Play List:

1. The Rath Boys

2. The Witchfinder

3. A Madcap Prince

4. Corinne

5. The Queen of Connaught

6. The Nine Days’ Queen

7. The Mormons

8. The Shadow of the Sword

9. Lucy Brandon

10. Storm-Beaten

11. Lady Clare

[Flowers of the Forest]

12. A Sailor and His Lass

13. Bachelors

14. Constance

15. Lottie

16. Agnes

17. Alone in London

18. Sophia

19. Fascination

20. The Blue Bells of Scotland

21. Partners

22. Joseph’s Sweetheart

23. That Doctor Cupid

24. Angelina!

25. The Old Home

26. A Man’s Shadow

27. Theodora

28. Man and the Woman

29. Clarissa

30. Miss Tomboy

31. The Bride of Love

32. Sweet Nancy

33. The English Rose

34. The Struggle for Life

35. The Sixth Commandment

36. Marmion

37. The Gifted Lady

38. The Trumpet Call

39. Squire Kate

40. The White Rose

41. The Lights of Home

42. The Black Domino

43. The Piper of Hamelin

44. The Charlatan

45. Dick Sheridan

46. A Society Butterfly

47. Lady Gladys

48. The Strange Adventures of Miss Brown

49. The Romance of the Shopwalker

50. The Wanderer from Venus

51. The Mariners of England

52. Two Little Maids from School

53. When Knights Were Bold


Short Plays

Other Plays

Buchanan’s Theatrical Ventures in America

Poetry Readings





The Fleshly School Controversy
Buchanan and the Press
Buchanan and the Law

The Critical Response
Harriett Jay

Site Diary
Site Search


19. Fascination (1887) - continued (ii)


The Spirit of the Times (New York) (15 September, 1888)

     FASCINATION, formally produced at the Fourteenth-street theatre on Monday, after having been tried in Brooklyn, last season, is a play of plagiarisms. Its author, Robert Buchanan, having by hook or by crook obtained the key of the London stage-doors, goes on picking and choosing from the French, from old novels, from other plays and patches the bits together rather crudely and clumsily in the humble hope, that, some day, with the help of clever stage managers and actors, he will win reputation as a playwright. In the interval he makes money, which, perhaps, is quite satisfactory to him, but not to the critics.
     Cora Tanner, a handsome and experienced actress, purchased Fascination, after it had been tried and found wanting in London, and she has made it a success with the audience. Beautifully put upon the stage by Manager Rosenquest and Col. Sinn, and capitally cast throughout, it was received, on Monday, with continuous laughter and applause. The scenery is painted, not built up, by Seymour Parker and Homer Emens, and it deserves especial mention and credit.
     The story of Fascination will not stand criticism. It would be impossible off the stage. It has been advertised as a satire upon English society; but it is really a satire upon what Robert Buchanan thinks he knows of English society. Located in Paris, it might have passed with a smile as a dramatization of a boulevard novel; but, when we are asked to believe that a wellbred English girl puts on man’s clothes and gambles in an improper house to test her lover, our credulity is taxed too far. The hero of Fascination is a cad. The clergyman in it is taken bodily from The Private Secretary. The only character that wins the sympathies of the audience is the heroine, whose offences are forgiven because Cora Tanner acts her so charmingly.
     Lady Madge Slashton, an English heiress, is engaged to Lord Islay, of the Grenadier Guards, who wears his uniform in the country. Count La Grange, a stage Frenchman, aspires to win Lady Madge and suggests that Lord Islay is carrying on an intrigue with Rosa Delamere, an adventuress. To discover the truth, Lady Madge disguises herself as a young gentleman; makes love to Rosa and finally forgives Islay’s flirtation and gives him her hand. Her brother, the Hon. Sam Slashton, aids her in her expedition, and the Rev. Mr. Colley, a comic Church of England clergyman, is the only person who recognizes her in her trousers. To reward him she marries him off to a little girl after he has declared his love for herself. All this is, of course, ridiculously impossible, but good acting makes it amusing.
     Cora Tanner, as the hoyden of the first Act, the young lover of the second Act and the fine lady of the third Act, carried off the star honors. She looks handsome both as girl and boy; acted with skill, tact and force and was called out after every scene. She would have been overwhelmed with flowers; but she had the good taste to order that no bouquets should be passed over the footlights and so her floral trophies were reserved to adorn her boudoir. She also deserved success by surrounding herself with a very strong company, who really supported her.
     As Rosa Delamere, an unpleasant part, Eleanor Carey was at her best. Isabella Waldron made a character of the Duchess of Hurlingham. Edward Bell, as the caddish Lord Islay, was good; Augustus Cook, as the Hon. Sam, was very good; but Charles Coote. as the comic clergyman, was made a favorite by the audience and raised a laugh whenever he appeared.
     With every part well acted and every scene a picture, Fascination will draw well here and in the provinces and Cora Tanner will increase her reputation and her fortune by its production. Nevertheless, as a play it is not worthy of serious consideration and displays no talent, except that of memory. It is the fault of the public if plays artistically worthless are profitable, and it is a waste of space to find fault with the public. As Lady Madge, in Fascination, Cora Tanner will make more money than she could as Rosalind, in As You Like It. If this proves Robert Buchanan a greater dramatist than Shakespeare, he is welcome to the logic.



The New York Times (19 September, 1888)

     Miss Cora Tanner’s second week at the Fourteenth-Street Theatre is proving to be better than her first, and the house is now being filled to the doors at every performance of “Fascination,” which, notwithstanding its improbabilities, appears to please the patrons of Manager Rosenquest’s theatre. A great improvement has been made in the representation of the play, and the performance as now given is decidedly interesting. There is a large demand for seats, and places are being taken for two and three weeks in advance. Miss Tanner has developed a strong popularity among the ladies, who are attending the matinées in large numbers.



The World (New York) (20 September, 1888 - p.6)


     “Fascination” is pronounced an improbable comedy, but it contains so many elements of popularity that it shows evidence of winning lasting success despite its improbabilities. There is one thing certain, that in the way Col. Sinn has put the piece upon the stage at the Fourteenth Street Theatre, whether the cast or the scenic effects are considered, it deserves the highest praise. Cora Tanner’s masquerading as a gay young swell may be regarded among the improbabilities, but she makes an interesting and an attractive picture. It may well be doubted if a young lady in the grade of life she is supposed to represent would undertake the questionable task of assuming a man’s disguise and travelling about London to satisfy herself regarding the trustworthiness or faithlessness of the man whom she is engaged to marry, but the tact and ability which Miss Tanner displays in the part justify her assumption of the role. There are some very strongly marked characters in “Fascination.” The Duke of Hurlingham, in make-up and acting, is admirably played. The inane young clergyman, though an improbable character, is not altogether an impossible one, and has established himself already as a favorite. Count La Strange is a strongly drawn character and affords an excellent contrast to the hero of the play, who is manly, outspoken and candid. The adventuress finds a good representative in Eleanor Carey, and down even to the smaller parts in the comedy good judgment is the selection of the cast is evident. The scene-setting of “Fascination” leaves little to be asked for. Exteriors as well as interiors are treated in an artistic manner. The comedy, with all its sins against probability upon its head, has won the public, and, to use the words of the young curate, “they like it so much.”



The New York Mirror (22 September, 1888 - p.1)


The Present Remarkable Candor of Our
Managers—The Conspicuous Women
of the Season—
. . .

     What wave of candor has struck the managers? Mr. J. M. Hill has billed the town with the announcement, “Business not great but success enormous,” and Colonel Sinn has labeled Fascination an “improbable comedy.”
I should not be surprised if this whim of honesty goes on to see The Paymaster heralded as a “Hilarious freak.”
     The way the manager stuck the pruning knife into Fascination on the second night should be an example to all generations.
     The piece is so well played that it meets with popular success, and, I am told, is doing the best business in town. Whereas The Kaffir Diamond, which struck me on the first night as being full of good work, is not doing well.
     I don’t think the candor of the play-bill has helped Fascination. To be plain, I think Cora Tanner is doing most of it. For some reason the public like to look at her. She is a handsome (magnificent would be a better word) woman, and puts just enough piquancy into her masquerade in men’s clothes to tickle the public.
     It is a notable event in the diorama of theatricals that one woman should project herself so strongly on the moving canvas as to defy criticism with personal blandishment.
     If you were to ask me who the other woman is that has achieved conspicuousness so far this season, I should be at some loss to answer. Estelle Clayton’s time has not come, so we leave her out. ...



The Daily Graphic (New York) (28 September, 1888)

     Miss Cora Tanner and “Fascination” are doing a remarkable business at the Fourteenth Street Theatre, where people are being turned away at almost every performance. Mr. Buchanan’s improbable comedy has evidently made a success of large proportions. Handsome and statuesque Cora Tanner as the dashing Madge Slashton and Charles Marlowe has made a strong impression on New York theatre-goers, and is being called before the curtain many times nightly. Seats are now taken for two and three weeks in advance, and it has become exceedingly difficult to obtain places after eight o’clock in the evening. Monday night Miss Tanner begins the fourth week of her engagement.



The Stage (28 September, 1888 - p.9)

     Robert Buchanan’s play Fascination, which was tentatively produced in Brooklyn some months ago, was performed at the Fourteenth Street Theatre on Monday, September 10. The New York critics, like their London brethren, are divided as to the merits of the piece, but the first night’s audience received Fascination with emphatic signs of approval. The principal parts were taken as follows:—Lady Madge Slashton and Charles Marlowe, Miss Cora Tanner; Duchess of Hurlingham, Mrs. Isabella Waldron; Rosa Delamere, Miss Eleanor Carey; Arabella Armhurst, Miss Maggie Deane; Dottie Destrange, Miss Lucy Escott; Duke of Hurlingham, Mr. Lionel Bland; Lord Islay, Mr. Edward Bell; The Hon. Sam Slashton, Mr. Augustus Cook; Count La Grange, Mr. P. A. Anderson; Captain Vane, Mr. W. F. Blande; Rev. Mr. Colley, Mr. Charles Coote.



The New York Times (28 September, 1888)


     In a very kind letter to the President of the New-York Press Club, Miss Cora Tanner volunteers to devote the gross receipts of a matinée to be given at the Fourteenth-Street Theatre, where Miss Tanner’s play “Fascination” is now running, on Thursday, Oct. 4, to the fund for newspaper men who have been stricken with yellow fever in Florida. Mr. Rosenquest, proprietor of the theatre, also offers the free use of the theatre and gas, and the musicians, stage hands, ushers, doorkeepers, and all other attachés of the theatre cheerfully volunteer their services. The offer has been gratefully accepted.



The National Police Gazette (New York) (29 September, 1888 - p.2)

The story of “Fascination,” now being boomed at the Fourteenth Street Theatre, with Cora Tanner as the stellar luminary, the story of this play is trite and impossible.
Lady Madge Slashton, a robust heiress, who loves dogs, horses, hounds, sport of all kind, discovers that her cousin and intended husband, Lord Islay, is fascinated by Rose Delamere, an adventuress of the metropolis.
     She hits upon a bold device to balk him.
     She resolves to dress as a swell, have herself introduced to the Delamere, and cut her lover out.


     Cora Tanner accordingly sticks herself into men’s clothes, puts on a high hat, assumes a wearied and wearisome high note drawl and al eye-glass, affects a dudesque swagger, calls herself Charles Marlow, is introduced to the siren, and accomplishes her purpose.
     The gay
Delamere gives a dinner party at her house, and Marlowe then captures her.
     There is a lot of talk, a few surprises, and insult, a few scenes.
     Then the wicked lover sees the error of his ways, the woman of guile and sin promises to turn over a new leaf, the villain is handed over to the officers of the law, and the robust heiress falls in the arms of the caddish lover.
     If Miss Cora Tanner has but little claim to be considered an actress, Col. Sinn is to be congratulated on the excellence of the company he has chosen to support her.
     Mr. Charles Coote, as a vacuous little clergyman,
Rev. Mr. Colley, makes the laughing hit of the play every night.
     A comedian of the school of Grossmith, Mr. Coote will go far if he keeps within legitimate bounds and checks a tendency to broaden his comedy.
Miss Eleanor Carey, as Delamere, was as artistic as she generally is in parts of this kind—in fact, she has, in this department, no superior on our stage.
     Mr. Edward Bell was a gentlemanly, if slightly caddish,
Lord Islay, and Mr. W. F. Blande, as Captain Vane, gave an artistic rendering of the heavy military swell.
     Mr. Lionel Bland made the rakish and hypocritical
Duke of Hurlingham an amusing caricature of senile aristocracy, and Mr. Augustus Cooke proved himself, as Hon. Sam Slashton, a very manly and lovable sort of a fellow and brother.
     Though Mr. P. A. Anderson never does anything badly, he did not quite come up to my idea of
La Grange, the bogus nobleman and ex convict.
     He makes him too palpably a villain.
     Such a fellow would not be tolerated five minutes in any drawing room.
     Mr. Anderson makes him too noisy, and rasping too, and his movements inspire merriment rather than fear.
     His looks and manners give him away.
     The foreign accent which Mr. Anderson has picked up is not quite the thing.
     Let him go down to Bleecker street any day and he’ll hear how the resident Frenchman wrestles with our vernacular.
     Altogether, “Fascination” is stale as to plot, dalse as to sentiment, wrong in tendency, but interesting from a scenic point of view.
     I suppose that’s all right, though.
     We live in an age when dogs, horses, jungles, sunshines, fire engines, hay wagons are applauded quite as much on the stage as the efforts of actors, actresses, dancers or pantomimists.



The New York Times (2 October, 1888)


     Miss Cora Tanner, who has been charming New-York’s theatregoing people in “Fascination” at the Fourteenth- Street Theatre, has tendered a special matinée performance of the play next Thursday afternoon in aid of the newspaper men and their families in Jacksonville who are suffering from yellow fever. The benefit is given under the auspices of the New-York Press Club, and is bound to be a success dramatically and financially. The box office for the sale of seats for this benefit is now open. Tickets may also be obtained from members of the Press Club at 120 Nassau-street.
     Northerners can hardly realize the hardship and suffering borne by the newspaper men of Jacksonville. They remained at their posts while friends and relatives fell under Yellow Jack’s spell, and kept the outside world informed as to the situation. Some are sick in the hospitals at this time.
     Col. W. E. Sinn and Manager J. W. Rosenquest offered the use of the theatre, and Miss Tanner and her entire company generously tendered their services for the purpose of swelling the fund to be sent South.



The World (New York) (5 October, 1888)


The New York Times (7 October, 1888)

     Mr. C. D. Hess says that a responsible theatrical manager has offered $35,000 for a half interest in the play called “Fascination,” and that Col. W. E. Sinn, who owns the play, refused the offer, which was conditional on Miss Tanner’s agreement to devote herself exclusively to the part of Lady Madge Slashton for three years with a stipulated salary. Mr. Hess says that both Miss Tanner and Col. Sinn believe they can make a fortune with Mr. Buchanan’s play without taking in a partner. “Fascination” is still current at the Fourteenth-Street Theatre.



The Daily Graphic (New York) (8 October, 1888)


     “Fascination” still pursues the even tenor of its way at the Fourteenth Street Theatre. Crowded houses continue to witness Cora Tanner’s quaint but artistic performance of the difficult role of Lady Madge, and Colonel Sinn’s excellent company continue to elicit unanimous praise for the splendid manner in which the play is presented by them from first to last. The great success of this play in these election times confirms our early predictions that Cora Tanner would make a fortune with “Fascination.” But it was not expected that it would grind out a fortune in one month. It has, though, in one sense; that is, Miss Tanner could take to-day, if she chose, a small fortune for a half interest in the play, as such an offer was made her on Thursday last by a responsible and well known manager. It is believed that she will decline the offer, although it is quite tempting.



The World (New York) (16 October, 1888)


     Last night Miss Cora Tanner began the last two weeks of her long and successful engagement at the Fourteenth Street Theatre, where the handsome artist has drawn large and well-pleased audiences, that have applauded with great vigor her dashing impersonation of the dual rôle of Lady Madge and Charles Marlowe in “Fascination.” The fiftieth performance of Buchanan’s interesting comedy takes place next Monday night, and the management say that their only regret is that Miss Tanner’s engagement cannot be continued beyond next week. Robert Buchanan, on the occasion of the first production of “Fascination,” addressed the following lines to that pleasing actress:

Fair lady, if my willing pen
     Art and genius both inspired,
Simple justice only, then,
Could I render among men
     If I wrote as I admired.
Nature smiled into your face,
     And triumphed in her fair creation;
Then she clothed your form with grace,
Infusing every gentle trace
Of virtues that at once embrace
     Nothing less than Fascination.



The New York Times (21 October, 1888)

     This will be the last week of the run of “Fascination” at the Fourteenth-Street Theatre. Efforts have been made to get the managers of out-of-town theatres to release Col. Sinn from his engagements to present this play at their houses, but without avail. In spite of its incongruity Buchanan’s “satire” has made a great hit, largely owing to the personal attractiveness of Miss Cora Tanner and the fun Mr. Coote and Mr. Lionel Blande get out of their extravagant parts. The fiftieth performance of “Fascination” will be given on Tuesday night. The theatre will be handsomely decorated and illuminated inside and out. The play will be taken “on the road” after this week, and Mr. C. D. Hess will manage its travels.


[Advert for 50th performance of Fascination from New-York Daily Tribune (23 October, 1888 -p.9).]


The New York Times (24 October, 1888)

     In spite of the unfavorable weather Cora Tanner was greeted by a crowded house at the Fourteenth-Street Theatre last evening, on the occasion of the fiftieth performance of “Fascination.” The theatre was decorated with flags inside and out, and brilliantly illuminated in honor of the event, and Miss Tanner was the recipient of an unusual amount of applause. This is the last week of the play at this house, and the only remaining matinées will be given today and on Saturday.



The World (New York) (24 October, 1888 - p.3)

     The fiftieth performance of “Fascination” was given at the Fourteenth Street Theatre last evening. The house was beautifully decorated for the occasion. Bright lamps hung on the outside of the building, and inside flowers and evergreens were happily blended in charming profusion. The flags of all nations were handsomely festooned around the balcony and on the walls and in the proscenium arch hung banners and bannerets and pictures. The theatre looked particularly bright with all these decorations to mark the run of a successful play as well as to record the triumph of a handsome woman and a talented actress in an attractive characterisation. The play passed off amid the gay surroundings of a gala night commemorative of a theatrical victory. All the people in the cast did their best as an evidence of their delight that “Fascination” had successfully reached its fiftieth performance and Cora Tanner had won the success of her career.



Outing Magazine (November, 1888, Vol. XIII No. 2 - p.173)


     J. Wesley Rosenquest, one of the most enterprising and intelligent of our younger managers, has now two theatres to guide instead of one - the Bijou Opera House and the Fourteenth Street Theatre. At the latter place of amusement: Cora Tanner has made the success of her career in “Fascination.” “Fascination” is a comedy, written by Robert Buchanan, and is about as improbable a story as one can listen to. But what of that? The people throng to see the play, or Cora Tanner, or both; and in this way stamp its improbabilities with the brand of success.


[Advert for Fascination from The Boston Sunday Globe (4 November, 1888) - also featuring The Ossified Man, Mrs. Alice J. Shaw, The Whistling Prima Donna, and Harry Penrod, the One-Armed Typesetter. Click it and see!]


Boston Evening Transcript (6 November, 1888 - p.5)


     To one who cares to be amused without stopping to analyze the reasons underlying and controlling his sensations, “Fascination” is by no means a bad piece of work; but to any one who stops to examine the thing, it must inevitably appear the thinnest conceivable variety of playwriting—illogical, improbable and unnatural to the last degree. It has but one clear, straightforward aim, and that is to exhibit the excellences, real and assumed, of Miss Cora Tanner, a young lady who appears in a dual rôle, the first part of which is a combination of Lady Gay Spanker and an exaggerated specimen of the girl of the period, slangy and coarse—albeit the lady represented is the daughter of an earl, and is supposed to be a fair example of Great Britain’s noble blood—and part two is an exquisite of the male persuasion, a disguise which the Lady Madge Slashton assumes that she may see what kind of company her lover, Lord Islay, keeps when away from her. This company is pretty bad indeed, it would seem to be the belief of the writer of the play that everybody in this world of ours is bad sub rosa, the men especially, and it must be confessed that many there be who entertain the same opinion. It is a question, however, whether this cynical estimate of human morality is conducive to the public good, especially when it is presented in a manner which excites laughter rather than reflection. But questions of morals aside, there is no little fun in the piece, and as it is well played and finely mounted, it cannot fail to draw big houses, and send its audiences home with the feeling that if they have not been improved and edified, they certainly have not been bored. Miss Tanner can hardly be called a finished actress, but she is quite clever in her assumption of the male dandy, and there are moments while in petticoats when she exhibits glimpses of real power. Generally, however, she is crude in her methods, which smack strongly of the variety stage. Eleanor Carey plays the adventuress Rosa Delamere in a harsh, artificial way, and no one of the other ladies in the company rises above the amateur level. The men are better. Charles Coote gives a very laughable picture of the insipid, unsophisticated English curate; Augustus Cook as the Hon. Sam Slashton is bluff and hearty; Edward Bell makes a gentlemanly appearing Lord Islay, but without particular force or color; P. A. Anderson furnishes a highly picturesque foreign villain in the character of Count La Grange, and Lionel Bland as the Duke of Hurlingham is quite laughable in his portrayal of the senile rake.
     “Fascination” holds the boards for two weeks, and will be followed by Lotta Nov. 19.



Brooklyn Eagle (26 December, 1888 - p.3)


Comedy and Opera at the Theaters.

Cora Tanner in “Fascination” at the Park.

     Cora Tanner is playing this week in Robert Buchanan’s comedy, “Fascination,” which had its trial at this house last season, but that is now acted by a better cast and that is illustrated with scenery of exceptional fitness and beauty. There is a disparity in style between Robert Buchanan, novelist, and Robert Buchanan, dramatist, for in the exercise of the authorial function he is original, strong and full of feeling, while as a play maker he is conventional and more or less of a mechanic. A certain facility in dialogue is due to the exercise of writing stories and poems, he has a native cleverness in construction that stands him instead of strength and novelty, a light and not fatiguing humor softens the action in his work and there is a moderate differentiation of character among the people of his comedies. Beyond this there is not much to say, and whatever more would suggest itself as proper to be told in offset to his merits has been conceded by the manager of the Park Theater and of the company now playing there in the advertisement of “Fascination” as “an improbable but interesting comedy.” The story is that of a young fellow who has not sown all his wild oats, but is at heart of an honest and manly sort, who is engaged to a country cousin, but who, during his residence in London, falls under the spell of an adventuress, is fleeced by her associates and is reported to have offered himself to her in marriage. The fiancee on hearing the rumor that he is false to her goes to London disguised as a young “chappie,” confronts the fascinated lover, who does not recognize her and who is compelled to put up with more taunting and impudence than an officer of spirit would tamely submit to, makes love to the adventuress, wins her regard, extorts from her a confession of her plots and misdeeds and triumphantly recovers her betrothed. Solicitude for the unsophisticated country girl is put to somewhat of a strain when she is found doing the town in man’s attire, consorting with gamblers, adventurers, elderly and salacious earls and painted women, taking a hand at cards and showing no repugnance to tobacco and champagne; but then the comedy is confessedly improbable. Miss Tanner, as the country girl who does these things, has improved in the part since her first essays, and in male disguise carries herself with quite the air of a youthful “masher,” while she proved herself able to change her walk and her voice sufficiently to present a tolerable illusion—a power not common to women actors. There is an improvement, too, in ease and buoyancy, and this involves no diminution in earnestness and emotional display. A good company helps her through “Fascination:” Eleanor Carcy, as the adventuress, who is not devoid of personal interest and who has had experience in stormy parts; Edward Bell, as the lover and the fascinated, an agreeable young man who, if he gains a trifle more in earnestness, will be all that is needed in his character; Augustus Cook, who does not shout his lines this season; Lionel Bland and W. F. Blande in a couple of diverting but unessential portrayals of society types—London society; P. A. Anderson, who does enact the heavy villain as he has enacted him any time these fifteen years, swaying as if he were bow legged and glaring around in a discomposing fashion when affairs go wrong with him; and Norman Campbell, Isabella Waldron, Georgia Waldron, Maggie Dean, Helen Ten Broeck and others in the minor characters. Charles Coote furnishes most of the amusement by his Rev. Mr. Colley, who proves to be twin brother of the Private Secretary and whose wholesome innocence is not received amiss in a gathering of people the half of whom lack touch with popular sympathy. A handsome framework has been prepared for the comedy, and scene painter and costumer deserve praise for their share in it. Next week Steele Mackaye’s drama of the French Revolution, “Paul Kanvar,” will be seen at the Park.



The World (New York) (30 December, 1888 - p.6)


[For the full article, click the extract above.]


The New York Dramatic Mirror (16 February, 1889 - p.3)

     Cora Tanner’s active press representative is busy circulating the interesting information that in Fascination that comely woman “retires from the stage in a splendid female costume and reappears in four minutes disguised as Charles Marlowe and in full masculine rig.” Miss Tanner would be doing the trousered sex an inestimable service in divulging the secrets of the third and fourth minutes.


     By the way, actresses are peculiarly unlike other women in respect to quickness and punctuality. Rapid and frequent change of costume and the necessity of catching trains, I presume, are the reasons for these excellent habits. How often the theatregoing fellow who is impatiently pacing the parlor while his best girl is putting those mysterious and seemingly endless finishing touches to her toilette upstairs wishes he has a dynamite bomb to blow up the whole place! And how seldom the sweet and smiling thing when at last she does appear, fresh from the perfume bottle and powder-box, realizes that murder has been lurking under the manly and impatient stretch of shirt-front which confronts her unsuspecting eye! If the “society” girl only knew the way to deck herself with the celerity of her theatrical sister, or if the men only took actresses to the theatre, what a lot of good temper would be preserved and what a diminution there would be in the annoying practice of coming in late!



The Buffalo Express (17 February, 1889 - p.12)


[Click image for readable version.]


The Eau Claire Daily Free Press (Wisconsin) (15 March, 1889)


Buchanan’s “Fascination.”

     At the Opera House on Wednesday evening, March 20th. In his writings for the stage Robert Buchanan is a violator of probability. But Mr. Buchanan writes for the millions who don’t think, and not for the hundreds who do, and that is why he is financially successful as an author. “Fascination” has hit the popular fancy, and the audiences that have sat through the performance of this play pronounced it a success. Miss Tanner, for whom the play was written, is a stately young woman, with a superb figure and a commanding presence. Her costumes are always in exquisite taste, and her supporting company contains several excellent actors. The New-York World’s endorsement is given in the following article:

     “Fascination contains so many elements of popularity that it shows evidence of winning lasting success. There is one thing certain, that in the way Colonel Sinn has put the piece upon the stage of the Fourteenth Street Theatre, it deserves the highest praise. Cora Tanner’s masquerading as a gay young swell, makes an interesting picture, and the tact and ability that Miss Tanner displays in the part justify her assumption of the role. There are some very strongly marked characters in “Fascination.” The Duke of Hurlingham, in make up and acting, is admirably played. The insane young clergyman, though an improbable character, is not altogether an impossible one, and has established himself as a favourite. Count LaGrange is a strongly drawn character and affords an excellent contrast to the hero of the play, who is manly, outspoken and candid. The adventuress finds a good representative in Eleanor Carey, and down even to the smaller parts in the comedy good judgment in the selection of the cast is evident. The comedy, has won the public, and, to use the words of the young curate “they like it very much.”



The Saint Paul Daily Globe (24 March, 1889 - p.10)


Cora Tanner in “Fascination”
and Pants at the Grand



Cora Tanner in Robert Buchanan’s new play, “Fascination,” will be seen at the Grand to-morrow night, presenting the same play three nights, with Wednesday matinee. Cora Tanner, than whom there is no more beautiful woman on the stage, is well and favorably known here, having been seen here as the heroine in the melodrama “Alone in London.” Her work then created a most favorable impression with theatergoers, and the announcement of the production is awaited with interest. The play “Fascination” is said to be a comedy drama of the first class, the story dealing with the adventures of Lady Madge Slashton, who follows her recreant lover into several questionable places and finally wins him by her artful behavior. In the play Miss Tanner will appear in masculine attire, and, it is said, create a sensation in the scenes in which she carries the disguise. “Fascination” will be beautifully mounted, the scenery being especially painted for the production, and the play will be given the same accessories and powerful caste that was given it at its initial New York production at the Fourteenth Street theater.



The Saint Paul Daily Globe (26 March, 1889 - p.3)


     Cora Tanner as Charles Marlow, from Jamaica, in “Fascination,” presented at the Grand Opera house last night, is probably, without exception, the most novel dramatic feature that has been before Minneapolis theater goers this season—in fact, the whole play was novel. The transformation of Cora Tanner from Lady Madge to the young English swell is in each case brought in at exactly the right point. In both characters the famous actress shows to good advantage and was loudly applauded. While the play is funny in the extreme at some points, in the bewilderment of Rev. Mr. Colley and the Duke of Hurlingham, it can be properly called a pure comedy drama as there is nothing in it from first to last that could offend any one. The plot comes out just as every one wants it to, and yet the crisis is reached so gradually and naturally that no break is occasioned. The scenery, being painted expressly for the play, is perfectly adapted and adds greatly to the effect. It can be said Cora Tanner is perfect in every part, and the plot she has to carry out is good. She is, too, very well supported.


[Advert for Fascination from The Omaha Daily Bee (31 March, 1889 - p.8).]


The New York Dramatic Mirror (21 September, 1889 - p.4)


     Cora Tanner saw a MIRROR reporter at the Park Theatre in Brooklyn the other evening, and confided to him in the utmost confidence that her European trip had cost her ten pounds in weight.
     “I think I can stand it, though,” she said, “for I had a lovely time on the other side. It was my second trip over, and I didn’t have a moment’s seasickness. The first time I went with McKee Rankin, playing the Widder in The Danites, and begged off and went back home as soon as I got homesick. This time, therefore, I was a real veteran on the sea.  Besides, the first time it was business, and now as I had made it distinctly understood by my husband, it was for  pleasure.
     “Now, I know it won’t do,” she said, “for me to tell you everything that delighted me on my trip, for I should be talking all the evening, but I can’t help saying that I enjoyed myself immensely at Warwick, at Stratford-on-Avon and at Kenilworth Castle—that I was delighted with Edinburg but disgusted with Glasgow, with its ships, its smoke and its din and noise of business—that we were the guests of Wilson Barrett and Miss Eastlake, and that I roamed at sweet will over the seven miles by twelve of the Duke of Westminster’s grounds.
     “Now about work. I open my season on Friday at Yonkers, playing eight nights in new England, and then coming to Newark and later to the Fourteenth Street Theatre for four weeks. The latter engagement begins on October 7. This year’s presentation of the play will be a complete reproduction, in almost all particulars of that of last season. The scenery will be duplicated, but will all be new, while I shall have entirely new costumes. They will not be reproductions of last year’s, though.
     “The cast will also be the same as last season with the exception of Harold Russell, who plays the part of Lord Isley in place of Edward Bell. Mr. Russell promises to make a big hit. This time Col. Sinn has determined that New York shall not steal his leading man from him, and so he has made a contract with Mr. Russell for three years. As for myself I am in the best of health, and I feel as though I shall do full justice to my role.”



The New York Times (1 October, 1889)

     Col. W. E. Sinn is having new scenery painted for “Fascination,” in which Miss Cora Tanner will be seen at the Fourteenth-Street Theatre next Monday night. Miss Tanner will wear several new and handsome costumes in the play this season. The engagement is for four weeks, and the sale of seats for the opening performances will begin next Thursday morning.



The New York Times (9 October, 1889)

     Appreciative audiences have greeted the return of Miss Cora Tanner in her successful play, “Fascination,” at the Fourteenth-Street Theatre. In her dual rôle of Lady Madge Slashton and Charles Marlowe Miss Tanner is as pretty and charming as of yore, and the audience like her in all the many costumes she wears. The scenery is the same as that used at the former production of the play, and the cast is practically unchanged.



The New York Dramatic Mirror (12 October, 1889 - pp.4-5)


     Cora Tanner commenced her engagement in Fascination at the Fourteenth Street Theatre on Monday night to a large audience. Miss Tanner is as comely as ever and her acting is constantly gaining in dramatic force and artistic symetry. Her impersonation of the dual role of Lady Madge Slashton and Charles Marlow was signally successful in the estimation of the audience to judge from the enthusiastic applause that greeted her when she was called before the curtain. Miss Tanner is supported by a competent company including Harold Russell, Charles Coote, Augusta Cook, P. A. Anderson, Eleanor Carey, Isabel Waldron, Maggie Dean, Lucy Escott, Georgia Waldron and Annie Morton. Fascination is booked for four weeks at the Fourteenth Street Theatre.



New York Herald (13 October, 1889)

     Miss Cora Tanner’s present engagement at the Fourteenth Street Theatre is for four weeks. On Thursday night Miss Tanner will have played the dual part of Lady Madge Slashton and Charles Marlowe three hundred times.



Brooklyn Eagle (26 November, 1889 - p.4)


     Cora Tanner and Robert Buchanan’s “Fascination” are the attractions at the Lee avenue house. The comedy is given by the same actors and with the same rich setting as at the Park Theater last week, and barring the extravagances of the play itself the performance receives general commendation. Miss Tanner’s sympathetic portrayal of the heroine and the quiet but ludicrous comedy of Mr. Coote receiving special praise. The house last night was large. Next week Gorman’s Minstrels will appear.



The New York Dramatic Mirror (7 December, 1889 - p.3)


     George Sammis, Cora Tanner’s manager, was getting ready to leave the city in advance of the star, when a MIRROR reporter met him the other day.
     “I’m happy and contented, in spite of the rain,” said Mr. Sammis laughingly, as he dodged under the upturned umbrella, “and why shouldn’t I be? Business is good and Colonel Sinn has a nice balance on the right side of the ledger for Fascination, and at the end of our engagement at the People’s Theatre we will have played eleven weeks without having left New York, and of course without spending a good round sum for railroad fares. When you consider that we carry a carload of scenery this is quite an item. From the People’s Theatre the company goes East for four weeks.”
     “What arrangements has the Colonel made for next season?”
     “Any number. He has purchased a play entitled One Error, with a good part for Miss Tanner. Then, as you probably know, he has also secured the American rights to Good Old Times, Wilson Barrett’s success. The route has been booked for it, and a strong company is being engaged. No one will be starred, although there are no less than seven parts, one of which is strong enough for a star.”



Logansport Daily Reporter (Indiana) (3 March, 1890 - p.1)

     Of the play which is to be presented at Dolan’s opera house, Thursday evening the New York Evening World of September 17th, 1888, says: “Fascination” fascinates at the Fourteenth Street Theatre. Spend five minutes there any evening and you will subscribe heartily to the sentiment and stay the evening out. The play is characteristic and in Robert Buchanan’s best vein. It gives Cora Tanner the opportunity of her professional career and she accepts the gauge most fascinatingly. Miss Tanner acts her dual part delightfully. She not only grows more beautiful as a woman every year, but more powerful, accomplished, and finished as an actress. As the dude, Marlowe, she is inimitable. Nobody blames Rosa Delamere for falling in love with her, because everybody follows suit. Her success is phenomenal, and every bit of it is deserved. She is surrounded by a company of exceptional merit, the members of which acquit themselves admirably, which Manager Sinn, as well as others concerned, are to be congratulated.



The Omaha Daily Bee (25 April, 1890 - p.2)


     Fascination means the exercise of a powerful or irresistible influence on the passions—an unseen, inexplicable influence; a charm, a spell. This is why Robert Buchanan’s comedy drama in which Cora Tanner and an excellent company appeared at Boyd’s opera house last night was thus named. The story is based upon the fascination of an artful woman, Mrs. Delamere, over a young man, Lord Isley, who is engaged to his charming cousin, Lady Madge Slashton. It is fully as interesting and entertaining as the title implies. Miss Tanner, who impersonates Lady Madge, disguises herself in male attire and sallies forth to ascertain whether or not the reports of faithlessness on the part of her lover are true. In the double role she displays versatility and does some clever work. With her splendid combination of natural gifts, a fine form, a good voice and charming grace, she displays those delicate feelings which are amongst the first properties of an artist. These are the tools and material of her trade, and she possesses the happy faculty of applying them to the best and most effective advantage. In a brief chat with Miss Tanner she said: “How do I feel in trousers? Simply delightful. The sense of freedom that comes to a woman when she dresses in this way is beyond my power to describe.” There are no changes in the company since last season. Miss Eleanor Cary as Mrs. Delamere is always strong and never fails to capture the admiration of an audience. There is probably not an actress on the American stage who can play as many parts and play them as well as Miss Cary. Harold Russell, as Lord Isley, was also well liked. He is a handsome man, and very pleasing in his manner of becoming fascinated. The strong character part, Count La Grange, is still in the hands of P. A. Anderson, who made such a favorable impression as an actor when here before. Charles Coote, Augustus Cook, W. F. Blande, Miss Maggie Dean, and in fact the entire company assumed their several characters very satisfactorily. Mr. Coote as Rev. Mr. Colley is one of the features of the performance.



St. James’s Gazette (23 June, 1894 - p.13)

     “A SOCIETY BUTTERFLY,” at the Opéra Comique, has not long survived the secession of Mrs. Langtry from the cast. Quite unexpectedly the theatre closed last night; but will reopen, it is announced, next Saturday evening with a modern comedy, in which Miss Harriett Jay and Mr. Edward Righton are to appear. The piece referred to is “Fascination.” Written by Miss Harriett Jay and Mr. Robert Buchanan, it was originally produced at a matinée at the old Novelty Theatre, and was afterwards revived at the Vaudeville.



The Echo (25 June, 1894 - p.2)

     A Society Butterfly ceased suddenly to flutter at the Opéra Comique on Friday. It is said that Fascination, a play by the Bard, which we have already seen at the Vaudeville, is likely to be revived on Saturday, with Miss Harriet Jay in the principal part.



St. James’s Gazette (29 June, 1894 - p.12)

     Although advertised for to-morrow night, the reopening of the Opéra Comique cannot take place for some days, as rehearsals of “Fascination” have only just commenced. The piece is merely intended to serve as a stopgap until a new play by Mr. Robert Buchanan can be got ready for production.



The Glasgow Herald (29 June, 1894 - p.7)

     THE play with which the Opera Comique is to reopen next Thursday is Mr Buchanan’s “Flirtation,” originally produced at the Novelty Theatre on October 6, 1887. It has now been partly rewritten, but Miss Harriett Jay will play her original character.



St. James’s Gazette (6 July, 1894 - p.12)

     A hitch, it would appear, has occurred in connection with the re-opening of the Opéra Comique, announced for to-morrow evening. In any case the revival of “Fascination” again stands deferred for several days. A propos it may be as well to correct the statement, somewhat widely circulated, that the principal part in “The Lion-Tamer,” Mr. Robert Buchanan’s new play, intended to succeed “Fascination” at the same theatre, has been assigned to Mr. Charles Warner. As a matter of fact the rôle was offered to that actor and declined by him.



St. Paul Sunday Globe (15 July, 1894 - p.1)


     LONDON, July 14.—

. . .

     “Lady Madge,” by Harriet Jay and Robert Buchanan, which was viewed at the Opera Comique last Saturday, had a short run at the Vaudeville in 1888 under the title of “Fascination.” The main feature of the plot is that a lady of society, Lady Madge Slashton, believing her lover, Lord Islay, to be faithless, puts on male attire and follows him into certain haunts of dissipation in Mayfair without being recognised.



The New York Times (16 March, 1902)

Robert Edeson’s Wager.

     Robert Edeson, who to-morrow night achieves the distinction most coveted by all actors—that of appearing at a New York theatre at the head of his own company, was in no wise coerced by any of the influences that usually instigate the player in the choice of his career. He promised some ten years ago to become prominent as a producer of dramas rather than an interpreter of them.
     He was the son of an actor from whom he had received countless admonitions against following in the footsteps of his father. This advice seems singular, when it is remembered that George R. Edeson was held in enviable regard by his public. But with his knowledge, gained by experience, of the difficulties attendant on the stage life, he hoped to dissuade his son from entering upon so hazardous a field of endeavor. As a youth Edeson heeded the parental counsel and confined his talents to the box office.
     It was in 1887, while employed in the capacity of Treasurer at the Park Theatre, Brooklyn, that he unexpectedly found himself transferred to the stage as the result of a wager with Col. Sinn, the lessee of the theatre, who was introducing a new play called “Fascination,” in which Cora Tanner was the star. During the rehearsal on the Friday previous to the production Col. Sinn received word that one of the minor players in the company had been taken ill.
     Edeson was busy balancing his cash account for the week, when Col. Sinn intruded on him much to his annoyance with a lengthy account of his managerial troubles. Finally Edeson, exasperated, turned to Col. Sinn and said:
     “Colonel, if you will keep quiet and allow me to straighten out this account, I will play the part next Monday myself.”
     During the silence that followed he finished his work for the day and was about to leave, when the Colonel called out:
     “Young man, I’ll just bet you $100 that you can’t make good on that bluff.”
     “I’ll go you,” said Edeson; “you get a substitute for me here and give me the part.”
     Edeson was relieved from his office duties and appeared in “Fascination” on the following Monday night. While his performance did not startle Brooklyn, he made a sufficient impression to encourage him to follow in the footsteps of his father. In referring to it he said:
     “It was not so much the glamour of the footlights as of that hundred-dollar bill. But I have realized since that you have to serve a long apprenticeship in this trade of acting before your services receive a permanent remuneration of that dimension.”



The Ogden Standard (Ogden City, Utah) (12 June, 1909 - p.10)


     Robert Edeson is one of the actors who had to get his place on the stage in spite of parental opposition. He began at the bottom and took turns at different small jobs about the theater until one night he got a chance to go on.
     “I was attending the Brooklyn Polytechnic and after school hours was making a little extra money working in the box office of the old Park theater Brooklyn, then under the management of Colonel Sinn,” said he. “Late on Monday afternoon word was brought to Colonel Sinn than an actor who was to appear that night in the premier of ‘Fascination,’ in which Cora Tanner was the star, was sick and would be unable to appear. Mr. Sinn, being unable to get any one to go on, was in quite a dilemma, and I volunteered. He said, ‘Bob, if you go on and make good I will give you $100.’
     “The part was not a long one, and in two hours I had memorized it, and one of the members of the company gave me a hasty rehearsal. I always had had a yearning for the stage, due, no doubt, in a great measure to the fact that my father was in the profession, but whenever I mentioned acting he immediately vetoed the proposition. In my great glee at being able to get the long cherished chance I imparted the information that I was going to make my debut this night to a number of schoolboy friends, who immediately went out and told the gang.
     “That night when the curtain went up a large part of the gallery was filled by the boys from the ‘Poly.’ When I made my entrance I was greeted by the class yell, which threw me up in the air, and I forgot every line of my part. Fortunately I had little to do in the first act, and by the time it came to go on in the following act I had recovered my nerve and played the rest of the performance without a hitch. Somehow or other I received good notices, and it was an easy matter for me to collect the $100 from Colonel Sinn.”



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