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Ada Neilson as Queen Elizabeth I in The Armada, Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London, 1888

November 13, 2013

Ada Neilson (1846-1905), English actress, specialising in ‘leavy leads,’ as she appeared as Queen Elizabeth I in Henry Hamilton and Augustus Harris’s romantic play, The Armada, produced at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London, on 22 September 1888.
(cabinet photo: Elliott & Fry, 55 Baker Street, London, W, and 7 Gloucester Terrace, London, SW, 1888)

‘DRURY LANE. – AUGUSTUS HARRIS, Lessee and Manager.
‘Will REOPEN on SATURDAY, 22d September, with a New Grand Spectacular Drama, entitled
‘THE ARMADA: A Romance of 1588.
‘By HENRY HAMILTON and AUGUSTUS HARRIS.
‘THE AMADA at DRURY LANE.
‘Winifred Emery, Edith Bruce, Kate James, Ada Neilson, and Maud Milton; Leonard Boyne, Luigi Lablache, Edward Gardiner, Victor Stephens, A Beaumont, Mervin, Dallas, Stanislaus, Calhaem, B. Robins, F. Dobel, Basil West, W. Wridge, F. Harrison, W. Winter, S. Dawson, FitzDavis, Parkes, H. Denvil, F. Thomas, and Harry Nicholls.’
(The Morning Post, London, Thursday, 6 September 1888, p. 4a, advertisement)

‘… Miss Ada Neilson was made up, with uncompromising realism, to Knoller’s picture, and acted just as Elizabeth Tudor may have been supposed to have acted in real life. Her sumptuous dress in the third act was one mass of gold embroidery and blaring gems… .’
(Reynold’s Newspaper, London, Sunday, 23 September 1888, p. 8d)

‘… Miss Ada Neilson, as Queen Elizabeth, looked the part to perfection; but her efforts to be impressive were too painfully marked… .’
(The Pall Mall Gazette, London, Monday, 24 September 1888, p. 6a)

‘Queen Elizabeth, in the reddest hair I ever saw, may be dressed – indeed, is dressed – in the costume of the period.
‘The gods, however, accept it as burlesque.
‘And when the red-headed monarch exclaims –
”’Play heaven my hair turn not grey.”
The aspiration is accepted as a very fine joke indeed… .
‘Elizabeth, Queen of England, has frequently been made the subject of burlesque.
‘No one who has yet attempted the character has been so successful as the present author.
‘However, ”no scandal about Queen Elizabeth.”
‘Miss Ada Neilson played the part.
‘And as she no doubt played to order it would be unfair to criticise her too severely… .’
(‘Flashes from the Footlights,’ The Licensed Victualler’s Mirror, London, Tuesday, 25 September 1888, p. 418c)

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