Posts Tagged ‘Blue Beard (burlesque)’

h1

Willie Edouin as ‘The Heathen Chinee,’ inspired by Bret Harte’s character, Ah Sin

June 10, 2014

Willie Edouin (1846-1908), English comic actor, as ‘The Heathen Chinee’ (based on Ah Sin, a character imagined by Bret Harte for a poem, first published in 1870) in Lydia Thompson‘s production of H.B. Farnie‘s burlesque, Blue Beard; or, the Mormon, the Maiden and The Little Militaire, first produced at Wallack’s Theatre, New York, 16 August 1871. After 30 performances the piece began a tour of the United States. Lydia Thompson’s production of Blue Beard, in which Willie Edouin appeared again as ‘The Heathen Chinee,’ was first seen in London at the Charing Cross Theatre on 19 September 1874. This pose shows Edouin stepping away from the playing cards which have just fallen out of his ‘Chinee’s’ long sleeve, as in Harte’s poem.
(carte de visite photo: Fradelle & Marshall, 230 & 246 regent Street, London, W, probably 1875)

Wallack’s Theatre, New York, Wednesday evening, 16 August 1871
‘MISS LYDIA THOMPSON and her new burlesque company commenced an engagement at Wallack’s Theatre on Wednesday evening, Aug. 16th, the house having been closed the two preceding evenings for rehearsals. Although the troupe had been announced to appear on Monday evening, the delay on the passage of the steamship Queen, which bore them to our shores and only arrived on Friday, the 11th inst., rendered it advisable that the opening should be postponed rather than risk a possibly imperfect performance, as the company had never, hitherto, acted together… . Willie Edouin created much hilarity by his grotesque acting of Corporal Zoug-Zoug. He walked with a gait which defies description, but which convulsed the audience with laughter. In the third scene he was introduced as a Heathen Chineee, which he personated in an excellent manner, singing a Chinese song, and performing a Chinese grotesque dance which met with great favor, being thrice re-demanded. He also, with [Harry] Beckett, presented in a realistic manner the celebrated game of euchre played by Ah Sin, as described by Bret Harte, which was rapturously received. His ping being made of India rubber became the vehicle of likewise creating much mirth… .’
(The New York Clipper, New York, Saturday, 26 August 1871, p. 166b)

Memphis Theatre, Memphis, Monday, 8 January 1872
‘This temple of the Muses was packed from pit to dome last evening by an enthusiastic and fashionable audience, on the occasion of the initial performance of the famous Lydia Thompson blondes, in the extravaganza called Blue Beard. From the rise until the fall of the curtain the troupe kept the audience in a roar of laughter. By way of change, a charming solo, duet or quartette would be introduced, all of which were sung in an artistic and operatic manner. Miss Thompson has lost none of her old-time playful abandonment. Last night she skipped and pirouetted through the part of ”Selim” with airy grace and bewitching sweetness. Burlesque holds its position on the stage as an amuser of the people, and, while it may not aim to accomplish lofty ends, it is still a form of entertainment that is harmless, and, at the same time, fruitful of much innocent enjoyment. Of burlesque, Miss Thompson is now the recognized exponent, and deserves thanks fo the admirable manner in which she has pleased eye and ear in Blue Beard. Next in importance to Miss Thompson in the success of the troupe if Mr. Harry Becket, whose ”make up” and acting as the polygamous ”Blue Beard” presented the same rare appreciation of the broadly humorous which has always characterized his art labors. Willie Edouin, too, as ”Corporal Zoug Zoug” and the ”Heathen Chinee,” also came in for a large share of applause, and, indeed, the entire company appears to be one that will work harmoniously together and be the source of much entertainment to the theater-going public. Two points in Miss Thompson’s characterization were remarkable. One was her interpritation of the song, ”His Heart was True to his Poll,” which was full of an energetic humor for which we did not give her credit; the other was her personal appearance as the ”Shepherd boy,” wheein she looked as though was had strayed out of one of Virgil’s eclogues, with the bloom of the pastoral age upon her. Blue Beard will be presented again this evening.’
(The Public Ledger, Memphis, Tennessee, Tuesday, 9 January 1872, p. 2c-d)

Academy of Music, Charleston, Thursday, 4 April, 1872
‘THE LYDIA THOMPSON TROUPE.
‘A Crowded Audience and a Brilliant Initial Performance.
‘The beautiful burlesquers of Miss Lydia Thompson’s new troupe took simultaneous possession of the Academy of Music and the hearts of its crowded audience at their initial performance last evening. The merry travestie upon the doleful legend of Blue Beard was irresistibly comical, and, with its rollicking humor, its excruciating puns, and its accompaniments of charming dresses and lovely forms, it brought down the house. Miss Lydia Thompson was the jauntiest of sous-lieutenants; Miss Eliza Weathersby, the jauntiest of O’Shabacacs, and Miss Nellie Kamp the pearl of pages. We give place aux dames, as it our duty, but the success of the evening was won by Willie Edouin, the Heathen Chinese, whose euchre scene from the tale of Truthful James was applauded to the echo. To-night will be given the legend of the love-lorn Lurline.’
(The Charleston News, Charleston, South Carolina, Friday, 5 April 1872, p. 3c)

Charing Cross Theatre, London, 19 September 1874
‘Mr Willie Edouin, who re;resented a corporal and a ”Heathen Chinee,” is an extremely clever actor, but his performances are, we should say, a good deal too violet for English tastes. His ”Heathen Chinee,” however, is very much superior to his corporal. His dancing as the Chinee is little short of miraculous, and his antics generally are very laughable, though rather verging towards incontinent extravagance.’
(The Examiner, London, Saturday, 26 September 1874, p. 1056b)

‘… It would be impossible to find for Selim another impersonator as graceful and refined as Miss Lydia Thompson, or for Blue Beard a more humorous representative that Mr. Lionel Brough [replacing Harry Beckett]. But the American actors [sic], Mr. John Morris, who, in presence of the audience, transforms himself instantaneously from a young man to an old one, from man to woman, and from an old woman to a younger girl; and Mr. Willie Edouin, who plays the part of the ”Heathen Chinee,” and after a series of most grotesque performances cheats Blue Bear at euchre, could not be replaced at all. How these gentlemen ever got into the piece is a problem which cannot be solved by analysis. But there they are and there they are likely long to remain. Many playgoers, and a far greater number of non-playgoers, had been congratulating themselves on the fact that burlesque was dead; that it had at last given way to opera bouffe, which was, in its turn, to give way to opéra comique, so that in the end all fun of a farcical kind and set to music would disappear from the stage. This was neither possible nor desirable; and Miss Lydia Thompson’s experiment has shown that, with whatever violence burlesque may be driven out, it will return. No one, however, would have wished for its disappearance had the class in general been as free from vulgarity as it the individual specimen of it which Miss Lydia Thompson has now brought forward.’
(The Pall Mall Gazette, London, Monday, 26 October 1874, p. 10)

h1

Ada Lee, English actress and singer, sister of Jennie Lee

March 23, 2014

Ada Lee (1856?-1902) English music hall serio-comic and burlesque actress, as she appeared during 1871,1872 and 1873 in H.B. Farnie’s adaptation of Offenbach’s comic opera, Genevieve de Brabant, first produced at the Philharmonic Theatre, Islington, on 11 November 1871.
(carte de visite photo: Fradelle & Marshall, 230 & 246 Regent Street, London, W, 1871-1873)

Alhambra Palace music hall, Hull, week beginning Monday, 8 February 1869
‘Miss Ada Lee, a lady-like and pleasing serio-comic, meets with great applause in ”One a penny swells.”’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 14 February 1869, p. 12b)

‘Mr. EDITOR. – Sir, With reference to your favourable criticism of Jenny, in Kind to a Fault, I have much pleasure in informing you that my sister, ”Ada Lee,” kindly played the part to oblige me, until Saturday last, when I played it myself, according to previous arrangements. Trusting ou will insert this in justice to her, I remain, dear Sir, your faithfully, JENNY LEE. Royal Strand Theatre, August 11th [1870].’ (The Era, Sunday, 14 August 1870, p. 10c)

The Philharmonic Theatre, Islington, season commencing Monday, 2 October 1871
‘The second dramatic season of this theatre, under the management of Mr. Charles Morton, commenced on Monday evening… . True to its title, the Philharmonic puts forth music as the chief attraction in a remarkably rich bill of fare. The piece de resistance of the present season is a compressed version of Herve’s celebrated opera bouffe, Chilperic, produced under the direction of Miss Emily Soldene, who sustatins the principal character with that spirit and bright intelligence which, added to other gifts of nature and grace of person, have won for this lady a very distinguished place amongst the votaries of the lyric drama in London… . The other parts in the opera are for the most part very happily filled. The Fredegonde of Miss Selina [Dolaro], a lady endowed with a sweet pliant voice and most graceful appearance, is a very charming performance. Miss [Alice] Mowbray, as the High Priestess, Miss [Clara] Vesey as the Spanish Princess, and Miss Lenard as the hero’s sister-in-law, acquit themselves creditably both in acting and singing; whilst Miss Ada Lee and Miss Isabella Harold make very pretty ”pet pages” indeed …’
(The Standard, London, Friday, 6 October 1871, p. 3b)

Bush Street Theatre, San Francisco, 3 November 1879
‘The principal event of the week has been the production of The Magic Slipper by the Colville Opera company, who made their first appearance at the Bush-street Theatre, Nov. 3 to the largest audience of the season… . Miss Eme Roseau, the leading star of this organization, although a beautiful woman, cannot be congratulated on achieving a recognition for any attainments requisite for the position… . Miss Kate Everleigh made a handsome Prince, and might perhaps have scored a success had she been compelled to act the part in pantomime. Miss Ella Chapman nightly received a warm welcome for the sake of ”auld lang syne,” and bids fair to retain her former popularity, as she has already succeeded in dancing herself into the good graces of her audiences. Miss Ada Lee’s graceful bearing, and the charming and pleasing manner in which she portrayed the Prince’s secretary, have made her a favorite. The admiration this little lady excites is not one white lessened by the fact that she bears a great resemblance to her sister Jennie, and the she possesses the most shapely limbs ever seen here… .’
(The New York Clipper, New York, New York, Saturday, 22 November 1879, p. 274g)

Melbourne, Australia, 17 April 1884 – Opera House, Melbourne
‘Mr F.C. Burnand’s burlesque Blue Beard was produced at this theatre last (Easter) Monday. Miss Jennie Lee, Miss Ada Lee, and Mr Harry Taylor sustain the principal roles. The piece suffered much from imperfect rehearsal, and has not go in through going order yet.’
Melbourne, Australia, 21 April 1884 – Opera House, Melbourne
Blue Beard now runs smoothly and evenly. The various performances are at home in their roles, and the burlesque may have a good run. Miss Jennie Lee and Miss Ada Lee are the life and soul of the piece.’
(The Era, London, Saturday, 21 June 1884, p. 15c)

‘Miss Ada Lee has returned to London after an absence of several years in Australia and South Africa, having fulfilled successful engagements with Messrs Williamson and Musgrove, Brough and Boucicault, and Frank Thornton and Jennie Lee.’
(The Era, London, Saturday, 17 August 1895, p. 8c)

Ada Lee succumbed to the bubonic plague during a visit to Australia with the Charles Arnold Company, dying in Sydney on Saturday, 1 March 1902.