Little Rock Look Back: SPRINGTIME FOR HENRY is first play at Robinson

Since ELF is opening today as the first musical in the new Robinson Center Performance Hall, it seems appropriate to look back at the first play performed in the building’s earlier incarnation.  

On Monday, April 1, 1940, Edward Everett Horton came to Little Rock in the comedy SPRINGTIME FOR HENRY.  This was a play in which he had appeared regularly on tours and in summer stock. He would create productions of it in between film roles from the 1930s to the 1950s.  

The play concerned a industrial heir whose dalliances put his family’s business in jeopardy.  It was a boulevard comedy (or a sex comedy—without the sex).  Originally performed on Broadway in 1931, it was written by Benn W. Levy.  He would later serve as a member of Parliament.  

By the time Horton arrived in Little Rock, he was an accomplished stage and screen actor.  He was a staple of many Astaire-Rogers films. 

The performance at Robinson did not go off without a hitch.  Because Spring had arrived in Little Rock, it was warmer outside.  This necessitated the air conditioner being turned on.   The fans rumbling through the vents made such a noise that it was difficult for the audience to hear the actors.  The air cooler was turned off for the remainder of the performance.  In the days after the performance, the Auditorium staff put buffering in the vents in the muffle the noise.