean and skinny woman had not arrived in the middle nineties. Neither had sanitarium diet got hold of the popular imagination, and a man had few if any qualms about overeating. To these facts I attribute the absence of profit in a hotel we built at the farm, on the shore of Tetonka Lake. In those days a hotel meal meant a lot of food--and the leisure in which to eat it.
The bicycle, for male and for female, held sway. At any hour the summer resort hotel's energetic guest might organize a wheeling party that would go out and "bike" all over the countryside; and then come back so hungry that force was necessary to prevent their storming the kitchen and gnawing the asbestos from off the hot water pipes.
Railway excursions to summer resorts of that period were both fashionable and feasible because the railroad men managed the railroads and could make excursion rates on an hour's notice. To our hotel at the lake shore the Minneapolis & St. Paul railway management built a spur from its main line and we gave open-air opera. There were nights when we fed a thousand people in the hotel after the show. Speaking of the "palmy days" in the western show business, you might say those were a few of them.
With an improvised ship for a stage on the water and an audience of 5000 people seated on the sloping lake shore we sang "Pinafore," illuminated with calcium lights from the hotel. So nicely was the thing adjusted to realism that when the second act opened, requiring moonlight, a full moon had risen over the lake, the calcium lights were cut off and Luna lit the scene. It was, to an unsophisticated generation, almost first-page stuff for the newspapers.
One day I went up to Minneapolis on business and was hailed by a member of an amateur opera society that was to put on "Pinafore." Their Dick Deadeye had been called away suddenly, the show was facing failure, and as a favor to local friends I substituted in the part. In this cast was a very earnest and lovely young girl playing the small part of Hebe. Her name was Olive Fremsted, who in later years became a star of the Metropolitan Opera Company.
At Lake Tetonka we soon proved that a hotel could not be run on musically artistic lines, employing an expensive pipe organist to play the Pilgrim's Chorus from "Tannhauser" as the last call for breakfast. We leased the hostelry to a practical hotel man, and thereafter it was our summer home and a place to assemble and rehearse our opera company for the next tour.
(To be continued)
The Andrews Opera CompanyMedford Mail Tribune, November 11, 1934, page 8
20 Years of Opera from a Rail Fence Circuit
It was in the late nineties that Klaw & Erlanger undertook to "standardize" the show booking business throughout the country with a system whereby they came into virtual control of entertainment in hundreds of theaters in the Middle West. Managers of some very eminent touring artists, including Sarah Bernhardt, Mrs. Fisk and David Warfield, were driven to tents and roller skating rinks. It was the beginning of the end for such as the Andrews Opera Company.
It had been our plan to hire a theater, make an advance ticket subscription sale sufficient to guarantee expenses, and play the game with complete disregard of outside forces. K.&E. soon changed that.
Centering all booking authority in New York, the new K.&E. contract put many western companies on the rocks. In a few years the Carlton Company, the Bostonians and others passed out of the picture. The Andrews Opera Company shrank from a membership of forty to a little troupe of fourteen.
For a time we found a way out by playing Canada and such frontier towns as the New York booking agency overlooked. Under these conditions we ultimately decided that it was a losing game and we began looking for a place to make a home and a living outside of the show business.
What might be termed the last rally of the Andrews company under the old banner occurred at Duluth, Minn., where in the winter of 1902 a new theater was opened with a week of repertoire of standard operas. Within a year thereafter the principals had settled in the Rogue River Valley of Southern Oregon, which later became the home of more than fifty of those who at various times had been associated with us in opera productions.
In twenty active years of trouping we had nine or ten prima donnas, some of them achieving national reputations. Prior to 1886 Nan Wilkinson was the most popular. She was succeeded by Letia Fritsch, a talented German girl, who was followed by Laura Bellini in 1889. Bellini was a great artiste. Marie Roe came to us in 1891, playing at times until 1897.
Nellie Andrews, a daughter of Will Andrews, developed to stellar soprano roles and, being always with us, she could be depended on in emergencies. She married Charles Hazelrigg, who for years was our outstanding musical director. Both are now in musical work in Chicago.
February 16, 1891 Elkhart, Indiana Daily Review
Julia Gifford joined us in 1896 as a beginner and became a prima donna, later becoming noted in eastern comic opera. She married Bob Fitzsimmons, the Australian prize fighter. Rena Atkinson, a Chicago girl generously gifted with beauty and voice, came with us 1892, achieved stellar soprano roles and was in the company five or six years. Myra Morello, a fine artiste, was our leading woman two years, singing with one of our most notable tenors, Montegriffo. Grace Hollingsworth became our prima donna in 1898 and was our last noteworthy soprano.
Of the men heretofore mentioned, Billy West was an excellent baritone and comedian. Frank Walters, tenor, had come to our chorus an untaught singer. In ten years of work with the Andrews company he developed a voice of amazing power and later was successful in grand opera.
Undoubtedly the most notable of the men who started their careers with the Andrews Opera Company was James Stevens, who may be said to have become in later years Reginald DeKoven's favorite baritone. Stevens was a Minnesota boy who early had joined the Andrews company and within a few years was given important baritone roles. When in 1892 the Andrews company having laid off for a season, he went to New York City as a young and ambitious singer. He came into contact with Henry W. Savage, who placed him under a five-year contract.
He was put into a big production of "Everywoman," a drama set to music--a strange piece in which leading characters were "Truth," "Conscience," "Passion," etc. The play had a long run on Broadway, Stevens singing "Passion." Engagements came then with the Shuberts, with the Aborn Opera Company and with Klaw & Erlanger, and Stevens sang opera in eastern cities five or six years. He has a repertoire of ten grand operas and some 70 light operas.
About five years before DeKoven's death he conceived the idea of a grand recital of his opera "Rob Roy," with its marvelous first act. This opera has a baritone lead, and New York was combed for the right man. Stevens was selected. With Bessie Abbott from the Metropolitan and others of a carefully selected cast, the production went on in New York to a successful run and was followed by a tour of the DeKoven company in "Robin Hood" in which Stevens sang his favorite role of "Little John."
After a year in a revival of "Ruddigore" at the Park Theater, New York, Stevens was called to St. Louis, which had conceived the idea of civic opera on a large scale, and by subscription had fitted Forest Park with an outdoor theater seating 10,000 people. With the best principals they could obtain, a chorus of 100 and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, the mayor and his backers started what became the most notable continuous year-to-year summer opera in America. The city government sponsored it financially, and it was self-supporting from the beginning. This show has played to business as much as $70,000 a week, with an overhead expense of about $25,000.
Stevens sang leading baritone roles with this company four years. Then his health failed and he was forced to retire and seek climate. The city voted him an appreciation of $1000.
His calamity changed the current of his life. He went to the Pacific Coast seeking a health-restoring place and found it in the Rogue River Valley of Southern Oregon, where he is now a voice teacher. In the last 20 years in this valley of the Rogue, enough members of the old Andrews Opera Company have resided within calling distance to put on a production of opera almost without need of rehearsal.
Observation has shown me that young men and women ignore one of their greatest natural assets: one that, developed early and used with discretion, and be made almost of first importance as a business and cultural weapon in the winning of success. I refer, of course, to the human voice.
There can be great beauty and power in a voice, and its value can be perhaps greater in daily commercial and social contacts than on the stage.
Edwin Booth's voice moved anyone who heard it, at any time or place. Even had I been blind, hearing him read "Hamlet," his voice would have held me spellbound.
ED ANDREWS OF OPERATIC FAME PASSES IN EAST
Former Medford Man Who Toured Country in Own Company
Succumbs at Ripe Age.
Word was received here yesterday of the death in Mankato, Minn. of Ed Andrews, longtime resident of Medford. Funeral services will be held in Mankato tomorrow. Mr. Andrews came to Medford in 1905 and resided here about 30 years before returning to his home state, Minnesota. He was 84 years of age at death.
Mr. Andrews' interest in the Rogue River Valley was instrumental in bringing many Minnesota residents to southern Oregon. He was particularly active in musical circles in Medford, directed several operas here and organized the community chorus, which was popular for many years. With his brother, George Andrews, they operated and took part in the Andrews Opera Company, which toured the United States, and many of the friends made through his travels later came to Medford. Through his interest in music his daughter, Caroline Andrews Werner, followed music and became nationally known for her vocal abilities, particularly in the East.
He is survived by his daughter, Mrs. Richard Werner of Williston Park, Long Island; two sisters, Mrs. C. A. Parker of New York City and Mrs. Florence Clayton of St. Paul, Minn.; a sister-in-law, Mrs. William Andrews of this city, and two nieces, also residing in Medford, Mrs. Edith Stevens and Mrs. Conro Fiero.
Medford Mail Tribune, November 19, 1941, page 7
Last revised November 30, 2019