Plays and Players at Pillot's Opera House
tion of Monte Cristo, "is held spellbound with wonder, and the
intellectual may not turn away despite the tax on his credulity."
January and February of 1887 were noteworthy for excellent
Shaksperian presentations at Pillot's. William H. Crane and
Stuart Robson let Houstonians see their revival of The Comedy
of Errors on the night of February 17. The Errors was the most
successful play Robson and Crane ever produced, as Crane ex-
plained in his reminiscences.8 The two comedians attempted the
work only after a great deal of study. The slender Robson had a
task in padding himself to the proportions of Crane; and Crane,
the heftier man, had a greater problem in imitating the squeaky
voice of Robson. Crane went to England and hired as adviser
Charles Webb, an old actor, who with his twin brother had played
the two Dromios with success years before. Never able, of course,
to make themselves precisely alike, the players gave an additional
charm to their portrayals by having the audience always guessing
which was Robson and which was Crane. When the two, in their
newly formed partnership, made the Errors ready for the road,
they found they had spent $27,000, a good round production
figure for the late seventies. An overflow audience at Pillot's
thought their Dromios remarkably well interpreted. The Post
detected the peculiar individuality of each, despite the many
changes in speech and manner they both assumed. Crane was
Ephesus, and Robson, Syracuse.
In The Merry Wives of Windsor at the matinee the Post thought
that Crane fulfilled every expectation as Sir John Falstaff.
He was splendidly made up, with his speech and gesture perfectly
consistent with the role. In several scenes where he is conspicuous, and
notably in that where he is thrust into a basket and hurled into a
ditch to escape the wrath of a jealous husband, he makes a pitiably
ludicrous but natural picture. Mr. Robson acquitted himself as well
as the character of Slender would permit.
The journal, noting that many of the auditors were seated on
camp stools in the aisles at the evening performance, said the
matter should be called to the attention of the fire-department,
"as the place is a veritable fire-trap."
eWilliam H. Crane, Footprints and Echoes (New York, 1925), Chapter XI.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 66, July 1962 - April, 1963. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101196/. Accessed May 22, 2015.