"For the drama and the way it may happen to be played, and the plot or moral or meaning of it, nobody seems particularly to care. The point of interest is, first, the dancing; next, the dancers, and last, the scenery."
The huge production, with dancers, singers, actors, and musicians filling the stage amidst massive scenery, was difficult to mount. Even though its stage was already five feet wider than any other in New York, De Pol convinced Banvard to widen it yet another 20 feet to accommodate the action. This meant extra rehearsals after the stage was renovated and the re-opening of the theatre was twice delayed, further draining the showman's financial resources.It featured haunted dells with multitudes of elves, combats, processions, trapeze acts, subterranean caves with giant reptiles, acrobatic jugglers, four Grand Transformation scenes, performing horses, castles that crumbled and others that burned, oriental revels, and even a quick-change artist, who rapidly donned the costumes of nine different nations, and performed the national dance of each.
"The Devil's Auction" is the name of a new spectacle produced for the first time at Banvard's Museum last night. It is a prose melo-drama in four acts, interspersed with singing and dancing. Of course the play itself is intended as a frame for pretty pictures of scenery and graceful motion; it tells the story of a young peasant girl whose vulgar old father has given her to a bad old Count for wife; of a young man in shabby clothes who loves the young girl of a servant maid, who is in love with a donkey which she has charge of, and of Cupid, the God of Love, who takes the lovers under his protection.Photos:
The play further represents how, on the wedding morning, the bad old Count takes his bride and the villagers for a little excursion up to the Castle of a deceased magician, whose stock of talismans, philters, potions, &c., is to be disposed of that day at auction; also how the auction does take place, and the bad old Count, the vulgar old father, the young man in shabby clothes and the servant-maid buy, each, an article formerly belonging to the dead wizard; also how it happens that every such article is a potent talisman that gratifies every wish of the possessor; also how the shabby young man wishes he were dressed up in good clothes and is immediately clothed in yellow satin; the young lady wishes she were with her lover, which happens straightway, and the young servant-maid wishes her donkey were a man, which he immediately becomes; also how the lovers are then pursued through the globe by the bad old Count and the vulgar father, and how they all occasionally find themselves in coral caves and El Dorado, and the Indian groves, and other distant places inhabited by charming young ladies who dance unceasingly, amazonian guards who are unceasingly countermarching in bewildering mazes, and lovely young women who are unremittingly similing and joyous.
For the drama and the way it may happen to be played, and the plot or moral or meaning of it, nobody seems particularly to care. The point of interest is, first, the dancing; next, the dancers, and last, the scenery."
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