Archive for May, 2013

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Dorothy Vane as Pitti-Sing in a D’Oyly Carte touring production of The Mikado, mid 1890s

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.

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Dorothy Vane

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.

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Anna Hiles

May 25, 2013

Anna Hiles (fl. 1857-1875), English soprano, as she appeared in the title role of William Vincent Wallace’s opera Maritana at Covent Garden Theatre, London, 13 December 1862
(carte de visite photo: published by T.H. Lacy, 89 Strand, London, probably 1862)

ROYAL ENGLISH OPERA.
‘Mr. W. Wallace’s ”Maritana,” one of the ”stock” works of the Royal English Opera, has been performed so often this season that it would scarcely seem to be a subject for criticism, especially as the same performers are constantly appearing in the same parts. The racy humour of Mr. W. Harrison, as Don Caesar de Basan; the manly vigour, softened by courtly grace, of Mr. W.H. Weiss, who so ably represents Don José; the musicianly skill and histrionic talent displayed by Miss Susan Pyne as Lazarillo; the promising talent of Mr. Patey as exemplified by his clever singing in the arduous and somewhat ”uphill” part of the King, are all perfectly well known and justly appreciated by the public. But from time to time the ”cast,” so far as regards the principal female character, is altered.
‘Miss Louisa Pyne, with her lovely voice and surpassing artistic powers, plays the famous Gitana, we need not say, to the delight of the public. The accomplished Madlle. Parepa, with her rare physical gifts and genuine dramatic feeling, assumes the same character to the complete satisfaction of her audience. But the changes are not limited to the alternate display of these celebrated singers’ conceptions of Mr. Wallace’s most popular creation. On Saturday last, for instance, Miss Anna Hilles, who has won considerable reputation by her very promising efforts as Arline, in the ”Bohemian Girl,” was put forward for the first time as Maritana, and, despite the fresh recollections of her renowned predecessors, made a very satisfactory impression. An incontestable succès d’estime was won by the young lady, and, taking into consideration the very reasonable expectations of a public accustomed to very high excellence in the portrayal of the same character, this is no small praise. As an actress Miss Hiles has yet much to learn, and her Maritana can scarcely be regarded, from a histrionic point of view, as an improvement upon her Arline; but she sang much of the music with real taste and expression, eliciting throughout hearty applause, and unanimous encores for the popular ”Scenes that are brightest,” and (aided materially by Miss Susan Pyne) for the duet ”Sainted mother.” hearty redemands were likewise elicited by the renderings of ”Turn on, old Time,” by Mr. W. Harrison, Mr. Weiss, and Miss Susan Pyne; the airs, ”Let me like a soldier fall,” ”Hear me, gentle Maritana” and ”In happy moments,” respectively by Mr. W. Harrison, Mr. W. Patey, and Mr. W.H. Weiss.
‘The band and chorus, under the masterly direction of Mr. Alfred Mellon, were, as usual, quite irreproachable.’
(The Morning Post, London, Monday, 15 December 1862, p. 6b)

‘ROYAL ENGLISH OPERA. – Miss Anna Hiles has appeared in Wallace’s ”Maritana.” Her singing in the part of the heroine of this pretty opera, differs in no respect from that which characterized her performance in ”The Bohemian Girl.” It is smooth and pleasing, but of very little volume. Miss Hiles, however, will doubtless be found useful upon what are technically called the ”off nights.”’
(The Observer, London, Sunday, 22 December 1862, p. 3d)

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Irene and Bobbie Smith

May 25, 2013

Irene and Bobbie Smith (fl. circa 1912-1920s), American duettists and entertainers
(photo: White, New York, 1915)

Temple Theatre, Fort Wayne, Indiana, December 1913
‘Big audiences greeted the new bill at the Temple and were convinced before the show had gotten well under way that the bill was up to the usual high standard for which the Temple is so well known. As a ventriloquist, the Great Lester is without a peer. What he can’t make that dummy of his do, simply can’t be done. And the “Gee Whiz” of the dummy keeps the audience in one continual uproar. It is the best act of its kind ever seen here. Florence Modena & Co., in a great comedy sketch entitled, “A Lesson in Reform,” pleased greatly. There is much good comedy in it and it is cleverly handled. The Misses Irene and Bobbie Smith, two beautiful young girls just out of their teens, held the audience intensely interested during their act, which consists of singing and some mighty good comedy by one of the girls. Everything the Clemenso Bros. touch turns to music. It is one of the best novelty acts seen here in some time, and just enough comedy acrobatic work is interspersed to make the act a big circuit one. The Delfinos troupe of Chilian wonders close the show with an acrobatic offering that is way above the ordinary one.’
(The Fort Wayne Sentinel, Fort Wayne, Indiana, Monday, 15 December 1913, p.7d/e)

‘Irene and Bobbie Smith. Two girls have established themselves as one of the big time vaudeville’s favorite “sister” combinations. They are playing the United time at present, under the direction of Ed. S. Keller.’
(New York Clipper, New York, Saturday, 25 December 1915, p.51b)

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The Chorus of Fairies in the burlesque Ariel

May 24, 2013

the chorus of fairies in the burlesque Ariel, Gaiety Theatre, London, 8 October 1883
(photo: unknown, London, 1883)

F.C. Burnand’s burlesque fairy drama Ariel, based on Shakespeare’s The Tempest, was produced at the Gaiety Theatre, London, on 8 October 1883. Nellie Farren undertook the title role and Arthur Williams appeared as Prospero.

‘To criticize Ariel at the Gaiety adversely, to pretend to say it was not the most brilliant production of this or any other age, to dare to hint that the loss of Mr. Edward Terry is most acutely felt, or that the Gaiety company is not what it was, would be to draw down on our devoted heads sarcastic advertisements in the daily Press [probably a reference to John Hollingshead, manager of the Gaiety and former journalist, who was an inveterate advertiser], the scorn of the leading comic paper, and the studied impertinence of the popular sporting oracles. To say that Ariel is written down to the intelligence of the typical masher is sufficient to say that it could not contain any definite sign of the merry geniality and robust humour of its author. It is not at all likely that the Johnnies and Chappies of the Gaiety brigade take the slightest interest in the art that The Theatre endeavours to foster and encourage, and it is mot certain that the directors and sympathizers with The Theatre differ toto cœlo from the Gaiety brigade. The world is wide enough to hold partisans of either school. It has been said, and unfairly said, that it takes a very heavy hammer to force a joke into a Scotchman’s head. The author of Ariel evidently thinks that the masher’s cranium is harder still, so he refuses to take the trouble to force a smile upon the sheep’s faces of an uninteresting crowd. To say that a burlesque is written for the special patrons of the Gaiety is enough to say that it is pap foot for overgrown infants of amiable temperaments and blameless exterior. The author of a criticism of Ariel in a comic paper, mainly devoted to ridiculing all who do not consider Ariel the most side-splitting and hilarious entertainment ever produced, professes himself as objecting to “gush.” Probably he omitted to revise the proofs of his article, for he does not practise what he preaches. Incidentally, however, he touches on a subject on which must has been said from time to time in these columns. He writes as follows:-
‘“Objecting to ‘gush’ as we do, we could wish that in the interest of true criticism the critics’ night were everywhere postponed until the third performance of any new piece.” We wonder if that opinion would have been changed if the “gush” had been ladled out pretty freely within a few hours of the first performance. As we have repeatedly pointed out, the production of a new burlesque or any other play is considered as news of the day, and treated accordingly by the conductors of newspapers. This is an implied compliment to the drama of every degree. If things go on as they are going on now, it is quite certain that the newspaper-reading public will no longer allow the news of the world to be postponed in favour of the recorded history of the latest melodrama or the newest burlesque. Newspaper space is valuable, and the burlesque that can wait three days to be criticized, may well wait for three weeks or any indefinite period. It is either news or the reverse; and it is surely a false policy to demand that recognition in the daily press of the country should be removed from what is now generally recognized. If the mashers like Ariel, if the management is satisfied, if the author is pleased and looks upon the production with pride, why, of course it must be good. Let the author take a leaf out of the book of Augustus Harris [manager of Drury Lane Theatre], and boldly advertise “By far the best burlesque I have ever been associated with!” An inelegant sentence, but in strict accord with managerial modesty. Cela va sans dire! There is no more to be said about it. But it is not beyond the regions of probability that even Miss [Nellie] Farren and her clever companions have from time to time given more favourable specimens of their art, although their popularity was never more strongly pronounced. The Gaiety is popular, Mr. [F.C.] Burnand is deservedly popular, the company is equally popular; but critics are not necessarily idiots because they consider the pubic time is occasionally wasted, or because they deplore the existence in the stalls of a steady contempt for all humour, a wretched hankering after the childish in art, and an inert materialism that is necessarily the opponent of fancy and imagination.’
(The Theatre, London, Monday, 1 November 1883, pp.271 and 272)

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Jean Allistone

May 24, 2013

Jean Allistone (1897-1958), English actress, singer and entertainer, as she appeared as Gertie Le Roy, a revue artist, in the revue, Oh! La! La!, produced at the Queen’s Theatre, London, on 27 December 1915
(photo: Wrather & Buys, London, 1915/16)

Jean Allistone, who became Mrs Tommy Handley, was first noticed in Oh! La! La!, a review starring and partly written by Jack Norworth, which was produced at the Queen’s, London, on 27 December 1915. Other members of the cast included Ernie Lotinga, Laura Guerite and Hettie King. The piece was not an unqualified success and closed after 58 performances.
Besides United Kingdom provincial tours, Miss Allistone went on to appear in Jingle Bells, a modest musical burlesque with Edward Rigby and Harry Welchman, produced at the London Opera House on 8 May 1916, for a run of 12 performances. She was later seen in the revue, The Show’s the Thing, which began at the Victoria Palace, London, and then ran successfully at the Lyceum, London, from 19 August 1929, then transferring to the Winter Garden, London. The cast included Archie Pitt, who wrote the book, and his wife, Gracie Fields.
Meanwhile, Jean Allistone was rather better known for her work on radio for the BBC with her husband. She made several recordings including a sketch with Handley entitled ‘Have You Seen My Chickens.’

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Phyllis Embury

May 24, 2013

Phyllis Embury (1889?-1948), English actress
(photo: Alfred Ellis & Walery, London, circa 1906)

Phyllis Embury, who is said to have been born in Leeds, Yorkshire, is first mentioned in connection with Herbert Beerbohm Tree, playing the small part of Octavia in his production of Stephen Phillips’s Nero, which was first performed at His Majesty’s Theatre, London, on 25 January 1906. She then appeared as the 2nd twin in a revival of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan at the Duke of York’s Theatre, London, 22 December 1906. She played the same character the following year (Duke of York’s, 16 December 1907) and other small parts followed, the last being in Vice-Versa, a farcical fantasy, at the Comedy Theatre, London, which opened for a run of 40 performances on 18 December 1911.

Miss Embury’s career came to an end upon her married in 1912 to Stanley Dodd (1876-1946), a successful obstetric physician, the son of Arthur Dodd (1838-1924), a diamond merchant trading as P.G. Dodd & Son, and grandson of Philip George Dodd (1801-1865), a well-known retail jeweller and silversmith of Leadenhall Street and Cornhill, City of London.

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Julia Warden

May 24, 2013

Julia Warden (Mrs George H. Mostyn, fl. 1877-1900), English actress, as she appeared in the title role of the pantomime, Dick Whittington and His Cat, New Theatre Royal, Park Row, Bristol, produced on Saturday, 23 December 1882
(carte de visite photo: Harvey Barton, Bristol; from the collection of Maurice Wilson Disher)

Bristol
‘NEW THEATRE ROYAL. – There was again last night an enormous audience at this house to witness the gorgeous holiday pantomime of ”Dick Whittington.” The pantomimes’ excursion train brought a regular army of visitors, and so many made their way to Park-row that after the popular parts of the theatre had been filled to their utmost capacity, and a very large number had taken seats in the dress circle and orchestra stalls, several hundreds had to be turned from the doors. A crowded audience is never without its influence on the actors, and the piece went with great spirit. Miss Julia Warden, having recovered from her indisposition [bronchitis], resumed the part of Dick, and upon her appearance received a very marked recognition. Miss Agnes Taylor, who so cheerfully and so gracefully acted in the title rôle during Miss Warden’s illness, filled once more her original character, and was deservedly applauded. All the salient parts of the pantomime were received with marked enthusiasm. Several of the songs and dances were encored, the scene with the living marionettes was literally screamed at, and the disclosure of the beautiful scene of Hampstead Heath provoked such a furore that the Messrs. Chute were compelled to appear and bow their acknowledgements. Miss Fanny Brown and her ballet troupe also came in for a share of approval, and all the artistes, we should say, must have been gratified.’
(The Bristol Mercury and Daily Post, Bristol, Tuesday, 30 January 1883, p. 5e)

‘The 1882-3 pantomime was ”Whittington and his Cat,” the former finding an excellent exponent in Miss Julia Warden and the latter in Master Cummins. As Alice Fitzwarren Miss Amy Grundy was delightful; as idle Jack Mr. George Thorne was, as at all time, ”top hole” and Mr. E.M. Robson made a capital ”old woman.” there were several important features of the work, which was written and produced by Mr. C.H. Stephenson. Amongst these was a violin solo by Mlle. Rita Presano, a double panorama of the Thames (Mr. Arthur Henderson), and the ”Turn again Whittington” sounded by an octave of magnificent bells, manufactured for the Messrs. Chute at a cost of £450. A further welcome item was the inclusion in the cast of Messrs. Henderson and Stanley, the ”living Marionettes.” Mr. Harry Paulo was the clown.’
(The Bristol Stage, G. Rennie Powell, Bristol, 1919, p. 126)

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May 23, 2013

Juliette Lotty (fl. late 19th/early 20th Century), French poses plastique artist billed as a ‘Modern Venus,’ ‘an exponent of the artistic in posing’
All but the centre photograph shows Mdlle. Lotty in a flesh-coloured body stocking. The publisher has overcome the suggestion of total nudity by ordering his blockmaker to add a diaphanous costume to the lady’s figure. (photos: unknown, circa 1900; Up To Date, London, 5 January 1901, p.8)

For further information, see Anita Callaway, Visual Ephemera: Theatrical Art in Nineteenth-Century Australia, University of New South Wales Press, Sydney, 2000, pp.63-66.

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Juliette Lotty

May 23, 2013

Juliette Lotty (fl. late 19th/early 20th Century), French poses plastique artist billed as a ‘Modern Venus,’ ‘an exponent of the artistic in posing’
All but the centre photograph shows Mdlle. Lotty in a flesh-coloured body stocking. The publisher has overcome the suggestion of total nudity by ordering his blockmaker to add a diaphanous costume to the lady’s figure. (photos: unknown, circa 1900; Up To Date, London, 5 January 1901, p.8)

For further information, see Anita Callaway, Visual Ephemera: Theatrical Art in Nineteenth-Century Australia, University of New South Wales Press, Sydney, 2000, pp.63-66.