"Liliputians" in Fairyland

or Cruise ot the Polar Star

Presented Saturday and Monday Evenings

June 15th and 17th 1901

Under the auspices of the Ave Maria Church, Ilion NY

By Aileen Carney Sweeney
October 2014

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Liliputians in Fairyland or Cruise ot the Polar Star
Photo from Jeff Carney's private family photo collection

 

The Operetta's Origin

Clay M. Greene was an American playwright of fifty plays and opera librettos. He was born on March 12, 1850 and died on May 9, 1933. He was the author of the operetta featured in this article. The spectacular melodrama was first entitled "The Cruise of the Polar Star." The play was co-authored by David Belasco. Gustave and Charles Frohman, purchased the operetta in the summer of 1883 with the intention of bringing it to the stage in the winter of 1884.

Clay M. Greene

 



Play's copyright notice

The Play was Copyrighted

On October 29, 1898, a notice of the play's copyright appeared in the New York Dramatic Mirror. It would go on to be a hugely popular production that was performed in many towns and cities, including Ilion, over the Northeast.

 

Producer and Author - David Belasco

David Belasco, the play's co-author, wrote, directed, or produced more than 100 Broadway plays. His career spanned from 1884 to 1930. He was known as "the Bishop of Broadway" because he dressed in black clothing and wore a clerical collar, which made him resemble a priest. He was of the Jewish faith. He was considered the most powerful personality on the New York city theater scene. Famous performers, including Cecil B. DeMille, Lionel Barrymore, D.W. Griffith, Helen Hayes, Lillian Gish and Mary Pickford worked with Belasco on his productions. In 1910, he purchased the Broadway Stuyvesant Theatre and renamed it the Belasco Theatre. He also owned Belasco Theatres in other cities, including Los Angeles and Washington DC. The Broadway Belasco Theatre is still in operation as a Broadway venue with much of the original decor intact. David Belasco died in 1931 at the age of 77. According to an urban legend, David Belasco's ghost haunts the Belasco Theatre every night.

New York Dramatic Mirror - David Belasco and Charles Frohman
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

 

Charles Frohman

Producers - Gustave and Charles Frohman

The Frohman brothers, Daniel, Gustave and Charles, were famous Broadway theatre owners and theatrical producers. They also owned and operated motion picture production companies.

Charles Frohman was born on July 15, 1856. Charles Frohman purchased the operetta, "The Cruise of the Polar Star" in 1883. The operetta was later produced under the name "Liliputians" in Fairyland or The Cruise of the Polar Star.

"Frohman was known for his ability to develop talent. His stars included William Gillette, John Drew, Jr., Ethel Barrymore, Billie Burke, E. H. Sothern, Julia Marlowe, Maude Adams, Paul Gilmore, Evelyn Millard, Henry Miller and Walter E. Perkins." Charles Frohman died in the sinking of the RMS Lusitania on May 7, 1915.

 

North Tonawanda Evening News
1904

Operetta Hugely Popular

The operetta was described with the phrases: "Bright Catchy Music, Calcium Lights with Changing Colors, Elaborate Costumes, Juvenile Fairy Opera in Three Acts, and The Season's Greatest Attraction". In the April 27, 1899 edition of the New Rochelle Pioneer, the play was advertised as having drawn "Crowded Houses at New York City, Philadelphia, Brooklyn, Etc."

From 1899 until the mid-1920s, the play was performed by local, juvenile, cast members usually as a benefit for a charitable organization. The following is a summary of some of the statewide performances:

Apr 27, 1899 New Rochelle Pioneer
Dec 1, 1899  Brooklyn Daily Eagle St. Francis Xavier's
Feb  1, 1900 Phelps NY Citizen Smith Opera House, Geneva
Nov 27, 1900 Geneva Daily Times St. Francis de Sales Church
Feb 23, 1901 White Plains Eastern State Journal St. John's Church
Mar  9, 1901 Putnam Country Republican St. Lawrence Church
May 10, 1901 Church Bulletin St. John Church, Stamford, Ct.
Oct 15, 1901 Ogdensburg News St. Mary's Academy
Dec 14, 1901 Troy Daily Times St. Mary's Academy
Dec 21, 1901 Glens Falls Morning Star St. Mary's Church
Jan 24, 1902 Elmira Star Gazette St. Patrick's School
Jan 25, 1902 Yonkers Statesman St. John's Episcopal Church
May 15, 1906 Brooklyn Standard Union St. Michael's Sunday School
Mar 13, 1926 Putnam Country Courier

 

"Liliputians" in Fairyland or Cruise of the Polar Star

A Juvenile Fairy Opera in Three Acts

Cast of Characters

ACT IóDeck of steam yacht. Brilliant colors
ACT IIóSubmarine scene, showing curious shells, etc.,and diver in combat with huge shark.
ACT IIIóDreary Cave, which, at the arrival, of a fierce dragon, is transformed to Aurora's fairy grotto.

The story is a fairy tale. It gives the adventures of the crew and passengers of the good ship "Polar Star," on a cruise into the realms of the "Liliputians."

MORTALS
Capt. Billy Millions, Stanley Frost; Admiral Dewey, Walter Wilcox; sailers, Arthur Hutchinson, Robert Thompson, Ralph Anderson, Frank Stengle, Robert Cook, Roy Goodwin, Schuyler Roberts and Vernon Churchill; Diver McGuinty, Harry Ottley: A Spaniard, Robert Weir; college girls and cooks, Mildred Fowler, Edith Erskine, Catherine Oaks, Grace Underhill, Lulu Little, Mabel Vance, Urana Moore, Mildred McCoy, Esther O'Hanlon, Irene Neater, Alice Smith, Madeleine Schenck.

LILIPUTIAN SHADES
Napoleon, Flovd Rippey; Robinson Crusoe, Alexander Skinner; Bismarck, Clarence Wilson; Mikado, John Emig; Hamlet, Chester Reynolds; Sherlock Holmes, Alfred Harris; Capt. Kid, Herman Clark; Wizard of the Nile, Francis Hardison; Zulus, Frank Snyder, Howard Emig, Robert Patterson.

FAIRIES
Aurora, May Wiggins; Fantasia, Hazel Steer; attendants and guards, Ruby Broshard, Mary Means, Blanche Eddy, Grace Walker, Emma Richards, Grace Underhill, Ella Speer, Jessie Reed, Hazel Ostrander, Pearl Goodfellow, Mabel Sperry, Hattie May, Louise Allen and Bessie Batxer.

 

"Liliputians" in Fairyland or Cruise of the Polar Star

Ilion Production 1901

The Ave Maria Church (now the Annunciation Parish) presented the operetta June 15 and 17, 1901, at the Ilion Theatre.

George Daley had the lead role of Captain Billy Millions. As an adult, George Daley worked, as a pharmacist, for Ilion pharmacist George Carney. George Daley later worked at O'Rourke & Hurley Pharmacy, of Little Falls, and opened his own pharmacy in Little Falls NY in 1924.

Jeff Carney's grandfather, Ilion pharmacist George Carney, played the role of Teddy Boline. George Carney married (Jennnie) Jane Agnes Hartford on July 7, 1909. He was a well-known Ilion pharmacist. Jennie (Jane) Hartford was also in the play, as well as her sister, Jeff's aunt, Mary (Olive) Hartford. Olive played the role of Aurora, Goddes of the Dawn.

Carney siblings were members of the Ave Maria Church and were teenagers when they appeared in the play. My grandfather, James Edward Carney IHS '05 played the role of The Wizard of the Nile. His classmate, Leo Powers was a sailor in the play.

My great uncle, Joseph Carney IHS '06 played the role of Napoleon, Emperor of the French.

Margaret 'Maggie' Carney, their sister, played a cook on the Polar Star.

Ilion Ave Maria Church
Michael Carney, father of George M. Carney, married Bridgett Crosby on April 19, 1868. It was the first marriage to take place in the Ave Maria Church, the old church edifice that was located on East Main St. The parish is now named the Church of the Annunciation, Ilion.

 

Ilion Cast members of Liliputians in Fairyland or Cruise ot the Polar Star

Ilion Cast of Charaters

The Ilion cast playbill was provided courtesy of my cousin, Jeff Carney. It was for the performance held in Ilion in June 1901. The playbill was in Jeff's collection along with the photograph appearing on the cover story.

You can read the cast names on this larger version of the image and read the

Ilion Program 1      Ilion Program 2
Ilion Program 3      Ilion Program 4

 

Carney Family Photograph of Cast Members

Liliputians in Fairyland or Cruise ot the Polar Star
Photo from the Dr. Theodore Carney personal, family, photo collection.
Jeff Carney's grandmother Jennie (Jane Hartford) Carney is in the lower right corner of this photograph.
She played the role of a cook on The Polar Star.
The center would be John O'Donnell (The Mikado), that to his right Jeff Carney's grandmother's cousin, John Donlin (Sherlock Holmes), lower right Jane (Jennie) Hartford, Jeff's grandmother.

 

Poster for the Operetta

Liliputians in Fairyland or Cruise ot the Polar Star Poster
November 27, 1900
Geneva Daily Times

 

Jeff Carney Family Photograph of Cast Members

Liliputians in Fairyland or Cruise ot the Polar Star
Photographs from the Jeff Carney personal, family, photo and memorablia collection.

 

Liliputians in Fairyland or Cruise ot the Polar Star

 

Liliputians in Fairyland or Cruise ot the Polar Star

 

Liliputians in Fairyland or Cruise ot the Polar Star

 

References Cited

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October 7, 2014