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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)

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