Old Time Drama Days in Ogden Are Recalled

Ogden Standard Examiner, 28 January 1934, page 8

 Let us turn the clock back to where drama started, if anyone really knows.  It might have originated with the caveman by his playing “gorilla” to frighten his wife.  At any rate the first we know of began with the dances of the people held in honor of their gods, acting out the religious stories pertaining to their faiths, Shakespeare was the first to get away from the religious theme.

At first there were no individual actors.  One person would carry on dialogue with the chorus; then later Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides and Aristophanes introduced dramas with dialogue between several individuals and so on until we have the present drama.
Growth in Ogden
In speaking of growth of drama itself, let us go back to the beginning of shows and show houses in our own city of Ogden.  In the real old early days of Ogden the Grand Opera House was just about where the Berthana dance hall is now located, in which many of our old time celebrities played to crowded houses.
Later the New Opera House (now the Orpheum) was built and some of our older citizens will remember the grand opening night.
Emma Abbott, a famous contralto singer had the honor of being presented in the first performance of the Opera House in Ogden.  She caught cold a few days later and died of pneumonia.  Ted Abbott was one of Ogden's citizens who sat in a box on this auspicious occasion, and Senator Cannon on the curtain call made the welcome address.  This theatre was built by David Eccles, Joseph Clark and the Browning boys and was considered one of the finest theatres in the west at that time.  It was later used for vaudeville entertainment as well as road shows and has of recent years been confined almost exclusively to pictures.  It is now owned by the Eldredge-Glasmann company.
Many other theatres have flashed their lights in Ogden.  Shortly after the Opera House was built, the Peery brothers built the Utah-na theatre, which is now known as the Ogden theatre.  Road shows and stock companies were featured there until moving pictures came into vogue and it is now used exclusively for that purpose.  Later various others, such as the Isis, Globe, Utah, Oracle, Joie, Electric, Edison, Dreamland and Lyceum faded out again.  These were replaced by the Alhambra, which is now known as the Paramount, and the Egyptian.  The Colonial also survived.
The foregoing record proves conclusively that Ogden has always been a drama-loving community and the fact that it is now supporting six theatres, proves that, for its size, it is still holding its own in the theatrical world.  Even in the olden days, home talent was “quite the thing”.  The story goes that one night a Home Dramatic group was playing “The Avenger”, “Lightning Bill,” a well-known person in Ogden, was playing the hero's part and just as the Indians were about to burn the girl to the stake, “Lightning Bill” came sneaking on the stage with knife between his teeth all set to do the big heroic act.  Just then someone called out from the audience in a loud dramatic voice, “Lightning Bill, the Avenger!”  And the outburst of laughter and applause turned a most thrilling tragedy into a side-splitting comedy.  Oh well, many a laugh has saved the day in a tragic moment.
Last but not least is our Weber Little theatre, which now stands where the Cozy theatre used to.  We are looking forward to some future celebrity, whom this theatre may be instrumental in helping on the way.
Rehearsals on “The Jade God” are nearing and end now and Mrs. Northrup announces that her cast is about ready to present a fine, finished, entertaining production.  Let us all join her down at the Little theatre on February 1, 2 and 3.