Stanislaus Stange

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Stanislaus Stange (1862–1917) was a playwright, librettist and lyricist who created many Broadway shows in the fin-de-siecle era and early 20th century. After minor success as an actor, Stange made his career as a writer in the musical theatre, moving towards more varied theatrical work before his death.

Early career[edit]

He was born in Liverpool, England. He emigrated to America in 1881 and attempted to establish himself as an actor and elocution teacher, teaching the Delsarte technique of acting. One of his pupils was Alice Nielsen, for whom he later wrote shows.[1] He worked with a drama club in Kansas City, where he acted in and directed The Bells and Richard III. He later toured with George C. Milne, Stuart Robson and William H. Crane.[2]

Musical theatre[edit]

The score for Stange's musical The Singing Girl, music by Victor Herbert, lyrics by Harry B. Smith.

He finally moved to New York, where had more success as a writer.[3] He teamed up with composer Julian Edwards to create a string of musicals, beginning with Madeline, or the Magic Kiss (1895), a romantic fantasy in which an old man magically gets younger every time he is kissed.[4] When he becomes a handsome young man again he meets the woman of his dreams, but is worried that her kiss will regress him to childhood. However, her "kiss of love" breaks the spell.[5] The show was a big success.

With Edwards, Stange later created Brian Boru (1896), The Wedding Day (1897), The Jolly Musketeer (1898), and When Johnny Comes Marching Home (1902), which produced a popular patriotic song, "My Own United States".

Stange also worked with other composers, including Victor Herbert, for whom he wrote the book of the musical The Singing Girl, the plot of which borrows from Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado.[6] This was a vehicle for Stange's old pupil Alice Nielsen. In 1904 he wrote The Two Roses, for music by Ludwig Engländer. Louise Le Baron starred in the main role. The libretto was adapted from Oliver Goldsmith's She Stoops to Conquer.[7]

Later work[edit]

His biggest success was his dramatization of the novel Quo Vadis? (1900). He also translated and adapted Oscar Straus's operetta, The Chocolate Soldier (1909), which he also directed. This achieved the longest run of all his works.[3]

In 1910 Stange's play The Girl with the Whooping Cough caused controversy because of its allegedly salacious content. After intervention from the mayor of New York all performances on Broadway were stopped. Drama critic George Jean Nathan called the play "nauseating and ... disgusting in its futile efforts to be risqué".[8]

In 1912 Stange suffered a stroke when working on a production of The Chocolate Soldier. His health and productivity declined from that point. He died at the age of 54 on January 2, 1917.[9] His son, Hugh Stanislaus Stange was also a successful playwright and screenwriter.


  1. ^ Dall Wilson, Alice Nielsen and the Gayety of Nations, 2008, p.144.
  2. ^ Felicia Hardison Londré, David Austin Latchaw, The enchanted years of the stage: Kansas City at the crossroads of American theater, 1870-1930, University of Missouri Press, 2007, p.104.
  3. ^ a b Gerald Bordman, "Stange, Stanislaus", The Oxford companion to American theatre, Oxford University Press, 1984.
  4. ^ Julian Edwards, "A Composer of Light Opera who has recently become famous", Lewiston Evening Journal, October 30, 1896, p. 23.
  5. ^ Bordman, Gerald Martin. American musical theatre: a chronicle, Oxford University Press, 2001, pp. 132; 281
  6. ^ Gould, Neil (2008). Victor Herbert: A Theatrical Life. Fordham University Press, p. 302
  7. ^ "Tribute of Bouquets to Fritzi Scheff", The New York Times, November 22, 1904, retrieved 2012-01-23 
  8. ^ Nathan, George Jean (May 1910). "The Dramatic Valedictory". The Smart Set. 31 (1): 149. 
  9. ^ Stanislaus Stange is Dead, The Spokesman Review, 3 January, 1917, p.2.

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