Almost immediately after the show's debut, the New York Times observed, "No spectacular invention or innovation of recent years has aroused such popular curiosity as the mermaid scene in Neptune's Daughter at the Hippodrome. The mermaids, who are only mortal actresses and by no means amphibious, first rise to view in the very midst of the tank, which is supposed to represent the briny deep."
Mystery and curiosity, the producers believed, would draw crowds:
The rehearsals, when there was any danger that the scheme might be revealed, were conducted with the utmost secrecy. Every attache of the Hippodrome who had an opportunity to discover the truth was solemnly pledged to tell nothing. The mermaids 'hoped they might die' if they told, and knew they would lose their positions in case they had the hardihood to break faith with the management. The projectors of the enterprise believed that the greatest advertisement that they could have would be the greatest mystery they could muster. For business purposes, they protected themselves with patents. For box office purposes, they determined to mystify the City of New York.
Where there is a mystery to solve, someone will solve it. Where there is a story to leak, someone will leak it.
Three days before the November 28, 1906 opening of the New York Hippodrome's Neptune's Daughter, the New York Times published a review written by a critic who had attended rehearsal. He opened with a paragraph guaranteed to entice readers to line up for tickets:
I am a retired community college professor and the great-granddaughter of composer, orchestrator, arranger, organist, and teacher William Christopher O'Hare.
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