Saturday, May 23, 2015

1906 Broadway Play "BEDFORD'S HOPE" Features A Race Between A Car And A Train

   In January of 1906, the latest technological wonder, the automobile, took on the stalwart symbol of transport, the train.
   Bedford's Hope was an old-fashioned melodrama with a new-fangled twist; instead of racing against time to save the damsel/home/ investment on foot or by horse, an automobile was integrated into the action, leading to a climactic race with everything on the line. Guess who won? Hint: The bad guys were on the train.
   Here's a local review from when the Broadway production went on the road to Fort Wayne, Indiana...

 Bedford's Hope Opens a Three Days' Engagement. No theatergoer can fail to be much entertained by the Play, "Bedford's Hope," which opened a three days' engagement at the Majestic theater last evening.; While the play hovers pretty closely about the melodramatic much of the time, and is certainly a thriller. It Is not an impossible play or a "blood and thunder" mixture. To the contrary, it's wholesome, exciting and interesting. The company is a fine one and the stage setting is unusual and a wonderful demonstration of stage mechanism. The race between an automobile and a locomotive in the third act has the chariot race in "Ben Hur" smashed to smithereens. One did not have to make heavy demands on his imagination to see the locomotive and the automobile move, neither did the wheels of the big engine seen in the distance, stand still. They moved. So did the automobile, clear across the stage with its excited occupants, who were riding to reach a certain bank and stop payment on a paper before the holder of that paper, who was on the train, could get there. There is considerable preliminary to the race, such as the cutting of telephone and telegraph wires to hinder the movements of the brother and sister, who finally win the race. There are two love threads binding the story together and considerable comedy. Character parts are particularly well acted. E. M. Kimball and Harry B. Robinson in the roles of Judge Fair and Long Pete made the fun of the play. George Staley, as William Bedford; owner of the old Pard Mine and fine, honest man; Walter Law,  his son, Harry Grifflth with a hidden past, and his, son, Abe, ably taken by Ogden Wright, each and all contribute greatly to the success of the play by their sterling acting. Emma Butler is easy and natural as Mrs. Merley, and Mary Servoss handles the part of Alice Bedford pleasingly"