Monday, March 7, 2011

Winsor McCay Takes to the Stage

“Little Nemo’s” Author Takes to the Stage.

New York, June 15. -- “Silas,” or, as he was known, when he was poor but still proud, Winsor McCay, has at last succumbed to the inevitable -- that is, inevitable to those who gain fame, and sometimes inevitable to those who have not gained fame -- and gone on the stage. He appeared for the first time last night at Keith-Proctor’s Fourteenth Street theatre, and was received with enthusiasm by the audience.

Mr. McCay did no talking whatever, but appeared like an ordinary human being -- a clerk, a cashier, or a mere gentleman -- but the fifteen or twenty minutes that he was on the stage he made his pencil speak for him. He drew a series of 25 pictures in his well known manner, depicting the characters in the “Dream of the Rarebit Fiend,” “Little Nemo in Slumberland,” “Dull Care,” “Mr. Bunion,” and “Hungry Henrietta.” After Mr. McCay had shown the audience that he could draw a “Dream of the Rarebit Fiend” in something like forty seconds, as well as a complete six-column comic of “Sammy Sneeze,” in a minute and a quarter, he picked from the audience at random people who struck his fancy, and with a few strokes on the board which he uses would draw a likeness of the person selected. This was one of the most amusing parts of the act.

While Mr. McCay was on the stage for fifteen or twenty minutes, more amusement was given the audience in this time, than they often receive in two or three hours, and Mr. Proctor says that from the outlook today he would have to increase his seating capacity of the theatre or hire another house.

One of the most surprising things done by Mr. McCay was at the close of the act, after he had selected the person in the audience whom he indicated he would draw, signaled for the lights to go out, and the theatre became totally dark. In less than one minute the lights were switched on, and Mr. McCay had drawn the picture of the person indicated while the stage and theatre were in darkness. This last act was the feature that most astonished audience.

After Mr. McCay appears in the Keith-Proctor circuit he will make a tour of the country, appearing in the principal cities where the “Dream of the Rarebit Fiend” and other of his comics are published.

“Hitherto, I have always stood in awe of one man, who passes the decisive verdict on my work -- the editor,” said Mr. McCay yesterday. “And now it makes me feel pretty shaky to go out and present my work to thousands of people who will compose my audiences and each one of whom will be practically my editor. Think of that. It’s a Welsh rarebit dream all by itself!”

Mr. Fred Day, of Francis, Day and Hunter, has composed a two-step, which will be played during Mr. McCay’s act, and it is called “The Dream of the Rarebit Fiend.” It is full of queer, unexpected musical phrases of an amusing nature and interprets the spirit of much of Silas’s comic characters who eat cheese sandwiches and undergo the consequences.

*16 Jun 1906 Manitoba Free Press

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