Friday, July 16, 2010

Mae West: Greenwich Village Theatre

It was 1922 during the month of July — —and MAE WEST was rehearsing a new show built around her special talents, running through her numbers with pianist Harry Richman and the rest of the cast in Greenwich Village across the street from Sheridan Square Park.
• • That summer, New York's air was jagged with mosquitoes as shadows stretched across vaudeville, slowly going under, a bare bright emptiness in its future.
• • Expanding her horizons, Mae had written "The Ruby Ring" [1921] and "The Hussy" [1922] and she also was very excited about starring in "The Ginger Box Revue," scheduled to open in August 1922 at The Greenwich Village Theatre on Seventh Avenue South between West Fourth Street and Christopher Street.
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Built in 1917 by the architect Herman Lee Meader, this modest-size playhouse [425 seats] was the dream of Mrs. Marguerite Abbott Barker, who felt there ought to be alternatives to a male-dominated theatre scene.
• • In 1923, a local literary magazine wrote this: The Greenwich Village Theatre is still the home of experimental plays or rather plays that are for the limited, discerning public. And Marguerite Abbott Barker [d. 1930], who built this theatre, should always be remembered as the great benefactor of the Village, for as it is written among the Sumarians, nobody ever got rich educating the public above their usual banal or to speak ephemerally, banal tastes. ... [from The Quill, September 1923 issue].
• • The dreamed-of outcome was not to be — — and the cast was left with no income — — but Mae West was enthusiastically working on her dance numbers that July, imagining the applause that would greet her efforts.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online:
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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • Greenwich Village Theatre c. 1917 • •
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Mae West.

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