Souvenir button

The Duncan Sisters in Topsy and Eva

  Rosetta and Vivian Duncan were well-known vaudeville stars in 1923 when they asked Catherine Chisholm Cushing to write a musical for them "Based on 'Uncle Tom's Cabin.'" Cushing used Stowe's characters, but drastically rewrote the story. As you can see from the script available below, what plot the piece has depends mainly on the romantic relationship between George Shelby and an added character named Marietta, and on the misunderstandings between Mrs. Shelby and Augustine St. Clare, whom the script turns into her former beau. The show was essentially an occasion for singing, dancing and comic turns by the Sisters, especially Rosetta "in half-nudity and burnt-cork" as Topsy.
  The play was very popular. After engagements in Los Angeles and San Francisco, it ran for 47 weeks in Chicago, played on Broadway for about four months, then went on the road for a national tour through 1926. In 1927 the Duncans combined the stage show with an 80-minute movie (on which D. W. Griffith did some of the directing). They "revived" the show twice in the 30s, with new songs, again in 1942, and apparently kept coming before America as Topsy and Eva well into the 1950s.
  Besides the text, images, programs and reviews accessible below, you can also hear the original Duncan recordings from the show in the SONGS section of the archive, and explore the Duncans' 1927 film version of the story in MOVIES SECTION. For more on the Duncan Sisters, see JOHN SULLIVAN'S INTERPRETIVE EXHIBIT in the site's INTERPRET MODE.

All images on this page
Courtesy John Sullivan
  • Gallery of Images
  • Typescript of Script (1923)
  • Play Review (San Francisco Examiner, 9 July 1923)
  • Play Review (Chicago Daily News, 31 December 1923)
  • Play Review (Chicago Tribune, 31 December 1923)
  • Publicity Article (Liberty Magazine, 26 July 1924)
  • Play Program (Chicago Selwyn Theatre, October 1924)
  • Promotional Brouchure (Columbus Ohio, December 1924)
  • Play Review (New York Times, 24 December 1924)
  • Play Review (New York Herald Tribune, 24 December 1924)
  • Play Review (New York World, 24 December 1924)
  • Play Review (Theatre Magazine, March 1925)
  • Play Program (Boston Colonial Theatre, May 1925)
  • Play Review (Boston Globe, 12 May 1925)
  • Rosetta's Blacking Up (Boston Advertiser, 12 May 1925)
  • Eliza's Dancing (Boston Advertiser, 12 May 1925)
  • Play Review (Philadelphia Bulletin, 5 January 1926)
  • Play Article (Rocky Mountain News, 1 April 1926)
  • Play Review (Denver Post, 13 April 1926)
  • Play|Movie Program (Grauman's Egyptian Theatre, June 1927)
  • Play|Movie Review (Los Angeles Examiner, 17 June 1927)
  • Play|Movie Review (Los Angeles Times, 18 June 1927)
  • Play|Movie Review (Variety, 22 June 1927)
  • Play|Movie Review (New York Times, 8 August 1927)
  • Play|Movie Review (NY Herald Tribune, 9 August 1927)
  • Play|Movie Review (Billboard, 20 August 1927)
  • Play|Movie Review (Chicago Tribune, 20 September 1927)
  • Play Review (Chicago Tribune, 27 December 1933)
  • Play Program (Los Angeles Music Box Theatre, 1942)
  • Play Review (Los Angeles Times, 28 October 1942)

  • Return to sitemap. Return to homepage for this section. Search.