Archive for May, 2013

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Alice Hamilton

May 31, 2013

Alice Hamilton (fl. 1870s-1890s), mezzo-soprano and actress, probably as she appeared as Pricess Guinevere in E.L. Blanchard’s pantomime, Tom Thumb the Great; or, Harlequin King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, at Drury Lane Theatre, Christmas, 1871. Other members of the cast were the Vokes Family and Miss Amalia.
(carte de visite photo: The London Stereoscopic & Photographic Co Ltd, London, circa 1871/72; hand tinted)

Alice Hamilton appeared again at Drury Lane the following Christmas in the pantomime The Children of the Wood; or, Harlequin, Queen Mab, and the World of Dreams. She is next mentioned in connection with an English version of Lecocq’s comic opera Giroflé-Girofla, produced at the Criterion Theatre, London, on 1 May 1875. According to The Morning Post (Monday, 3 May 1875, p. ), ‘Miss Hamilton made a tame, but still interesting, Paquita’; the cast also included Pauline Rita, Emily Thorne and Rose Keene.

In July 1875 Alice Hamilton joined Kate Santley’s Company for a provincial tour, after which she appeared in many comic operas and plays, including Charles Calvert’s 1877 production of Henry VIII at the Theatre Royal, Manchester, in which she played Anne Boleyn, looking ‘very pretty and graceful’ (The Era, London, Sunday, 2 September 1877, p. 13a/b). On 8 September 1881 she created the part of Mrs Augustus Green in George R. Sims’s farcical comedy The Gay City, when it was first produced at the Theatre Royal, Nottingham; the case was lead by Lionel Rignold.

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Maudi Darrell and George Graves in The Belle of Britanny

May 29, 2013

Maudi Darrell (1882-1920) as Toinette and George Graves (1876-1949) as the Marquis de St. Gautier in The Belle of Britanny, Queen’s Theatre, London, 24 October 1908
(photo: Foulsham & Banfield, London, 1908)

This real photograph postcard, no. 7444B in the Rotary Photographic Series published in 19087 by the Rotary Photographic Co Ltd of London, shows Maudi Darrell as Toinette and George Graves as the Marquis de St. Gautier in the comic opera The Belle of Britanny, which was produced at the Queen’s Theatre, London, on 24 October 1908. The piece was written by Leedham Bantock and P.J. Barrow, with lyrics by Percy Greenbank and music by Howard Talbot and Marie Horne. Other members of the cast included Lawrence Rea, Davy Burnaby, E.W. Royce senior, Walter Passmore, Lily Iris (replaced during the run successively by May Hackney and Millie Legarde), Maud Boyd, Blanche Stocker, Minnie Baker, Gladys Saqui and Ruth Vincent. The production ran for 147 performances.

An American production of The Belle of Britanny opened at Daly’s Theatre, New York, on 8 November 1909, in which Toinette was played by Elsa Ryan and de St. Gautier by Frank Daniels.

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Lily Brayton and Oscar Asche in Atilla

May 29, 2013

Lily Brayton (1876-1953) as Ildico and Oscar Asche (1871-1936) as Atilla in Laurence Binyon’s poetical tragedy Atilla, produced at His Majesty’s Theatre, London, on 4 September 1907
(photo: Daily Mirror Studios, London, 1907)

This real photograph postcard, no. 4030 O in the Rotary Photographic Series, issued in 1907 by The Rotary Photographic Co of London, shows Lily Brayton and Oscar Asche in the leading roles of Atilla, Laurence Binyon’s four act poetical tragedy, which was sumptuously produced at His Majesty’s Theatre, London, on 4 September 1907. Although Asche subsequently took Atilla on tour it was among the least successful of his productions, the original run having survived for only 32 performances. Other members of the cast included Godfrey Tearle, J. Fisher White, R. Ian Penny, Gordon Harker, Mary Rorke and Irene Rooke.

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May 28, 2013

Miss Varcoe (fl. late 1860s/early 1870s), actress/dancer
(carte de visite photo: The London Stereoscopic & Photographic Co Ltd, London, circa 1870)

Identified simply as ‘Varcoe,’ the sitter in this photograph is probably the Miss Varcoe who is first mentioned as appearing as one of the supernumeraries in Turko the Terrible; or, The Fairy Roses, an extravaganza written by William Brough, with a ballet arranged by Kiralfy, which was product at the Theatre Royal, Holborn, on 26 December 1868. The cast included Fanny Josephs and George Honey, supported in minor parts by Kate Love (the mother of Mabel Love), Eliza Weathersby and others. Miss Varcoe also appeared in The Corsican ‘Brothers’; or, The Troublesome Twins, a burlesque extravaganza by H.J. Byron, produced at the Globe Theatre, London, on 17 May 1869; and La Belle Sauvage, a burlesque, adapted from J. Brougham’s Pocohontas, and produced at the St. James’s Theatre, London, on 27 November 1869.

It is possible that this Miss Varcoe is the Agnes Varcoe who in early 1871 successfully brought a charge of assault against Elizabeth Alleyne, the manageress of the Globe Theatre, London, for having abused her behind the scenes there during a performance on Boxing Night, 1870. The production was a revival of Palgrave Simpson’s drama, Marco Spada, the first night of which took place on Saturday, 1 October 1870. The case was widely reported in the Press. The controversial Mdme. Colonna and her troupe of dancers were introduced into the piece towards the end of the same month.

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‘Madame Colonna and her “troupe dansante,” whose peculiar evolutions at the Alhambra so provoked the indignation of the Middlesex magistrates as to lead to the withdrawal of the dancing license from that establishment, have been engaged at Miss Alleyne’s theatre. It is hardly necessary to say that in their new sphere of action these noted performers no longer indulge either in the “can can” or any similar saltations. They appear in a so-called “Dance of Brigands” in the concluding act of Mr. Palgrave Simpson’s drama of “Marco Spade;” and though their performances are not always in the best “form” – to use the strange phrase of the day – they are in most cases agile and spirited, and in the instance of one dancer even graceful and expressive. They are so decorous also as to the void of offence in the estimation of the most fastidious. If any ballet is to be tolerated there is no reason why this should be objected to on any plea of decorum. Madame Colonna and her associates are received with enthusiasm, and their dance is clamorously encored.’
(The Morning Post, London, Tuesday, 1 November 1870, p. 2d)

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Miss Varcoe

May 28, 2013

Miss Varcoe (fl. late 1860s/early 1870s), actress/dancer
(carte de visite photo: The London Stereoscopic & Photographic Co Ltd, London, circa 1870)

Identified simply as ‘Varcoe,’ the sitter in this photograph is probably the Miss Varcoe who is first mentioned as appearing as one of the supernumeraries in Turko the Terrible; or, The Fairy Roses, an extravaganza written by William Brough, with a ballet arranged by Kiralfy, which was product at the Theatre Royal, Holborn, on 26 December 1868. The cast included Fanny Josephs and George Honey, supported in minor parts by Kate Love (the mother of Mabel Love), Eliza Weathersby and others. Miss Varcoe also appeared in The Corsican ‘Brothers’; or, The Troublesome Twins, a burlesque extravaganza by H.J. Byron, produced at the Globe Theatre, London, on 17 May 1869; and La Belle Sauvage, a burlesque, adapted from J. Brougham’s Pocohontas, and produced at the St. James’s Theatre, London, on 27 November 1869.

It is possible that this Miss Varcoe is the Agnes Varcoe who in early 1871 successfully brought a charge of assault against Elizabeth Alleyne, the manageress of the Globe Theatre, London, for having abused her behind the scenes there during a performance on Boxing Night, 1870. The production was a revival of Palgrave Simpson’s drama, Marco Spada, the first night of which took place on Saturday, 1 October 1870. The case was widely reported in the Press. The controversial Mdme. Colonna and her troupe of dancers were introduced into the piece towards the end of the same month.

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‘Madame Colonna and her ”troupe dansante,” whose peculiar evolutions at the Alhambra so provoked the indignation of the Middlesex magistrates as to lead to the withdrawal of the dancing license from that establishment, have been engaged at Miss Alleyne’s theatre. It is hardly necessary to say that in their new sphere of action these noted performers no longer indulge either in the ”can can” or any similar saltations. They appear in a so-called ”Dance of Brigands” in the concluding act of Mr. Palgrave Simpson’s drama of ”Marco Spade;” and though their performances are not always in the best ”form” – to use the strange phrase of the day – they are in most cases agile and spirited, and in the instance of one dancer even graceful and expressive. They are so decorous also as to the void of offence in the estimation of the most fastidious. If any ballet is to be tolerated there is no reason why this should be objected to on any plea of decorum. Madame Colonna and her associates are received with enthusiasm, and their dance is clamorously encored.’
(The Morning Post, London, Tuesday, 1 November 1870, p. 2d)

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Phyllis Harding

May 27, 2013

Phyllis Harding (fl. Early 20th Century), as she appeared during the run of The 9 O’Clock Revue, written by Harold Simpson and Morris Harvey, with music by Muriel Lillie and additional numbers by J. Ord Hamilton, which opened at the Little Theatre, London, on 28 October 1922
(photo: Janet Jevons, London, circa 1923)

One of Phyllis Harding’s earliest appearances was in the successful revue The League of Notions, described by its writers John Murray Anderson and Augustus Barratt as ‘An Inconsequential Process of Music, Dance and Dramatic Interlude,’ which opened at the New Oxford Theatre, London, on 17 January 1921 and ran for 359 performances. The cast also included A.W. Baskcomb, Bert Coote, the Trix Sisters (Helen and Josephine), the Dolly Sisters (Jennie and Rosie) and Greta Frayne. After fulfilling a number of similar engagements in London and on tour, including an up-to-date version of Alice in Wonderland, Miss Harding appeared for several years on Broadway and subsequent United States tours in such productions as Noel Coward’s This Year of Grace (Selwyn Theatre, New York, 7 November 1928) and Conversation Piece (44th Street Theatre, New York, 23 October 1934).

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La Divine Amylla

May 27, 2013

La Divine Amylla (fl. early 20th Century), dancer
(photo: Hana, London, circa 1908/1909)

This real photograph postcard, probably dating from about 1908/1909, is by Hana, theatrical and music hall photographer, London.

‘Beauty and Classicism at The Empire [Johannesburg, South Africa].
‘The ”sensation” of the Empire season just now, the ”top-liner,” is Mdlle. Amylla, classic dancer. She brought a huge audience to the Palace [sic] on Monday, and there has been little or no falling off through the week. Opinions may clash as to the ”sensuality” of the lady’s show. I can see none. It is Art, pure unadulterated Art, of a kind that explains the furore created by Maud Allan and her imitators in England. The ”divine Amylla,” I should imagine, is unequalled in her own line. She is the embodiment of Moods – lithe, sinuous, graceful, sometimes snake-like in her dancing; reflecting the meaning of the music, subtly conveying its lesson without words. In her illustration of the Chopin Marche Funebre, she is the very abandonment of woe, crushed to the earth by calamity; a one bound she reaches the other Pole, when Mendelssohn’s Spring Song begins – she is the Spirit of Youth, the Nymph of dancing for sheer lightness of heart in ”meadows trim with daisies pied.” As the awakened statue she is a picture of unreasoning ecstasy in her dance before the shrine. But the masterpiece is her presentation of Herodia’s daughter, the young lady who so charmed her step-father by her dancing that he vowed a vow she should have whatso’er she wishes – and she took him at his word and got the head of John the Baptist, in disfavour with her mother because he had condemned that person’s marriage with her deceased husband’s brother Herod. This items is distinctly ”thrilly.” We have to imagine Herod sitting in the great hall, in ”bad eminence,” with his vindictive spouse by his side, surrounded by stern soldiery. Enter Salome, fit daughter of a wanton mother, very neglige as to costume. She dances after a fashion fit to wile the senses of any man, until once can fancy the enraptured Herod crying, ”with an oath,” that she could have her wish even to half of his kingdom. ”Being instructed of her mother,” she compasses the death of John, and presently receives the ghastly head, which she now fondles, now taunts, now spurns, a very Megæra tormented by the memory of her own crime. It is a wonderful, a magnetic illusion, lasting until the woman falls, exhausted as much by physical strain as by mental stress so it is presented. There was no questioning Amylla’s triumph. She gripped the crowded house from the first, and her hold grew stronger until the ”Salome incident,” which drew thunders of cheering and brought her again and again to the divided curtain.’
(The Transvaal Critic, Johannesburg, South Africa, Friday, 4 December 1908, quoted in The Encore, London, Thursday, 28 January 1909, p. 9 advertisement)

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The Royal Hand Bell Ringers and Glee Singers

May 27, 2013

The Royal Hand-Bell Ringers and Glee Singers (fl. 1868-1902), English campanologists, in the costume of the time of Edward IV, circa 1470
(cabinet photo; Elliott & Fry, London, probably 1887)

The Royal Hand-Bell Ringers was the brainchild of Charles J. Havart, secretary to the Poland Street Young Men’s Teetotal Society, Soho, London, who recruited Duncan Septimus Miller (1839-1906), who since boyhood had been an enthusiastic hand-bell ringer. Under the name of the Poland Street Hand-Bell Ringers, they made their first appearance in 1866.

Miller stands at the centre of the above photograph; he is surrounded by his colleagues, J.H. Williams, A. Berridge, and two of C.J. Havart’s sons, Walter John Havart (1844-1904), a former warehouseman, and Henry Havart (1846-1905), a former woollen draper’s assistant. While Miller and the Havart brothers were permanent members of The Royal Hand-Bell Ringers, others joined and left over the years, the unusual number being five.

Osborne, Isle of Wight, Thursday, 14 April 1870
‘TEMPERANCE HAND-BELL RINGERS AT OSBORNE. Mr. Duncan S. Miller and his friend, who have, for the benefit of various philanthropic institutions, given a great number of entertainments in London and the provinces on their 50 hand-bells, attended at Osborne yesterday, in obedience to her Majesty’s command. They are to be at the Metropolitan Tabernacle on Tuesday next to illustrate a lecture by Mr. Spurgeon on the subject of ”Bells,” when Mr. Thomas Hughes, M.P., is to preside.’
(The Morning Post, London, Friday, 15 April 1870, p. 5f)

‘GREAT INTERNATIONAL TEMPERANCE EXHIBITION.
‘Under the patronage of the Right Hon. the Earl of Shaftesbury, K.G., the Right Hon. the Lord Mayor, M.P., and many others.
‘The first ever held in any country, Agricultural-hall, Islington.
‘Soda water, ice making, cocoa and coffee machinery in motion, new novel beverages.
‘Floral arcade and fountains, drum and fife band, organ recitals, Royal Hand Bell Ringers, in the evening.
‘Admission 1s.; evening 6d. Open from 10 to 10.’
(The Times, London, Tuesday, 23 August 1881, p. 1b, advertisement)

‘AS BEFORE the CZAR and CZARINA, the King and Queen of DENMARK, T.R.H. the Prince and Princess of WALES, at Fresdensborg Castle last September, the ROYAL HAND BELL RINGERS and GLEE SINGERS for Garden Parties, at Homes, Receptions, &c., in brilliant Old English Costumes. Programme submitted by DUNCAN S. MILLER, Conductor, 16, The Terrace, Kennington-park, S.E.’
(The Morning Post, London, Monday, 28 May 1888, p. 4 d)

‘THE ROYAL HAND-BELL RINGERS and CONCERT PARTY, Duncan S. Miller’s original, and by far the most proficient party. The bells are manipulated to produce a melodious and charming softness for the drawing room or an effective fortzando [sic] suitable for the garden. Five performers. Costume temp. ”Queen Bess.” Write for programme of special music and Jubilee Chimes to Secretary, 17, Kennington-terrace, S.E. Accept no others.’
(The Times, London, Tuesday, 15 June 1897, p. 1c, advertisement)

‘THE ROYAL HAND BELL-RINGERS.
‘Last evening the above clever company of hand bell ringers, consisting of Mr. Duncan S. Miller, the conductor, Mr. Havart, Mr. W.J. Havart, Mr. A. Berridge and Mr. G. Kendall opened a three nights’ visit at St. Julian’s Hall. Notwithstanding the inclemency of the weather the attendance was large. After a few introductory remarks from Mr. Miller the performance commenced with a number of selections on the handbells which were beautifully played. Amongst these were ”The Huntsman’s chorus, Der Freischuitz,” ”Memories of Elsinore,” and ”The village bells and chimes, introducing several hymn tunes.” These were very warmly applauded. During the first part four of the bell-ringers, accompanied on the pianoforte by the firth, sang the old Georgian glee, ”The tinker,” in capital style. Mr. George Kendall, who has a most pleasing voice, sang the humorous song ”The human hand.’
(The Star, St. Peter Port, Guernsey, Tuesday, 6 February 1900, p. 2d)

For further information, see, Clifford B. Anderson, ‘The Vampire Squid: Abraham Kuyper on Public Entertainment,’ Gordon Graham, editor, The Kuyper Center Review, vol. III, ‘Calvinism and Culture,’ Michigan, 2013.

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Mary Godsall

May 26, 2013

Mary Godsall (1844-1922), English actress, as she appeared as Meenie during the run of Dion Boucicault’s dramatization of Rip Van Winkle at the Adelphi Theatre, London, first produced there on 4 September 1865, with Joseph Jefferson in the title role
(Window & Bridge’s patent Diamond Cameo Portrait carte de visite, photos: Adolphe Beau, London, 1865)

The Cabinet Theatre, London, Wednesday, ‘The little building in Liverpool-street, King’s cross, which was formerly used as a lecture hall, &c., has been fitted up and licensed under the above name for dramatic performances by Mr. J. Dryden. On Wednesday night last was played a new drama by Mr. G. Wood in three acts, entitled The Sisters; or, The Rovers of Salee. both the piece and the acting were below the range of criticism of any kind. The most ordinary knowledge of the English language on the part of the author must have sufficed to have shown him the absurdity of the combinations of words in which the piece abounds. Anything more absolutely ridiculous and farcical than the parts intended to be serious it would not be easy to imagine. The repetition of the sentences by the actors and actresses, of whom there was a long list, was quite as bad, or worse, than the matter, in those cases where they knew what they had to say, which was a very rare occurrence. Consequently the stage was continually kept ”waiting.” We left at the close of the second act, when, after a ”wait” of longer duration than usual, the curtain descended on the emotional, impromptu exclamation of a father to the two sisters, ”Well, come my dears, we’ll be off.” It is just possible that with training and education Mr. Bingley and Miss Mary Godsall might learn to make a passable use of what natural qualifications they possess. The others have none… .’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 13 March 1864, p. 10c)

F.C. Burnand’s English version of La Belle Hélène, produced at the Adelphi Theatre, London, on 30 June 1866
‘Miss Godsall’s beauty of feature and remarkable grace of movement and expression make Glauce a very attractive personage.’

‘MISS GODSALL, of the Theatres Royal, St. James’s, and Adelphi, London, and New Prince of Wales and Theatre Royal, Liverpool, will be Disengaged at Easter, and will be happy to treat with responsible managers for Juvenile and Burlesque Business. Address, 98, Brownlow-hill, Liverpool.’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 31 March 1867, p. 1b)

From 1867 little or nothing appears to have come Mary Godsall’s way in the form of theatrical engagements. Instead she seems to have pursued a career as an artist, describing herself in the 1901 Census as an ‘artist, painter, sculptor.’ Long before that, however, she was commissioned by the British Museum to make drawings of certain ancient Roman coins in the Department of Coins and Medals, which were published as Autotypes in 1874. Miss Godsall’s painting entitled ‘Jacqueline,’ ‘a pretty, bright-eyed girl, in blue-trimmed mob cap’ was shown at the Dudley Gallery Exhibition, London, in 1877. (The Illustrated London News, London, Saturday, 3 February 1877, p. 118b). And at The Royal Academy Exhibition, London, 1879, ‘… Of the rank and file whose works seem especially worthy of notice we may mention ”Cinderella” (668), [by] Mary Godsall.’ (Nottinghamshire Guardian, London, Friday, 16 May 1879, p. 7c). This watercolour, wrote The Portfolio: An Artistic Periodical, ‘is tender in colour, the deep old-fashioned hearth, with its crouching figure of the melancholy maiden, make a charming picture.’ Another of her paintings, a ‘lifesize half-length of a little girl,’ was shown at the Dudley Gallery in 1880. (The Illustrated London News, London, Saturday, 28 February 1880, p. 203b).

On 24 October 1880, at St. Barnabas’s Church, Pimlico, London, Mary Godsall was married by the Bishop of North Queensland to Robert Christison (1837-1915), a native of Scotland, who had gone to Australia at the age of 15. The couple were together in Australia from about 1883 to 1887 but Mary disliked the country so much that she returned to England with their three surviving children (two girls and a boy) and subsequently enrolled to study with Charles Augustus C. Lasar (1856-1936) in Paris, who had opened his studio for students in 1886. Mr Christison finally returned to England permanently in 1910; he died at Foulden, Scotland, in 1915. For reasons unknown, Mary Christison returned to Australia where she died of heart failure on 14 November 1922 (The Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney, Tuesday, 14 November 1922, p.8).

A photograph of Mary Christison and her three children, taken in the late 1880s, is in the John Oxley Library at the State Library of Queensland.

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May 25, 2013

Dorothy Vane (née Gertrude Amy Mackenzie,1870-1947), English actress and singer in the role of Pitti-Sing in a D’Oyly Carte touring production of The Mikado, mid 1890s
(photo: unknown, mid 1890s)

This real photograph cigarette card of Dorothy Vane in the role of Pitti-Sing in a D’Oyly Carte touring production of The Mikado was issued in England about 1900 with Ogden’s Guinea Gold Cigarettes.