Charles Lauri in make-up as a monkey

May 23, 2015

Charles Lauri junior (1860-1903), English pantomimist and animal impersonator, in make up as a monkey
(photo: Van Bosch, Paris, circa 1894)

’… A parrot’s dress is often covered with real feathers, at very considerable cost, whilst every hair in the dress worn by puss in “Puss in Boots” is worked on, hair after hair, and takes at least three weeks to make. The face is partly a mask and partly painted. This latter remark also applied to the “make-up” of a poodle dog. Mr. Charles Lauri is certainly the most famous poodle and cat we have, and is a past-master not only in reproducing their movements, but in the marvellous way in which he reproduces the face of the animal he wants.
‘Some time ago I watched him make-up and dress for a monkey, and as his methods of working then practically govern his other remarkable animal studies, it may not be uninteresting to recount them here. The mask is an important item. This is put on the lower part of the face, so as to obtain the heavy, protruding jaw of the animal. It is made of a chocolate-coloured leather, with small straps. The movement of the eyebrows is obtained by a thread concealed in his heavy dress. The actor has a spring in his own mouth, which works the mouth of the animal and shows the two rows of ivory teeth.
‘First Mr. Lauri binds his ankles with a couple of strong, stout strips of linen. Then come the brown socks – there is a hole for every toe – the dress proper is put on, and combed out. Dressed entire, the face is the next thought. He “blues” both eyes all round, then with a mixture of lard and burnt umber – save where the mask is to come – he covers his face, not forgetting the hands and arms. A little blue is added to the brown on the face, and a few wrinkles are painted about the eyes in black and red. Then the mask is put on – being strapped round the neck and over the head. Wig and whiskers complete the operation – and we have a magnificent monkey… .’
(Harry How, ‘Pantomime Masks and Properties,’ extract, The Strand Magazine, London, December 1894, pp. 671-672)


Charles Lauri junior as the monkey in The Sioux, a mimetic sketch at the Canterbury music hall, London, 1894

May 22, 2015

The front cover of The Amusing Journal, published in London, Saturday, 22 September 1894, features ‘A Photograph from Life on One Negative. From a Photo specially taken for the “A.J.” by Alfred Ellis, 20 Upper Baker Street, N.W.’ The caption further states, ‘EXCITING INCIDENT AT THE CANTERBURY. – Mr. Chas. Lauri attacked by a Gorilla.’

Charles Lauri junior (1860-1903), English pantomimist and animal impersonator, whose repertoire had long included apes of one sort or another, devised an ‘Indian pantomime ballet divertissement’ for the Alhambra, Leicester Square, entitled The Sioux, which was produced on Monday, 12 October 1891. According to The Era (London, Saturday, 17 October 1891, p. 16a), the music was by Walter Slaughter, ‘costumes by M. and Madame Alias, and incidental dances arranged by Francis Wagner. The scene is a picturesque settlement in the “Wild West.” Here the settler (Mr H. Plano) and his daughter (Miss Hooton) and his little son (Miss Taylor) and his Nigger slave (Mr H. Ewins) seem to be very happy notwithstanding that some murderous Indians are prowling about, and they become happier still with the appearance of the settler’s eldest son (Mr F. Kitchen), a gallant and and handsome young middy, who has been sailing the seas. Of course, he is welcome for himself alone, but he is doubly welcome seeing that he has brought along some very pretty present and one very ugly one in the shape of a man-monkey (Mr Charles Lauri). It is to that monkey we have to look for the principal fun, for, although the settle is very vigorous when it comes to fighting, and the middy can dance very nimbly, and the Nigger servant is exceedingly active, and when occasion calls can double himself up in a tale in less than no time, the man-monkey claims all the attention, and it is not diverted even when a section of the Alhambra corps de ballet, with their beauty concealed by Indian disguises and hideous “war paint,” come on headed by their chief (Mr H. Kitchen), and, armed with formidable knives and axes, proceed to dance their grotesque dances, and finally to set fire to the settler’s house. The man-monkey is not to be denied. He will drag a “go-cart,” or play at ball, or spoil the dinner and set everybody sneezing by playing too freely with the pepper-box, or outdo the middy in dancing, or cut funny antics before a mirror, or pelt the Indian enemy with bricks, or masquerade as a soldier, or walk a perpendicular rope with all the skill of a Japanese funambulist. This rope ascent and descent by Mr Charles Lauri is the most notable thing in connection with The Sioux, and on Monday evening it called for a hurricane of applause. There is much leaping through windows, and many strange disappearances through trick boxes and sacks, and in the end, when the man-monkey has assisted the settler’s youngest daughter to escape from the burning house, and has been shot, the artist give a remarkable illustration of pantomimic skill in the realisation of the animal’s death.’

Charles Lauri subsequently adapted The Sioux ballet as a mimetic sketch for the music hall stage, giving the first performance at the Canterbury, Westminster Bridge Road, London, on 10 September 1894. The piece ran for a week or so before setting out on a UK tour. The part of the daughter was played by 9 year old Maud Violet Street, for whom a special license was granted.

Police Intelligence, Lambeth, south London, before Mr. Andrew Hopkins, magistrate
‘Mr. W.H. Armstrong, solicitor, applied on behalf of the manager of the Canterbury and Paragon Music-halls for a licence for a child named Maud Violet Street, not in her ninth year, to appear in a play without words called The Sioux. he explained that she would be on the stage only about half an hour. – Mrs. Street, the mother of the child, said her daughter simply had to play on the stage with a ball, and run about as a child would do in the garden. – Mr. Hopkins: Is there anything else she has to do? – Mr. Armstrong: she has to get into a swing. – Mr. Hopkins: How does she get off the stage? – Mrs. Street: she is brought off by a lady supposed to be her sister. – Mr. Hopkins: What is the play about? – Mrs. Street: It’s an Indian play, but there is nothing to cause any harm to the child. – Mr. Hopkins: does she get carried off by Indians? – Mrs. Street: No, nothing of that sort. – Mr. Armstrong explained that the piece was one in which Mr. Charles Lauri played the part of a monkey. – Mr. Hopkins: there is nothing in which the child is exposed to danger. She is not saved by an animal or anything of that sort? – Mrs. Street: No, sir. – Mr. Hopkins: Very well, then, she shall have the licence.’
(The Standard, London, Wednesday, 22 August 1894, p. 3d)


Theatre Metropole and Opera House, Camberwell, south London, 1897

May 15, 2015

Back and front covers for the Theatre Metropole and Opera House, Camberwell, south London, programme for the week beginning Monday, 28 June 1897
(lithographic printers: Armitage & Ibbetson, Bradford, Yorkshire, 1897)


Camille Clifford, a ‘Gibson Girl,’ London, 1904/05

May 5, 2015

Camille Clifford (Camilla Antoinette Clifford, 1885-1971), Belgian-born, Scandinavian/American-raised, English theatrical celebrity, as a Gibson Girl. In 1906 she married the Hon. Henry Lyndhurst Bruce (1881-1914) and retired from the stage.
(photo: W. & D. Downey, London, 1904/05; postcard no. 467C in the Rotary Photographic Series, published in London by The Rotary Photographic Co Ltd, 1904/05)


Adele Purvis Onri, English-born American vaudeville and circus slack wire and globe walker and serpentine dancer

May 4, 2015

Adele Purvis Onri (1859/64-1948), English-born American vaudeville and circus slack wire and globe walker and serpentine dancer
(cabinet photo: Schloss, 54 West 23nd Street, New York, circa 1897)

Adele Onri,
Eclipsing everything of the kind ever see in this city. The talk of the town. Four thousand more people paid at the gates Friday night, July 17 [1896], that on the Glorious Fourth. A greater success and draw than the vitascope. The street car companies unable to supply cars enough to convey the thousands of people that flocked out to the park. The Casino not big enough to accommodate the crowd that came to see the beautiful and wondrous spectacle.
FIRST – QUEEN OF NIGHT, ascending and descending at will from the Revolving Globe; floating in space surrounded by brilliant colored light effects.
, performed on the electric illuminated revolving globe of 10,000 lights, changing color every instant, terminating with the grandest fire-effect ever invented.
FOURTH – SUNSET, with novel stereopticon effects; suddenly a fountain of water spurts up on the stage, and within its spray Miss Onri is seen to rise and fall, glowing with all the colors of the rainbow. The whole invented, made and produced by JOHN LE CLAIR, Original inventor of the Mirror Dance. This Grand Act can be done anywhere. For terms and open time, address
ADELE ONRI, Electric Park, Baltimore, Md.
(The New York Clipper, New York, Saturday, 25 July 1896, p. 337a)


Alice Atherton, American burlesque actress and entertainer

April 25, 2015

Alice Atherton (1854-1899), American burlesque actress and entertainer, who married Willie Edouin in 1873.
(photo: J. Gurney & Son, New York, early 1870s)


Oldbury Brough, American-born English entertainer

April 4, 2015

Oldbury Brough (1875-1919), American-born English entertainer
(photo: unknown, probably UK, circa 1907; postcard without printer’s or publisher’s credit, probably privately printed for Brough by the Rotary Photographic Co. Ltd. of London, bears a British postmark dated 2 August 1908, the message, addressed to Miss Kitty Francis, Highfields, Gt. Baddow, Chelmsford, reads: ‘Dear Kitty. This is a splendid comedian which [sic] I heard this afternoon. He is very good at musical sketches also. I am having a good time. With best love Dots.’)

William Oldbury Brough was the younger son of the Rev. Samuel Martin Brough (1842-1893), a Wesleyan, later Congregational minister, and his first wife, Martha (née Oldbury, 1844-1885). Although both his parents were British, Brough was born in Kansas City in 1875 during the family’s brief sojourn in the United States. They were back in England by 1881. Brough, who appears to have launched his career as an entertainer in 1896, was married in 1900 to Frances Nellie Whitby and by her had three children, Sidney Martin Brough (1901-), Cyril Edwin Brough (1905-1982) and Millie Brough (later Mrs Harold Ewart Percivall, 1910-2006). He died in Carlisle, Cumberland, on 10 February 1919 aged 44.

* * * * *

‘Gives a refined and amusing programme (10 minutes to 2 hours) consisting of
‘The Primrose League Gazette, January 1, 1903, says: ”A charming and most entertaining programme was carried out by Mr. Oldbury Brough, who had hot only a keen sense of humour, but is an accomplished and talented musician.”
Circular with full particulars, post free. Address –
(The Primrose League Gazette, London, February 1903, p. 2a, advertisement)

Town Hall, Edmonton, north London, Thursday, 27 October 1904
‘A musical entertainment was given before a large audience at the Town Hall, Edmonton, on Thursay, the 27th ult, by the Edmonton Musical Association, under the patronage of the Rev E.A.B. Sanders, M.A., the president of the association.
‘The following programme was well rendered and much appreciated. Duet, ”Over the Heather,” by Miss Annie Bartle and Mr Alexander Tucker. Violin solo, ”Les Filenses” and ”Polonaise,” Miss Dorothy Bull. Musical sketch, ”A Suburban Soirie by Mr Oldbury Brough who also gave an amazing and musical absurdity aptly and artfully announced as ”A Musical Lesson.” Songs, ”Still is the night”, and ”The Old Trombone,” by Mr Alexander Tucker. Recitals, ”Boy Billie” [and] ”The Man who apologised” were rendered by Miss Elmie Kemp as was [sic] the songs, ”When the heart is young” and ”The waking of Spring,” by Miss Annie Bartle. Mr Alexander Tucker again obliged in the songs, ”Three for Jack,” and ”Big Ben,” in good style. A humorous song ”Play ze game” by Mr Oldbury Brough and ”Concerning the Telephone” was well received. Miss Dorothy Bull’s third appearance was admired in a violin solo, ”Hejie Katie.” The accompanist was Mr W. Emerson, to whom much praise is due.’
(The Edmonton & Tottenham Weekly Guardian, Edmonton, north London, Friday, 4 November 1904, p. 3a)


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