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Paula Edwardes in Winsome Winnie at the Casino Theatre, New York, 1903

February 6, 2014

Paula Edwardes (1870?-after 1926), American musical comedy actress as she appeared in the title role of Winsome Winnie, a musical comedy produced at the Casino Theatre, New York, on 1 December 1903.
(photo: unknown, probably New York, 1903; halftone postcard published by Carter & Out, New York, 1903)

‘CHANGES AT THE THEATRES… .
‘Two new plays will be produced to-night and two to-morrow night. First-nighters will have to hustle to keep up with the procession. Paula Edwardes will be presented as a star to-night at the Casino in Winsome Winnie. The other new attraction will be at the Bijou, where Alice Fischer opens in What’s the Matter With Susan?‘ This is Miss Fischer’s second starring season and Miss Edwardes’s first.’
(The Sun, New York, New York, Tuesday, 1 December 1903, p. 6d)

WINSOME WINNIE.
‘CASINO THEATRE.
‘The production on a New-York stage of such a musical comedy as Winsome Winnie shown last night at the Casino with Miss Paul Edwardes in the title part, illustrates how far musical comedy standards have been lowered in this country, or, at any rate, how well nigh impossible it is to find American musical comedy makers who can level up to these standards. Winsome Winnie is credited to the author of Erminie, Jakobowski and Paulton, but there remains only six musical numbers for which they are responsible; the rest have been supplied by Gustav Kerker with Frederick Ranken’s lyrics. And Mr. Ranken has made an ”American version” of the book. Was the original version so bad, then, that it has to be doctored out of all semblance of itself? By Erminie, it is hard to believe! Yet, if doctored, it must be, why not have done the job thoroughly? Why not have made a new comedy of it altogether, and announced it as a musical play by Ranken and Kerker, with a few interpolated songs by Jakobowski? Why weave, in short, upon the fabric of an old fashioned opera bouffe, such as Winsome Winnie must have once been, the violent, incoherent designs of an American machine made musical comedy, things of ”gags” and ”local allusions” and Dutch dialect and tripping ”show girls,” and then try to palm off the patchwork as art upon the public?
Winsome Winnie in its present form falls between two stools; it is neither a Broadway ”show” nor an opera bouffe, or old-fashioned musical comedy. Remarks about Chicago and the subway fall on the ears of Offenbachish brigands, show girls trip under trees such as Turner painted in his foregrounds, and the skeleton of a plot, poor Paulton’s dim, far off idea, appears and disappears fitfully, like the smile of the Chessie cat [sic].
‘Mr. Kerker, to be sure, has contributed some pleasing numbers, and the management a vast array of pleasing costumes on still more pleasing girls. And two, at least, of the few numbers by Jakobowki that are retained, one in each act, have the rhythmic swing and melodious and merry orchestration which helped to make Erminie popular. Miss Paula Edwardes, also, announced as a star, makes good the assertion, and is easily the most successful – the one successful, perhaps – mirth creator in the cast. She looks very charming, and plays with considerable feeling for the opera bouffe spirit that was evidently meant to animate the piece. As a whole, however, Winsome Winnie is not likely to set the town on fire.’
(New York Daily Tribune, New York, New York, Wednesday, 2 December 1903, p. 9a)

* * * * *

‘FORMER STAR ACT VERY PECULIARLY
‘Paula Edwardes Says She Was Told to Go to Broadway and 23rd Street Corner and Pray.
‘New York, Aug. 17 [1926] – nearly a quarter of a century ago, a new an scintillating star twinkled in the firmament of tuneful musical comedy and opera bouffe.
‘some habitues of the theater and patrons of entertainment served up in musical form will remember The Princess and the Beggar [sic], a melodious classic produced by Charles Dillingham, the ”hit” tues of which are even yet played sometimes, somewhere.
‘Paula Edwardes was the star of that particular musical melange. She twinkled in all the brightness of the old-time production of that sort, with its princes and retinues, beggars and maids. She danced and pranced across the stage, sang lilting love songs to a manly prince and took her many curtain calls with all the fairy-like grace she possessed.
‘Early yesterday when the downpour of rain was at its height, policeman Belton saw a dim figure kneeling at the coner of Broadway and Twenty-third street. It was a woman praying, her face uplifted to the pelting rain.
‘The woman was Paula Edwardes.
‘She said she was fifty-six years of age and had been an actress for thirty years. She had been ordered to go to that corner and pray in a dream, she told police.
‘Paula Edwardes was taken to the Bellevue hospital for observation.’
(The Norwalk Hour, Norwalk, Connecticut, Tuesday, 17 August 1926, p. 3b)

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