Central City Opera House – Now and Then – HDV 720p 29.97 fps

In 1877, the citizens of Central City organized a fundraising drive for a grand new opera house befitting the gold mining town’s reputation as “the richest square mile on earth.” Many of the town’s residents were Welsh and Cornish miners, who brought with them a rich tradition of music from their homeland. Prominent Denver architect Robert S. Roeschlaub provided an elegant, understated design for the stone structure, and San Francisco artist John C. Massman added elaborate trompe l’oeil murals to the interior.

Her early glory years following the 1878 grand opening were short-lived. When the Central City mines were played out, the Opera House fell into disrepair. Fortunately, a volunteer-driven effort led by Ida Kruse McFarlane, Edna Chappell and Anne Evans led to an extensive restoration of the Opera House in 1932. That summer, the legendary actress Lillian Gish opened the newly restored opera house with Camille, launching an annual tradition of summer festivals in Central City.

Central City Opera House – Now and Then – HDV 720p 29

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“It wasn’t quite that easy then, and I don’t think it is now. I know I cannot recall a world in which I was not an actress, and that’s true for most of us who’ve survived. Mary Martin, Charlie Chaplin, both dear friends of mine; the theater’s been almost the whole of their existence. Hepburn is another great whose life’s been the stage. She was playing Juliet and somebody asked her how old she really was. ‘I’m fourteen,’ was her answer, and it was true. She was fourteen when she played Juliet. So it was with Charles Laughton and my sister, Dorothy. It was hard work. “These were true artists, professionals with understanding and empathy and even for them to get ahead and stay ahead was never easy.” (Lillian Gish)

Hollywood, the pioneers – Rooftop Studios
The pioneers – Hollywood in 1905

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Theatre: Stage to Screen to Television – By William Torbert Leonard – London 1981 (PDF Download)

In 1882 playing The Lady of the Camelias. Abandoned after the surge of the turn-of-the-century gold rush, Robert Edmond Jones restored the acoustically perfect theatre and in July 1932 reopened the Central City Opera House on its fiftieth anniversary with Edna and Delos Chappell’s translation of Dumas’ play. Staged by Robert Edmond Jones, Camille starred Lillian Gish. The Colorado production was transferred to Broadway on November 1, 1932, at the Morosco Theatre for fifteen performances. Robert Garland (The New York World-Telegram) found Lillian Gish played the lady of the ca- melias “in just the proper key … a charmingly artificial resurrection of a charmingly artificial play, a museum piece from the half-forgotten eighties, staged by Robert Edmond Jones, who adores such things and acted in its leading role by an anachronistic lady who seemed somehow to belong.”

Lillian Gish, Arthur Hill and Colleen Dewhurst – All the Way Home – Belasco Theatre NY 1960

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Backward Glances – John Gielgud 1989 (Distinguished Company 1972) PDF Download

John Gielgud reflects on …

The year 1936 when I played Hamlet at the Empire Theatre in New York for Guthrie McClintic (with Lillian Gish, Judith Anderson, and Arthur Byron) was, of course, one of the most exciting of my life, though I was placed in a somewhat embarrassing position when Leslie Howard appeared during the same season in his own production and with a number of English players in his cast. (Malcolm Keen and Harry Andrews who played the King and Horatio respectively were the only English actors in mine.)

Photo Gallery – Hamlet

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A Pictorial History of the AMERICAN THEATRE 1860-1980 (by DANIEL BLUM – 1981) PDF Download

There has been no book up to now which will be as valuable to actors and theatre lovers in years to come as this pictorial history of the American stage by Daniel Blum. Here is a permanent record of all the great plays and players of the last one hundred years. The camera as it has been used by many masters of the photographic art has an ability which is almost uncanny in capturing mood and interpretation as well as likeness.

A pictorial history of the American theatre, 1860-1980 cover

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A Life In Photography – by Edward Steichen 1984 (PDF Download)

The first time I saw Lillian Gish, other than on the movie screen, was as she walked into my studio to be photographed for Vanity Fair. As the saying goes, I was knocked for a loop. It was as if an angel had come into the place. Every movement she made and everything she said seemed full of magic. I made pictures fast and wildly and believed they were all wonderful. But that night, when I looked at the negatives, even before seeing the proofs, I realized I didn’t have anything at all. I had allowed my emotional reaction to take charge of that sitting and had lost all charge of myself. This was a valuable lesson, but a very embarrassing one, for I had to go to Miss Gish with the proofs and beg her to come and sit again for me. She was very gracious about my chagrin. When she came again, I decided to do a fanciful version of Romola, a romantic role she was planning to undertake. I put flowers in her hair and then let her own sweetness and youngness take over (plate 116).

A life in photography

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Vanity Fair Archive – Lillian Gish (PDF Download)

The particular genius of Lillian Gish lies in making the definite charmingly indefinite. Her technique consists in thinking out a characterization directly and concretely and then executing it in terms of semi-vague suggestion. The acting of every other woman in the moving pictures is a thing of hard, set lines; the acting of Lillian Gish is a thing of a hundred shadings, hints and implications. The so-called wistful smile of the usual movie actress is a mere matter of drawing the lips coyly back from the gums; her tears are a mere matter of inhaling five times rapidly through the nose, blinking the eyes and letting a few drops of glycerine trickle down the left cheek.

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