Tag Archives: Lucas-Monroe

Prepping the girls for “As the Girls Go”

Since October the Theater department has been busy preparing 30,000 images of theatrical productions for digitization and cataloging. Images will eventually be made available on our Collections Portal thanks to the support of a Museums for America grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.  In the process of getting objects ready for digitization, our archival intern came across these rough proofs and final images prepared by the Lucas-Monroe studio for the musical As the Girls Go.  The photos offer a glimpse at photo manipulation  before the digital era.

Lucas-Monore [Scene from As the Girls Go] 1948. Museum of the City of New York. 80.103.172

Lucas-Monroe Studio. [Scene from As the Girls Go] 1948. Museum of the City of New York. 80.103.172

As the Girls Go opened in 1948 at the Winter Garden Theatre, but it was set five years in the future, with the inauguration of America’s first female president. Opponents of the President attempt to drum up scandal by throwing a bevy of beautiful women into the path of her husband, played by vaudeville comedian Bobby Clark.  Lucas-Monroe put out a series of publicity shots featuring the tempting beauties.

Lucas-Monroe Studio. [Unidentified actress preparing for photo shoot] 1948. 80.103.190

Lucas-Monroe Studio. [Unidentified actress preparing for photo shoot] 1948. Museum of the City of New York. 80.103.190

Lucas-Monroe Studio. [Unidentified showgirl and with possibly Edward Thayer Monroe] 1948. Museum of the City of New York. 80.103.189.

Lucas-Monroe Studio. [Unidentified showgirl with photographer, possibly Edward Thayer Monroe] 1948. Museum of the City of New York. 80.103.189.

The Lucas-Monroe studio began as Lucas-Pritchard in the mid-1930s. Photographer George W. Lucas and business manager Irving Pritchard formed a partnership that was later joined by portrait photographer Edward Thayer Monroe. The studio became known as Lucas-Monroe and captured hundreds of Broadway productions  until the company was dissolved in 1952. Lucas actually died ten years before, but Monroe was able to carry on the business successfully. (For more biographical information visit the excellent site on early Broadway photographers created by Dr. David S. Shields and hosted by the University of South Carolina.)

Of course, what beauty couldn’t use a little help here and there? Print alterations and image manipulations were standard practice in 1948.  See the rough proof below and the identified “problem” areas.

Lucas-Monroe Studio. [Rough proof of unidentified showgirl from As the Girls Go] 1948. 80.103.192

Lucas-Monroe Studio. [Rough proof of unidentified showgirl from As the Girls Go] 1948. Museum of the City of New York. 80.103.192

The finished proof follows, and it is easy to see how the woman’s upper right arm was slimmed down, the sides of her torso sliced, and hair frizzies minimized.

Lucas-Monroe Studio. [Unidentified showgirl from As the Girls Go] 1948. 80.103.191

Lucas-Monroe Studio. [Unidentified showgirl from As the Girls Go] 1948. Museum of the City of New York. 80.103.191

Even famed beauty and socialite Gregg Sherwood was unable to escape critique.

Lucas-Monroe Studio. [Gregg Sherwood from As the Girls Go] 1948. Museum of the City of New York. 80.103.194.

Lucas-Monroe Studio. [Gregg Sherwood from As the Girls Go] 1948. Museum of the City of New York. 80.103.194.

Her jacket is smoothed out, waist shaved, and anything close to tired eliminated from her face. Even the toe of her shoe was altered.

Lucas-Monroe Studio. [Gregg Sherwood from As the Girls Go] 1948. Museum of the City of New York. 80.103.193.

Lucas-Monroe Studio. [Gregg Sherwood from As the Girls Go] 1948. Museum of the City of New York. 80.103.193.

Alterations could be made a number of ways including re-touching with paint, ink, or airbrush, and manipulation of prints and negatives in the dark room. Digital camera technology and programs like Photoshop have made photo manipulation  infinitely easier and more prevalent.  So prevalent, in fact, that the debate on image alteration has been going strong for several years. Just last month a GIF of Jennifer Lawrence’s 2011 Flare cover surfaced online showing how much of the actress was cropped, cut, and shifted for the magazine’s final publication. The techniques for altering a model’s image have come a long way since As the Girls Go opened in 1948, but the practice hasn’t changed much and we have yet to elect a female President.

Stay tuned for more updates as we prepare, digitize, and catalog a wealth of images from the plays and musicals of the New York stage.

Peter Pan: over 100 years of the boy who wouldn’t grow up

Wendy Darling:
Boy, why are you crying?

Boy:
What’s your name?

Wendy:
Wendy Moira Angela Darling. What is your name?

Boy:
Peter Pan.

Wendy:
Is that all?

Peter Pan:
Yes.

-Act I, Peter Pan; or, the boy who wouldn’t grow up by J. M. Barrie.

Otto Sarony Co. [Maude Adams as Peter Pan], 1905. Museum of the City of New York. 32.290.9.

This is how we are introduced to Peter Pan, in the Darling children’s bedroom, crying with frustration over his separated shadow.  The boy who wouldn’t grow up turns 108 this year and with his latest incarnation, Peter and the Starcatcher, showing at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre on Broadway, he still can still draw our attention.

 Peter Pan made his Broadway debut on November 6, 1905, just under a year after appearing for the first time on the London stage.  Written by J. M. Barrie, Peter Pan; or, the boy who wouldn’t grow up was produced in London by Charles Frohman and remounted at his Empire Theatre on Broadway and 40th Street. The production starred Maude Adams as the  eponymous boy.

Theater program for “Peter Pan” at the Empire Theatre, November 1905. Museum of the City of New York. X2012.42.2.

The Empire Theatre revived the play three times in the early part of the 20th century, all starring Ms. Adams who by the 1915 production was 43 years old.

Unknown. [Eva Le Gallienne as Peter Pan]. 1928. Museum of the City of New York. 37248.9

Barrie’s boy got two revivals in the 1920s, the second of which was directed by and starred Eva Le Gallienne.  Though only 29, Ms. Le Gallienne was already a seasoned Broadway director.  Her production was seen as a  break away from Frohman’s productions. However, the New York Times review noted that the play “had lost nothing essential of its magic”.  The reviewer described Ms. Gallienne’s Peter as a “gallant, buoyant  clean-cut figure”, but also noticed that she “wears the limit of bare legs”.  Though her pose at left is decidedly less boyish than her predecessor, the choice of city rooftop is perhaps the most striking contrast to Ms. Adams’s idyllic woodland backdrop.

Lucas-Monroe. [Boris Karloff as Captain Hook], 1950. Museum of the City of New York. 80.104.1.2163.

The final Broadway production of Peter Pan the play was mounted in 1950 at the Imperial Theatre.  Continuing the tradition of a grown woman playing Peter, Jean Arthur took up the title role, and none other than the original Frankenstein, Boris Karloff, played Captain Hook.  In the premiere London production, the actor who played Captain Hook also portrayed Mr. Darling, the children’s father.  Peter’s archenemy is a father figure in disguise, an image as psychologically subtle as the make-up on Mr. Karloff’s face.

Peter Lawrence, a producer on Mr. Karloff’s production, arranged a national tour in the fall of 1951.  This time Peter was played by the improbable Veronica Lake.  The Digital Team at the Museum uncovered the images below in the archives of the Lucas-Pritchard / Lucas-Monroe Studios.

Lucas-Monroe. [Veronica Lake as Peter Pan], 1951. Museum of the City of New York. 80.104.1.2115.

Lucas-Monroe. [Veronica Lake as Peter Pan and Lawrence Tibbett as Captain Hook], 1951. Museum of the City of New York. 80.104.1.2119.

Though Peter Lawrence’s production was the last time the play was produced on Broadway, Barrie’s work was turned into a popular musical that opened just four years later. With a score by Mark Charlap and music by Carolyn Leigh, the production was directed by Jerome Robbins and starred the very popular Mary Martin.  Ms. Martin’s boy became the definitive Peter Pan. (She donated her Pan costume to the Museum in 1968 including the piece for Peter’s shadow.)

Sheet music for “Captain Hook’s Waltz” from “Peter Pan”, 1954. Museum of the City of New York. 70.22.123D.

Though the musical’s original run was only 152 performances, Ms. Martin starred in three live televised productions that gave the show a wider audience. The musical was revived five times, the last opening in 1999.  Now on Broadway, Peter Pan has been re-made for the 21st century in Peter and the Starcatcher, a precursor to the boy’s adventures with the Darlings. The play garnered an impressive nine Tony nominations this year, winning awards for its feature actor and sweeping the design categories.  The boy who wouldn’t grow up still won’t, and we can’t stop clapping our hands.

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French Casino

In December 1934, the refurbished Earl Carroll Theatre on 7th Avenue and 50th Street opened as the French Casino. It was an art deco showpiece, with walls draped in black velvet. The first show at the French Casino was Revue Folies Bergères, about which the New York Times noted: “The production of it definitely sets a high-water mark in elaborate, expensive and spectacularly varied cabaret entertainment in New York since the repeal of Prohibition.” Indeed, for nearly three years the French Casino dominated New York City’s nightclub business.

Ultimately,  economic forces of the Great Depression would shutter the doors of the French Casino. The club closed abruptly in November 1937, leaving around 350 people out of work.

Below are some recently digitized images of shows at the French Casino, part of the archives of the Lucas-Pritchard and Lucas-Monroe Studios. Additional exciting, rarely seen images from the museum’s theater collection will be making an appearance on this blog soon!

Lucas-Pritchard. Theater still of a musical variety show performed in the French Casino Theatre. Museum of the City of New York. 80.104.1.846

Lucas-Pritchard. Theater still of a musical variety show performed in the French Casino Theatre. Museum of the City of New York. 80.104.1.24

Lucas-Pritchard. Theater still of a musical variety show performed in the French Casino Theatre. Museum of the City of New York. 80.104.1.35

Lucas-Pritchard. Theater still of a musical variety show performed in the French Casino Theatre. Museum of the City of New York. 80.104.1.840

Lucas-Pritchard. Theater still of a musical variety show performed in the French Casino Theatre. Museum of the City of New York. 80.104.1.34

Opening Night! Top Banana

Lucas-Monroe. Margery Abbott. Museum of the City of New York. 88.104.1.2708.

The digital team has begun digitizing  thousands of images from the rarely-seen archives of the Lucas-Pritchard / Lucas-Monroe Studios, preeminent Broadway production photographers in New York City from about 1936 to 1950. Plays, musicals, variety shows – if it played in New York during that time period, they likely photographed it. The archive includes thousands of theater stills, images of opening night parties and premieres, backstage scenes, and portraits of Broadway actors and actresses.

Top Banana souvenir book, 1951. Museum of the City of New York.

One production in particular caught my attention, partly because of the sheer number of wacky slapstick images of performers on the stage, but mostly because a virtual who’s who of mid-century A-list celebrities made appearances at the premier.  Top Banana was a 1951 musical comedy review at the Winter Garden Theatre and starred Phil Silvers, whose later credits include It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963), A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1966), and television appearances on The Beverly Hillbillies, The Love Boat, and Happy Days.  The lead character, an egotistical television variety star named Jerry Biffle, was based Silvers’s friend, Milton Berle.

Lucas-Monroe. Top Banana (Phil Silvers and Ted (Sport) Morgan singing "A Dog is a Man's Best Friend), 1951. Museum of the City of New York. 80.104.1.2413.

The show featured acts like a duet in which Silvers and an Airedale terrier improbably named Ted (Sport) Morgan performed the showstopper, “A Dog is a Man’s Best Friend.” According to a review in Life Magazine, Sport even owned a share of the production.

Ted (Sport) Morgan is seen below basking in the glory on opening night.

Lucas-Monroe. Top Banana (Phil Silvers and Ted (Sport) Morgan), 1951. Museum of the City of New York. 80.104.1.2444.

Ted Morgan wasn’t the only celebrity that turned up on opening night.  I came across images of  Judy Garland, Liz Taylor, Ginger Rogers, Marlene Dietrich, Jimmy Durante, and General MacArthur. And here they are, for your viewing pleasure.

Judy Garland was in town doing a four month run at the Palace Theatre. Here she is palling around with Jimmy Durante at the bar.

Lucas-Monroe. Top Banana (Judy Garland and Jimmy Durante), 1951. Museum of the City of New York. 80.104.1.2446.

Marlene Dietrich walked the red carpet decked out in fur and fancy necklaces.

Lucas-Monroe. Top Banana (Marlene Dietrich), 1951. Museum of the City of New York. 80.104.1.2414

Liz Taylor, of course, did the same.

Lucas-Monroe. Top Banana (Elizabeth Taylor), 1951. Museum of the City of New York. 80.104.1.2433.

Farley Granger, fresh from his success in Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train, stopped by and hung out backstage with the cast and  Shelley Winters.

Lucas-Monroe. Shelley Winters and Farley Granger visiting performers backstage at "Top Banana"., 1951. 80.104.1.2473.

Lucas-Monroe. [Ginger Rogers, Jean MacArthur, Phil Silvers and General Douglas MacArthur backstage at "Top Banana"., 1951. 80.104.1.2470.

Backstage, a winning combination of Hollywood and military star power: Ginger Rogers and General Douglas MacArthur.

And that’s just the beginning of our Lucas-Pritchard and Lucas-Monroe archive. Images of Veronica Lake as Peter Pan and Eartha Kitt as a “new face” of 1952 are just some of the good things yet to come.  Stay tuned for updates!