Rave Reviews for Mr. Wilfley

The February 16, 1900 edition of the Skidmore Standard ran the following review on its front page:

“Damon and Pythias.”

Earle Wilfley Made the Greatest Hit of the Season in His Impersonation of the Play.

It is said by men of the lecture platform that the second appearance before an audience is always the most trying one; if Mr. Earle Wilfley indulged any pessimistic doubts or fears about the success of his second appearance in Skidmore, he would better save himself the trouble, for no man thus far has delighted the people of our little village so thoroughly as did he, Tuesday evening in his impersonation of Damon and Pythias, the play which led to the founding of the great Knights of Pythias lodge.

It is to the local lodge Skidmore Lodge No. 340 that the people are indebted for the treat, as it was under its auspices that Mr. Wilfley made his second appearance, and it will no doubt be the cause of materially strengthening the lodge in numbers.

“This is a great occasion,” said Mr. Wilfley in his introductory remarks, “not because I am here, not because you are here; but rather because of the peculiar situation. It is a kind of a celebration of the local lodge of Knights of Pythias – one of the best orders on earth.”

He then assured the ladies that they would not be initiated and informed them that no secrets of the order would be divulged, which may or may not have been a disappointing declaration to some of the gentler sex who were present in goodly numbers, notwithstanding the inclemency of the weather.

The plot of the play was outlined and the audience made acquainted with the characters after which he began the enactment of the play. The scenes are exceedingly dramatic and Mr. Wilfley’s work along this line is par excellent. He was greeted with hearty applause by the audience many times. At the close he gave a little diversion by rendering a humorous selection – an old, old time school scene, which was ludicrous in the extreme and kept the audience convulsed with side-aching laughter.

The Mandolin Club rendered several excellent selections of music which were greatly appreciated by the audience.

The week before, the Standard had reported on Mr. Wilfley’s presentation as part of the Skidmore Lecture Course, saying, “Mr. Wilfley’s forte is impersonating and entertaining. He prefers giving an evening of entertainment to delivering a lecture; but the executive committee of the lecture course concluded that the people here would rather hear a lecture, so Mr. Wilfley was advised accordingly.”

It seems that the lecture-or-entertainment distinction did matter, at least to some. Also from the February 16, 1900 Standard, page 4:

A great many people went to the opera house, Wednesday evening, expecting to hear a lecture, because it had been announced in the ‘ad’ in last week’s issue that Mr. Wilfley would deliver his favorite lecture. It is due the committee on advertising to state that this mistake was unintentional. There was so little time left, before publication, after Mr. Wilfley had promised to come that a complete understanding as to the exact nature of the entertainment to be given, could not be obtained by the committee, so it had to resort to a little guess work.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *