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Maud Rochez, animal trainer and proprietor of a music hall and vaudeville monkey act

October 27, 2014

Maud Rochez (1885?-1930), animal trainer and proprietor of a celebrated monkey act
(postcard photo: unknown, circa 1906)

Maud Rochez (née Birtwhistle) was the wife of Harry Rochez (Henry James Percy Dutfield Rochez, 1869-1955), whom she married at Cardiff in 1903. She appears to have retired from performing about 1920 after which her husband continued with their act.

Keith’s Theatre, Boston, Massachusetts, week beginning Monday, 2 August 1909
‘The regular vaudeville section of the bill will be even stronger than that of last week, and will have as a leading feature a summer sensation on Hammerstein’s Roof. It is called ”An Amateur Night in a Monkey Music Hall,” and act brought over from England by Maud Rochez, in which there is a large company of monkeys giving an entire performance on a stage built on the stage.
‘They are even provided with a monkey orchestra, the leader of which is an artist in that way. The monkeys themselves manage the stage, drawing the curtain, hanging the cards, setting the stage, and introducing the money actors.’
(The Boston Sunday Post, Boston, Massachusetts, Sunday, 1 August 1909, dramatic page)

London Coliseum, June 1911
‘Maud Rochez’s monkys are always welcome, and their return to the Coliseum bill is a feature worth recording. A miniature music-hall performance is provided entirely by a troupe of well-trained monkeys, who do everything on their own unimpeded by the usual officious parading of a conceited trainer. It is a unique show, and withal an incomparably good one.’
(‘Between the Turns,’ Penny Illustrated Paper, London, Saturday, 10 June 1911, p. 770a)

The Alhambra, Leicester Square, London, January 1927
‘London, Jan. 18 [1927] … The Alhambra holiday program was a magnet for the huge crowds filling the Leicester Square building. Daisy Taylor, Scotch singing comedienne, with pianist also attired in Highland costume, opened. This was a tough spot for this kind of an act. Went over very well, however. Clay Keyes, the dancing club juggler, was on second, and what a hit! Harry Rochez’ Monkey Music Hall was a scream, with the simians as orchestra and other monks [sic] as variety performers. The part that tickled me was where the monk [sic] doing the ”strong act” always heaved his props into the orchestra when he had finished with them. What a wow that would be in real life! Debroy Somer’s [sic] Band, very good outfit, played their stuff with brilliance. Hilda Glyder in snappy songs was a big hit, especially in her dance bit after singing ”Am I Wasting My Time?” The society entertainer in hob-nailed boots then rolled on – and what did not Bill Bennett do to ‘em! Layton & Johnstone were their usual popular triumph, with The Hassans, novelty wire and cycling act, closing.’
(Frank O’Connell, The Vaudeville News and New York Star, New York, 22 January 1927, p. 6a/b)

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