Cambridge Chronicle

From Cambridge Chronicle, Jan 17 1930.



  The Harvard Observatory Pinafore, Written in
  1879, Revived and Presented at Observatory
  Residence Monday Night. "

 " Resurrected from the files of a previous era,
 Winslow Upton's charming parody, `The Harvard
 Observatory Pinafore', written in 1879, was presented
 Monday night at the Harvard Observatory Residence
 before 150 members of the Bond Astronomical club.
  Time has not withered the subtle humour of Mr.
 Upton's lines nor has it one whit diminished the 
 appeal of Arthur Sullivan's Pinafore music to which
 the words were fitted. A parody of this kind is good
 tonic for an age which tends to take its scientists
 with a seriousness that amounts almost to religious
   Although it was frankly admitted that the rehearsals
 for the astronomical operetta had been few and far
 between, the cast, composed of members of the Observatory
 staff and the Bond club, acquitted itself with something
 more than credit. Whatever weakness there may have been
 in vocal and dramatic technique was more than offset
 by a pleasing willingness of spirit.
  Doffing their dignity in the wings, the principals,
 some of whome are famous for their research in the field
 of astronomy, entered into their dramatic labors with
 a whole-souled enthusiasm which was delightful to see.
 The chorus, garbed in the high-necked shirt waist and
 flowing skirt of a bygone day, were personable, 
 showed light and agile footwork in the dances, and
 a fresh spontaneity that won all hearts.
  The plot, which was explained by Dr. Harlow Shapley
 before the opening of act one, deals with the attempt
 of Dr. Leonard Waldo, LL.D., and his influential men
 of Providence, to hire away from the Harvard Observatory
 Josephine McCormack, peerless circle reader. 
  Determined that their Josephine shall not be taken 
 from them, the Harvard staff indulges in counterplots
 calculated to foil the Waldo plots. Much dirty work
 ensues. There is a villain who twists his mustache
 desperately and a hero who lays revolver to head, but
 all turns out merrily enough with the ensemble giving
 'three cheers and three times three for the gallant
 captain of the Observat'ry'. Scattered throughout the
 operetta are gentle satirical thrusts intended by the
 author for officials who tenanted the observatory 50
 years ago. Some of those shafts were, of course, not
 evident to a modern audience, but enough of them
 were evident so that laughter was almost constant.
  Undoubtedly the master stroke of the operetta was
 the appearance of the influential men of Providence.
 Dressed in frock coats, spats, canes, and derby hats,
 the influential men fairly exuded influence. Their
 patter lines were apt and witty.
  Leon Campbell, as Prof. Arthur Searle, appeared in
 a skull cap and exhibited a singing voice that was
 clear and pleasing. G.W. Wheelwright, as the villain
 of the piece, did some fine sneering and mustache-
 twisting and exhibited a trained and fluent voice.
  P.M. Millman as the hero of the work was fully
 as handsome as a hero is expected to be and also
 sang well. Adelaide Ames pleased in the role of
 Miss Sanders. Cecelia H. Payne, a woman astronomer
 of international fame, played the part of Josephine,
 the heroine, to the Queen's taste. 
  W.R. Ransom, as Prof. Pickering, gave a realistic
 interpretation of the role. B.J. Bok as Dr. Leonard
 Waldo, LL.D., who was 'very proud of his degree',
 was the stiff and pompous scientists to the life.
 A.R. Sayer and Messrs. Bowie and Andrews, as the 
 influential men from Providence, wrung every bit
 of laughter out of what were undoubtedly the 
 fattest parts of the whole operetta.
  Scintillating in the chorus were Irma Caldwell,
 Sylvia Mussells, Helen Sawyer, Mildred Shapley and
 Henrietta Swope. Miss Jenka Mohr was conductor and
 violinist. The costumes were supervised by Miss
 Henrietta Swope and the properties by Miss Arville
 Walker. The whole operetta was under the direction
 of Dr. Harlow Shapley and Miss Helen Sawyer.
  An interesting novelty which was not on the program
 consisted of the dancing of a Scotch jig by Mr.
 Lindsay. The applause which greeted this number was
 louder than the music of the spheres. 
  Between acts one and two Messrs. Andrews and
 Wheelwright entertained with an interlude entitled
 'Atlas and Hercules'. The high water mark of this skit
 was the depiction of the sad plight of Atlas on the
 day that he broke his arm and suffered at the same
 time an attack of the hives.
  The operetta, although written in 1879, was first
 performed on New Year's eve of this year before the
 American Astronomical Society at the Harvard observatory.
 So successful was the production that it was replayed
 Monday night for the benefit of the Bond club. At the
 performance on New Year's eve, Mrs. Winslow Upton,
 widow of the author of the piece, was an honored guest.
  Dr. Shapley explained that the operetta was not presented
 when originally written because it was felt to be
 a little too daring. Consequently it was privately 
  Another reason to account for its non-performance
 is that, shortly after the writing of the work, one of
 the men who was a character in the operetta, died. This
 saddened the staff so that no one had the spirit to go
 on with the work. 
  While looking over the files, Dr. Shapley came on the
 script of the play. He saw its possibilities and determined
 to have the operetta produced at the appropriate time. "