Solitaire is a stage play written by English playwright John Van Druten and based on a novel by Edwin Corle. It first ran at the Plymouth Theatre on Broadway, New York, from 27th January to 14th February 1942.
The role of "Virginia Stewart" was played by 13 year old Patricia Hitchcock. According to most sources, Auriol Lee, who had acted in Suspicion (1941) and who died in an automobile accident in July 1941, had recommended Patricia to Van Druten for the role.
In early 1942, TIME reported Patricia saying, "I don't have any ambitions to be in the movies, ever" and later that she "wants to be a 'struggling artist' and live in a theatrical boarding house."
Patrick McGilligan has stated that the events of Pearl Harbor led to the play's shortened run, but the mixed reviews for the play may also have been a contributing factor. The review in Variety was critical of several aspects of the play but praised the young Patricia:
It cannot be said that any laxness in the acting, the directing or the production itself accounts for the fog which envelops Van Druten's play. Part of the child is played flawlessly by Pat Hitchcock, nine-year-old daughter of Alfred Hitchcock. film director. Apart from the length of the role, which she takes right in stride, she wins the affections of the audience with each successive scene [...] Others in the cast are distinctly secondary to Miss Hitchcock and Kilian. Sally Bates and Ben Smith are the parents; Howard Smith, Harry Gresham, Tony Albert and Frederic Tozere are the other arroyo residents. Joan McSweeney, of Miss Hitchcock's age, is as self-possessed a youngster with a cute manner as has been back of footlights in some time. It's a pity that she only has a bit.
The review in Billboard was less flattering:
Little Miss Pat Hitchcock is a cute and engaging youngster who displayed a terrific memory by learning a marathon role and who shows occasional flashes of incipient talent while playing it. But she's no more ready for a Broadway lead than any other talented amateur of her age. She does a couple of scenes very nicely — notably the last — but for the most part she sounds like a little girl reciting a lesson that she doesn't understand very well, and even when her voice gives effect to the lines her movements are stiff, awkward and unnatural. Except for occasional moments it's very difficult, while she's on, to believe that you're watching anything but a rather ill-at-ease little girl trying to act in a play [...] Little Miss Hitchcock looks as tho she may become an excellent one some day [...]
Patricia was also profiled in a number of local US newspapers in an article titled "A Broadway Star at 12, Noted British Movie Director's Daughter Doesn't Like... Movies".
Notes & References
- In Alfred Hitchcock: A Life in Darkness and Light (2003) by Patrick McGilligan, it is incorrectly implied the play opened a few days after the attack on Pearl Harbor (07/Dec/1941).
- TIME (05/Jan/1942) - Junior Division
- TIME (09/Feb/1942) - New Play in Manhattan
- Variety (1942) - Plays on Broadway: Solitaire
- Billboard (07/Feb/1942) - New Plays On Broadway: Plymouth