Archive for March, 2014

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Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s comedy, The School for Scandal, revived at the Vaudeville Theatre, London, 18 July 1872

March 30, 2014

the cast of Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s comedy, The School for Scandal, revived at the Vaudeville Theatre, London, 18 July 1872
standing, left to right H. Elton as Careless, Charles Fenton as Moses, Marie Rhodes as Maria, Henry Neville as Charles Surface, William Farren as Sir Peter Teazle, John Clayton as Joseph Surface, Susan Rignold as Lady Sneerwell, A.H. Roberts as Rowley, H. Vaughan as Trip, Mr Mercer as Snake
seated, left to right Horace Wigan as Sir Oliver Surface, David James as Sir Benjamin Backbite, Amy Fawsitt as Lady Teazle, Tom Thorne as Crabtree, Martha (Patty) Oliver as Miss Candour
(carte de visite photo: Elliott & Fry, 55 Baker Street, Portman Square, London, 1872)

‘VAUDEVILLE THEATRE.
‘It is satisfactory to find that the rage for trashy extravaganza and ”sensational” melodrama, injurious though it unquestionably has been to the dignity and well-being of the stage, has not so completely demoralised the public taste as to destroy all appreciation for works of a more refined and rational order. That there are symptoms of a reaction in favour of such productions is to be inferred from the enthusiastic approval with which the plays of Mr. [W.S.] Gilbert have been received at the Haymarket, and those of Lord Lytton and the late Mr. T.W. Robertson at the Prince of Wales Theatres. Mrs. Swanborough has done well at the Strand with [George] Colman’s comedies. Shakspere [sic] himself, though still shamefully disregarded, is not altogether without honour in his own country, for Mr. [Charles] Fechter’s Hamlet drew an overflowing audience every night that it was presented at the Princess’s, and the tragedy would doubtless have proved attractive for many consecutive weeks had it not been withdrawn solely out of regard for the health of the chief actor, whose strength would have been overtaxed by frequent performance of so arduous a character. Nor are evidences of a healthier state of opinion wanting in other quarters, where distaste for the niaiseries of burlesque has been succeeded by a relish for entertainment of a sounder and more elevating description. At the Vaudeville, for example, the success by which the recent revivals of comedies more or less ”legitimate” has been deservedly attended has emboldened the managers to still more ambitious enterprise in the same praiseworthy direction; and not Sheridan’s masterpiece has been produced in a style which, if not exactly correspondent to the loftiest ideal of dramatic merit is nevertheless fairly promotive of intellectual enjoyment, and decidedly creditable to most of those concerned in the representation… .
The School for Scandal is one of those plays which seem to have been written to make the world happy,” remarks an acute critic. ”Few of our dramatists or novelists,’ he adds, ” have attended enough to this. They torture and wound us abundantly. They are economists only in delight;” but it must not be forgotten that the pleasure to be derived from the best of plays depends not a little upon the manner of its representation. In the present performance particular praise is due to Mr. William Farren, for his fine performance of Sir Peter Teazle – a part to which this artist may be said to have an hereditary claim, and in which he exhibits, in conjunction with a spirit and refinement all his own, not a little of the genial humour and patrician dignity traditionally distinctive of his father’s famous impersonation of the character. Old play-goers, even those most passionately attached to the glories of bygone times, will find no difficulty in admitting that in the absence of the father there can be found no better representative of the part than the son, who, while he gives impressive interpretation to all the essential attributes of the character – its lofty bearing, its high sense of honour, its nicely-graduated fun and pathos – also displays such grace of elocution as does full justice to the wit and sentiment of the matchless text. This is a great merit in a comedian, and its value is felt all the more vividly in a play like this, where the dialogue is of such beauty and brilliancy that every word of it is worth listening to. Miss Amy Fawsitt does not appear to be gifted with histrionic taken of a high order. She has no great skill in characterisation; but besides intelligence and good utterance she has freshness, vivacity, and good looks, and these qualities stand her in good stead in her representation of Lady Teazle. Whether she is right or wrong in supposing that Sheridan intended the rusticity of his heroine’s education to peep through her newly-acquired elegances is a point open to discussion; but certain it is that Lady Teazle, as impersonated by Miss Fawsitt, is no fine lady, but a rustic beauty to the end of the chapter. Mr. J. Clayton is a thoughtful, well-educated actor, who, not content with a spirited recitation of the text, always makes to himself a definite ideal of a character, and plays up to that ideal with consistent energy. His Joseph Surface is a subtle, plausible, insinuating scoundrel, whom to hear talk were indeed ”edification” but that his high-flown sentiments ”sugar over” vile devices. Miss Oliver is excellent as Mrs. Candour; Mr. Horace Wigan very good indeed as Sir Oliver Surface. The characters of Crabree and Sir Benjamin Backbite, ”the wasp and butterfly of the comedy,” as Elia [i.e. Charles Lamb] calls them, are admirably supported by Mr. T. Thorne and Mr. D. James retrospectively, the former depicting with capital effect the cold, black malice of a thoroughpaced traducer, with whom slander is the business of life; and the other picturing quite so amusingly the despicable proceedings of the frivolous scandalmonger, who sips scandal like tea, and utters his libels with the airs of a petit maître. Charles Surface is invariably such a favourite with the audience that the actor who essays the part may be said to have wind and wave with him in his sailing. Mr. H. Neville has the full benefit of this happy prepossession, and accordingly winds great applause in the part. Marie and Lady Sneerwell are underplayed, the latter so lamentably so as to hurt the general effect of the performance. The mise-en-scène might be better; and as for Charles Surface’s pictures they are of such a quality that he may well be pardoned for getting rid of them.’
(The Morning Post, London, Saturday, 27 July 1872, p. 5f)

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Frank H. Westerton, English actor

March 29, 2014

Frank H. Westerton (1866-1923), English actor
(cabinet photo: William Schuth, 170 Fleet Street, London, E.C., probably 1893)

Francis Henry Westerton was born on 6 April 1866, one of the sons of Samuel John Westerton (1840-1889) and his wife Adelaide (1839-1915, née Adkinson). At first employed as a clerk, he began his successful theatrical career in the late 1880s and was sometime with Ben Greet’s Company. He first went to the United States in 1903, after which he appeared many times on Broadway and in 1914 he appeared as Lescaut in the American film Manon Lescaut, starring Lina Cavalieri in the title role. Meanwhile, in Manhattan on 16 February 1905 he married the American actress, Madge E. McNulty. Westerton died in New York City on 25 August 1923.

Frank H. Westerton Digital ID: th-64544. New York Public Library
(photo: unknown, probably USA, circa 1920; from The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts / Billy Rose Theatre Division)

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Madia Borelli, Parisian dancer

March 29, 2014

Madia Borelli (active early 20th Century), Parisian dancer
(cabinet photo: Reutlinger, Paris, circa 1905)

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Emilie, Helene and Paul Taubert, German xylophonists

March 28, 2014

Geschwister Taubert or Taubert Sisters and Brother Paul (Emilie Taubert, 1883?-?; Helene Taubert, 1886?-?; and Paul Taubert, 1889?-?), German xylophonists
(postcard photo: unknown, circa 1907)

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March 27, 2014

Dora Parnès (active late 19th/early 20th Century), variously described as Austrian, Italian and French, international chanteuse, sometimes billed as ‘la belle Napolitaine.’
(photo: unknown, circa 1904)

‘AMUSEMENTS IN ROME … March 8 [1890] …
‘GRAND ORPHEUS MUSIC HALL. – At this elegant hall Chevalier Biscossi provides an attractive programme. Fraulein Dora Parnes, a handsome and fascinating vocalist, continues to warble Teutonic ditties sweetly… .’
(The Era, London, Saturday, 5 April 1890, p. 7c)

Paris, 1896
‘Maîtres dans l’art d’émoustiller la curiosité de leur clientèle mondaine, MM. Borney et Desprez ont imaginé de faire défiler des chanteuses de tous les pays sur la scène coquette du Casino. Hier, c’était la blonde Antoinette de Karsy, fleur de la Néva; aujourd’hui, c’est la brune et belle Dora Parnès, dont les grands yeux parleurs font si bien valoir le charme de ses chansons napolitaines.’
(Le Gaulois, Paris, Saturday, 28 March 1896, p. 1d)

London, 1899
‘Mdlle. Dora Parnes, now appearing at the Empire [Leicester Square, London], should be heard. She sings with fluency and sweetness, and proves herself an artist of exceptional ability. She has a capital repertory of French and Italian songs.’
(The Stage, London, Thursday, 7 September 1899, p. 17d)

Paris, 1907
‘SPECTACLES & CONCERTS …
‘Le programme de l’Olympia est d’ailleurs en ce moment particuliérement intéressant avec Sato, le jongleur comique d’une inérrable drôlerie, et la belle Dora Parnès, chanteuse cosmopolite tour à tour applaudie dans cinq langues différentes.’
(Le Figaro, Paris, Wednesday, 16 January 1907, p. 5a)

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Dora Parnès, international chanteuse

March 27, 2014

Dora Parnès (active late 19th/early 20th Century), variously described as Austrian, Italian and French, international chanteuse, sometimes billed as ‘la belle Napolitaine.’
(photo: unknown, circa 1904)

‘AMUSEMENTS IN ROME … March 8 [1890] …
‘GRAND ORPHEUS MUSIC HALL. – At this elegant hall Chevalier Biscossi provides an attractive programme. Fraulein Dora Parnes, a handsome and fascinating vocalist, continues to warble Teutonic ditties sweetly… .’
(The Era, London, Saturday, 5 April 1890, p. 7c)

Paris, 1896
‘Maîtres dans l’art d’émoustiller la curiosité de leur clientèle mondaine, MM. Borney et Desprez ont imaginé de faire défiler des chanteuses de tous les pays sur la scène coquette du Casino. Hier, c’était la blonde Antoinette de Karsy, fleur de la Néva; aujourd’hui, c’est la brune et belle Dora Parnès, dont les grands yeux parleurs font si bien valoir le charme de ses chansons napolitaines.’
(Le Gaulois, Paris, Saturday, 28 March 1896, p. 1d)

London, 1899
‘Mdlle. Dora Parnes, now appearing at the Empire [Leicester Square, London], should be heard. She sings with fluency and sweetness, and proves herself an artist of exceptional ability. She has a capital repertory of French and Italian songs.’
(The Stage, London, Thursday, 7 September 1899, p. 17d)

Paris, 1907
‘SPECTACLES & CONCERTS …
‘Le programme de l’Olympia est d’ailleurs en ce moment particuliérement intéressant avec Sato, le jongleur comique d’une inérrable drôlerie, et la belle Dora Parnès, chanteuse cosmopolite tour à tour applaudie dans cinq langues différentes.’
(Le Figaro, Paris, Wednesday, 16 January 1907, p. 5a)

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March 26, 2014

Jeanne and Nina Pérès (active, early 20th Century), dancers of the cake walk at the Nouveau-Cirque Paris, 1903, where Rudy and Fredy Walker also appeared.
(photo: unknown, Paris, 1902/03; one of a series of postcards published in France by S.I.P)

‘Le “cake-walk” au Noveau-Cirque est le triomphateur du jour!
‘Dans l’art de la danse, il causé une révolution, et sa vogue à Paris prend des proportions inouïes.
‘Rappelons que c’est M. Houcke qui importa le “cake-walk” en France et le fit danser pour la première fois au Nouveau-Cirque dans la pantomime Joyeux Nègres.
‘Aujourd’hui, tout le monde veut danser le “cake-walk”. Pour l’apprendre avec ses traditions, ses figures si originales et ses véritables mouvements, ses nombreux partisans se rendent au Nouveau-Cirque où il est dansé à la perfection par les Elks, champions du “cake-walk”; les soeurs Jeanne et Nina Pérès, pes professionnels Gregory et Brownet les deux bambins nègres dont la souplesse et la gràce font l’admiration des spectateurs.’
(Le Figaro, Paris, Friday, 18 January 1903, p. 5c)

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Jeanne and Nina Pérès, dancers of the cake walk at the Nouveau-Cirque, Paris, 1903

March 26, 2014

Jeanne and Nina Pérès (active, early 20th Century), dancers of the cake walk at the Nouveau-Cirque Paris, 1903, where Rudy and Fredy Walker also appeared.
(photo: unknown, Paris, 1902/03; one of a series of postcards published in France by S.I.P)

‘Le ”cake-walk” au Noveau-Cirque est le triomphateur du jour!
‘Dans l’art de la danse, il causé une révolution, et sa vogue à Paris prend des proportions inouïes.
‘Rappelons que c’est M. Houcke qui importa le ”cake-walk” en France et le fit danser pour la première fois au Nouveau-Cirque dans la pantomime Joyeux Nègres.
‘Aujourd’hui, tout le monde veut danser le ”cake-walk”. Pour l’apprendre avec ses traditions, ses figures si originales et ses véritables mouvements, ses nombreux partisans se rendent au Nouveau-Cirque où il est dansé à la perfection par les Elks, champions du ”cake-walk”; les soeurs Jeanne et Nina Pérès, pes professionnels Gregory et Brownet les deux bambins nègres dont la souplesse et la gràce font l’admiration des spectateurs.’
(Le Figaro, Paris, Friday, 18 January 1903, p. 5c)

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Una Brooke, a member of Emily Soldene’s touring company, 1870s

March 25, 2014

Una Brooke (active, 1870s), English burlesque actress, on tour with Emily Soldene‘s company in the United Kingdon, United States and Australia during the second half of the 1870s.
(photo: Houseworth, 12 Montgomery Street, San Francisco, circa 1877)

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Bertie Wright and other members of the English cast of the New York production of The Shop Girl, Palmer’s Theatre, Manhattan, 1895

March 25, 2014

Bertie Wright (1871-after 1958), English actor and singer, as he appeared as Mr Miggles, together with other members of the English cast in the New York production of The Shop Girl, which opened at Palmer’s Theatre, New York, on 28 October 1895.
(cabinet photo: Sarony, New York, 1895)

‘At PALMER’S THEATRE, on Oct. 28, there was produced, for the first time in this country, The Shop Girl, a musical farce, in two acts, by H.J.W. Dam, music by Ivan Caryll, with additional numbers by Lionel Monckton and Adrian Ross. The work was originally produced Nov. 24, 1894, at the Gaiety Theatre, London, Eng., where it met with great success. The company presenting it here is under the local management of Charles Frohman, but was sent from England by George Edwardes, proprietor and manager of the Gaiety Theatre. Of its principal members only two appeared in the original London production. The story concerns a search for an heiress. John Brown, an American millionaire, has advertised through his solicitor, Sir George Appleby, for a female foundling, the child of his late partner, who inherits a large fortune. Colonel Singlton, a retired officer; the Count St. Vaurien, secretary to Mr. Brown, and Mr. Hooley, proprietor of the ”Royal Stores,” are in possession of the secret that a fortune of four millions sterling awaits the missing heiress, whose identity they hope to establish by means of a birth mark known to exist. Many founding girls present themselves, being congenital marks, but all are doomed to disappointment. Mr. Hooley believes he has discovered the missing girl in Ada Smith, a good natured but illiterate and somewhat vulgar apprentice in his employ. He proposes to this girl, and she accepts and marries him, although she is engaged to Mr. Miggles, a floor walker of the establishment. It is eventually discovered that the real heiress is Bessie Brent, the prettiest girl in the stores, who is engaged to marry Charles Appleby, son of the solicitor who is seeking her. The farce has gained success here at a bound. In fact the nature of its reception was almost a foregone conclusion, for the coming of the company was eagerly awaited, and the advance sale of seats showed that nothing less than an absolutely bad performance would rob it of its anticipated triumph. The event proved that the performance was very far from bad, although the book was equally far from good, and the music was not above mediocrity. In spite of all shortcomings, however, there is sufficient exhilaration supplied by the performers to warrant the favorable verdict rendered. The state forces were admirably handled, and from the principals down to the most obscure member of the company every one was in constant motion. The principal comedians, including Seymour Hicks, George Grossmith Jr., W.H. Rawlins, Bertie Wright and George Honey, are undoubtedly clever. They labored assiduously and effectively to promote merriment, and displayed powers that suggested their ability to accomplish even better results had they a work which would afford them greater opportunities.

The Shop Girl (Musical), by H.... Digital ID: th-50908. New York Public Library
Connie Ediss as Ada Smith and W.H. Rawlins as Mr. Hooley in The Shop Girl, Palmer’s Theatre, New York, 1895)
(photo: Sarony, New York, 1895; Collection of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts / Billy Rose Theatre Division )

The female contingent, however, showed less capability than the male, but Ethel Sydney, as Bessie Brent, and Connie Ediss, as Ada Smith, fairly won an excellent report, Miss Ediss being especially deserving of mention for good comedy work. Some very pretty dancing was shown, but the terpsichorean features were less praiseworthy than have been seen in previous Gaiety productions. The staging was quite effective. They first act showed the interior of the ”Royal Stores,” and the action in the second act occurred in a fancy bazaar at Kensington. Some of the costumes were very pretty. There was much color shown, but by reason of strong contrasts there was little harmony I this respect and much gaudiness. The average of beauty among the women was not high, and in figure there was shown more bulk than daintiness. Still the show throughout its length was rather pleasing to the eye, and in spite of its friskiness was restful in so far as it made no demands whatever upon the intellect. It was plainly in evidence that it afforded the greatest delight to that portion of the audience which, for a very obvious reason, brought no brains to bear upon it. The assignment of roles was as follows: Mr. Hooley, W.H. Rawlins; Charles Appleby, Seymour Hicks; Bertie Boyd, George Grossmith Jr.; John Brown, [Michael] Dwyer; Sir George Appleby, Walter McEwen; Singleton, George Honey; Count St. Vaurten, A. Nilson-Fisher; Mr. Tweets, Alfred Asher; Mr. Miggles, Bertie Wright; Bessie Brent, Ethel Sydney; Lady Dodo Singlton, Annie Albu; Miss Robinson, Marie Paucett; Lady Appleby, Leslie Greenwood; Ada Smith, Connie Ediss; Faith, May Beaugarde; Hope, Minnie Sadler; Charity, Minnie Rose; Maud Plantagenet, Adelaide Astor; Eva Tudor, Violet Dene; Lillie Stuart, Ida Wallace; Ada Harrison, Hylda Galton; Mabel Beresford, Nellie Huxley; Florence White, Zara De L’Orme; Birdie Waudesfaude, Nellie Langton; Maggie Jocelyn, Violet Durkin; Violet Deveney, Annie Vivian. A solo dance in Act II was contributed by Dorothy Douglass, who was not included in the assignment. Of the above Seymour Hicks had already been seen here in Cinderella [sic], and Adelaide Astor, now the wife of George Grossmith Jr., had previously appeared here [in September 1893] upon the vaudeville stage under the name of Cissy Lind . With these exceptions all of the members of the company were, upon this occasion, seen her for the first time.’
(The New York Clipper, New York, New York, Saturday, 9 November 1895, p. 567d)