This is recognized as the most beautiful theatre in England, and at the time of its erection was probably the finest theatre of its kind in the world. It is the result of the munificence of a wealthy man, and although situated on a little known street in a comporatively poor quarter of London it is built and decorated in perfect taste. In fact, the magnificence of the building is manifest at its very threshold. The interior is of exquisitely designed marble; the seats are luxurious, and the decorations classic and imposing. All about the interior of the auditorium are indica-tions of a distinct advance in the evolution of a modern play-house. Yet this wonderful edifice, boasting of its superior accommodations and noble decorations, stands idle today because of its unwisely chosen location.
The side walls are of hewn blocks,of unpolished white marble, arranged in severely square panels, bordered with cunningly devised polished marble pilasters of a corresponding color and topped with burnished bronze capitals. As in most London theatres, the stalls or best seats are located below the street level in the front part of the main floor, yet they are readily accessible by open stairways with broken flights of steps that descend on either side of the house from the balcony level. The resting platform in the middle of the stairs is surmounted by an open Roman Doric arch, supported on ornamental columns of like design. In the upper niches of the space underneath these arches are installed comfortable state boxes.
There is a dress circle (balcony) and a family circle (second balcony) both comfortably furnished with roomy low-backed arm-chairs. The orchestra and pit, too, have chairs of this kind that aid in giving passage space between the rows.
The proscenium opening is a model of simplicity, with its flatly curved top and severely draped front curtain. There is no stage projection, and the orchestra well is buried out of sight beneath the stage front. Stately figures and effective ornaments, with classic column bases and capitals of bronze, help to decorate the marble side walls, the dead white of which is relieved by the warmth of dark rich hangings and draperies.
The next interior to be described is an original model of a Neighborhood theatre designed for a superior class of patrons. To assist the imagination in the contemplation of this superior form of theatre we shall employ the same method of pardonable deception as that employed in reciting the features of the large central theatre, except that, because of the social character of the present edifice, the visiting patron shall be accompanied by his wife.
When Mr. Pleasanton comes home after a hard day in his office he may feel in the mood to enjoy a good evening's entertainment, but the necessity of traveling a distance to the theatre is very likely to discourage him from going. When Mrs. Pleasanton, however, tells him of the new theatre so close at hand - only five minutes' walk away - he is glad to accept her suggestion that they visit it.
Approaching the theatre they notice its two long narrow windows, the cathedral glass of which is brilliantly illuminated by indirect lighting. Attracted first by this bright beacon, they both comment on the general beauty and chastity of the exterior design of the theatre and Mr. Pleasanton, ever practical, lauds the owners for their selection of so convenient a site.
"One never needs to prepare especially for a theatre so near home," he says.
Impressed by the simple decoration of the inviting and spacious lobby, the couple, after procuring their seats at one of the ticket windows that pierce the marble side walls, enter the foyer to be confronted by fresh surprises. Liveried attendants, in apparent profusion, politely relieve them of their wraps, which are deposited in convenient receptacles underneath the stairs to the balcony. Madame's new picture hat is carefully placed in a separate cabinet, and she experiences a feeling of relief as she realizes that there is no danger of its being crushed by persons crowding past her in the cramped space between seats.. Mr. Pleasanton also is delighted to learn that there is no extra charge for this much-needed attention.
Fortunately they arrive before the performance has begun and are shown directly to their seats. To their utter astonishment the people already seated remain undisturbed while they pass through to their seats. This accomplishment so pleasurably affects Mrs. Pleasanton that she remarks in an undertone to her husband:
"What a comfort it is to feel that we have not disturbed anyone in reaching our seats," and to this her husband dryly retorts: "And what a delightful contemplation to realize that no one will disturb us in crushing past to get in or go out."
Mr. Pleasanton further remarks that this passage without disturbance is made possible by a trifle wider spacing between the rows of seats and the installation of low-back chairs, adding that such an adoption must bring enough increased patronage to more than offset any small loss in the number of seats.
Mrs. Pleasanton signifies her approval and observes that the side walls and ceiling are of hewn stone, to which her husband replies that in his belief they are only plaster imitation of Caen stone, but that nevertheless they afford a feeling of security from fire risk. Mrs. Pleasanton, always a lover of good music, comments on the sweetness of the strains of the overture, which seemingly comes from a distance. Mr. Pleasanton explains that this entrancing effect is produced by submerging the orchestra in a space well beneath the stage apron and front rows of seats, supplementing his explanation with the remark: "Music apparently coming from a distance is alluring. I hate these blatant brass bands that blow their music directly at you in chunks, and in picture houses where they place the band in full view before your very eyes, as if purposely to distract your attention from the stage it is most distressing."