Posts Tagged ‘Ada Cavendish’


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)

‘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.


Rumpelstiltskin; or, The Woman at the Wheel, New Royalty Theatre, London, 1864

August 19, 2013

three carte de visite photographs of characters from F.C. Burnand’s extravaganza, Rumpelstiltskin; or, The Woman at the Wheel, produced at the New Royalty Theatre, Soho, London, 28 March 1864.
left to right: Miss Pelham as Roseken, Lydia Maitland as Prince Poppet, Edmund Edmunds as Rumpelstiltskin, and below: Ada Cavendish as Princess Superba
(photos: Southwell Brothers, London, 1864)

‘A lively overture preceded the extravaganza of Rumpelstiltskin; or, The Woman at the Wheel. The wheel is simply the wheel of fortune, from which, by the aid of Rumpelstiltskin, the heroine manages to spin straw into gold. Mr. Burnand, with charming candour, in a brief preface in the book of words, informs us that the story is taken from that of the Brothers Grimm, and that he has helped himself to any other little characters or incident he thought likely to add to the interest of the piece. The wisdom of attempting to tell the story of a burlesque in a brief criticism is, rather questionable. The lively airs, the pretty dances, the naivete and abandon of the actors and actresses, refuse to be set down on paper. Yet for a due appreciation of the story they are necessary, and without them the narrative cannot do justice to the author. Briefly, the story is this. King Tagarag, like many a king (especially of the burlesque and pantomime), has an empty exchequer. He conceives, also like many another stage monarch, a notable scheme for getting the same filled, the novelty of which is not very striking. It is the marriage of his son, Prince Poppet, to the Princess Superba, who has wealth untold. There is one little obstacle to this scheme. The Prince has lost his heart to a miller’s daughter. He refuses, and goes to see the miller’s daughter, is surprised by his Royal father, who is told that the miller’s daughter can spin gold from straw. She is cast into prison until she can prove the assertion. While she is bewailing her inability Rumpelstiltskin, the dwarf, makes his appearance, proposes marriage, offers a bond for signature, and promises to endow her with the ability to spin the gold from straw if she signs. She signs, afterwards spins out the gold, and is about to join hands with the Prince, when the Dwarf appears to demand her hand. An arrangement is made, by which she is to have, however, three days before the fulfilment of the contract, and if in the meantime any one can guess his name it is to be void. By the aid of an old witch this is discovered, the dwarf virtuously endows the bride, and the extravaganza concludes with a stage covered with nuggets of gold huge enough to have a wonderful effect on the money market of King Tagarag’s kingdom. So much for the story. It is the least part of the piece. The acting throughout is good. The varied accomplishments of the ladies who gather under the banner of the New Royalty found an ample field. Miss Ada Cavendish looked, dressed, and acted the haughty Princess with skill. Admirable as her Venus, in Ixion [i.e. Burnand’s extravaganza, Ixion; or, The Man at the Wheel, produced at the New Royalty, Soho, London, 28 September 1863], was, her Princess Superba is unquestionably better; the scene in which she assumes the wig and gown and appears as Counsel for the Defence is a capital one. Miss Lydia Maitland makes a pleasing Prince Poppet. Mrs. [Charles] Selby’s character is not a very great one, but she invests it with a power that makes the scene in which she takes part one of the best of the piece. Miss Pelham, as Roseken, the beloved of Prince Poppet, and Miss H. Pelham also played satisfactorily. Mr. Edmund Edmunds made a promising debut as Rumpelstiltskin. His singing and acting are alike good, and the character is perfectly made up. Mr. Joseph Robins, who plays the mother of Roseken (the Miller’s wife), is very droll, and his part as a witness at the trial is admirably done. Broad as it is, the habitues of law courts will recognise in it the fruit of faithful study or that class of witness who are the plague of barristers. Mr. W.H. Stephens, as the King, and Mr. Wagstaff, as Goldensticken, his usher, were amusing. In the second scene, which is the Exterior of Jolinosio’s Miss Rosina Wright, aided by a strong corps de ballet, executes some of the most graceful dances we have seen for some time. In scene four the Miller’s daughter is put on her trial as a gold spinner, and she accomplishes the task most completely, sheets of gold spreading over the floor and all around as she turns her wheel, and the Hall of the Palace suddenly changing its exterior appearance t represent the same metal. Scene five is pretty, but unpretentious. Scene six, not as much for scenic effect as for parody of a trial which takes place in it, is the best of them all. Author, actors, and actresses have continued to make it so, and it is the best one of its character we have witnessed. It leads up to the “Abode of Golden Gilt,” and a well-delivered epilogue by Mrs. Selby, followed by a general dance, terminates this capital extravaganza.
‘We deeply regret to have to add that a sad circumstance, which took place on the first night, rendered the task of the ladies and gentlemen on the stage one of peculiar difficulty, and had scarcely less effect on the audience. Mr. H. Seymour, who made his first appearance in the character of the Miller, was seized with a fit that terminated fatally. Mrs. Selby, with much natural feeling and emotion, announced the fact to the audience. Mr. Phelps took up the character, and has continued to play it since. Mr. Burnand also, when called before the curtain, alluded to the sad circumstance under which the latter part of his work had for the first time been played. Mr. Phelps has now studied the part, for which he was at first wholly unprepared, and the piece goes off amid enthusiastic demonstrations of approval.’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 3 April 1864, p.11b/c)