1913 play drew lackluster reviews

A few weeks back, there was a story in the "100 years ago" about a traveling play called "Hanky Panky." The play's title certainly caught my attention. Can the all-knowing gurus at Since You Asked tell me any more about the show?

— Paula, Medford

Here in the department of very cautious Web searches at Since You Asked headquarters, we're skittish but glad to be of service.

On June 14, 1913, the Mail Tribune ran a rather advertorial piece about the traveling show "Hanky Panky," and about the positive experiences of production stars Florence Moore and William Montgomery with their Overland automobile.

According to the Internet Broadway Database, "Hanky Panky," a musical comedy produced by Lew Fields, first appeared on Broadway in two acts, with 104 performances from Aug. 5 to Nov. 2, 1912.

There wasn't much to scrounge up in terms of the production's plot. We were able to turn up a rather scathing review in a 1912 edition of a pulp magazine titled "The Green Book Album." The periodical, described as "a magazine of the passing show," criticized the thin plot, low-brow humor and simple songs in the musical, which was set at the protagonist's villa at Bilgewater on the River Thames and in Chicago.

"There isn't even a suggestion of a story in 'Hanky Panky,' " reviewer Channing Pollock wrote.

Pollock also criticized the play's inane humor, with jokes such as, "What makes more noise than a pig under a fence?" (The answer was "two pigs.")

The reviewer did, however, consider Florence Moore's performance a bright spot.

According to "The Encyclopedia of Vaudeville" by Anthony Slide, "Florence Moore was a popular comedienne and singer on the vaudeville stage."

The encyclopedia said that the Broadway production of "Hanky Panky," and the vaudeville performances that followed, brought the actress her first successes in a career that continued until 1932.

The encyclopedia also noted that "Hanky Panky" co-star William Montgomery was Moore's second husband.

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