America's Only Authentic 1890's Magic-Lantern Shows


Who We Are


Current Schedule


Book Us!


General Info What's New


Frog-Legs Dundee

Minneapolis, MN - What a fine gig this has been! The hotel accommodations were real suites--for a change. Two couches, two TV's, two telephones, even two rolls of toilet paper! We performed at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, which has a beautiful theater in the center of the museum. Everything was perfectly set up for us -- a new, rock-solid table built amid the audience for the lantern, lighting cables already run out to it, a technician to fuss over the sound. Our "Victorian Halloween" had two performances, both sold out; very enthusiastic audiences. Local collectors came to the shows and then treated us to a delicious home-cooked dinner afterwards. I wish all gigs were like this!

Now we're ready to leave, shepherding the lantern in its giant red shipping crate through the Northeast Air Freight Service. (Note: This was back in the days when we shipped by freight; now we take the lantern as luggage.) Ahead of me in line is a flamboyant character dressed in hip boots and a serape. He's arguing noisily with the freight clerk about the air rates for shipping frogs' legs.

Dundee's Frogs in happier times.
By J. B. Beale

The argument goes on and on. I'm getting nervous about my schedule. Finally they agree on a rate, and I move to the front of the line.

I fill out my paper work; an assistant clerk takes the lantern away to weigh it. While we wait for him to return, I ask the head clerk what the argument was about.

"Oh that guy!" he says. "That's just Frog-Legs Dundee, playing the angles." Then he explains that Frog-legs has a business of catching and shipping frogs. Normally he gets a special rate for botanical specimens, because each city establishes special rates for industries that are unique to it; say a special lobster rate for Boston. But Frog-Legs is arguing that because some of the frogs are being shipped live to restaurants, he ought to get an even better rate, the Live Fish rate, which will save him $25.

I'm fascinated. The clerk warms to his story. Frog-Legs gets most of his frogs in the Spring, when the ponds start to warm up. The frogs come out of the mud and collect in the open places in the ice. Frog-Legs swoops down with a net and the frogs are too cold to jump away.

Frog-Legs has a cousin, "Mosquito Dundee" he's called, who specializes in mosquito larvae. . . . . He's trying to get a special rate too. Everybody does.

"Like, . . . what business are you in?" the clerk asks.

"The magic-lantern business," I say.

That stops him. I explain. He thinks hard. "Well," he says, "that is specialized. Maybe too specialized. But I could give you a good rate on those mutton-chop whiskers of yours."

I take a lesson from Frog-legs and start to haggle.

And the result?

The magic-lantern pays full freight. So does the magic-lantern showman. But the mutton-chops ride free.

Bottom curly-q
Repertoire Schedule About Us Book Us! What's New    

Last Update: June 29, 2004
Web Author: POW·R·PC
Copyright © 2003 by The American Magic-Lantern Theater - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED