Cathrine Countiss Stock Company
On a crisp morning in late April 1908, New Yorkers opened The Morning Telegraph and saw this item in the newspaper…
E. D. Price and Cathrine Countiss, respectively manager and stock star of the Cathrine Countiss Stock Company, set sail for the Broadway Theatre, Denver late Sunday night.
About seventy-five thousand dollars' worth of actors and newspaper men gathered to say good-by to the popular pair just before the Sunset Limited heaved anchor, and quite a million dollars’ worth of flowers and fruit overflowed from stateroom, baggage car, and vestibule to attest to the sorrow of Broadway, New York, at lending two favorites to Broadway, Denver.
Afterward, the mourners adjourned to the grill of the Hotel Belmont and fittingly mourned their loss. Good luck to you Mr. and Mrs. Price.
One week and 1,800 miles later, Cathrine and E. D. made ready the welcoming committee for her summer stock company on the platform at Denver’s Union Station. The Denver Post photographer hustled the entire company dressed in their travel finery onto a baggage wagon for the first of many publicity shots ordered by William B. Hene, manager of the Tabor Grand Opera House.
For Denver theatre-goers, the summer of 1908 proved to be memorable with the Cathrine Countiss Company delivering top talent from stages nationwide. Edwin Arden and Harry Hilliard were leading men, while actresses Helen Lackaye, Violet Rand and Clara Reynolds-Smith played opposite Cathrine, who garnered top billing in every production. Actors Berton Churchill, Donald Meek, Schuyler Ladd, Thomas V. Emory and Charles Lindholm rounded out the troupe.
The company staged thirteen productions over a span of thirteen weeks between May 17th and August 16th, opening with The Road to Yesterday at the Tabor Grand with Cathrine playing the dual role of Elspeth Tyrell and Lady Elizabeth Tyrell. Cathrine and E. D. were pleased with the notices that hit the presses late into opening night. Frances Wayne at The Denver Post set the tone...
"After much exploiting and anticipation, Cathrine Countiss and her stock company have made their bow to Denver, and if the pace set Sunday in the initial performance at the Tabor is maintained, there is no reason why the vibrant little actress and the excellent players surrounding her should not carry off the summer wreath." (19 May 1908)
Countiss had the upmost confidence in the company’s professionalism and theatrical talent. With little more than a week after arriving in Denver to rehearse and polish a three-act drama, it was no small feat. E. D. is quoted in The Denver Republican (24 May1908), "Team work is the essential (element) in a stock company as in a winning ball team. This quality and the personal followings built up by the players combine to make the cornerstone of a stock company’s success."
And successful the Cathrine Countiss Stock Company was in every regard, opening at the Tabor Grand then alternating weeks between the Broadway Theatre and the Tabor. Playing to packed houses with a matinee and evening production nightly, little downtime remained for socializing.
So, on August 16th, after the applause quieted, the set of Clarice was struck, the footlights of Denver’s Broadway Theatre dimmed on Cathrine’s stock company, her players went their separate ways from Union Station. Their summer of success would carry her back to New York City to begin rehearsals for the next leading role in The Offenders at the Hudson Theatre on 44th St.
Images: The Denver Post; Cathrine Countiss Estate Archives