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Audience eggs bad actors at Alcazar Theatre in Snohomish on March 25, 1909.

HistoryLink.org Essay 10293 : Printer-Friendly Format

On March 25, 1909, the Three of a Kind Company of performers is forced to end its production at the Alcazar Theatre in Snohomish at the end of the play's first act. So bad is the performance that the actors are pursued into the street and pelted with eggs by several disgruntled and aggressive attendees. 

The Most Photographed Building in Town

The Alcazar Theatre building was constructed as a box-house vaudeville theater. It opened on November 11, 1892, and still (2013) stands in its original location at 609 First Street in Snohomish. In its first incarnation as a theater, the auditorium had 350 seats and measured 33 by 45 feet in size. It was considered to be a first-class venue, its usual entertainment in the early years consisting of short skits, musical acts, and plays. In 1906, the young singer Al Jolson (1886-1950) played there after a booking fell through in Everett. Since its construction, the building has served as a theater, a garage, a junk store, and an antique shop.

When the Snohomish Historic District was established in 1973, the Alcazar was upgraded from a junk shop to an antique store. Longtime owner Jim McGinty (b. 1954) gave the building a concrete foundation and a new roof but has refused to paint it. He claims it is presently the most photographed building in town so, in his words, "Why change it?" (Snohomish Then and Now website).

"We'll Make it Eggs"

The Alcazar hosted many performers during its time as a theater but perhaps no performance as notable as the one that took place on March 25, 1909.

The Everett Daily Herald gave the event front page coverage and a devastating review.

"Hasty Exit Made By Actors

"They Leave Via Back Window While Audience Waits For Their Appearance

"Poor Company Excites Ire of Portion of Snohomish Audience

"Special, The Daily Herald, March 26, 1909, -- Snohomish went through another sensational episode last night and came out somewhat scathed. The members of the Three of a Kind were rotten and they left the theater after giving one of the worst performances seen in the past months, and that is putting it mildly.

"Manager Crippen [Charles H. Crippen, 1861-1929] has been known for booking houses. Three of a Kind consisted of four girls and a group of young men devoid of any acting ability, unversed in their lines and without excuse for being on the road. The very first act was absolutely too much for the audience and certain young men at the back of the house were heard exiting. One was reported to have said, "Let's go out and get some old lemons and soak 'em." Another, "We'll make it eggs!" They left the house and a member of the company hurried to the stage and reported the conversation.

"Flee Via Windows

"The curtain went down at the end of the first act and never went up anymore.

"The intermission was a long one. The people waited reluctantly for what was to come, hoping against hope that something ahead would make up for the outlay of money at the box office. At last someone suggested that possibly the company had left by the back way. Several went on the stage and found the company one by one dropping out the back window.

"A rush was made for the street and then things broke loose. Many eggs were shattered on the street and some probably hit some of the members in the company. It was a race for life down First Street towards the hotel. Two girls and part of the men went up a stairway and didn't come down until 11 o'clock and the riot began at 9:30. No arrests were made but a badly scarred troupe of "actors" faded away one by one as trains or trolley cars left town. There is much criticism among the conservative element directed toward those who threw the eggs but it will probably end there, as the names of the parties cannot be secured" (The Everett Daily Herald).

Would-Be Thespians Make Frantic Exit

A reporter from The Seattle Times fills in details with this coverage of the event:

"BAD ACTORS EGGED IN SNOHOMISH

"Three of Kind Company Forced to Drop Curtain and Jump from Windows of Alcazar Theatre

"The Times Special Service. Snohomish, Friday, March 26, -- The Three of a Kind Company, a decidedly barn-storming aggregation, reached a dramatic climax at the Alcazar Theatre last evening when the audience rose en masse during the first act and threatened to present the play actors with a choice selection of eggs as a mark of their lack of appreciation.

"The stage manager promptly dropped the curtain to prevent any further demonstration. The audience waited a few minutes and as there were no further indications that the play would be resumed, a few bolder spirits went behind the scenes. They did so just in time to see the members of the company -- four young women and several men -- making frantic exits from handy windows.

"Three young men who had threatened to furnish eggs in lieu of bouquets had already left the house to prepare for the onslaught. The rest of the audience also immediately made a rush for the street, where their leaders had already gone into action and were pelting the would-be Thespians, who were wildly running the gauntlet.

"Some of them rushed into a stairway, where they were forced to linger for more than two hours. During the night the members of the company left town singly and in pairs by every train and trolley car that departed for neutral territory.

"It was by all odds the worst imitation of a show that ever held the boards at The Alcazar. It was fierce. The manager says he had been given to understand that it was a meritorious attraction.

"While the people of Snohomish do not approve of the use of eggs excepting for gastronomic purposes, there is a general feeling here that the company was entitled to little consideration" (The Seattle Times).

The actors' dressing rooms were below stage level, making it possible for them to exit through back windows close to ground level, but a steep slope behind the building nevertheless would have made their hasty escape quite difficult.

Sources:
"Bad Actors Egged in Snohomish," The Seattle Times, March 26, 1909; "Hasty Exit Made By Actors," The Everett Daily Herald, March 26, 1909, p. 1; Warner Blake, "The Alcazar Theater," March 16, 2011, Snohomish Then and Now website accessed December 21, 2012 (www.snohomishthenandnow.org/2011/03the-alcazar-theater/); Margaret Riddle conversation with David Dilgard, author of Mill Town Footlights, the Theaters of Everett, Washington, on December 28, 2012.


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Seattle Times headline, March 26, 1909
Courtesy The Seattle Times


The Alcazar Theater building as the Eastside Garage, Snohomish, ca. 1915
Courtesy Warner Blake


Alcazar Theater building, Snohomish, October 28, 2012
HistoryLink.org Photo by Margaret Riddle


 
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