Frohman brothers

Definition

Theater

  • Three US theater managers: Daniel Frohman (1851 - 1940),Gustave Frohman (1855 - 1930), and the impresario who dominatedBroadway for a quarter of a century, Charles Frohman (1860 - 1915).

    Daniel Frohman began as business manager of New York'sFifth Avenue Theatre and the Madison Square Theatre, where he employedDavid Belasco as his stage manager. Then, in 1885, Danieland Gustave Frohman took over the Lyceum Theatreon Fourth Avenue and created an outstanding company that performedplays by such British dramatists as A. W. Pinero and H. A. Jones.The venue was demolished in 1902, and Daniel built a new Lyceum on45th Street. He also managed Daly's Theatre from 1899 to1903 and was president of the Actor's Fund of America.

    Charles Frohman worked on newspapers before managinga tour for the Wallack Theatre Company in 1883. On one disastrouswestern journey, cowboys began to shoot at their train on the NorthernPacific Railroad; only when Frohman persuaded his actors to give aperformance on the prairie did they calm down.

    His first success was the production of Bronson Howard's civil-wardrama Shenandoah in 1888. In 1893 he built and opened the EmpireTheatre on Broadway, with John Drew (see Drew family)as the star of his stock company. In 1896, he led theater owners,producers, and agents in forming the Theatrical Syndicate,which held a virtual monopoly on bookings in major US cities for about16 years.

    In 1893 Frohman took over the Duke of York's Theatre,London, where he established a repertory company whose successes includedBarrie's Peter Pan (1904). When Frohman first read PeterPan he was so excited that he would stop people in the streetsand act out parts. Barrie, however, was so doubtful about "thisdream-child of mine" that he wrote Frohman a second play, Alice-Sit-By-the-Fire,to make up for the expected failure of Peter Pan.

    When Barrie informed Frohman that the child actor who wasto play Peter was ill, Frohman boomed, "If the boy can't cometo the play, we'll take the play to the boy." He assembled asmany props as possible in the boy's sick room and had the cast performit for him, apparently the only instance of a professional play presentedin a child's bedroom.

    Frohman died in the sinking of the Lusitania. Duringhis lifetime he is credited with making many stars, including EthelBarrymore (see the Barrymores) and Maude Adams.

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