Anna had joined the Mr. Bluebeard company at the
beginning of its road tour in September 1903,
having just finished a sixteen-week season in a
stock company in Elmira, NY.
Managed by comedian Herbert Salinger, the
Manhattan Opera Company (MOC) worked out of NYC. It
had come to Elmira, New York (population then around
38,000) for a second summer in
early June, 1903 to perform at the open-air
Theater, founded in 1900 by the Elmira Water,
Light & Railroad Company as way to increase trolley
traffic. The EWLR was a consolidation of
Elmira's utilities with the Elmira-Horseheads-Maple
Avenue-and-West Side-Street Railways. (Watch a
fun slide show of Rorick Glen images and
read more about Rorick's Glen.)
Over a decade later, Anna Brandt cited stock theater
work as an excellent way for performers to expand
the breadth of their skills and hone their craft.
A look at MOC's 1903 season suggests enough variety
to challenge a company.
that summer included The Mikado,
The Chimes of Normandy, Fra Divolo (poorly
performed the first time, according to a local
critic, and offending one in the audience who
recommended Zerlina's disrobing scene be omitted),
The Merry War, The Bohemian Girl, The Grand Duchess,
The Pirates of Penzance, Patience, Charity Begins at
Trial by Jury, Giroile-Girofla and
Rose of Auvergne.
The season was not without difficulties. Three
times flooding of the Chemung River took out the
footbridge across the river, causing the
cancellation of a few performances and requiring
relocation to the Auditorium. (The wooden bridge
washed out five times during the theater's first
five years and was replaced in 1906 with an iron
footbridge with concrete pilings – that are still in
position though the iron succumbed to floods in 1946
& 1972.) A much-promoted
nighttime balloon accession was replaced with a
fireworks display when the balloonist decided a
nighttime ride was too risky. Three cast members
abruptly left to join other companies, including
their baritone, Wally Albert Wallerstedt.
Some MOC cast members had previously worked in other Klaw
& Erlanger productions, including The Beauty and
the Beast and Mr. Bluebeard when it
on Broadway. Seven evening and four afternoon
matinees were performed each week in Elmira. Free
admission produced audiences of 1,200-2,000, with
hundreds more strolling in elaborate gardens and
rowing boats on the Chemung River.
It is not known if Anna Brandt* performed in
Bluebeard when it was in NYC but I suspect not.
She was not mentioned in MOC news stories during the
1903 season, suggesting she did not yet stand out
from the crowd.
At the end of August, she and two other performers
in MOC left Elmira to join the Bluebeard Company
in New York. Mr.
at the Alvin Theater in Pittsburgh at the end of
September, presumably with Anna, Kittie and Gladdis
in the chorus. Newspapers did not report the last
names of Kittie and Gladdis. The sentence structure
in the newspaper story, however, suggests they were
Anna's sisters. Ordinarily, with so much
information, I would be able to find Anna in
genealogy records. Not this time. That may mean that
Brand/Brandt was a stage name.
In the years after the fire
Around 1906 Anna joined the
Holden Players, who often cast her as an ingénue. In
1912 she joined the North Brothers stock company but
a year later returned to the Holden Players. " In
1914 she was with Frank Readick's American Players.
Productions in which Anna
Fool and His Money
A Trip to India
Marie in Dr.
Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Pierre of the
Place and the
Shores of Sin
The Girl From
Wife in Name
Whose Baby are
Age and the popularity of
cinema may have caught up with Anna. The last
mention I found of her in a dramatic role was in
Detroit in 1915. A performer of the same name
appeared in November 1915 at the Strand Theater
in Brooklyn, singing soprano in Bella Donna,
but I suspect that was not the same woman. After
the first quarter of 1915, Anna seems to have
vanished from the stage.
Discrepancies and addendum
* Occasionally spelled
in newspapers as Brand but more often as Brandt.
Anna, Kittie and Gladdis may have been the
daughters of hat maker John S. Brandt and
Isabelle A. Holmes Brandt of Boston. In 1910
their married daughters, Gladys L. Brandt Scott
and Katherine Brandt Mohan, lived with them in
In 1921 an Anna G. Brandt from Stockholm
appeared in theater notices. She was described
as new on the scene in the U.S., so probably was
not the Anna of Mr. Bluebeard. On the
other hand, theater promotion sometimes strayed
far from the truth, so maybe. She married
Charles K. Johansen.
A playwright in El Paso named Anna Brandt worked
in the 1930s, but I found nothing to suggest she
was the same woman.
A Kate Brand appeared in Then
I'll Come Back to You in
an Indianapolis theater in June 1916. Anna's
An Edwin Brandt in theater work in 1903.