Join Ten Chimneys Foundation as we welcome the Milwaukee Repertory Theater's Artistic Intern Company for a book-in-hand reading of Clarence.
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 13TH | 7pm
$10 in advance or $15 at the door
Reservations: (262) 968-4110
About Play Readings at Ten Chimneys
Mentoring the next generation of artists was a role the Lunts valued and continues to be a cornerstone of the programs Ten Chimneys Foundation nurtures, including our longstanding collaboration with the Milwaukee Repertory Theater's Artistic Internship Program as we present Play Readings at Ten Chimneys. We invite guests to join us in our beautiful Lunt-Fontanne Program Center as these contemporary protégés offer book-in-hand readings of the celebrated plays from the Lunts' era.
An entomologist just returning from the war, Clarence, is hired as a handyman for a well-to-do family, the Wheelers. Mrs. Wheeler suspects that Violet, the family’s governess, and her husband are carrying on and begins to develop an attraction to Clarence. In time, all the women in the household fall in love with Clarence. Mr. Wheeler is given an article about one Charles Smith, an army deserter, and begins to believe that Clarence is in actuality this man. Complications ensue as Clarence’s identity and love interest unfold.
Alfred Lunt in Clarence
Clarence, written by Booth Tarkington, opened at the Hudson Theatre in New York on September 20, 1919. It was a smashing success with the audience bringing the cast back for more than twenty curtain calls.
“Write it on the walls of the city, let the town crier proclaim it in the commons, shout it from the housetops that ‘Clarence,’ the new and capitally acted play which so vastly amused its first New York audience at the Hudson Theatre Saturday night, is a thoroughly delightful American comedy, which the world and his wife and their children will enjoy. It is as American as ‘Huckleberry Finn’ or pumpkin pie. It is as delightful as any native comedy which has tried to lure the laughs of this community in the last ten seasons."
-Alexander Woollcott, New York Times
At 27, Clarence was Alfred Lunt’s big break. The play would go on to run for 300 performances in New York and on to a national tour. It was in Clarence that Alfred introduced the stage techniques we find commonplace today: turning his back to the audience and physical acting upstaging verbal commentary. It was just the beginning of Alfred Lunt revolutionizing the theatre world. Variety wrote that Alfred “rose to stardom in one bound. His personality is unique and thoroughly captivating… [his] methods are quite indescribable. In effect he is thoroughly charming, deft in comedy, and so genuinely convincing that one’s admiration goes out to him.”
It was also during Clarence that Alfred met and fell deeply in love with Ms. Lynn Fontanne. While the actors strike in New York left the debut of Clarence delayed, Lynn visited Alfred in Genesee Depot. While at Ten Chimneys, she and Alfred became engaged. With the engagement secretly kept, Alfred returned to New York (to star in Clarence) and to eminent stardom.