New York Morning Telegraph: Review of Pepito the Spanish Clown at Proctor’s Fifth Avenue Theater (1923)

Sunday, November 18, 1923

by Ben Barnett

New York Morning Telegraph

For versatility and novelty this act must be judged as having a good chance to eventually find lucrative engagements in the big-time theatres. The only fault with it now is that, when it is all over, something seems to be lacking—a sort of condiment to a good and abbreviated vaudeville menu which this artist undoubtedly supplies.) 

The trouble, from a fair and critical viewpoint, appears to be in the routining. By turning the contribution around, weeding the chaff from the wheat, dovetailing here and there, the results, excellent as they are already, are going to be easily tenfold better.

Pepito is evidently a foreign importation. He speaks with an accent, suggesting Spanish. His makeup reminds one of those old Hottentot characters, a daub of white over the cheeks, and the eyes enlarged with red and black interlineations of grease paint. 

His first entrance is on a freak bicycle, followed by an attractive woman [Margaret “Peggy” Shorey], who assists him in some of his stunts and who also plays the saxophone acceptably. Sound imitations are his initial quota. He introduces them differently, and all with excellent comedy effect. He runs the gamut of the cricket, sawing wood, canary, chicken, dog, cow, and the roar of a lion, blowing through a glass lamp chimney, while lashing a whip at the imaginary animal at the same time, and all with marvelous natural illusion.  He got laughs with a small prop figure of a doll, minus a head, which he furnished by painting the semblance of a face on his hand and causing the prop to dance and maneuver. There was also a burlesque bull fight, a Carmen travesty, and riding on a miniature bicycle which could not even hold a child of two, much less a man of his size and weight. He rode around surprisingly well, straddling his long legs and keeping a uniform balance and equilibrium. 

For a finish, he struck a new chord in an imitation baby-crying bit which sounded uncannily real, and was at the same time provokingly mirthful.  Perched upon a high chair, and with a cap to match, he grimaced and let out a number of infantile yells that must have made many of the married couples present forget their environment. He should make more out of this, and no doubt will. It is too good a bit to be wasted, as the comedy possibilities are unlimited. He works in three at the opening, with a special drop showing an Egyptian background and a prop rubber palm tree which furnishes additional laughs. Another drop for the bull fight is also used. 

Seventeen minutes. Well received. Closes in one.

Source:

With thanks to the newspaper database at fultonhistory.com

New York Morning Telegraph, November 20, 1923, column 4.

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