The Return of Peter Grimm
- David Belasco s fantasy-drama opened on 17 October 1911 at Belasco Theatre for 231 performances. The play provided veteran actor David Warfield with a memorable role as the kind old man of the title. Grimm makes a pact with his doctor that whichever of them dies first will attempt to return from the grave with a message. Grimm convinces his ward Katrien to marry his nephew Frederick so that the family tree might continue to grow. Katrien, however, is in love with another man and strongly dislikes the wastrel Frederick, but she reluctantly agrees to the engagement out of affection for Grimm. When Grimm dies, he does return, although only the housekeeper's sickly son, Wilhelm, can see him. Grimm sees that he erred in prevailing upon Katrien to marry Frederick, but he cannot find a way to get his message across. Finally, he tells Wilhelm the dark truth that Frederick is actually his father. This shocking news frees Katrien from her promise and she is able to marry the man she loves. When Wilhelm dies, the unseen Peter Grimm carries him into the other world accompanied by the circus music the little boy loves. The play's success in New York inspired a two-year tour starring Warfield, who also appeared in a Belasco-produced revival in 1921.
The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater. James Fisher.
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