PLT 1920s

This page contains items pertaining to productions during the earliest years of Phoenix Little Theatre/Phoenix Players. For a general history of the theater, go to the main page.

Phoenix opened the decade with a population of 29,053. There are just over 7,000 telephones in the Valley, but nearly twice that number of registered automobiles. The first radio station (KFAD, later KTAR) began broadcasting in 1922. In 1928, the Westward Ho Hotel, the tallest building between the coasts, opened, followed one year later by the Arizona Biltmore, designed by a protege of Frank Lloyd Wright. The Orpheum Theatre, in 2014 the last survivor of the city’s lavish movie palaces, welcomed its first patrons in 1928. The Heard Museum opened in 1929, the same year the Phoenix Symphony Society was organized.

During that decade, and for decades to come, Phoenix Little Theatre was the city’s most important local stage institution.

PRESIDENTS OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS

  • 1924-1925  Mrs. Lucy Galbraith.
  • 1925-1926  Dr. F. L. Reese.
  • 1926-1927  Mrs. Lloyd Christy.
  • 1927-1928  Mrs. Perry William.
  • 1928-1929  Mrs. John Lentz.
  • 1929-1930  Mrs. I. De R. Miller.

THE PRODUCTIONS

  • 1929-1930
  • The Dover Road
  • The Shelf
  • A Thousand Years Ago
  • The Wild Duck
  • Mrs. Bumstead-Leigh
  • Daddy Goes A Hunting
  • Aren’t We All
  • 1928-1929
  • The Last of Mrs. Cheney
  • SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
  • Playwright: George M. Cohan
  • Director: Mrs. Wayland Brown.
  • Cast: Walter Snedden, Sonstegard King, James V.D. Barton, Eric Moles, Cecil Norton, Mrs. James V.D. Barton, , Hermann Bradshaw, Birdie Fowler, Hadd Lane, Sam Lane, Henry B. Cate, Frank J. Duffy, Robert E. Solosth, Raymond Harris.
  • Scenic Design: Mrs. Harold Baxter, Mrs. Claudine Clapp.
  • Lighting Design: Eugene Decker.
  • Mechanical Effects: Jack Ott.
  • Scene Painting: Harry L. Woodley.
  • Comments from webmaster Kyle Lawson: I will always have fond memories of this play, the quintessential “Folks trapped in a snowy inn with a murderer” thriller. It was the first thing I directed back in the early 1960s. Not only was that an enjoyable task, but a relative of the author, George M. Cohan, was in the audience and liked what I did with it. I took Cohan’s subtitle, “A Melodramatic Farce” to heart and tried to lighten it up a bit. I don’t think that would have pleased Earl Derr Biggers, who wrote the Charlie Chan stories as well as the original book that inspired Cohan. Earl took his work very seriously, I’ve been told, and did not like Cohan’s transcription at all. Another reason I’m fond of this play: The original Baldpate Inn still stands in Estes Park, Colorado, where my wife and I summer. Thanks to the play, the inn has been given more than 100,000 keys from around the world and from everyone from Queen Elizabeth II to Ernest Hemingway. The keys are displayed in a museum on property. During some seasons, the hotel produces Seven Keys to Baldpate. It still plays well.
  • The Queen’s Husband
  • What Every Woman Knows
  • Rip Van Winkle
  • Dear Brutus
  • Beggar On Horseback
  • 1927-1928
  • THE PIGEON
  • Playwright: John Galsworthy.
  • Director: Howard W. Fisk.
  • Comments: Galsworthy called this play “a fantasy in three acts.” It was the story of a young girl frustrated by her father’s charitable nature. “He would give away his last pair of trousers,” she groans. Naturally, by the end of the third act, she has learned the blessings of helping others. The Arizona Republican of Nov. 16, 1927 said: “The excellent and well-chosen cast was well molded under the able direction of (Mr.) Fisk.”
  • Fisk directed The Green Goddess for PLT in 1926.
  • The Old Soak
  • THE ROAD TO YESTERDAY
  • Playwrights: Beulah M. Dix and Evelyn Greenleaf Sutherland. The play is a whimsical fairy tale for adults on the themes of reincarnation and romance.
  • Comments: Rosemary DeCamp, co-star of the popular TV series, The Bob Cummings Show, and winner of the first Emmy awarded to an actress for Life of Riley, made her theatrical debut in this PLT production. She was all of 14 years old. The Phoenix Gazette was much taken. “Miss DeCamp gives a delightful interpretation of her role,” the paper’s critic wrote.
  • The Taming of the Shrew
  • Anna Christie
  • Liliom
  • 1926-1927
  • THE GREEN GODDESS
  • Director: Howard W. Fisk.
  • Sun Up 
  • Gods of the Mountain 
  • The Last Hour 
  • It Might Have Been You 
  • HEARTBREAK HOUSE
  • Playwright: George Bernard Shaw.
  • Director: Walter Ben Hare.
  • Cast: Dixie Johns, Betty Barry, May Cobb, Walter Ben Hare, Kitty Craig-Dunbar, Mildred Heavey, Charles Allen, George H. Field, Meyer Steinberg, J. L. Convery, Walter Snedden.
  • Comments: This Shaw play, subtitled “A Fantasia in the Russian Manner on English Themes,” generally was a mediocre performer for other theaters,  but proved to be a major hit for PLT.  Actually, it is a fairly vicious satire on English society on the eve of the first World War. A famed society hostess (Mildred Heavey) tosses a dinner party whose guests include a young woman (Betty Barry) who is in love with the hostess’ husband (George H. Field), her father (Charles Allen) who is a bumbling prig and her fiance (Walter Ben Hare, acting as well as directing) who is a scoundrel. The play’s tone veers from farce to tragedy. The Republic thought PLT “scored a triumph” with its production.
  • The Passing of the Third Floor Back 
  • If I Were King
  • 1925-26 
  • Outward Bound 
  • Arizona Nights 
  • Intimate Strangers 
  • TO THE LADIES 
  • Playwrights: George S. Kaufman and Marc Connelly.
  • Director: Walter Ben Hare.
  • Cast: Rafael Villagrana, Earl Barrows, Mrs. E.P. Palmer, Betty Barry, Joseph Jenckes Jr., Katherine Hannon, George H. Field, Philip Munch, Herbert Horn, Mrs. Herbert Horn.
  • Comments: The original Broadway production opened at the Liberty Theatre on February 20, 1922 and ran for 128 performances. In 1923, it was made into a silent film starring Edward Everett Horton the following year.
  • THE TORCH BEARERS 
  • Playwright: George Kelly.
  • Director: Ninita Mayne.
  • Cast: F.L. Reese, Victor Kolberg, Herbert Horn, Mark Finley, George H. Field, George Corpstein, Lucy Galbraith, Claire Kolberg, Dixie Johns, Mary Lambert, Bernice Downing.
  • A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM.
  • Playwright: William Shakespeare.
  • Directors: Katherine Wisner McCluskey, Horace Button. Production Manager: Victor Kolberg.
  • The company’s first revival of a previous production was performed outdoors.

The 1924-1925 season was the first presented at the Heard Stables.

  • 1924-1925 
  • One Room Plus 
  • Mountain Top 
  • Pot Boiler 
  • Mary the Third 
  • Dream Kid 
  •  A Doll’s House 
  • Twelfth Night
  • 1923-1924
  • Aria del Capa 
  • Trifles 
  • Man in the Bowler Hat 
  • Three Pills in a Bottle
  • Knave of Hearts
  • The White-Haired Boy
  • The Merry Wives of Windsor
  • 1922-1923
  • THE FLORIST SHOP
  • Playwright: Winifred Hawkridge.
  • Comments: Written in 1915, this comedy about shenanigans in a florist’s shop is probably so far past its prime it would be unreproducible today.
  • MR. PIM PASSES BY
  • Playwright: A. A. Milne.
  • Directors: Maie Bartlett Heard, Harry Behn.
  • Cast: Mary Christy, Ben Henshaw. Margaret Ellis, Victor Kolberg, Helena Redewill, Bartlett Heard, Angela Marshall.
  • Scenic Design: John Devereaux York.
  • Comments: This delightful comedy tells of what happens in a very conventional English home when little Mr. Pim, who has so much trouble with names, drops in one day on a small matter of business. The business is soon forgotten when Mr. Pim announces that the former husband of the lady of the house, thought to be deceased, is alive. Since the lady is married now, she is a bigamist. Her present husband, always a trifle pompous and tyrannical, is upset no end. Then Mr. Pim passes by again; this time he confesses that he confused two names and it is safe to assume that the lady’s first husband is dead, as they originally believed. Without telling her husband, the lady uses the knowledge as a weapon not only to get what she wants in the house but to force her husband to permit his niece to marry the young artist who loves her.
  • ALICE SIT BY THE FIRE
    Playwright: J.M. Barrie.
  • Comments: A British couple’s return from India after several years leads to confusion among their children to whom they are virtually strangers. J.M. Barrie’s 1919 comedy is so delightful it is still revived today.
  • THE MATCH
  • Comments: What is it with PLT and plays that seem to vanished from the canon? This is another one. Either it was about an arsonist or a romantic coupling. Your guess, etc.
  • MOLLY
  • Comments: Was there a play named Molly? PLT says so. I’ll believe them – though no one else seems to. Google fails again.
  • ROUND THE CORNER.
  • Comments: I think this play has disappeared from human memory. It’s not listed in any of the title anthologies or the Internet Broadway Data Base. There was a 1919 play called Just ‘Round the Corner. Sorry, best I can do.
  • 1921 SEASON
  • RIP VAN WINKLE
  • Notes: I could not find the name of the playwright, but was able to ascertain that this was the play that Joseph Jefferson, the famous turn-of-the-century actor, toured with for so many years. It was based on Washington Irving’s famous story.
  • LADY WINDEMERE’S FAN
  • Playwright: Oscar Wilde
  • Notes: Oscar Wilde’s comedy had its premiere in 1892. Its first performance in Phoenix was in 1899, presented by a touring company.
  • The Play: When an aristocratic woman mistakes her abandoned mother for her husband’s lover, comedy – and just a touch of tragedy – ensues.
  • Best line: “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”
  •  1920 SEASON
  • A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM
  • The production that started it all.
  • Playwright: William Shakespeare.
  • Performed at Shirley Christy’s School of Music, Central Avenue north of Van Buren.