Thursday, April 6, 2017


A Kiss for Cinderella was praised in a Times London short article dated April 28, 1916. The author noted that this play had reached its fiftieth performance and it continued to appeal to many different aspects of human nature. The writer observed that the play contained the “nursery” side of life: the patriotic aspect; the love-interest; the whimsical as well as the fantastic; the moral thermometer and stately decorum. I find this unusual play to be filled with many magical moments, while it is peppered with the realities of daily life. 

The reviews for the initial performances of the play in London were extremely positive. The Times on March 17, 1916 claimed “The enchantment of a dream, when Barrie is the dreamer.” Hilda Trevelyan (1877-1959) played Cinderella. When the play was set to reopen in London for the Christmas season of 1916, the reviewer for The Times London wrote on 12/26/1916: “The success of the revival should be assured from the fact that Miss Hilda Trevelyan is again available for the part of the little waif, a performance that must rank as one of the features of the dramatic year.” 

The New York Times (January 7, 1917) carried a story shortly after “A Kiss” opened titled “Cinderella and Other Heroines.”  “The story of Cinderella has been told in more tongues than any other folklore tale of mankind.” The article traces the legend’s first written account to Aelian, a Roman author during the third century CE. The newspaper article makes the point that it is unknown how long the basic story had been told prior to the Roman version, however, the name Cinderella emerged in a German folktale during the sixteenth century.

While the reviews that appeared in newspapers and magazines across the United States routinely praised 1. the script, 2. Maude Adams (1872-1953) who starred as Cinderella and 3. the regal magnificence of the production, there were other articles related to the play that mention different noteworthy elements in the script. Philadelphia’s The Evening Public Ledger on October 13, 1917 included in its article: “The modest Barrie still dares greatly in coloring a fantasy with rays from the lurid prism of the present war.  Anything more unrelated from Armageddon and the classic fairy tale of childhood it is hard to conceive.” The author of the article believed Barrie merged fact with fancy delicately.

Another article that appeared in the February 4, 1917 edition of the New York Herald discussed Barrie’s new woman. Doctor Bodie is the character the article refers to as the new woman. “Dr. Bodie is an energetic, practical, efficient physician as well as a capable executive with an incisive manner.” The article also mentions that she is “feminine in personality” even though she “invaded the realm of man in professional achievements.”

Hilda Trevelyan and Maude Adams were established stars of the theatre when they were selected to play Miss Thing/Cinderella.  Both actresses had performed in other plays by James M. Barrie. In fact both women had starred as Peter Pan: Hilda Trevelyan played the title role in London when Peter Pan premiered on December 27, 1904.  Maude Adams played Peter Pan in New York City when it opened on November 6, 1905. This role brought stardom to both actresses.
Despite the problems created for theatre productions touring during wartime, the London production of A Kiss for Cinderella toured cities in England and Scotland during the fall of 1916 and the spring months of 1917.  This was not a continuous tour since the production would return to London for performances. For example, in October of 1916 the London production moved for six nights to the Theatre Royal in Birmingham. Many newspapers carried announcements of this delightful production with its stars from the London stage coming to perform. It appears that it was not unusual for the production to play for six nights and several matinees in the larger cities. 

The Charles Frohman Company, the Broadway producer, planned for the “Cinderella” company to tour the United States once the play closed in New York. The tour was planned for the 1917-18 season. By the time the tour was to start, the United States was committed to the war in Europe.  This created a number of new problems for the Frohman Company to overcome. Many actors had joined the armed services causing a shortage of players. Railroads that normally transported the actors from city to city stopped catering to touring companies. Many legitimate theatres changed to showing films since fewer plays were being toured. The cities changed their public transportation services to stop running at an earlier hour in the evening.  As a result, theatres had to change their curtain time to an earlier hour so patrons could get home after the performances. Obviously there were many alterations to a normal touring plan that had to be accommodated if A Kiss for Cinderella was going to be able to tour as planned.

The Frohman Company prevailed and A Kiss for Cinderella was booked into every major city in the United States. The tour commenced in Plainfield, New Jersey on October 3, 1917.  Adams celebrated her forty-fifth birthday in November while the company was playing in Boston. The tour ended June 29, 1918 after playing for forty weeks and performing 320 times. In addition to those performances, the touring company presented several additional performances at military bases located in the United States.

The first revival of A Kiss for Cinderella in London was in 1924 and it was staged for the Christmas season. It was produced by Frederick Harrison at the Haymarket Theatre. Hilda Trevelyan once again starred as Miss Thing/Cinderella. The play opened on December 20th and was scheduled solely for matinee performances.

It received another revival in December of 1937.  This production was staged at the Phoenix Theatre in London and it starred Glynis Johns (1923-    ).  The performances were schedule for every afternoon and evening during the Christmas and New Year season. Johns played Peter Pan in 1943 at the Cambridge Theatre.
Another London production in December, 1948 was staged at “Q” Theatre. Penelope Bartley played the title role. There was a touring production of A Kiss for Cinderella produced by Alan Clements announced in The Stage on November 24, 1977. June Gray played Cinderella.

There was a New York City revival of A Kiss for Cinderella that opened on April 10, 1942 at the Music Box Theatre. Luise Rainer (1910-2014) played Miss Thing for a run of forty-eight performances.

A musical version of A Kiss for Cinderella opened in New York Off-Broadway at Stage 73 in 1966 under the title “The Penny Friend”.  It opened on December 26, 1966 starring Bernadette Peters (1948-   ) and it closed after thirty-two performances. The book, lyrics and music were created by William Roy (1928-2003).

A Kiss for Cinderella was also made into a silent film in 1925. It starred Betty Bronson (1906-1971). She had been selected for the role by James M. Barrie who also selected her to play Peter Pan in the 1924 film version. The Cinderella film was created by Famous Players-Lasky.  It was a very successful film.

In 1959 the British Broadcasting Company film/television created a version of A Kiss for Cinderella. This production starred Jeannie Carson (1928-    ) and it was aired throughout Great Britain.  A Kiss for Cinderella has had a hundred year history of successful professional and non- professional productions.

Photograph appeared in The Graphic, 15 April, 1916.

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