Nine Pine Street – 1933

Nine Pine Street

Longacre Theatre, (4/27/1933 – circa. 5/1933)
Opening Date: Apr 27, 1933
Closing Date: May 1933
Total Performances: 28

Category: Play, Original, Broadway
Description: A play in six scenes and an epilogue
Setting: The Holden Home, New Bedford, Mass.

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  • Roberta Beatty – Mrs. Carrie Riggs
    Helen Claire  – Clara Holden
    Andree Corday  – Ernestine
    Lillian Gish  – Effie Holden
    Raymond Hackett  – Warren Pitt
    Robert Harrison  – Edward Holden
    Eleanor Hicks  – Mrs. Powell
    James Hollicky  – Lieut. Middleton
    James P. Houston  – Rev. Appleton
    William Ingersoll  – Dr. Powell
    Neil McFee  – Martin Lodge
    John Morrissey  – Capt. James Tate
    Jessamine Newcombe  – Miss Roberts
    Barna Ostertag  – Annie
    Catherine Proctor  – Miss Littlefield
    Janet Young  – Mrs. Holden

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“Miss Lillian Gish, who of late has been known in these parts more as the lady of the camellas, became last evening a forget-me-not in the rain.” That was the phrase applied by one of those New York reporters to Effie Holden, after the trial in New Bedford.” NY Times

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Miss Lillian Gish, as a Reincarnation of Lizzie Borden, Appears in “Nine Pine Street.” NY Times

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Nine Pines Street Charles Affron

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Soon after the failure of Camille, Lillian had a new opportunity to prove her mettle on Broadway. In early January 1933, she began preparing for her role in Nine Pine Street, written by John Colton, designed by Robert Edmond Jones, and with her costar from Camille, Raymond Hackett. But after a run of only twenty-nine performances, this play had to be counted a failure as well. Not Lillian, though. Her performance proved to everyone that she was able, after all, to adjust to the scope of live theatre. In the role of a renamed Lizzie Borden, she got to play a version of Electra, here exacting murderous revenge against a too-quick-to-marry father. Her portrayal of this character, a far cry from her fragile Marguerite Gauthier, united the critics in her praise. One review gives some notion of the impact she made: “When she comes down the stairs, after the first utterly noiseless murder, the sad-iron wrapped in her guilty apron, she is an appalling sight, wracked, strong, and almost nauseated at her own deed. And when she looks at the walking stick, as the curtain blacks out the second slaying, it is with an overwhelming sense of unescapable fate. It is an extraordinary performance, taut, almost trancelike in its power, and oppressive, with a sort of sultry brilliance. I toss my cloak at her feet.”

John Mason Brown wrote: “Miss Gish acts her with a power she hasn’t shown before. Her voice is stronger, deeper, more commanding; her facial expressions count for more; her whole grip is much surer.” Time called it an “amazing transformation.” The role must have touched Lillian deeply. More than ten years later she was still thinking about it as the basis for a movie project, to be directed by none other than D. W. Griffith.

— Charles Affron —

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