Posts Tagged ‘Bessie Clayton’

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Jennie Opie as the Duchess of Della Volta, Australia, 1905

September 14, 2014

Jennie Opie (1871-1943), Australian contralto in comic opera and musical comedy as she appeared as the Duchess of Della Volta in a revival of La Fille du Tambour Major at the New Theatre Royal, Melbourne, 8 April 1905
(photo/postcard: Talma, Melbourne and Sydney, Australia, circa 1905)

Jennie Opie, whose real name was Jane Opie, was born in Wallaroo, South Australia on 24 March 1871. On 26 October 1895 she was married in Rugby, South Australia to Isaac Killicoat (1861-?) but their union did not last; they separated in 1898 and finally divorced in 1929. By that time Jennie Opie had been semi retired from the stage since about 1914, the year in which she advertised herself as the new proprietress of the Scotch Thistle Hotel, North Adelaide (The Mail, Adelaide, Saturday, 31 October 1914, p. 2s); she later became the licensee of the Botanic Hotel, Adelaide.

Jennie Opie, who began singing at the age of 13, spent much of her career on tour throughout Australia with the J.C. Williamson’s company, with whom she also made two trips to India. From the summer of 1905 she spent five years in America and was in San Francisco at the time of the earthquake in 1906. She appeared in New York at Daly’s Theatre from 3 December 1906 to 30 March 1907 in The Belle of Mayfairas Lady Chaldicott, the part originated in London by Maud Boyd. Other leading parts were played by Christie MacDonald, Bessie Clayton and Valeska Suratt, the latter playing the Duchess of Dunmow, the part originated in London by Camille Clifford.

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La Fille du Tambour Major revived at the New Theatre Royal, Melbourne, 8 April 1905.
‘The revival of La Fille du Tambour Major at the Theatre Royal was brought to a close on Saturday night [22 April 1905], after a successful run of a fortnight. The opera is so well known, or perhaps I should say, has been, as it is seldom heard nowadays, that is is unnecessary to describe the plot, and indeed there is very little plot to describe – it is of the simplest and most transparent kind, and it is certainly not n it that the opera relies for its popularity; but on its bright, rhythmical music, and the scope which it gives for picturesque dressing and effective ensembles. The production was notable for its excellent chorus, some numbers of which had to be repeated each night, and the beautiful minuet introduced in the second act. In the latter the dancers look as if they had stepped straight off a beautiful Dresden china plate. The colouring was most lovely – a pale pink and pale blue: the gallants in knee-breeches, old-fashioned coats and waistcoats, and the ladies in full short skirts and low-necked lace bodices, and carrying which ostrich feather fans. All wore white curled wigs. The minuet also received nightly a well-deserved encore. Miss Jessie Ramsay, as La Fille du Tambour Major, looked very pretty, and acted her part well; her voice is pleasant, but was hardly big enough for the theatre. Miss Jennie Opie made a very handsome Duchess Della Volta, gowned first in a beautiful white satin ball dress, trimmed with deep yellow roses, and afterwards in a most becoming russet brown velvet riding habit, and large brown velvet hat, with which ostrich plume. Miss Maud Thornton as Griolet, the little drummer boy, acted with great vivacity and abandon. She looked very taking in her drummer-boy costume, and her drum solo was much appreciated. She has a good voice, but had very few opportunities in which to display it. Mr. Con Burrow made a rollicking Tambour Major, his sallies being greeted with much laughter. Mr. George Majeroni, as the Duc Della Volta, and Mr. John Wallace, as the Marquis Bambini, were also very amusing. The staging was excellent, the scenery having been specially painted by Mr. Rege Robins; the costumes were designed by Mr. T.J. Jackson. A full orchestra was conducted by Mr. Edward Hanstein; the whole production being under the direction of Mr. A. M’Nicol Turner.’
(Rowena, ‘Melbourne Lady’s Letter,’ The Town and Country Journal, Sydney, NSW, Australia, Wednesday, 26 April 1905, p. 40b)

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Lillian Russell

April 11, 2013

Lillian Russell (1860/61-1922), American beauty and former star of comic opera in burlesque for the first time in Whirl-i-gig, Weber and Fields’s Broadway Music Hall, New York, 21 September 1899
(photo: Dana Studios, New York and Brooklyn, circa 1895)

‘BURLESQUE IN NEW YORK.
(From Our Own Correspondent.)
‘”Whirligig, a dramatic conundrum in two guesses,” the second “guess” being “The Girl from Martin’s [sic] [i.e. The Girl from Maxim’s]; a bit of a fling at the Parisian comedy craze,” formed the opening programme at Weber and Field’s Broadway Music Hall, on the 21st inst., and drew such a big crowd that the little house was packed to the doors. Every seat in the house had been sold by auction at a high premium, two boxes having fetched $250 each. The jokes and comic scenes of the new offerings were by Edgar Smith, the lyrics by Harry B. Smith, and the music by John Stromberg. In Whirligig the authors have adhered to their regular methods in providing a story which has no particular point or moral, but gives opportunity for the introduction of witty absurdities, droll humour, plenty of music, gay costumes, and pretty girls. Messrs Joe Weber and “Lew” Fields are again seen as a pair of fun -making Germans who lose themselves in a labyrinthian [sic] dialogue of broken English, and have a knack of getting into trouble and involving others in their tribulations. The former is introduced as Herman Dillpickel, inventor of the Flotascope, “a machine for throwing living pictures on the native air,” and the latter as Wilhelm Hochderkaiser, an architect with plans for a jail possessing all the comforts of home. An important feature of the programme was the début in burlesque of Lillian Russell, who, in America, bears the undisputed title of “Queen of Comic Opera,” and whose salary at this music hall is said to be $1,500 per week. Miss Russell, who received an ovation on her entry, figured prominently in the first part as Mdlle. Fifi Coo-Coo, Queen of Bohemia, and The Girl from Martin’s [sic], a burlesque on the Feydeau farce (a burlesque on a farce is surely a novelty) now running at the Criterion here, as the frisky young person who finds herself in the wrong bed. Doubts of Lillian Russell’s popularity in burlesque were dispelled at the outset, for she adapted herself admirably to the new surroundings, and acted the burlesque scenes as though travesty, instead of comic opera, had been for forte for years. She presented a handsome appearance in a richly embroidered cream white gown, a crimson velvet hat with feathers of exaggerated dimensions, scarlet lingerie, and red slippers with diamond buckles. Miss Russell had two good songs, “The Queen of Bohemia” and “The Brunette Soubrette.”
‘The Queen of Bohemia fascinates Mr Sigmund Cohenski, a wealthy Hebrew gentleman. This latter rôle fell to “Dave” Warfield, who gave another of his inimitable character studies. A flirtation scene between these two, a clever travesty of the Marquis of Steyne incident in Becky Sharp, was one of the best things in the show. Peter Dailey appeared as Josh Boniface, the prosperous proprietor of a hotel in the suburbs of Paris, in the first part, the chorus girls being his waitresses and a chambermaids, and as General Petitpois, in the after-piece. According to precedent Mr Dailey sang a new coon song with a catchy melody wedded to it, and, also according to precedent, it was encored half a dozen times.
‘As Captain Kingsbridge, of the U.S. Navy, Charles Ross had a taking sea song, and a travesty of a scene in Miss Hobbs, with Irene Perry in Annie Russell’s rôle, which were sung and acted with charming grace and humour. John T. Kelly was Harold Gilhooly, “with a life story and a trained bear.” As an Italian with a Hibernian dialect he was exceedingly funny, and the comic pantomime of George Ali as Bruno, the bear, was very diverting. In the burlesque of The Girl from Maxim’s Mr Kelly was the idiotic Duke de Swellfront, with varnished hair; Weber and Fields were the ferocious duellists, Sarsaparilla and Tarroller; Dave Warfield, Dr. Fromage; and Lillian Russell, Praline. Some of the things that have been expurgated from the adaptation of the French farce at the Criterion seemed to have crept into the travesty of it, some of the episodes being of a pretty reckless character. The costumes were exceptionally handsome, and the richness of the stage pictures has been rarely excelled. Miss Hilbon, the little daughter of Bessie Bonehill, played a small part acceptably, and the Misses Mabel and Lulu Nichols as Madame Petitpois, “addicted to splits,” and the Duchess De Swellfront, the Duke’s mamma, respectively, increased the fun at every opportunity. Bessie Clayton’s sprightly and novel dance made a big hit. There were the usual enthusiastic demonstrations at the close, the stage being crowded with floral offerings of all shapes and sizes. Newly decorated and improved, the music hall now ranks among the most tastefully appointed amusement houses on Broadway.’
(The Era, London, Saturday 7 October 1899, p.9e)

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April 11, 2013

Lillian Russell (1860/61-1922), American beauty and former star of comic opera in burlesque for the first time in Whirl-i-gig, Weber and Fields’s Broadway Music Hall, New York, 21 September 1899
(photo: Dana Studios, New York and Brooklyn, circa 1895)

‘BURLESQUE IN NEW YORK.
(From Our Own Correspondent.)
’“Whirligig, a dramatic conundrum in two guesses,” the second “guess” being “The Girl from Martin’s [sic] [i.e. The Girl from Maxim’s]; a bit of a fling at the Parisian comedy craze,” formed the opening programme at Weber and Field’s Broadway Music Hall, on the 21st inst., and drew such a big crowd that the little house was packed to the doors. Every seat in the house had been sold by auction at a high premium, two boxes having fetched $250 each. The jokes and comic scenes of the new offerings were by Edgar Smith, the lyrics by Harry B. Smith, and the music by John Stromberg. In Whirligig the authors have adhered to their regular methods in providing a story which has no particular point or moral, but gives opportunity for the introduction of witty absurdities, droll humour, plenty of music, gay costumes, and pretty girls. Messrs Joe Weber and “Lew” Fields are again seen as a pair of fun -making Germans who lose themselves in a labyrinthian [sic] dialogue of broken English, and have a knack of getting into trouble and involving others in their tribulations. The former is introduced as Herman Dillpickel, inventor of the Flotascope, “a machine for throwing living pictures on the native air,” and the latter as Wilhelm Hochderkaiser, an architect with plans for a jail possessing all the comforts of home. An important feature of the programme was the début in burlesque of Lillian Russell, who, in America, bears the undisputed title of “Queen of Comic Opera,” and whose salary at this music hall is said to be $1,500 per week. Miss Russell, who received an ovation on her entry, figured prominently in the first part as Mdlle. Fifi Coo-Coo, Queen of Bohemia, and The Girl from Martin’s [sic], a burlesque on the Feydeau farce (a burlesque on a farce is surely a novelty) now running at the Criterion here, as the frisky young person who finds herself in the wrong bed. Doubts of Lillian Russell’s popularity in burlesque were dispelled at the outset, for she adapted herself admirably to the new surroundings, and acted the burlesque scenes as though travesty, instead of comic opera, had been for forte for years. She presented a handsome appearance in a richly embroidered cream white gown, a crimson velvet hat with feathers of exaggerated dimensions, scarlet lingerie, and red slippers with diamond buckles. Miss Russell had two good songs, “The Queen of Bohemia” and “The Brunette Soubrette.”
‘The Queen of Bohemia fascinates Mr Sigmund Cohenski, a wealthy Hebrew gentleman. This latter rôle fell to “Dave” Warfield, who gave another of his inimitable character studies. A flirtation scene between these two, a clever travesty of the Marquis of Steyne incident in Becky Sharp, was one of the best things in the show. Peter Dailey appeared as Josh Boniface, the prosperous proprietor of a hotel in the suburbs of Paris, in the first part, the chorus girls being his waitresses and a chambermaids, and as General Petitpois, in the after-piece. According to precedent Mr Dailey sang a new coon song with a catchy melody wedded to it, and, also according to precedent, it was encored half a dozen times.
‘As Captain Kingsbridge, of the U.S. Navy, Charles Ross had a taking sea song, and a travesty of a scene in Miss Hobbs, with Irene Perry in Annie Russell’s rôle, which were sung and acted with charming grace and humour. John T. Kelly was Harold Gilhooly, “with a life story and a trained bear.” As an Italian with a Hibernian dialect he was exceedingly funny, and the comic pantomime of George Ali as Bruno, the bear, was very diverting. In the burlesque of The Girl from Maxim’s Mr Kelly was the idiotic Duke de Swellfront, with varnished hair; Weber and Fields were the ferocious duellists, Sarsaparilla and Tarroller; Dave Warfield, Dr. Fromage; and Lillian Russell, Praline. Some of the things that have been expurgated from the adaptation of the French farce at the Criterion seemed to have crept into the travesty of it, some of the episodes being of a pretty reckless character. The costumes were exceptionally handsome, and the richness of the stage pictures has been rarely excelled. Miss Hilbon, the little daughter of Bessie Bonehill, played a small part acceptably, and the Misses Mabel and Lulu Nichols as Madame Petitpois, “addicted to splits,” and the Duchess De Swellfront, the Duke’s mamma, respectively, increased the fun at every opportunity. Bessie Clayton’s sprightly and novel dance made a big hit. There were the usual enthusiastic demonstrations at the close, the stage being crowded with floral offerings of all shapes and sizes. Newly decorated and improved, the music hall now ranks among the most tastefully appointed amusement houses on Broadway.’
(The Era, London, Saturday 7 October 1899, p.9e)