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Sydney Valentine in The Light that Failed, Lyric Theatre, London, 1903

February 11, 2014

Sydney Valentine (1865-1919), English actor, as he appeared in the role of J.G. Fordham (‘Nilghai’) in the first production of The Light That Failed by George Fleming after the novel of the same name by Rudyard Kipling, published in 1890.
(photo: probably Bassano for The Play Pictorial, London, 1903)

The play, whose cast also included Johnston Forbes-Robertson, C. Aubrey Smith, Leon Quartermaine, Gertrude Elliott, Margaret Halston and Nina Boucicault, ran at the Lyric Theatre, London, from 7 February 1903 to 18 April 1903 and then at the New Theatre, London, from 20 April 1903 to 20 June 1903. Forbes-Robertson subsequently organized a tour of the United Kingdom of The Light That Failed with a different cast, headed by Sydney Brough and Beatrice Forbes-Robertson. Johnston Forbes-Robertson afterwards took the play to the United States, opening at the Knickerbocker Theatre, New York on 9 November 1903. Of the original London cast, he was accompanied by C. Aubrey Smith, Leon Quartermaine and Gertrude Elliott; Sydney Valentine’s old part of J.G. Fordham (‘Nilghai’) was played by George Sumner.

* * * * *

A ‘quite inadequate’ one act adaptation by Courtenay Thorpe of Kipling’s well known work was previously presented as a curtain-raiser at the Royalty Theatre, London, on 7 April 1898. Thorpe himself headed the cast, supported by Frank Atherley, Ruth Mackay and Furtado Clarke. The Stage (London, Thursday, 14 April 1898, p. 15b) described Miss Mackay as ‘a lady of handsome appearance and good voice, who may be recommended a close study of Cockney pronunciation if she wishes to make her present work more successful.’

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