“Shang Tun Mysteries”

27 Mins.; Full Stage (Special Set). Aside from the beautiful stage settings, rich costumes and excellent acrobatics and contortion work of a small boy, it cannot be said that Long Tack Sam’s latest importation “Shang Tun Mysteries” created a sensation on the initial American appearance. Lavish wealth is displayed in the back drop and side curtains used to dress the stage, and many Chinese costumes are worn by the men, but the present routine failed to disclose the mysteries expected. Four men, a woman and four children, make up the troupe. The curtain arose on the entire troupe grouped in the center of the stage, singing and playing native music. The woman and three of the children start the turn by singing a Chinese song accompanied by one of the men at the piano. This is followed by the pianist singing a short number in pidgin English. Next, one of the men juggles and spins a pair of cymbals in a clever way. Then each of the four men attempts to give individual illustrations of conjuring. This part of the turn should be worked with more skills or eliminate for in each instance, the audience saw where the articles come from. The boy followed the conjuring and did some remarkable acrobatic and contortion work. While the youngster is getting his breath, one of the men balances a spinning plate upon a flexible rod which bent at all angles. The man’s cleverness secured good applause. A little more time was filled in by another of the men throwing a large crockery vessel in the air and catching and balancing it upon his forehead. This practically concluded the men’s part of the routine and the youngster again took the centre of the stage. His back bending from a standing position earned unstinted plaudits. While balancing a large candelabrum full of lightened candles on his head, the youth accomplishes the seemingly impossible. The youngster was the backbone of the act as it stood when it opened Sunday. The woman and other three children did nothing after the opening song but stand on the stage giving the numerical strength. But since Long Tack Sam’s arrival “Shang Tun Mysteries” shows a vast improvement. The length of time consumed by the act has been cut down to 18 minutes giving more speed to the routine. The men’s portion of the offering is being strengthened and reconstructed. They possess the necessary talent to make a good showing, but lacked the direction of a practical showman like Long Track Sam to show them out to make the best use of it while before an audience. Undoubtedly long before the “Shang Tun Mysteries” reaches the east it will be holding it’s own with other big acts; for Long Track Sam has a splendid foundation to work on.
Variety, Volume XXXVI, no.10, November 7, 1914