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Phoebe Don, English burlesque actress and singer

February 2, 2015

Phoebe Don (active 1872-1882), English burlesque actress and singer, latterly music hall serio-comic and dancer, in an unidentified role, possibly as the Prince in the pantomime The House that Jack Built, produced at the Surrey Theatre, London, 26 December 1878
(two carte de visite photos: The London Stereoscopic & Photographic Co Ltd, London, circa 1878/79)

Ixion; or, The Man at the Wheel, a burlesque by F.C. Burnand, produced at the Court Theatre, London, Wednesday, 5 February 1873
‘What old playgoer is there who fails to have a pleasant reminiscence of that ”Ixion” which made the fortune of the New Royalty Theatre ten years ago? The chic of Miss Jenny Wilmore as Ixion, the charms of Miss Ada Cavendish as Venus, the delicious pertness of Miss [Blanche] Elliston as Juno, the drollery of Felix Rogers as Minerva, the unctuous officiousness of Joseph Robins as Ganymede after the fashion of Mr. Wardle’s Fat Boy [in Dickens’s Pickwick Papers], still linger in our memory. Was it only our hot youth which impressed us with the devout belief that the goddesses of the little theatre in Dean-street [Soho, London] made up a galaxy of beauty which never had been, would be, or could be surpassed? Labuntur anni; we have grown to despise puns, to stickle for the dramatic unities, and to declaim against what we are pleased to call dramatic nudities and we rather anticipated that the ”Ixion” of 1873 would be likely to dis-illusion us as to the ”Ixion” of 1863. We are glad to say that this is not the case. The ”Man at the Wheel” of the Court appears to us to be in all respects equal to the ”Man at the Wheel” of the New Royalty. It hangs fire, indeed, in the prologue, which is altogether an unnecessary encumbrance, and it contains allusions to topics of the last decade which might be modernised with advantage. But is pleased us more than anything of the same kind that we have seen since the ”Vivanière” [i.e. Vivanière; or, True to the Corps, an operatic extravaganza by W.S. Gilbert, produced at the Queen’s Theatre, London, 22 January 1868]; Mr. [Edward] Righton is the most mirth-moving Minerva possible; the charms of Miss Phœbe Don, Miss M. Don, and half a dozen other Olympians could only be expressed by an unlimited number of notes of admiration; the songs are really funny and sparkling, the dances are lively, and the whole extravaganza has an amount of ”go” in it which is very attractive indeed. We should be rather glad if Bacchus could be transformed into a stanch [sic] teetotaller; for with Marks very tipsy half through ”Lady Audley’s Secret,” and Bacchus very tipsy all through ”Ixion,” we have an unpleasant surfeit of inebriation. In real life a drunkard is an exceedingly unpleasant companion, and we are not much more fond of him on the stage. Furthermore, we have a decided objection to those repeated encores of songs and dances which are now so common; and we cannot help thinking that an advertisement to the effect ”that such and such a dance is encored four times nightly” must have a decidedly repellent effect on sensible people. But here our cavilling ends, and we heartily recommend ”Ixion” to our readers.’
(The Observer, London, 9 February 1873, p. 3c/d)

‘Mr. R. BLACKMORE as organised another company for a five months’ season in Calcutta, the artistes engaged comprising Messrs Crawford, Cowdery, [George] Titheradge, Bond, E. Sheppard, Owen, Beverley; and the Misses Alice Ingram, Bessie Edwards, Alma Sainton, A. Rose, Phœbe Don, G. Leigh, F. Seymour, and Tessy Hamerton. They sailed from Southampton on the 21st inst. in the ”Poonah.” The Corinthian Theatre will be the scene of their operations.’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 24 September 1876, p. 4c)

‘CALCUTTA.
‘My dear Tahite, – Miss [Rosa] Cooper‘s benefit came off a few days ago. She played Miami in ”Green Bushes,” and the house was wedged. I understand the low-comedy man of this theatre is engaged to Mr. Coppin. The artist and the manager are shortly going to China in a panorama (”The Prince in India”). The French opera has been a disheartening failure. I never saw anything so bad, even at a third-class concert in Melbourne. Miss Bessy Edwards is a pretty taking actress, and Miss Phœbe Don, if not a great actress, is so bewilderingly beautiful a woman, that young men – and for the matter of that old men – go distraught about her… .’
(The Australasian, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 28 April 1877, p. 19c)

The House that Jack Built, pantomime, produced at the Surrey Theatre, 26 December 1878
‘Miss Phoebe Don, a promising young actress and singer, plays the part of the Prince effectively, and is ably seconded by Miss Nelly Vane as Princess Rosebud.’
(The Daily News, London, Friday, 27 December 1878, p. 6a)

Venus; or, The Gods as They Were and Not as They Ought to Have Been, a burlesque by Edward Rose and Augustus Harris, produced at the Royal Theatre, London, on 27 June 1879
‘The new extravaganza, ”Venus,” can hardly be deemed worthy, from a literary point of view, to follow Mr. [G.R.] Sims‘s still-popular comedy of ”Crutch and Toothpick.” Mr. Edward Rose and Mr. A. Harris are named as the authors of ”Venus,” and Mr. rose is so graceful a writer that probably he should be credited with work the goodness of which may have been drowned in the noise and obtrusive horse-play of the first night’s representation. The extravaganza, however, was possibly merely intended to served as a vehicle for the exhibition of the majority of the mythological deities, from Venus (Miss Nelly Bromley) to Adonis and Mars, who find comely representatives in Miss Alma Stanley and Miss Phœbe Don. Subdued to a tone more in keeping with the smallness of the house, ”Venus” may now run smoothly, and the vivacity of Miss Kate Lawler as a dashing Cupid would certainly be appreciated none the less for a little moderation. But ”Venus” will not be a second ”Ixion.”’
(The Illustrated London News, London, Saturday, 5 July 1879, p. 7b)

Nelly Power’s benefit, the Cambridge music hall, London, Wednesday, 27 October 1880
‘… The Sisters Lindon, in a duet in praise of waltzing, were generally admired, as was Miss Phœbe Don in her song with the chorus commencing ”D’ye take me for a stupid little silly?” a chorus which the audience was not slow to take up… .’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 31 October 1880, p. 4c)

London Pavilion, Piccadilly Circus, London, week beginning Monday, 8 November 1880
‘… Mr Fred Law, who should rapidly make his way in public favour, sang ”Allow me to see you home,” and ”If a girl likes to kiss me,” in a merry style; and was following by handsome Phœbe Don, who, though possessed of only a small voice, makes the most of it, and contrived to win admiration in her song of the ”Little Cat,” and in another which allowed the audience to exercise their own sweet voices… .’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 14 November 1880, p. 4b)

Phoebe Don played the small part of Blue Peter in the pantomime Robinson Crusoe, produced at Drury Lane Theatre, on 26 December 1881, of which the stars were Dot and Minnie Mario, James Fawn, Miss Amalia, Arthur Roberts, Fanny Leslie, Harry Nicholls and Charles Lauri junior. Miss Don’s last known appearances were at the London Pavilion, Piccadilly Circus, London, in May 1882.

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