Posts Tagged ‘Augustus Harris’


Sophie Eyre, Irish born actress, photographed by Sarony, New York, circa 1885

January 18, 2015

Sophie Eyre (1853?-1892), Irish born dramatic Actress
(cabinet photo: Sarony, New York, circa 1885)

‘The death is announced at Naples, Italy, Nov. 5 [1892], of Sophie Eyre, the well known leading lady. She had been sojourning in that city, and succumbed to an attack of heart disease. Six years ago, Sophie Eyre told THE CLIPPER the story of her life. She was born Sophia Lillian Ryan, at Tipperary, Ire., about 1857, and was the daughter of Maj. Ryan. At the age of seventeen she married Maj. Lonsdale, of the Seventh English Hussars, and went with her husband to India, where, at nineteen, she became a widow. Returning to England, she followed an inclination, which, in an amateur way, had manifested itself while she was quite young, and adopted the stage. Her first professional appearance was made at the Theatre Royal, Portsmouth, Eng., in a small part, and she remained at that house six months. Then she went on a provincial tour in ”Diplomacy,” playing Zicka. The following season she made another tour of the English provinces, doing the lead and playing at all the principal theatres of Great Britain outside of London. The Summer of that year she filled in with the stock at the Torquay Theatre. About May, 1882, she went to London and made her debut June 17 at a special matinee at the Adelphi Theatre as Queen Anne in the historical play, ”The Double Rose,” after which Aug. Harris, of the Drury Lane Theatre, engaged her to support Ristori at his house. Then she signed with the management of the Adelphi, and appeared Nov. 18, 1882, in ”Love and Money.” Later she acted in ”Rachel the Reaper,” after which she returned to the Drury Lane. On March 5, 1884, she created the title role in Sydney Hodges’ ”Gabrielle” at the Gaiety Theatre, London. A few weeks later Lester Wallack engaged her for this country, and she made her American debut June 23, 1884, at Utica, N.Y., with the Wallack Co. in the title role of ”Lady Clare.” She traveled through the West, and in California, about January of 1885, she married Chauncey R. Winslow [1860-1909], a resident of Cincinnati, O. Her New York debut was accomplished Oct. 26, 1885, in ”In His Power,” at Wallack’s. The play was a failure, and was immediately withdrawn. Then Miss Eyre went on the road by arrangement with Mr. Wallack, at the head of Charles Frohman’s Co., playing ”La Belle Russe.” Later Miss Eyre had trouble with Mr. Wallack, and withdrew from the theatre. She was in 1888 divorced from Mr. Winslow, and had since married again.’
(The New York Clipper, New York, Saturday, 12 November 1892, p. 573b/c, with engraved portrait)

* * * * *

‘Kyrle Bellew, Mr. Wallack’s latest imported leading man, is also an ex-Australian… . He has put Mr. Wallack in an unpleasant predicament. Miss Sophie Eyre was engaged for leading parts this season and Mr. Bellew absolutely refuses to play with her on the ground that she is too large and would spoil his appearance on the stage. So much for having a petted actor in a company… .’
(Newark Daily Advocate, Newark, Ohio, 11 December 1885, p. 3c)


Florence Dysart as Maid Marion in the pantomime, Babes in the Wood and Robin Hood and his Merry Men, produced at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London, on 26 December 1888

May 3, 2014

Florence Dysart (active 1881-1897), English mezzo-soprano and actress, as she appeared as the principal girl, Maid Marion in the pantomime Babes in the Wood and Robin Hood and his Merry Men, which was produced at the Drury Lane Theatre, on Boxing night, 26 December 1888.
(cabinet photo: The London Stereoscopic & Photographic Co Ltd, London, 1888)

‘TEN MINUTES’ CHAT WITH AUGUSTUS DRURIOLANUS [i.e. Augustus Harris, manager of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane].
‘I risked my life in order to catch Mr. Harris, for I arrived at the stage door in the middle of the great scene in The Armada, and when I reached the stage soon began to feel as helpless as a straw in a maelström. I was driven hither by perspiring men-at-arms, and thither by panting halberdiers, shoved here by the blowing scene-shifters and there by gallant knights, glared at by beetle-browed Spaniards, glowered at by Elizabethan jacks, nearly spitted by the professional rippers [a reference to Jack the Ripper]of the period, crushed by the tumbling masts, blinded by the flash of musketry, and deafened by the cannon’s roar. So I was glad to find myself in the Harrisian haven, a cosy little den, from which the great Druriolanus directs his many enterprises.
”’Well, Mr. Harris, how is the pantomime getting on, and what is it to be?”
”’Jack the Giant K——, Babes in the Wood, I mean, replied Druriolanus, who had forgotten for the moment.
”’Will the Babes beat the record?”
”’The Babes will beat the record.”
”In what way, Mr. Harris? More money, more spectacle?”
”People seem to think that a successful pantomime is only a matter of money, It is a great mistake. You can’t make an omelette without eggs, of course, but many an omelette has been spoiled notwithstanding the sacrifice of a good many good eggs.”
”’Your refer to brains, Mr. Harris?” Mr. Harris refused to answer; but a smile played about his swarthy countenance, and he, blushing in his confusion, began to take to pieces a little camera, with which he photographs designs and scenery.
”’There is no doubt that money spent on a pantomime without brains might as well be thrown into the gutter.”
”’Well, now, tell me, Mr. Harris, when do you begin to thank about pantomimes?”
”’Last January I fixed on the Babes, and began to make arrangements for my book, my business, my stars, my properties, and my sensations.”
”’Which are ——?”
”’My big scene will be the ‘Ballet of Birds,’ the most beautiful thing I have ever done. You smile. Ha! because I told you that last year, eh? You bow. But don’t I tell you that every year I try to beat the record? So it will be more beautiful than ever. The birds will be selected for their splendid plumage. Birds of Paradise, birds of Japan, birds of the East – but there, you can imagine the stage filled with hundreds of feathered things.” Without knowing, I should prophesy that Mr. Harris will invent a good many specimens unknown to ornithologists, such as birds with tails of diamond sprays, with golden beaks, silver legs, ruby eyes, and so on.
”’Any other sensation, Mr. Harris?”
”’Well, I think I have got a novelty which will be very attractive. When the ‘Babes’ go into the wood, the wood will move with them. As they lose themselves the forest gets thicker, the scrub denser, until they reach the gloomiest glade of the forest, when they lie down and die. I have tried to get this effect for four years, but only now have I succeeded. The machinery is made abroad.”
”’Who are the ‘Babes’?”
Mr. Harry Nicholls and Mr. Herbert Campbell. Mdme. Ænea is Robin Redbreast, Miss Harriet Vernon is ‘the’ boy, and Miss Florence Dysart the leading lady.”
”’And your danseuse?”
”’Well, the pantomime public doesn’t care about the ballet in the sense that the word is used – I mean too much dancing.”
”’Nevertheless I suppose you will have a good many ladies on the stage?”
”’A few hundreds,” replied Mr. Harris, with nonchalance.
”’I suppose you are overwhelmed with applications?”
”From all parts of the country, for months past. The process of selection takes some time and trouble, I can tell you. When a girl writes we ask her to send her photo and previous experience, and all the letters are carefully sifted. I need not tell you that all sorts of dodges are tried in order to secure an engagement. A young lady may squint, in which case she would probably send me the photo of her sister or her friend. Or she may have only one eye, and request the photographer to add the other. What I do is to sift the photos, and I have letters written to the likely ones requesting them to be at the theatre on a certain day. They come and are marched on to the stage. I then arrange them in regiments, putting them into little squadrons of all and small, and fair and dark, and comely and otherwise. With my secretary I then go through them, having already sampled them, so to speak. We have their letters, and as we pass each one I say to the secretary, ‘A,’ ‘B,’ ‘C,’ ‘D,’ ‘E,’ &c., each of the letters having a special significance. This done, we then write to the selected ones. I need not tell you that this is a very important business which I always do myself.”
”’Have you many children in the pantomime this year?”
”’Not many. The children are a great deal of trouble.” The the joy bells began ringing, and Mr. Harris took me to see the grand procession in the Armada.’
(The Pall Mall Gazette, London, Tuesday, 4 December 1888, p. 6a)


Ada Neilson as Queen Elizabeth I in The Armada, Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London, 1888

November 13, 2013

Ada Neilson (1846-1905), English actress, specialising in ‘leavy leads,’ as she appeared as Queen Elizabeth I in Henry Hamilton and Augustus Harris’s romantic play, The Armada, produced at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London, on 22 September 1888.
(cabinet photo: Elliott & Fry, 55 Baker Street, London, W, and 7 Gloucester Terrace, London, SW, 1888)

‘DRURY LANE. – AUGUSTUS HARRIS, Lessee and Manager.
‘Will REOPEN on SATURDAY, 22d September, with a New Grand Spectacular Drama, entitled
‘THE ARMADA: A Romance of 1588.
‘Winifred Emery, Edith Bruce, Kate James, Ada Neilson, and Maud Milton; Leonard Boyne, Luigi Lablache, Edward Gardiner, Victor Stephens, A Beaumont, Mervin, Dallas, Stanislaus, Calhaem, B. Robins, F. Dobel, Basil West, W. Wridge, F. Harrison, W. Winter, S. Dawson, FitzDavis, Parkes, H. Denvil, F. Thomas, and Harry Nicholls.’
(The Morning Post, London, Thursday, 6 September 1888, p. 4a, advertisement)

‘… Miss Ada Neilson was made up, with uncompromising realism, to Knoller’s picture, and acted just as Elizabeth Tudor may have been supposed to have acted in real life. Her sumptuous dress in the third act was one mass of gold embroidery and blaring gems… .’
(Reynold’s Newspaper, London, Sunday, 23 September 1888, p. 8d)

‘… Miss Ada Neilson, as Queen Elizabeth, looked the part to perfection; but her efforts to be impressive were too painfully marked… .’
(The Pall Mall Gazette, London, Monday, 24 September 1888, p. 6a)

‘Queen Elizabeth, in the reddest hair I ever saw, may be dressed – indeed, is dressed – in the costume of the period.
‘The gods, however, accept it as burlesque.
‘And when the red-headed monarch exclaims –
”’Play heaven my hair turn not grey.”
The aspiration is accepted as a very fine joke indeed… .
‘Elizabeth, Queen of England, has frequently been made the subject of burlesque.
‘No one who has yet attempted the character has been so successful as the present author.
‘However, ”no scandal about Queen Elizabeth.”
‘Miss Ada Neilson played the part.
‘And as she no doubt played to order it would be unfair to criticise her too severely… .’
(‘Flashes from the Footlights,’ The Licensed Victualler’s Mirror, London, Tuesday, 25 September 1888, p. 418c)


Maria Harris in the pantomime, Whittington and his Cat; or, Harlequin King Kollywobbal and the Genius of Good Humour, Princess’s Theatre, Oxford Street, 26 December 1861

October 12, 2013

Maria Harris (1851-1904), English actress, as she appeared as Dick Whittington in the pantomime, Whittington and his Cat; or, Harlequin King Kollywobbal and the Genius of Good Humour, which was produced at the Princess’s Theatre, Oxford Street, on 26 December 1861.
(carte de visite photo: Adolphe Beau, 283 Regent Street, London, W, 1861)

‘Miss Maria Harris, as Dick Whittington, achieved quite a triumph by her vivacity, humour, and archness.’
(The Sunday Times, London, Sunday, 29 December 1861, p. 3b)

Maria Harris (Maria Elizabeth Glossop) was born into a theatrical family in London on 13 January 1845, the eldest child of the actor and theatrical manager Augustus Glossop (who, following his imprisonment for bankruptcy in 1848, changed his name to Augustus Harris) (1825-1875) and his wife, Maria. Her brother was the theatrical impresario and dramatist Augustus Harris, who in 1879 became manager of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. Maria Harris made her debut at the Princess’s Theatre, Oxford Street, London, on 27 October 1860 in a revival of The First Night, a comic drama by Alfred Wigan. She was not married and died at Wilfred House, Long Acre, Covent Garden, on 31 January 1904.


The Chorus of Fairies in the burlesque Ariel

May 24, 2013

the chorus of fairies in the burlesque Ariel, Gaiety Theatre, London, 8 October 1883
(photo: unknown, London, 1883)

F.C. Burnand’s burlesque fairy drama Ariel, based on Shakespeare’s The Tempest, was produced at the Gaiety Theatre, London, on 8 October 1883. Nellie Farren undertook the title role and Arthur Williams appeared as Prospero.

‘To criticize Ariel at the Gaiety adversely, to pretend to say it was not the most brilliant production of this or any other age, to dare to hint that the loss of Mr. Edward Terry is most acutely felt, or that the Gaiety company is not what it was, would be to draw down on our devoted heads sarcastic advertisements in the daily Press [probably a reference to John Hollingshead, manager of the Gaiety and former journalist, who was an inveterate advertiser], the scorn of the leading comic paper, and the studied impertinence of the popular sporting oracles. To say that Ariel is written down to the intelligence of the typical masher is sufficient to say that it could not contain any definite sign of the merry geniality and robust humour of its author. It is not at all likely that the Johnnies and Chappies of the Gaiety brigade take the slightest interest in the art that The Theatre endeavours to foster and encourage, and it is mot certain that the directors and sympathizers with The Theatre differ toto cœlo from the Gaiety brigade. The world is wide enough to hold partisans of either school. It has been said, and unfairly said, that it takes a very heavy hammer to force a joke into a Scotchman’s head. The author of Ariel evidently thinks that the masher’s cranium is harder still, so he refuses to take the trouble to force a smile upon the sheep’s faces of an uninteresting crowd. To say that a burlesque is written for the special patrons of the Gaiety is enough to say that it is pap foot for overgrown infants of amiable temperaments and blameless exterior. The author of a criticism of Ariel in a comic paper, mainly devoted to ridiculing all who do not consider Ariel the most side-splitting and hilarious entertainment ever produced, professes himself as objecting to “gush.” Probably he omitted to revise the proofs of his article, for he does not practise what he preaches. Incidentally, however, he touches on a subject on which must has been said from time to time in these columns. He writes as follows:-
‘“Objecting to ‘gush’ as we do, we could wish that in the interest of true criticism the critics’ night were everywhere postponed until the third performance of any new piece.” We wonder if that opinion would have been changed if the “gush” had been ladled out pretty freely within a few hours of the first performance. As we have repeatedly pointed out, the production of a new burlesque or any other play is considered as news of the day, and treated accordingly by the conductors of newspapers. This is an implied compliment to the drama of every degree. If things go on as they are going on now, it is quite certain that the newspaper-reading public will no longer allow the news of the world to be postponed in favour of the recorded history of the latest melodrama or the newest burlesque. Newspaper space is valuable, and the burlesque that can wait three days to be criticized, may well wait for three weeks or any indefinite period. It is either news or the reverse; and it is surely a false policy to demand that recognition in the daily press of the country should be removed from what is now generally recognized. If the mashers like Ariel, if the management is satisfied, if the author is pleased and looks upon the production with pride, why, of course it must be good. Let the author take a leaf out of the book of Augustus Harris [manager of Drury Lane Theatre], and boldly advertise “By far the best burlesque I have ever been associated with!” An inelegant sentence, but in strict accord with managerial modesty. Cela va sans dire! There is no more to be said about it. But it is not beyond the regions of probability that even Miss [Nellie] Farren and her clever companions have from time to time given more favourable specimens of their art, although their popularity was never more strongly pronounced. The Gaiety is popular, Mr. [F.C.] Burnand is deservedly popular, the company is equally popular; but critics are not necessarily idiots because they consider the pubic time is occasionally wasted, or because they deplore the existence in the stalls of a steady contempt for all humour, a wretched hankering after the childish in art, and an inert materialism that is necessarily the opponent of fancy and imagination.’
(The Theatre, London, Monday, 1 November 1883, pp.271 and 272)


‘The Princess’s Rifles,’ 1859

March 15, 2013

a carte de visite photograph (a contemporary copy of a larger print) of ladies of ‘The Princess’s Rifles,’ who appeared in the pantomime Jack the Giant Killer; or, Harlequin King Arthur and Ye Knyghts of Ye Rounde Table, produced by Augustus Harris at the Princess’s Theatre, Oxford Street, London, at Christmas 1859 (photo: Camille Silvy, London, 1859/60;
retailed by Lacy, Theatrical Bookseller, 89 Strand, London, WC)

‘The distinguished corps, ”The Princess’s, Rifles,” whose evolutions have been the subject of such general admiration during the run of the Princess’s pantomime, have made a handsome volunteer offering of a silver cup to Mr. Augustus Harris, as a testimony to the courtesy and kindness he has evinced to the ladies of the ballet since the theatre has been under his management.’
(Reynolds’s Newspaper, London, Sunday, 11 March 1860, p. 5b)


Lena Merville

March 8, 2013

a cabinet photograph of Lena Merville (fl. late 19th/early 20th Century),
English born American actress and singer, in an unidentified role
(photo: Max Platz, Chicago, circa 1890)

Vulcan; or, the Hammer-ous Blacksmith, Opera Comique, London, Saturday, 18 March 1882 ‘Vulcan, the burlesque by Messrs. Edward Rose and Augustus Harris, is a version of the same author’s [sic] Venus, which was brought out at the Royalty Theatre on July 14, 1879… .
‘[Among the cast, which also included Robert Brough, Nellie Claremont, Kate Lovell, George Temple, Annie Robe, Lottie Harcourt and Julia Vokins,] Miss Lena Merville throws much life and spirit into her playing of Cupid, though she is too self-possessed, and plays at the audience in a most objectionable manner – a rapidly-growing fault amongst burlesque actresses, and one which should be discouraged… .’
(The Stage, London, Friday, 24 March 1882, p. 9a/b)

‘French farces on the order of [Georges Feydeau’s] The Girl from Maxim’s do not often visit Richmond. The Turtle and Self and Lady have been here, but that is about all in recent years. A fairly large audience went to the Academy last night to laugh, and they laughed heartily. Perhaps some went to be shocked, but they were probably disappointed. True, there are some things in the piece that are risque, but the play does not make them unduly obtrusive. The Praline, Lena Merville, is supposed to be the center of attraction, but somehow others won more favor. She worked hard, and really played the part well, although her singing was only ordinary. The character work of Joseph Allen, as Gen. Petypont, was excellent. So was that of John H. Armstrong, as Le Due, and Florence Gerald, as Mme. Petypont. W.H. Turner was also successful as Dr. Petypont. The company was a large one, and only a few were really weak.’
(The Times, Richmond, Virginia, Friday, 25 October 1901, p. 3f)

Lena Merville was among the mourners at the funeral of Alice Atherton (Mrs Willie Edouin), which took place at the Little Church Around the Corner, New York, on 7 February 1899.