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An Old-time Actor And Manager

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Few 'men there are living to-day who have been identified with the American stage for so long a perioc as the veteran actor and manager John A. Ellsler, at present a mem ber of the company supporting his talented daughter, Effie, who ap pears at the Grand Opera house nex Wednesday evening. For forty-five years Mr. Ellsler has trod the mimic stage as boy and man, a greater por tion of that period assuming per plexing business cares as well. In his time he has played many part and played them well, yet now hi years sit lightly on him, his facultie are unimpaired, his eye flashes with the fire of youth, and his voice is a full and sonorous as ever. When called upon recently in Detroit anc requested to turn back the pages o: memory's book and recount some o: his recollections of by-gone days Mr. Ellsler slowly filled the bowl o: his meerschaum pipe, puffed meditatively, and then said: " It's a long, long look back to the season of 1846, when I first became a member of the dramatic profession. 1 began at the bottom of the profession as assistant property man at Spear's Museum, in Philadelphia, and gradually worked my way up until I was given minor speaking parts in the stock company. From Spear's I went to Burton's Arch Theatre, where I remained four or five years, doing, as all actors had to do in those good old days of the stock company, a different linecharacter, perhaps, every night in the week. After a time I secured interests in a managerial capacity, and for three seasons Joe Jefferson and I were associated as partners in managing a southern circuit. I also starred in " Rip Van Winkle," not, however,the version that has brought fame and fortune to Mr. Jefferson. In 1856 I secured control of the Academy of Music in Cleveland, the " Old Drury," as it was affectionately termed by its patrons, and, with the exception of two seasons, I continued as manager in Cleveland until 1886." " Then under your management, Mr. Ellsler, most of the great actors and actresses of the last half century must have appeared." "Yes, sir; all of them, both dramatic and lyric, and to recall them would be to give you a list of names to conjure with. Forest, the eider Booth, Macready, Charles Kean, Burton, Ben DeBar, Charlotte Cushman, and so on indefinitely. And, sir, what actors - what artists - we had in those days. Then, when a young man or young woman joined the profession, they were trained, educated and obliged to familiarize themselves with every line of acting. The stock company was the school that developed actors and actresses - from those same companies, I notice, the best people playing leading parts to-day have been recruited. Under the present system, where the country is flooded with combinations (just think of it, there between 400 and 500 on the road), a beginner has no opportunity for development. He or she is not permitted to have an original conception of a character; everything is drilled into them, and if they manifest any disposition to obtrude their own ideas the chances are they are dismissed from the company. When you were called upon, as under the old school, to take a low comedy part one night, a juvenile the next, a heavy part the next and so on, it meant plenty of hard work, but it was a valuable training and produced a versatility that is woefully lacking nowadays." " Do you think that the drama is degenerating ?' ' "Hardly degenerating, but the popular taste has changed very greatly. People of late years seek the theatre for amusement chiefly. They want to laugh, and the result is, that comic opera, burlesque and the skits that are called farce comedies, are the drawing cards. Lovers of the legitímate drama are in a minority, and wefaearand see things in first class theatres now that would have been hissed off not so very long ago."