Archive for September, 2013

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Ina Claire and Sam Bernard in The Belle of Bond Street, Adelphi Theatre, London, 1914

September 30, 2013

Ina Claire (1893-1985), American actress and singer, and Sam Bernard (1863-1927), English-born American actor, as they appeared in the roles of Winnie Harborough and Max Hoggenheimer in The Belle of Bond Street, a musical play (adapted from The Girl from Kay’s), which opened at the Adelphi Theatre, London, on 8 June 1914. The production closed on 17 July 1914 after a run of 41 performances.
(photo: The Daily Mirror Studios, London, 1914)

‘Been Here Before.
‘How many London playgoers will remember Sam Bernard, who is producing and acting in The Belle of Bond Street, the American musical comedy advertised for production at the Adelphi on Saturday night? Mr. Bernard has made a big name in America, but he he was acting over here a quarter of a century ago, and appeared at the old Middlesex Music-hall.
‘The Coster Rage.
‘Those were the days when [Albert] Chevalier was making the coster song the rage of London, and Mr. Bernard was one of the earliest, if not the first, to take the coster song across the Atlantic. He bought a real costermonger’s suit to take back with him to New York, where he appeared on the stage and sang to wondering Americans of the joys and sorrow of our ”pearly” lads and lasses.’
(The Daily Mirror, London, Wednesday, 3 June 1914, p. 5c)

‘Miss Ina Claire and Mr. Sam Bernard triumphed last night at the Adelphi Theatre, and by her charm and cleverness and his broad humour overrode a foolish story, tinkling music, and a tawdry production… . Miss Claire and Mr. Bernard kept the show ”humming” from beginning to end … the night was made hilarious by the two chief performers, and an audience which included [Enrico] Caruso and Signor [Antonio] Scotti, Miss Gertie Millar, Miss Ethel Levey, Miss Gaby Deslys, Miss Vesta Tilley, and scores of Americans, shouted itself hoarse in approval.’
(Daily Express, London, Tuesday, 9 June 1914, p. 5f)

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Betty Rigl in The Black Crook, Niblo’s Garden, New York, 1866

September 29, 2013

Betty Rigl (1850-after 1903), Austrian-born American dancer, as she appeared as one of the principal dancers in the ‘Devil Dance’ in The Black Crook, a musical extravaganza produced at Niblo’s Garden, New York, on 12 September 1866
(photo: C.D. Fredericks & Co, 587 Broadway, New York, probably 1866)

‘The Ballet and the Ladies.
‘The New York correspondent of the Mobile Advertiser writes as follows of the ballet:
The Black Crook, as a play, is the silliest trash I ever listened to. Any ordinary school boy could write a better dialogue, and the plot is the same that we have seen in dozens of devil dramas before. But the scenery and transformations are too gorgeous to be described. Nothing approaching them was ever witnessed in New York. And the ballet! Ah! that is the attraction. It is beautiful, ravishing, glorious – and indecent – particularly the latter. I have no time for details, but must mention one dance – the dance – the ”Demon Dance.” this might be called the ”model artist” exhibition. Four beautiful and magnificently formed girls (from Paris [sic]) come on the stage in tights and dance for ten or fifteen minutes. A part of their bodies is encased in red silk jiggers of some sort, but that only makes them the more attractive. I was astonished to see hundreds of fashionable and very respectable looking ladies watching this exhibition with the deepest interest. There was a time when American ladies would leave the theatre at once if such a scene were presented to them. But our ladies visit Paris oftener now than of yore, and begin to like Paris customs very well indeed. A woman who would consider herself greatly insulted if asked how she liked Adah Menken in Mazeppa, will take indefinite delight in looking at the ”Demon Dance.” And yet I am not sure the Menken exhibition is really more indecent than the one I saw at Niblo’s on Saturday night. The Menken was not fashionable; the Parisians are, and perhaps that explains why our belles take their opera glasses to Niblo’s every night.’
(Public Ledger, Memphis Tennessee, Monday, 5 November 1866, p. 1c)

* * * * *

According to the United States Census of 1880, Betty Rigl was born in Austria in October 1850. She arrived in America in 1860, presumably accompanied by her sister, Emily Rigl and together they appeared in 1866 in The Black Crook at Niblo’s under the management of William Whitney (d. 1898). Betty Rigl subsequently married Whitney (apparently in 1874) and she appears to have retired a year or two after fulfilling an engagement during 1875 at the Alhambra, Leicester Square, London, at which time she was described as having been ”’première danseuse” of the Imperial Opera, Vienna’ (The Morning Post, London, Wednesday, 28 April 1875, p. 5e). London critics were impressed: Mdlle. Rigl ‘is perhaps the best artist in her line who has appeared amongst us since Mdlle. Henriette d’Or, whose dancing in Babil and Bijou [Covent Garden, 29 August 1872] cannot well have been forgotten. But the style of Mdlle. Betty Rigl is altogether different from that of Mdlle. D’Or. The one is distinguished for her ”point,” and the other was remarkable for her ”elevation.” These are the two principal arts of ballet dancing. Although the skill of ”elevation” is one rarely attained, and is, of course, the more fascinating to the beholder, it is an open question if a through proficiency in ”point” is not a more valuable gift. Mddle. Betty Rigl has not all that airy and fairylike grace of the great exponents of her art; she does not possess that charming abandon of style which so captivates the beholder. But the ”tip-toe” dancing could scarcely be excelled and the movement of the foot from the ankle downwards is the very perfection of ease and neatness. Well, indeed, did the lady deserve the rounds of applause with which her dancing was greeted. It was hearty enough when she danced with M. Jousset, the celebrated ballet master, but when she executed her steps alone a hearty encore was inevitable.’ (The Era, London, Sunday, 9 May 1875, p. 4d).

At Christmas, 1876, Betty Rigl was seen in a ‘Snow Ballet’ in the pantomime, Robinson Crusoe and his Man Friday at the Theatre Royal, Manchester.

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The Serenaders

September 28, 2013

two members of The Serenaders (active early 20th Century from about 1900), English ‘masked singers,’ who specialised in song scenas and other refined entertainment for the music hall stage, at fetes, special events and private functions
(photo: Alfred Ellis & Walery, London, circa 1902)

‘THE SERENADERS’ ENTERTAINMENT.
‘A very agreeable and successful entrainment was given on Monday after noon, April 21 [1902], at St. James’s Hall, under the direction of Ashton’s Royal Agency, by The Serenaders, a troupe of masked singers, two ladies and three gentlemen, who have latterly proved popular at Cowes [Isle of Wight] and other places. Black satin, sequins, hoods, cloaks, big hats, and so on, are among the paraphernalia of their picturesque and romantic attire, and The Serenaders may fairly be classed with The Japs, The Follies, The Musketeer Concert Party, The Scarlet Mr. E’s, and similar organisations. The present troupe comprise a capital baritone, a very acceptable tenor, a high soprano, a pleasing contralto, and a gentleman pianist. They opened their programme on Monday with an introductory quartet, ”The Serenaders,” written by Alan Otway, in which familiar melodies were made use of wherewith to characterise the various singers. Other pieces arranged as quartets were the popular ”Tell Me, Pretty Maiden,” from Florodora, and its parallel, ”’A ,” from The Silver Slipper. The baritone gave ”In the shade of the Palm” as an encore for ”The Sweetest Flower that Blows”; the tenor also had to choose another song after his refined rendering of Goring Thomas’s ”Ma Voisine,” the charming quartet from ”The Daisy Chain,” ”Foreign Children,” was brightly sung; and other items were ”Across the Sill Lagoon” (tenor and baritone), ”Love’s Nocturne” (contralto and baritone), Eckert’s florid ”Echo Song” (for soprano, of course), and the well known ”A Regular Royal Queen,” from The Gondoliers. Appropriate dancing and business enhanced the effect of The Serenaders’ excellent performances. They were assisted by Mr. Charles Capper, who whistled as beautifully as ever (accompanied by Mr. Victor Marmont), and by Miss Helen Mar. That clever lady, besides giving several of her amusing American stories, was heard in a pathetic little piece about a game of hide and seek played by a lame lad and his aged grandmother, and imitated a girl reciting ”Curfew shall not ring to-night!” No doubt The Serenaders will have abundant opportunity of further proving their quality during the Coronation season. They had a numerous and highly appreciative audience on Monday.’
(The Stage, London, Thursday, 24 April 1902, p. 18c)

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Coralie Blythe and chorus in the Motor Carnival scene in Mr Popple (of Ippleton), Apollo Theatre, London, 1905

September 27, 2013

Coralie Blythe (Mrs Lawrence Grossmith, 1880-1928), English musical comedy actress, as she appeared as Louise, with chorus, in the Motor Carnival scene in Paul Rubens‘s Mr Popple (of Ippleton), a comedy with music, produced at the Apollo Theatre, London, 14 November 1905.
(photo: probably Bassano, London, 1905; costumes made by Nettleship & Co Ltd, Wigmore Street, London)

‘The troupe of actresses who literally invade the stage from time to time with song and dance wear numbers of gay frocks, but never look better than in their white motor-coats and caps, a striking contrast to which is presented by Miss Coralie Blythe’s black blanketing coat, cap, and gloves. Miss Blythe plays the part of lady’s maid, and appears in a series of delightfully piquant black, and black-and-white short-skirted costumes.’
The Daily Mirror, London, Wednesday, 15 November 1905, p. 13b)

‘In the last Act we find everybody attending a Motor Carnival, of the Magpie Club, and they arrive singly and in sets, all muffled in huge white motor coats made from blankets. The designs vary a little, but large gold buttons and huge turn-back cuffs are the chief adornments.’
(‘A Chat About the Dresses,’ The Play Pictorial, no. 41, vol. 7, London, 1905, p. 54c)

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Gertrude Lawrence at Murray’s Night Club, London, 1920

September 26, 2013

Gertrude Lawrence (1898-1952), English actress and singer, as she appeared in 1920 as the lead in London’s first cabaret entertainment at Murray’s Night Club.
(photo: Claude Harris, London, 1920)

‘THE LEADER OF THE FROLICS.
‘It was a somewhat daring innovation on the part of Murray’s Club to introduce a Cabaret Entrainment each night during the dinner hour, as although very popular in the States and on the Continent the experiment had not been tried in this country, but owing to the fact that Mr. Jack May persuaded a really brilliant artiste to ”top the bill,” Murray’s Frolics have proved a big success and a great draw.
‘Miss Gertie Lawrence, who appears on our font cover in colours [see above], is without a doubt the coming revue star. She made a name for herself at the Vaudeville in Buzz Buzz, particularly with the song, ”Winnie the Window Cleaner,” and in the forthcoming Hippodrome Christmas pantomime she will take Miss Phyllis Dare‘s part at all the matinees… .
‘Miss Lawrence not only has a good voice but is also a fine actress, particularly when portraying a London type of to-day. She is a trained dancer, and was under Madame Judith Espinosa for some time, and studied elocution with Miss Italia Conti. She has been on the stage since she was ten, and comes of a theatrical family. The late Pony Moore was her godfather, and her father was with the Moore and Burgess Minstrels and afterwards interlocutor at the Palladium. She bids to become as well known as either Marie Lloyd or Albert Chevalier, with whose work hers had much in common.’
(The Dancing Times, Christmas number, London,1920, cover and p. 209)

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the Redmond Brothers in the pantomime Aladdin, Kennington Theatre, London, 1904/05

September 22, 2013

‘Willie, come here!’ A colour lithograph and halftone postcard photograph of the Redmond Brothers (active early 20th Century), comedians and ‘grotesque acrobats,’ as they appeared in the pantomime Aladdin at the Kennington Theatre, London, SE, 24 December 1904. The cast included Rachel Lowe as Aladdin and Harry Brayne as Widow Twankey.
(photo: unknown; postcard: Valentines Pantomime Series, 1904)

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Gabrielle Ray and Georgie Mahrer in The Merry Widow, Daly’s Theatre, London, 1909

September 22, 2013

Gabrielle Ray (1883-1973), English musical comedy dancer and actress, and Georgie Mahrer (active early 20th Century), Austrian exhibition dancer, as they appeared in The Merry Widow, at Daly’s Theatre, London, from 6 January 1909. The run of this popular musical play began at Daly’s on 8 June 1907 and ended on 31 July 1909.
(photo: Bassano, London, 1909)

‘Mr. Georgie Mahrer, who is said to be the world’s champion waltzer, is coming from France to play in The Merry Widow and incidentally to give London people some new ideas on waltzing.’
(Daily Express, London, Thursday, 7 January 1909, p. 7d)

‘NEW MERRY WIDOW DANCE.
‘Mr. Georgie Mahrer, a dancer with a Continental reputation, made his London début at Daly’s Theatre last night in the third act of the Merry Widow. With new music and Miss Gabrielle Ray as a partner he made such an instantaneous success with the audience that two encores had to be given.
‘The craze for stage dancing that has at present caught hold of London has now a new feature in the ballroom style introduced by Mr. Mahrer last night.’
(Daily Mail, London, Wednesday, 20 January 1909, p. 3c)

‘AMERICAN DANCERS GIVEN FIRST PLACE
‘Georgie Mahrer, Expert, Puts French in the Second Rank.
‘English people are tearing their hair over an interview given by Georgie Mahrer, an Austrian, said to be the first dancer in the world, who has been brought over to London from Paris. According to Mahrer the best dancers in the world are, not the Austrians, nor the Germans, not even the English, but – the Americans. Along with people on the other side of the Atlantic he classes a select few of the Parisians.
”’Vienna,” he said, ”is the home of the waltz, but my country people are not, in my opinion, the best waltzers. That distinction belongs to the Americans and the Parisians. The English lift their feet too far off the ground, dance too quickly and turn too rapidly.”
‘Truth to tell the average Englishman has a poor opinion of the American as a dancer and loses no chance of ridiculing such innovations as the ”half-time” and the ”glide.” Kansas City Star
(The Washington Times, Washington, DC, Monday, 15 March 1909, p. 9d)