h1

Les Merveilleuses

May 8, 2013

Les Merveilleuses, the comic opera at Daly’s theatre, first produced on 27 October 1906, with music by Hugo Felix, reopens after various changes, including the title to The Lady Dandies at the same theatre at the end of January 1907; Huntley Wright, Gabrielle Ray and others join the cast. Huntley Wright (1868-1943), English actor and singer, as St. Amour in The Lady Dandies, a part in which he succeeded W.H. Berry at the end of January 1907. (photo: Ellis & Walery, London, 1907)

‘At Daly’s they do things in a grand style which distinguishes Mr. George Edwardes’s productions at this theatre from other plays of the same order if not of the same class, and Mr. Edwardes, in all these years, has given us nothing more beautiful at Daly’s than The Merveilleuses, of which the title has now been changed to The Lady Dandies, a wise reversion to the title, or something very like it, chosen for the play before it was first produced. It is a change for the better, for Merveilleuse happens to be just one of those words which an Englishman may pronounce in such a way that nobody can understand what he means – or what he says, which is not exactly the same thing. The name of the piece is not the only thing that has been changed, and on Wednesday evening Mr. Huntley Wright returned once more to the scene of his great successes, and with the return of Mr. Wright to the fold Daly’s is itself again. With the interpolation of new songs, for which Mr. Lionel Monckton has written the music to the words of Captain Basil Hood, who has done M. Victorien Sardou’s “book” into good English, the dalyfication of this “comedy opera” is complete. Mr. Wright has now the part of St. Amour, the Prefect of Police, which was first played by Mr. W.H. Berry. It is not into the background, however, that Mr. Berry retires. In his part of Tournesol, the “police agent,” he is as funny as ever, while the character of St. Amour has expanded wonderfully at the magic touch of the ready and inventive Huntley Wright. Mr. Wright acted and sang and danced and joked as if he felt glad to be back at Daly’s, and the audience laughed as if they were glad to see him back. His satirical, topical song, “Only a Question of Time,” made a great hit, and although I have no great liking for the growing custom of introducing all sorts of personalities – social, political, and domestic – into musical plays, I must acknowledge that the audience seemed to find immense enjoyment in the verse which says “It is only a question of time (And the prominence given her part), And the charming Camille [Clifford], [Edna] May become Nelly Neil, Which is [Charles] Frohman for Sarah Bernhardt.”
‘Another new-comer to The Lady Dandies is Miss Gabrielle Ray, who has an accent all her own in dancing as she has in singing, and this I will say, a daintier dancer I never wish to see, though Miss Ray must make haste to get rid of her air of self-consciousness if she wishes to make the best of her talents. The student of theatrical astronomy may discover a whole constellation of stars at Daly’s just now, and the beautiful music of Dr. Hugo Felix is admirably rendered. Miss Evie Greene, who has a new song since the first night, is in great form; I have never seen her look better, nor act better, nor sing better than she looks and acts and sings as the “merveilleuse” Ladoiska in The Lady Dandies, and Miss Denise Orme, the purity and sweetness of whose voice would melt a heart of india-rubber, is a sheer ecstasy. Mr. Robert Evett, as the hero, and Mr. Fred Kaye have warmed to their parts, and I should say the same of Mr. Louis Bradfield’s performance of the “Incroyable” if I had not found it already admirable when the piece was first produced. Musical plays have a curious elasticity, and I find it difficult to realise what has been taken out of Les Marveilleuses [sic] to put so much more in. Certainly the new infusion of fun does not diminish the attractiveness of The Lady Dandies, and there is a long life, if I am not mistaken, and a merry one, in store for the piece.’
(‘Carados’, The Referee, London, Sunday, 3 February 1907, p.3b)

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: