(cast change notice)
(starring Helen Hayes and Vincent Price / 203 performances - first run)
Victoria Regina opened Dec. 26, 1935 and ran through June 1936 at the Broadhurst Theatre.
This program is from the second run of the show, which began Aug. 31, 1936 and continued
through June 1937 (also at the Broadhurst Theatre) for a total of 314 performances.
The show then reopened at the Martin Beck Theatre for a third run of 87 performances
(Oct. 3 through Dec. 1938) before going on a long-running nationwide tour.
(See "Regional/Other Shows" section for 1939 Dallas performance.)
(Actual program measures 7" x 9")
Time Magazine cover story
Monday, Dec. 30, 1935
To Washington's National Theatre one night last week Anna Eleanor Roosevelt took Secretary of the Treasury & Mrs. Henry Morgenthau Jr. to see Helen Hayes as Victoria Regina. So charmed was Mrs. Roosevelt by Actress Hayes' performance that when the play ended, she stood up in her box, clapped for five curtain calls. Next day she had Miss Hayes in to the White House for luncheon and at 3 p. m. Actress Hayes hurried back to her hotel suite in high excitement, canceled half a dozen appointments, summoned a beautician to fix her bobbed hair. That evening by special invitation she went back to the White House for 8 o'clock dinner and the glittering Diplomatic Reception which followed. Clearly Helen Hayes had made a profound impression upon the Presidential family. And critics who watched her Washington tryout forecast another hit for her when Victoria Regina opens on Broad way this week.
For those who make a hobby of Actress Hayes' career, Victoria Regina can be considered a sort of retrospective exhibition of some of the memorable parts she has played on her way up to the top during the past 17 years. Scene 1 represents the entrance hall at Kensing ton Palace early one morning in 1837. Lord Conyngham, the Prime Minister and the Archbishop of Canterbury have come to rouse William IV's niece out of bed, tell her of her uncle's death and her succession to the Throne of England. Suddenly Actress Hayes appears, long locks falling to her shoulders, a night dress sweeping the floor. She receives the news without a word, but by some alchemy of gesture and expression, manages to convey in full the young queen's terrific bewilderment, anxiety and delight. Those who saw Miss Hayes a good 16 years ago as the extraordinary dream-child in Dear Brutus could almost hear the echo of her plaintive cry, "I don't want to be a might-have- been!"
In Scene 2, only a year after her coronation, "Vicky" has already begun to assert her Teutonic stubbornness. Her colloquy with Lord Melbourne, in which she gently lets that Prime Minister understand that she will accept his matrimonial advice provided that it coincides with her own wishes, is strongly reminiscent of Actress Hayes' pert and pretty Bab period.
Miss Hayes continues to model her impersonation of Victoria with sure dramatic strokes when, after her marriage to the tall and handsome Albert, she sees him at his toilet for the first time. "Oh-h-h!" she cries, breathless at the wonder of her maidenly discovery, "you're shaving!" Not even the quiet resolution of punctilious Albert prevents her from embracing him before an open palace window, an act of domestic abandon evocative of certain tender moments in the cinema version of A Farewell to Arms.
Most people who take their theatre-going seriously managed to see Helen Hayes in Mary of Scotland, one of the dramatic events of 1934. Memorable sequence in that play was the hapless Scottish queen's leave-taking from her lover Bothwell (Philip Merivale). Minus swords and capes to heighten the drama, Miss Hayes as the dumpy little royal matron of Victoria Regina manages to pack an astonishing amount of tragic power into her dismay at Albert's fatal chill.
The last two scenes in Victoria Regina are concerned with the familiar fat-faced old age of the Widow of Windsor. For this final period Miss Hayes has inflated her cheeks, dropped her mouth and eyelids in a fashion as extraordinary as her withered disguise for the closing shots of The Sin of Madelon Claudet. Here her quality as one of the nation's really great emotional actresses gets full display. Play wright Laurence Housman has contrived his finale along Cavalcade lines. The time is the Diamond Jubilee of 1897. The place is Buckingham Palace. Victoria, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Queen, Defender of the Faith, Empress of India, has just been wheeled into one of the front chambers by her big-bellied son, Edward of Wales. Slight, bewhiskered Grandson and other of her numerous descend ants are gathered respectfully around the old lady when she suddenly begins to cackle about an extraordinary thing that happened during the procession as she passed the Marble Arch. A mob of work men broke through the soldiers and police, says Victoria, and began to shout: "Go it, old girl ! We knew you could do it ! " Victoria irritably smothers a sniffle, adds: "Very improper people!"
Compared to his poetic brother Alfred Edward Housman (The Shropshire Lad), Laurence Housman is a literary lightweight. The author of such things as An Englishwoman's Love Letters, Angels and Ministers and Little Plays of St. Francis, Housman has written two previous dramatic works which were refused licenses by the censor who cannot permit representations of the Deity or the Royal Family on the British stage. That Victoria Regina was also refused permission to be performed in Great Britain was the result of an accident, for it was confected for the study rather than the stage.
Out of a dramatic biography in 32 scenes, Producer Gilbert Miller has hacked ten for theatrical purposes. What is left is pure, if unexciting, history, since Playwright Housman has entirely neglected to develop any dramatic significance from his theme. Yet the play has definite artistic merit and for this the audience must thank Actress Hayes. Queen or no queen, hers is a lively, three-dimensional portrait from girlhood to senescence of a spirited woman whose virtues & vices were proudly middle class.
- a very young Vincent Price,
before he became Master of Horror Films -
Also to be thanked is Vincent Price, a good-looking beanpole two years out of Yale, who went to Europe to study art and wound up an actor. The image of Chelsea figurines of the Prince Consort, he gives a cunningly conceived and ably represented impersonation of the virtuous, conservative, kindly Albert. Corpulent Producer Miller is supposed to have spent $75,000 on mounting Victoria Regina. Indeed, the gilt alone on the elaborate period furniture he brought from England for the show looks as if it had cost enough to keep several families through a hard winter. And in the elegant fashion to which he has accustomed himself, discriminating Mr. Miller confidently expects to be kept through this winter by the golden talents of the most valuable of all his properties, Helen Hayes.
- In 1909, Helen Hayes
already looked like a "Flapper." -
At 17 Helen Hayes, looking not unlike Maude Adams, was touring in Pollyanna when the chance came to work for the playwright who had made Miss Adams famed. The piece was Sir James Barrie's Dear Brutus. The leading man was William Gillette. And there was not a dry eye in the house when Helen Hayes got through wringing the last teardrop out of the scene in the wood where Gillette, the childless artist, meets the daughter he might have had. At 19 Miss Hayes had left her juvenile parts behind and was at the height of her flapper period. She played Clarence with Alfred Lunt, To the Ladies, We Moderns. High spot of this phase was the title role in Edward Childs Carpenter's Bab.
Bab was a piquant girl in a knee-length skirt and a hat like an inverted pot. She got into all kinds of scrapes, including a burglary. To collegiate hearts in 1920 she came very close to being the Dream Woman. When the play opened in Boston. Edgar Scott, socialite senior from Philadelphia, translated this widespread emotion about Miss Hayes into the following verse for the Harvard Lampoon:
". . . If man has considered Troy's Helen perennial,
As years and as aeons go rollicking by,
Let us hail our own Helen, the artist's millennial,
Who's teased us "with smiles, and who's taught us to cry. . . .
If Broadway's the god that can give her the glory,
Her talents and charms are entitled to win,
Let Boston prefix "Chapter One" to the story,
For Bab in her triumph—we saw it begin!
Good luck to you Helen, when Fate will bereave us,
Of you and the coat sleeves that covered your paws,
You'll steal our poor hearts, precious burglar, and leave us
Alone in the echoes of Boston's applause."