100 Years Ago: Worst theatrical review ever written?

Readers of the New York Times on January 19, 1910, were greeted with the following theatrical review:

Unless They Want To Put On Extra Pounds To Prove An Old Adage

If you’re confused, the lead of the review elaborates:

“If to laugh is to grow fat, obesity patients had better take to the other side of the road when they see the sign ‘William Collier in ‘A Lucky Star’ looming up in front of the Hudson Theatre on Forty-Fourth Street.”

This is actually from a glowing review of a new farce by Anne Crawford Flexner. Do you know anybody who says ‘to laugh is to grow fat’ anymore? Thank goodness that one died out.

Flexner, by the way, was a fascinating woman, an ardent feminist and suffragist whose daughter Eleanor became a revolutionary in the field of women’s studies.

Thanks to absurdly positives reviews like the one in the Times, Flexner’s ‘A Lucky Star’ continued on Broadway for three more months. Read the full review here.

Incidentally, the Hudson Theatre (141 W. 44th St., at left), now landmarked, is still around as convention space for the Millennium Broadway Hotel. Notably, the first production of Arsenic and Old Lace debuted here on January 10, 1941. Given all the news about ‘late night TV’ wars, you may be interested to know that it all started here: the first Tonight Show, with original host Steve Allen, was first broadcast here, at the Hudson Theatre, in 1954.

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