Posts Tagged ‘Dick Whittington (pantomime)’


Nora Delany, Irish-born English variety and revue actress and singer and pantomime principal boy

April 5, 2014

Nora Delany (1887-1977), Irish-born English variety and revue actress and singer and pantomime principal boy
(photo: J.P. Bamber, Liverpool, circa 1914)

Nora Delany (Annie Leonora Delany) was the elder daughter of George Delany (1832-1895) and his common-law wife, Alice Ann May (1864-1914). Her first marriage was on 7 October 1911 at St. Saviour’s Church, Paddington, to the theatrical manager, Benjamin Gilles Maclachlan, a widower. Following his death at the age of 38 in 1916, Miss Delany is said to have married the journalist William Maxwell (1862?-1928), who received a knighthood in the New Year’s honours list of 1919. In fact, they were never married and their relationship was over by the time he married his ‘third’ wife in 1924. In 1932 Nora Delany (Mrs Maclachlan) married Prince Littler (1901-1973), the theatrical impresario.

For further information regarding Nora Delany’s father and family, see M.J. Delany, ‘William Delany (1832-1895) of Durrow, Queen’s County,’ Genealogical Society of Ireland, vol. 13, Dublin, 2012, p. 56.

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‘Nora Delany, a stately young brunette, with a joyous look in her smiling brown eyes, has arrived her with her friend, Audrey Thacker, in readiness for Saturday afternoon’s production of Babes in the Wood. Therein the new beauty-actress will figure as principal boy. These two artists travelled separately. Otherwise the entire J.C. Williamson Company, which appeared in Adelaide last Saturday, occupied a special train to the number of 82 persons, reaching Sydney at 4.30 p.m. on Tuesday.
‘Miss Delany (Lady Maxwell) is the wife of Sir William Maxwell, K.B.E., a journalist who represented the London ”Standard” during the Commonwealth celebrations of 1901, when he was attached to the Duke and Duchess of York’s party. Since then he has become identified with financial affairs in London, where he is the director of several companies. Before he settled in the metropolis, however, Lady Maxwell visited India, China, Japan, Ceylon, Arabia, and the United States with him, and one of her reasons for joining the present theatrical combination was to gratify her love of travelling and to see the country of which her husband so often spoke with enthusiasm.
‘Miss Delany was born at Abbeyleix, Queen’s County, but she left Ireland during her early school days, and lived for eight years in Manchester. She began her state career by joining the chorus of Dick Whittington at the Grand Theatre, Croydon, in 1910 [sic: it was actually Christmas, 1908], and was also in the original production of The Arcadians in London, before realising that she must discover some opportunity for individual action to justify her own faith in herself. The ambitious girl did this by securing a music hall engagement, and in vaudeville quickly made a name as ”The Girl in Uniform,” spirited songs of a more or less martial character roving the source of her first great successes.
”’I studied under Winslow Hall, a singing teacher of distinction in London,” remarked the actress at her Elizabeth Bay flat yesterday, ”and it was a great pleasure to me to meet him and his wife once more in Adelaide, where he is a professor at the Elder Conservatorium. His wife, Georgina Delmar, was principal boy when I made my start at Croydon, was also one of the many Carmens with the Carl Rosa Co., and I hear that she sang Delilah in the first production in Australia of Saint-Saens’ Biblical opera by the Royal Philharmonic Society of Sydney. Really, I am a trained contralto, but the voice is not much used in these revue pieces, and, in fact, it is almost a special art to do without it whilst articulating distinctly. I am still nominally engaged in vaudeville, as I am under ten years’ contract to Mr. Charles Gulliver, and I am mulcted in a penalty throughout my absence. For this reason I shall sail for home as early as I can in August, after completing the New Zealand tour.”
(The Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney, NSW, Australia, Thursday, 16 March 1922, p. 6e)

A copy of the contract between J.C. Williamson Ltd and Nora Delany, signed on 26 January 1921, relating to the latter’s engagement to play Principal Boy in pantomime in Australia and New Zealand during the 1921-1922 season, is in the theatre collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, museum number: S1193-2012.


Gladys Guy in Dick Whittington, New Theatre, Cardiff, Christmas 1909

November 29, 2013

Gladys Guy (1888-1968), English actress and singer, as she appeared as Alice in the pantomime Dick Whittington at the New Theatre, Cardiff, Christmas, 1909. Other leading members of the cast were Isabelle Dillon in the title role, Johnny Fuller as the cat and Mark Lester as Idle Jack.
(photo: C. Corn, Cardiff, 1909; postcard published by the Metropolitan Studios, Cardiff, Panto Series)

Gladys Juhel Guy was born in London on 27 February 1888, one of the several children of George Augustus Guy (1851/52-1939), a French-born violinist, and his wife, Mary. Her career began about 1905 and between then and 1917 she appeared successfully in London and on tour in a number of musical productions as well as in pantomime. Miss Guy was also understudy at various times to both Phyllis Dare and Gabrielle Ray.

Gladys Guy was married at St. Jude’s Church, Kensington, London, on 1 June 1912 to Hugh Arnold Henson (1884-1958), an actor whose credits included a small part during the run of The Dollar Princess at Daly’s Theatre, London (1909-1910). He later joined the Indian Army in which he eventually became a lieutenant colonel. Miss Guy’s career came to an end just before the birth in 1918 of the couple’s son, Basil Edmund Wyvill Henson. The latter, who died in 1990, became the well-known actor, Basil Henson.


Miss Wadman as Thames Darrell in the burlesque Little Jack Sheppard, Gaiety Theatre, London, 26 December 1885

October 18, 2013

Miss Wadman (1857-1892), English actress and vocalist, as she appeared as Thames Darrell in the burlesque Little Jack Sheppard, produced at the Gaiety Theatre, London, on 26 December 1885. Other leading members of the cast were Nellie Farren, Fred Leslie, David James, Emily Duncan and Harriet Coveney.
(photo: unknown, London, 1885/86)

Matilda Honor Wadman was born in London on 3 May 1857, a daughter of William Wadman, a tailor in London’s Soho, and his wife Harriet. She was professionally known as Mathilde Wadman or, more usually, simply as Miss Wadman. She was married in London in 1881 to St. Vincent Walter Fane Jervis (1853-1908), an army captain who resigned his commission on 26 April the following year. Miss Wadman died unexpectedly in Leeds, Yorkshire, at the age of 35 on 23 December 1892.

Little Jack Sheppard, Gaiety Theatre, London, Saturday, 26 December 1885
‘… a dashing representative of Thames Darrell is found in Miss Wadman, whose cold, for which a superfluous apology was made on Satuay, in no way detracted from the purity and finish of her vocalisation.’
(The Era, London, Saturday, 2 January 1886, p. 7c)

* * * * *

‘We regret to announce that Miss Wadman, ”Principal Boy” in the Leeds Grand Theatre pantomime [Dick Whittington], died this morning at Leeds. She was too ill to appear at the opening of the pantomime last night, and died to-day in spite of prompt medical aid. Miss Wadman was well known as a specially bright and attractive comic-opera artists, and her death under these sad circumstances will be generally regretted by her professional friends.’
(The Pall Mall gazette,/I>, London, Friday, 23 December 1892, p. 5b)


Mena Brae in Dick Whittington, Edinburgh, 1912

August 6, 2013

Mena Brae (Mrs W. Dawnes, d. 1917), Scottish actress, singer and dancer as Zoe in the pantomime Dick Whittington, Theatre Royal, Edinburgh, 12 December 1912
(photo: unknown, UK, 1908)

This real photograph postcard (3444 E) of Mena Brae as she appeared in the pantomime Dick Whittington at the Theatre Royal, Edinburgh, at Christmas 1908, was issued by The Philco Publishing Co of London. Miss Brae’s chief contribution on that occasion was her rendition of ‘Oh, Oh, Antonio’ followed by a step dance, for which she earned an encore. Other members of the cast were Jane Eyre in the title role, Ethel Erskine as Alice, Florence Warde as the Prince of Morocco, Molly Maguire as the Fairy Queen, Phil Ray as Alderman Fitzwarren, Will Evans as Idle Jack and Albert Felino as the cat. A group of Tiller’s dancers was also present, as were the Tintos Troupe of acrobats and George Kirby’s Flying Ballet.


Fred Spencer burlesques a Gibson Girl, 1905

August 4, 2013

Fred Spencer (fl. 1890s-after 1949), English comedian, concert party entertainer and pantomime dame in costume as a Gibson Girl
(photo: J. White & Son, Littlehampton, East Sussex, probably 1905)

Dick Whittington, pantomime, The King’s Theatre, Hammersmith, Saturday, 23 December 1905
‘Mr. Fred Spencer introduces a capital burlesque of The Gibson Girl and as Martha Mixit, FitzWarren’s Housekeeper, supplies much mirth.’ Other members of the cast were Carlotta Levey in the title role, Harry Rogerson as Jack Idle and Maude Noel as Alice, Rhoda Ray as the Princess, Harry Kilburn as Alderman Fitzwarren and Johnny Fuller as the Cat.
(The Stage, London, 4 January 1906, p. 17a/b)

‘Fred Spencer.
‘Fred Spencer tells us that he is retiring from active work on the stage after a career extending over forty years. In his time he was one of the most popular of pantomime dames, and for many years enjoyed success as a seaside entertainer, spending twenty-one seasons at Littlehampton, seven at Paignton, ten at Seaford, and seven at Clacton. In more recent times he toured a three-act comedy with Gilbert Payne, which ran for over three years and his interpretation of the Mrs. ‘Arris character of C.B. Poultney made him known to many audiences. Mr. Spencer will retain the ”Mrs. ‘Arris” rights, but the part will in future be played by Dorothy Hildebrande.’
(The Stage, London, Thursday, 9 July 1931, p. 4b)


Adeline Burgon

July 21, 2013

Adeline Burgon (b. 1890), English actress and singer, as she appeared as Tommy in the pantomime Dick Whittington, produced at the Grand Theatre, Leeds, on 23 December 1910, with Lillian Lea in the title role and Madge Crichton as Alice.
(photo: Garratt, Leeds, 1910)

Adeline Burgon, born Edith Lina Burgon, was the daughter of William Henry ‘Harry’ Burgon (1858-1898), a well-known concert baritone and sometime member of the Carl Rosa Opera Company, and is wife Zoe Josephine Philomene (née Chatenet, born in Paris about 1862), who were married in London in 1887. The couple also had a son, Adrian (Adrien) Burgon (1888-1970), who began his stage career as a choir boy.

Adeline Burgon’s career flourished from about 1906 to 1916, mostly on tour in the United Kingdom. In 1906 she was in C.P. Levilly’s Company in La Poupee, with Stella Gastelle, before touring in The Gay Parisienne (1907), in Charles Macdona’s Company in The Girl from Kay’s (1908), and in The Merry Widow in 1909 with Octavia Barry and Leonard Mackay. At Christmas 1910 she appeared as Tommy in the pantomime, Dick Whittington at the Grand Theatre, Leeds, after which no more is heard of her until 1913 when she appeared in Horace Goldin’s Theatrical Company at the Palace Theatre, New York. Her final performances seem to have been on tour during 1916 in the United Kingdon in The Girl in the Taxi.


Ethel Negretti

July 2, 2013

Ethel Negretti (1879-1918?), English singer (soprano) and actress
(photo: Alfred Ellis & Walery, London, circa 1902)

Ethel Negretti (Ethel Amelia Rosenstreich) was born in London in 1879, the daughter of Nathaniel Rosenstreich (1841/42-1903), a German-born looking glass and furniture manufacturer, and his first wife, Amelia (née Biddle, 1828-1898). On 28 July 1904 she was married to Albert Pembridge Parker, a sometime manager in the motor trade, at St. George’s, Bloomsbury. They appear to have had no children and may have separated before 1918, the last mention of her in the records. Parker married again in 1926, to Winifred Lilian Edith Grayson and died at the age of 75 in 1949.

Ethel Negretti appears to have begun her theatrical career in the summer of 1898 with Wallace Erskine’s company in a tour of the UK of The Shop Girl, a musical farce which was first produced at the Gaiety Theatre, London, on 24 November 1894; she took the part of Lady Dodo Singleton, originally played by Helen Lee.

She was next seen at the end of October, 1898, in a small part at the Royal Theatre, Jersey, in the comedy The Dove-Cot, starring Seymour Hicks, following its London run at the Duke of York’s Theatre (12 February 1898). Miss Negretti was the Princess Haidée in the pantomime Dick Whittington, at the Grand Theatre, Fulham, at Christmas 1898, in which she was praised for the song ‘Carmencita,’ ‘rendered with such sweetness and verve.’ (The Era, London, Saturday, 21 January 1899, p. 12c). She was then seen in tours of the musical farcical comedy The Topsy-Turvey Hotel Co and the musical comedy The French Maid.

On 19 October 1899 appeared as Cyrene in a revival at the Lyceum Theatre, London, of Wilson Barrett’s drama The Sign of the Cross. She was next seen in a tour with G.H. Snazelle in The Prince of Borneo, an opera farce.

Derby, Wednesday, 7 November 1900
‘Though the weather was miserable – rain fell sharply at times and the streets were thick with mud – there was a capital audience at the Temperance Hall on Wednesday evening, on the occasion of Mr. and Mrs. M.L. Merton’s fourth grand banjo and mandolin concert. The programme was a delightful one and the artistes were ladies and gentlemen of acknowledged ability. Mr Clifford Essex and Miss Ethel Negretti achieved considerable success at one of Mr. Merton’s previous concerts, and their second appearance in Derby was naturally looked forward to with much interest and pleasure. Of Mr. Essex and his pierrots it may be said that they have performed, by command, before the Prince and Princess of Wales and other members of the Royal Family on no fewer than five occasions. Then Mr. Olly Oakley there are few more celebrated banjoists and he too was exceedingly well received on a previous visit to the town… . Mr. Clifford Essex and Miss Negretti were heard to particular advantage in ”I love the man in the moon” (which was encored), and Miss Negretti, who has a very sweet, clear voice, sang ”Baby,” (from [Gustave Kerker’s] ”The American Beauty” [sic]), a particularly pretty song, charmingly… .’
(The Derby Mercury, Derby, Wednesday, 14 November 1900, p. 6e)

At Christmas 1900 Miss Negretti was seen in the pantomime Dick Whittington at the Prince’s Theatre, Bristol. The two leading parts of Dick and Alice were taken by Millie Hylton and her sister, Lydia Flopp; other parts were played by Ernest Shand, Tennyson and O’Gorman and Bessie Featherstone.

In November 1901 Ethel Negretti appeared as one of Clifford Essex’s Pierrots (the others being Clifford Essex, Joe Morley and Wilson James) at the Town Hall, Eastbourne. She remained with Essex until the autumn of 1902 after which she appeared as Ida in the pantomime Mother Goose at Drury Lane Theatre (26 December 1902), with Dan Leno, Herbert Campbell, Madge Lessing, Marie George and others. She was next seen in The School Girl, a musical play which opened at the Prince of Wales’s Theatre, London, on 9 May 1903; the cast was headed by Edna May and G.P. Huntley. Following a tour in A Country Girl, Miss Negretti appeared again in pantomime at Drury Lane: Humpty Dumpty, produced on 26 December 1903, with Dan Leno, Herbert Campbell, George Bastow, Marie George, Louise Willis and Ruth Lytton.

With further appearances on tour and in pantomime, Ethel Negretti’s career continued until 1914/15, when she appeared as Mme. Alvarez in a tour of the successful Shaftesbury Theatre musical, The Pearl Girl. Her final appearances seem to have been in The Magic Touch, a musical comedy produced at the Palace Theatre, Walthamstow, on 18 January 1915; and in the revue, So Long, Lucy!, which was produced on 27 September 1915 at the Hippodrome, Derby, with Paul Barnes, the American black-face comedian and song-writer, in the lead; other members of the cast were Clay Smith (husband of Lee White, the American revue star), Phyllis Barnes and Phil Lester.


June 21, 2013

Esmé Gordon (fl. 1895?-1919), English actress, pantomime principal boy and music hall singer and dancer, as she appeared in the title role of the pantomime Dick Whittington, Prince’s Theatre, Bradford, Christmas, 1905
(photo: Walter Scott, Bradford, Yorkshire, 1905)


Esmé Gordon as Dick Whittington

June 21, 2013

Esmé Gordon (fl. 1895?-1919), English actress, pantomime principal boy and music hall singer and dancer, as she appeared in the title role of the pantomime Dick Whittington, Prince’s Theatre, Bradford, Christmas, 1905
(photo: Walter Scott, Bradford, Yorkshire, 1905)


June 21, 2013

Esmé Gordon (fl. 1895?-1919), English actress, pantomime principal boy and music hall singer and dancer, as she appeared in the title role of the pantomime Dick Whittington, Prince’s Theatre, Bradford, Christmas, 1905
(photo: Walter Scott, Bradford, Yorkshire, 1905)