Posts Tagged ‘Criterion Theatre (London)’

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Fay Davis as Monica Blayne in The Tree of Knowledge, St. James’s Theatre, London, 1897

February 1, 2015

Fay Davis (1869-1945), American actress, as Monica Blayne in R.C. Carton’s play, The Tree of Knowledge, produced by and starring George Alexander at the St. James’s Theatre, London, on 25 October 1897.
(cabinet photo: Alfred Ellis, 20 Upper Baker Street, London, NW, negative no. 23806-1a, which appears to be a cropped version of negative no. 23806-1, which is described in the copyright registration form submitted by Alfred Ellis on 29 April 1897 as ‘Photograph, panel [i.e. 8 ½ x 4 in.] of Miss Fay Davis … Three quarter length standing figure, with hat on, leaning against cabinet.’)

Fay Louise Davis was born in Houlton, Maine, Massachusetts, on 15 December 1869, the youngest child of Asa T. Davis (1830-?), the proprietor of an express line, and his wife, Mary F. (nèe Snell, 1835-?). She visited England for the first time in 1895, arriving at Southampton on board the S.S. Columbia on 16 May. Introduced to London society by Edith Bigelow (first wife of the noted American journalist and author, Poulteney Bigelow), she soon received an offer from Charles Wyndham to join his company at the Criterion Theatre, London. Her first appearance was there as Zoë Nuggetson in The Squire of Dames, a comedy adapted by R.C. Carton from the French, produced on 5 November 1895. Her immediate success brought further offers, including the part of Fay Zuliani (photographed by Alfred Ellis) opposite George Alexander in A.W. Pinero’s comedy, The Princess and the Butterfly; or, The Fantastics, produced at the St. James’s Theatre, London, on 29 March 1897.

Miss Davis was married at the home of Mrs Frank M. Linnell, 61 Columbia Road, Dorchester, Boston, Massachusetts, on 23 May 1906, to the English actor manager, Gerald Lawrence (1873-1957). The latter’s first wife, whom he had married in 1897, was the actress Lilian Braithwaite, who obtained a divorce from him in November 1905.

Fay Davis’s final professional appearance was as Mary Dawson in Vivian Tidmarsh’s ‘unusual comedy,’ Behind the Blinds, produced at the Winter Garden Theatre, London, on 10 October 1938, in which her husband played Richard Dawson.

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Beatrice Ferrar, Miss M.A. Victor and George Giddens in the revival of Oliver Goldsmith’s comedy, She Stoops to Conquer; or, The Mistakes of a Night, Haymarket Theatre, London, 9 January 1900

January 30, 2014

Beatrice Ferrar (1876-1958) as Miss Neville, Miss M.A. Victor (1831-1907) as Mrs Hardcastle and George Giddens (1845-1920) as Tony Lumpkin in the revival of Oliver Goldsmith’s comedy, She Stoops to Conquer; or, The Mistakes of a Night, produced at the Haymarket Theatre, London, on 9 January 1900.
(cabinet photo: Window & Grove, 63a Baker Street, London W, 1900)

‘Messrs. [Frederick] Harrison and [Cyril] Maud’s projected series of revivals of standard English comedies at the Haymarket made an auspicious commencement on Tuesday evening with She Stoops to Conquer. Goldsmith’s masterpiece was, on the whole, a judicious choice for the opening production, for there has been no performance of this play in London of any importance since the revivals at the Vaudeville and the Criterion in the spring of 1890. That delightful actress, Miss Winifred Emery [Mrs Cyril Maude], who was the Miss Hardcastle of the former occasion, now returns to the part, and plays it, as will be expected, with a more sustained vivacity and finesse than in her more juvenile days. Mr. Giddens, who was the Tony Lumpkin of Mr. [Charles] Wyndham’s cast, now repeats his richly humourous and forcible impersonations of the loutish young Squire. Miss M.A. Victor as Mrs. Hardcastle, and Mr. Sydney Valentine as Diggory, are also distinguished recruits from the Criterion cast. Conspicuous among the now-comers is Mr. Cyril Maude, who breaks the tradition of his part by emphasising the peevishness and irritability of Mr. Hardcastle at the expense of his more genial qualities. The change, though it took the spectator somewhat by surprise, was not unwelcome, and it must be confessed that Mr. Maude’s portrait is drawn by a master-hand. Young Marlow finds an excellent representative in Mr. Paul Arthur, the young American actor, whose recent performance of the Prince in Captain Marshall’s clever and fanciful comedy [A Royal Family] at the Court Theatre, has won for him so large a tribute of praise. Miss Beatrice Ferrar and Mr. Graham Browne are respectively the Miss Neville and Hastings of the cast. The comedy, which is acted throughout with a spirit and precision of touch that auger well for the management’s experiment, was received with great cordiality.’
(The Graphic, London, Saturday, 13 January 1900, p. 54)

‘… Mr George Giddens gave us a genuinely rough and rural Tony Lumpkin, a real bit of boorish aristocracy, unforced, unexaggerated, but in the richest and rarest vein of low comedy… Miss M.A. Victor was exquisitely amusing, and, at the same time, perfectly easy and reposeful as Mrs Hardcastle. The part suited her exactly, and she gave a reading of it which delighted the audience greatly, and even added to Miss Victor’s extensive and intense popularity. Miss Beatirce Ferrar’s Miss Neville was younger and more hoydenish than is customary; but, in practice, this proved an advantage, and ”Neville’s” scuffles and combats with Tony sent the house into roars of laughter, and greatly assisted the success of the revival. In the more serious passages of the part Miss Ferrar showed how keenly acute she is by nice enunciation and by sufficiently subduing her vivacity… .’

(The Era, London, Saturday, 13 January 1900, p. 13d)

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Lottie Montal in London, 1874

September 10, 2013

Lottie Montal (née Louise Felicie Augustine Jean, 1851-1933), Parisian-born singer, at the time of her appearances at the Alhambra, Leicester Square, London, in 1874.
(cabinet photo: The London Stereoscopic & Photographic Co Ltd, London, 1874. Please note that this photograph has suffered water damage.)

In 1874 Miss Montal was married in London as his third wife to the French-born touring violinist, Horace Remy Poussard (1829-1898). In 1887 Miss Montal was married in New Zealand to Wynne Aubrey MacLean (1857-1890). After his death she lived for a while in London, where she taught singing. She died in London on 13 October 1933.

The Alhambra, Leicester Square, London, week beginning 3 August 1874
‘The Alhambra was crowded to repletion on Monday. The herione in The Pretty Perfumeress, recently played by Miss Kate Santley, is now personated by Miss Lottie Montal, an arch, bright-eyed, clever little lady from Australia, who sings nicely and acts charmingly.’
(Reynold’s Newspaper, London, Sunday, 9 August 1874, p. 5d)

The Alhambra, Leicester Square, London, week beginning 10 August 1874
‘Notwithstanding the repeated statement that everybody is out of town, we found a large assemblage at the Alhambra on Monday evening, so that it is evident the programme must have especial attractions for those who have not yet gone to the seaside, hillside, moorside, or lakeside… . Filling the place of Miss Kate Santley as Rose Michou, the heroine of Offenbach’s opera bouffe La Jolie Parfumeuse, we have an Australian prima donna, new to the London boards, by name Miss Lottie Montal. It was singular to notice, in one scene especially, the remarkable similarity in Miss Lottie Montal’s conception of the character to that of Miss Kate Santley. We are not aware whether this was intentional or accidental, but the result was the same, and the likeness went far to secure the favour of the audience, apart from Miss Montal’s own claims, which, personal and otherwise, are considerable. With a graceful figure and remarkably easy action Miss Montal combines pleasing features, eminently calculated to add to charm to such a character as that she is now depicting. Her voice is not powerful, neither has it the finest quality of tone, but one great merit belongs to it, which is not likely to pass unappreciated in opera bouffe, it is very flexible, enabling the fair owner to execute any florid passages with great ease. This was noticeable in the drinking song of the second act, one of the prettiest melodies of La Jolie Parfumeuse, in which Miss Montal revealed her best qualities as a singer. The song was rendered with much sparkle, dash, and vivacity, and was deservedly encored. In many other instances Miss Montal was entitled to very sincere congratulations, and the more she becomes accustomed to the large area of the Alhambra the more successful we believe she will be. The somewhat ”risky” scene of the second act, considerably toned down since the first night, leaves nothing at present to offend the fastidious, which (thanks to the droller of Mr [Harry] Paulton, who aids Miss Montal admirably here) it is full of fun. The lady, greatly to her credit, resists the temptation to make the incident too suggestive, and we feel grateful. It might easily be played so as to ”make the unskilful laugh,” but it would certainly tend ”to make the judicious grieve,” and Miss Montal’s judgment in leaving well – or ill – alone must be highly commended… .’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 16 August 1874, p. 11a)

Following her engagement at the Alhambra, Miss Montal was due to appear at the Criterion Theatre, London, but illness intervened.

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Lottie Montal at the Alhambra, Leicester Square, London, 1874

September 10, 2013

Lottie Montal (née Louise Felicie Augustine Jean, 1851-1933), Parisian-born singer, at the time of her appearances at the Alhambra, Leicester Square, London, in 1874.
(cabinet photo: The London Stereoscopic & Photographic Co Ltd, London, 1874. Please note that this photograph has suffered water damage.)

In 1874 Miss Montal was married in London as his third wife to the French-born touring violinist, Horace Remy Poussard (1829-1898). In 1887 Miss Montal was married in New Zealand to Wynne Aubrey MacLean (1857-1890). After his death she lived for a while in London, where she taught singing. She died in London on 13 October 1933.

The Alhambra, Leicester Square, London, week beginning 3 August 1874
‘The Alhambra was crowded to repletion on Monday. The herione in The Pretty Perfumeress, recently played by Miss Kate Santley, is now personated by Miss Lottie Montal, an arch, bright-eyed, clever little lady from Australia, who sings nicely and acts charmingly.’
(Reynold’s Newspaper, London, Sunday, 9 August 1874, p. 5d)

The Alhambra, Leicester Square, London, week beginning 10 August 1874
‘Notwithstanding the repeated statement that everybody is out of town, we found a large assemblage at the Alhambra on Monday evening, so that it is evident the programme must have especial attractions for those who have not yet gone to the seaside, hillside, moorside, or lakeside… . Filling the place of Miss Kate Santley as Rose Michou, the heroine of Offenbach’s opera bouffe La Jolie Parfumeuse, we have an Australian prima donna, new to the London boards, by name Miss Lottie Montal. It was singular to notice, in one scene especially, the remarkable similarity in Miss Lottie Montal’s conception of the character to that of Miss Kate Santley. We are not aware whether this was intentional or accidental, but the result was the same, and the likeness went far to secure the favour of the audience, apart from Miss Montal’s own claims, which, personal and otherwise, are considerable. With a graceful figure and remarkably easy action Miss Montal combines pleasing features, eminently calculated to add to charm to such a character as that she is now depicting. Her voice is not powerful, neither has it the finest quality of tone, but one great merit belongs to it, which is not likely to pass unappreciated in opera bouffe, it is very flexible, enabling the fair owner to execute any florid passages with great ease. This was noticeable in the drinking song of the second act, one of the prettiest melodies of La Jolie Parfumeuse, in which Miss Montal revealed her best qualities as a singer. The song was rendered with much sparkle, dash, and vivacity, and was deservedly encored. In many other instances Miss Montal was entitled to very sincere congratulations, and the more she becomes accustomed to the large area of the Alhambra the more successful we believe she will be. The somewhat ”risky” scene of the second act, considerably toned down since the first night, leaves nothing at present to offend the fastidious, which (thanks to the droller of Mr [Harry] Paulton, who aids Miss Montal admirably here) it is full of fun. The lady, greatly to her credit, resists the temptation to make the incident too suggestive, and we feel grateful. It might easily be played so as to ”make the unskilful laugh,” but it would certainly tend ”to make the judicious grieve,” and Miss Montal’s judgment in leaving well – or ill – alone must be highly commended… .’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 16 August 1874, p. 11a)

Following her engagement at the Alhambra, Miss Montal was due to appear at the Criterion Theatre, London, but illness intervened.

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September 10, 2013

Lottie Montal (née Louise Felicie Augustine Jean, 1851-1933), Parisian-born singer, at the time of her appearances at the Alhambra, Leicester Square, London, in 1874.
(cabinet photo: The London Stereoscopic & Photographic Co Ltd, London, 1874. Please note that this photograph has suffered water damage.)

In 1874 Miss Montal was married in London as his third wife to the French-born touring violinist, Horace Remy Poussard (1829-1898). In 1887 Miss Montal was married in New Zealand to Wynne Aubrey MacLean (1857-1890). After his death she lived for a while in London, where she taught singing. She died in London on 13 October 1933.

The Alhambra, Leicester Square, London, week beginning 3 August 1874
‘The Alhambra was crowded to repletion on Monday. The herione in The Pretty Perfumeress, recently played by Miss Kate Santley, is now personated by Miss Lottie Montal, an arch, bright-eyed, clever little lady from Australia, who sings nicely and acts charmingly.’
(Reynold’s Newspaper, London, Sunday, 9 August 1874, p. 5d)

The Alhambra, Leicester Square, London, week beginning 10 August 1874
‘Notwithstanding the repeated statement that everybody is out of town, we found a large assemblage at the Alhambra on Monday evening, so that it is evident the programme must have especial attractions for those who have not yet gone to the seaside, hillside, moorside, or lakeside… . Filling the place of Miss Kate Santley as Rose Michou, the heroine of Offenbach’s opera bouffe La Jolie Parfumeuse, we have an Australian prima donna, new to the London boards, by name Miss Lottie Montal. It was singular to notice, in one scene especially, the remarkable similarity in Miss Lottie Montal’s conception of the character to that of Miss Kate Santley. We are not aware whether this was intentional or accidental, but the result was the same, and the likeness went far to secure the favour of the audience, apart from Miss Montal’s own claims, which, personal and otherwise, are considerable. With a graceful figure and remarkably easy action Miss Montal combines pleasing features, eminently calculated to add to charm to such a character as that she is now depicting. Her voice is not powerful, neither has it the finest quality of tone, but one great merit belongs to it, which is not likely to pass unappreciated in opera bouffe, it is very flexible, enabling the fair owner to execute any florid passages with great ease. This was noticeable in the drinking song of the second act, one of the prettiest melodies of La Jolie Parfumeuse, in which Miss Montal revealed her best qualities as a singer. The song was rendered with much sparkle, dash, and vivacity, and was deservedly encored. In many other instances Miss Montal was entitled to very sincere congratulations, and the more she becomes accustomed to the large area of the Alhambra the more successful we believe she will be. The somewhat “risky” scene of the second act, considerably toned down since the first night, leaves nothing at present to offend the fastidious, which (thanks to the droller of Mr [Harry] Paulton, who aids Miss Montal admirably here) it is full of fun. The lady, greatly to her credit, resists the temptation to make the incident too suggestive, and we feel grateful. It might easily be played so as to “make the unskilful laugh,” but it would certainly tend “to make the judicious grieve,” and Miss Montal’s judgment in leaving well – or ill – alone must be highly commended… .’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 16 August 1874, p. 11a)

Following her engagement at the Alhambra, Miss Montal was due to appear at the Criterion Theatre, London, but illness intervened.

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Marie Studholme in the United States, 1895/96

September 6, 2013

a colour lithograph cigarette card issued in the United States in 1895 by the P. Lorillard Company for its ‘Sensation’ Cut Plug tobacco with a portrait of Marie Studholme (1872-1930), English musical comedy actress and singer, at the time of her appearances in America in An Artist’s Model
(printed by Julius Bien & Co, lithographers, New York, 1895)

An Artist’s Model, Broadway Theatre, New York, 27 December 1895
An Artist’s Model, as presented last night by George Edwardes‘ imported company, was received with frequent applause, and many of the musical numbers were redemanded. Still it is difficult to understand why the piece should have made such a hit in England, or why it should have been found necessary to bring over an English company to interpret it for the delectation of American audiences… .
‘Marie Studholme, the Daisy Vane of the cast, is fully as pretty as she has been heralded to be. What is more to the point, she acts, sings, and dances with coquettish archness and charming vivacity.’
(The New York Dramatic Mirror, New York, New York, Saturday, 28 December 1895, p. 16c)

‘Another transfer from Broadway is that of An Artist’s Model, which goes to the Columbia immediately after the close of its term in this city. Brooklyn gets it with the London company intact, including a group of good vocalists, a set of competent comedians, and, perhaps above all, a prize beauty in Marie P. Studholme [sic], whose loveliness of person is an object of quite reasonable admiration.’
(The Sun, New York, New York, Sunday, 9 February 1896, p. 3b)

Columbia Theatre, Brooklyn, week beginning Monday, 10 February 1896
‘George Edwardes’ company, direct from the Broadway Theatre, appeared on Monday evening in An Artist’s Model. The bright, catchy songs, funny situations, and pretty girls caught the fancy of a large and fashionable audience, and encores were the order of the evening. Maurice Farkoa‘s laughing song was a great hit, and Marie Studholme’s pretty face and cut manners took the chappies completely by storm. Others were pleased were Nellie Stewart, Allison Skipworth, Christine Mayne, and Lawrence D’Orsay.’
(The New York Dramatic Mirror, New York, New York, Saturday, 15 February 1896, p. 16c)

* * * * *

‘MARIE STUDHOLME.
‘Said to Be the Most Beautiful Woman in England.
‘The present attraction at the Broadway theater, New York, is An Artist’s Model, and the most potent magnet of that successful production is Miss Marie Studholme, who is almost universally conceded to be the most beautiful woman in all England. She was quite popular in London, but it is safe to assert that she has received more newspaper notices during the two weeks she has been in this country than had ever been accorded to her in the whole course of her theatrical career.
‘Miss Studholme is a Yorkshire lass. She was born in a little hamlet known as Baildon, near Leeds, about twenty-two years ago. She was exceptionally pretty, even as a child, and, being possessed of considerable vocal and histrionic ability, it was decided that she should become in time a grand opera prima donna. To this end a thorough training was considered necessary, and Miss Studholme accordingly made her debut in Dorothy, singing the role of Lady Betty. Her next London engagement was in La Cigale, in which she had only a small part. She suffered from ill health at about this time and found it necessary to return to her native village to recoup.
‘After a very brief retirement Miss Studholme was lured back to the British metropolis by an offer of the character of the bride in Haste to the Wedding, at the Trafalgar theater [27 July 1892, 22 performances]. There here remarkable winsomness of manner was first notices by the newspapers. An engagement in Betsy at the Criterion [22 August 1892] followed, and again the fair young actress found it necessary to go home to win back her health and strength, which have since never failed her.
‘She soon returned to the Shaftesbury theater [13 April 1893], where Morocco Bound was the attraction. Here she enjoyed a positive triumph, having been successful in no less than three parts in the piece – those originally assigned to Violet Cameron and Jennie McNulty, besides her own. The enterprising and octopian George Edwardes, recognizing that the little beauty was also possessed of extraordinary versatility, immediately made Miss Studholme an offer to join his Gaity [i.e. Gaiety Theatre] company. This was accepted, and then the Morocco Bound syndicate made her a more tempting proposition to remain. She would have preferred to stay where she was in the changed circumstances, but the agreement had already been signed, and Miss Gladys Stourton in A Gaity Girl [i.e. A Gaiety Girl] at the Prince of Wales’ theatre [14 October 1893]. Her success I that role was enormous, and when Mr. Edwardes was getting together a special company to send to the United States, Miss Studholme is said to have been his very first selection. His wisom is demonstrated by the columns of priase devoted to the little English artiste by the not infrequently hypercritical New York theatrical critics.’
(The Saint Paul Daily Globe, St. Paul, Minnesota, Sunday, 3 May 1896, p. 9c)

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Charles Hawtrey in Time is Money, London, 1905 and 1909

August 23, 2013

a scene from Time is Money, Criterion Theatre, London, 3 August 1905, with, left to right, Dorothy Hammond as Mrs Murray, Mona Harrison as Susan, and Charles Hawtrey as Charles Grahame
(photo: unknown for The Play Pictorial, London, 1905)

Time is Money, a comedietta by Mrs Hugh Bell and Arthur Cecil, was first produced at the Theatre Royal, Newcastle-on-Tyne, 5 September 1890,

‘By way of answer to the complaint that the curtain-raiser is neglected, the Criterion Theatre has given us a lever de rideau in which no less an actor than Mr. Charles Hawtrey takes a part. Time is Money, the work in question, shows a little too grimly how quickly the clock moves in the theatre. It does not seem a very long time since it was a lively, fresh comedietta, but the other night one felt a little grieved that the actor should be using his gifts, and using them very ably, upon such mechanical humours and trifling verbal quips. However, a good deal of it is amusing. The favourite was in excellent form, and well supported by Miss Mona Harrison and Miss Dora Hammond.’
(The Sketch, London, 16 August 1905, p.156)

Charles Hawtrey revived Time is Money at the reopening of the London Hippodrome, 2 August 1909
‘A very comical episode is the basis of the little play ”Time is Money,” in which Mr. Charles Hawtrey has been appearing at the London Hippodrome. It is all about a gentleman who comes to propose to a lady. He takes a cab to the lady’s house, and in the natural excitement of the moment rushes indoors without paying the cabman. Not unnaturally, the cabman sends a message after him to remind him of the little oversight. Mr. Hawtrey plunges his hand apologetically into his pocket in order to give the maid the fare, and finds to his disgust that he has come out without money. He, therefore, instructs the maid to tell the cabby to wait and take him back. Cabby, however, has another engagement and cannot wait, and meanwhile the fare, that was eighteenpence just now, has already gone up to half-a-crown, and is still growing. Mr. Hawtrey’s representation of his embarrassment is quite delightful (says ”M.A.P.” [i.e. Mostly About People, a contemporary London periodical]), because when you have come to propose to a lady you can hardly begin by asking the loan of half-a-crown. The spectacle of Mr. Hawtrey singing a sentimental song at the piano to the lady’s accompaniment, and trying all the time not to hear the cabman’s appeal through the window for his long-delayed fare, is one of the funniest scenes imaginable.’
(Kalgoorlie Miner, Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, Saturday, 25 September 1909, p. 1e)

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Alice Hamilton

May 31, 2013

Alice Hamilton (fl. 1870s-1890s), mezzo-soprano and actress, probably as she appeared as Pricess Guinevere in E.L. Blanchard’s pantomime, Tom Thumb the Great; or, Harlequin King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, at Drury Lane Theatre, Christmas, 1871. Other members of the cast were the Vokes Family and Miss Amalia.
(carte de visite photo: The London Stereoscopic & Photographic Co Ltd, London, circa 1871/72; hand tinted)

Alice Hamilton appeared again at Drury Lane the following Christmas in the pantomime The Children of the Wood; or, Harlequin, Queen Mab, and the World of Dreams. She is next mentioned in connection with an English version of Lecocq’s comic opera Giroflé-Girofla, produced at the Criterion Theatre, London, on 1 May 1875. According to The Morning Post (Monday, 3 May 1875, p. ), ‘Miss Hamilton made a tame, but still interesting, Paquita’; the cast also included Pauline Rita, Emily Thorne and Rose Keene.

In July 1875 Alice Hamilton joined Kate Santley’s Company for a provincial tour, after which she appeared in many comic operas and plays, including Charles Calvert’s 1877 production of Henry VIII at the Theatre Royal, Manchester, in which she played Anne Boleyn, looking ‘very pretty and graceful’ (The Era, London, Sunday, 2 September 1877, p. 13a/b). On 8 September 1881 she created the part of Mrs Augustus Green in George R. Sims’s farcical comedy The Gay City, when it was first produced at the Theatre Royal, Nottingham; the case was lead by Lionel Rignold.

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Robert Loraine

February 17, 2013

Robert Loraine (1876-1935),
English actor manager and aviator,
as John Tanner in George Bernard Shaw’s play,
Man and Superman,
produced at the Criterion Theatre, London, on 28 September 1911
(photo: Daily Mirror Studios, London, 1911)

Mr. Robert Loraine – Actor and Producer
By John Wightman
‘It was the smoking-room of a country gentleman. The polished oak floor with its warm rugs, the low leather chairs made for comfort rather than show, the good old engravings on the walls, the rifle in the corner, the hunting crop flung carelessly down, all indicated the sportsman. The stage is the last profession you would associate with the owner, yet it is the “den” of Robert Loraine, one of the brainiest of our younger school of actors.
‘A typical Englishman, tall, clean-made, with a fresh complexion and clear eye, Mr. Loraine gives you the impression of a man who spends much of his time in the open, as indeed, he does. In his opinion, if an artiste desires to give the public of his best mentally, he must be at his best physically.
‘“I suppose you know,” he remarked during a recent chat, “that acting is in my blood, for both my parents were connected with the profession. They did not assist me, however, as when only fifteen I ran away to Liverpool. There I joined the stock company at a local theatre. It was real hard work, as we usually did six different plays in a week, with two performances nightly. The proprietor catered for popular audiences, and the prices could hardly be called prohibitive, as they ranged from a penny to threepence, the latter sum securing a private box.
‘“I look back with awe to those days, when I remember my rough attempts at making-up. The third week I had to appear as an old, hoary-headed man in the first piece and a sallow, saturnine villain in the second. Just imagine, my entire make-up consisted of a white wig and beard in one case and a black moustache in the other. Yes, I have studied and learnt a lot since then.
‘“For instance, it took me weeks to perfect my make-up as the Chinaman, Ah Ching, in A Tragedy at Tientsin, which I produced in New York. So complete was the disguise that on the opening night, Miss Grace George, who was in a box with her husband, turned round and said to him, ‘What’s wrong with Mr. Loraine? Why isn’t he playing? Surely he’s not ill?’ ‘Don’t talk like that,’ was the reply; ‘why he’s on the stage.’ ‘Now you’re just saying that to satisfy me,’ answered Miss George; and it was not until I cam forward to take my call that she recognised me. This was one of the greatest compliments I ever received. But I am wandering away from my early days.
‘“After the Liverpool apprenticeship I joined Ben Greet’s Woodland Players and appeared in a large Shakespearean repertoire all over the country, the performances taking place in the open air. Then I remembered a favourite saying of my father’s, that only London counts theatrically, so determined to put my fortune to the test.
‘“Arriving in town, I was engaged by Mr., now Sir, George Alexander, and only left him to go to Drury Lane. A part I enjoyed playing immensely was Dudley Keppel, the young Highland officer, in the old Princess’s [Theatre, Oxford Street] production of One of the Best [revival, 1 June 1899; the part was first played in this production by Harry B. Stanford]. Shortly after I had a taste of the real thing, for when war broke out in South Africa I joined the Yeomanry, and saw a good deal of fighting under General Hunter and Major Baden-Powell. Then followed my first appearance on the American stage. It was in 1901, at the Knickerbocker Theatre, New York, as Ralph Percy in To Have and to Hold. Although a failure, it started my theatrical connection with our cousins across the Atlantic, which culminated in my producing at the Hudson Theatre, in 1905, the play I am now appearing in – viz., Mr. G. Bernard Shaw’s brilliant Man and Superman. Needless to say it proved an instantaneous success, and for the next two years I toured it all over the Eastern States, where every city endorsed the verdict pronounced by New York. What led me to choose Man and Superman for my first managerial venture? Well, as a matter of fact, one day in New York I commenced reading the book. So struck was I with the sparkling dialogue, deep human interest and strong dramatic situations, that I immediately sailed for England, where arrangements were soon completed. The striking feature of Bernard Shaw’s work? Truth! With all its wit, audacity and vivacity, it has no characteristic so striking as truth.”
‘I have purposely avoided touching upon Mr. Loraine’s career as an aviator, and the magnificent work he has done to forward the development of flying in this country. Lest, however, my readers should imagine that his labours at the Criterion may interfere with his flying, let me assure them Mr. Loraine is sending to Paris shortly for his latest machine, a 70 h.p. Nieuport, on which he hopes to make some important flights this winter.’
(The Playgoer and Society Illustrated, ‘Man and Superman’ edition, London, 15 January 1912, p.25)

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Sybil de Bray and Percy Hutchison in The Blue Mouse

December 25, 2012

‘George discovered kissing his own wife’ – a photograph of Sybil de Bray as Clarissa and Percy Hutchison as George Barker in Roy Horniman’s farce The Blue Mouse, adapted from the original of Alexander Engel and Julian Horst, produced at the Criterion Theatre, London, on 12 May 1914. (photo: The Daily Mirror Studios, London, 1914)