Posts Tagged ‘Duke of York’s Theatre (London)’

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Henry Ainley in The Great Conspiracy, Duke of York’s Theatre, London, 1907

August 15, 2014

Henry Ainley as he appeared as Captain Roger Crisenoy opposite Irene Vanbrugh‘s Jeanne de Briantes in Madeleine Lucette Ryley‘s drama, The Great Conspiracy, which was produced at the Duke of York’s Theatre, London, on 4 March 1907. The piece ran for 60 performances.
(photo: Alfred Ellis & Walery, London, 1907)

‘A play with an idea no fresher than that of a young girl’s outwitting of Napoleon – a play, in fact, with the plot and the sort of Bonaparte that have already served in musical comedy, yet a neat, well-planned if artificial piece that is as full of excitement as it is of improbabilities, and, for all its lack of true emotion, gives its three principal interpreters at the Duke of York’s fine opportunities for acting – as is The Great Conspiracy. Mrs. Ryley’s adaptation of M. Pierre Berton‘s Belle Marseillaise. The conspiracy in question, planned by the young heroine’s elderly husband, is one that fails, but the chief conspirator escapes, and Napoleon tries vainly to wrest from the wife the secret of her husband’s safety. Finally he hits on the device of marrying her afresh to a favourite young Captain of his who is infatuated with her, and with whom she, in turn, is in love. Her long colloquy with Napoleon, and the bridal scene, in which she explains to her lover the obstacle that stands in the way of their felicity, make the play. Yet it is the three chief players that make the success of the piece – Miss Irene Vanbrugh, who is alternately arch and tender, and has, in the bridal scene already mention, a moment of exquisite pathos; Mr. John Hare, a very slim and frigid Napoleon, yet authoritative, masterful, and grim; and Mr. Henry Ainley, surely the most attractive stage-lover we have on the London boards, because he is not afraid of emotion, and because to charming intonations of voice he adds perfect tact. With its thrilling story and its splendid representation, there should be a long run in store for The Great Conspiracy.’
(The Illustrated London News, London, Saturday, 9 March 1907, p. 362c)

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Pauline Chase as The Little Japanese Girl

June 14, 2014

Pauline Chase (1885-1962), American actress, as she appeared in the title role of the 1 Act play, The Little Japanese Girl, adapted from the Japanese by Loie Fuller and first produced at the Duke of York’s Theatre, London, on 26 August 1907.
(photo: Bassano, London, 1907).

Other members of the cast were Edward Sass as the Prince and Jane May as the Princess. The piece ran for 49 performances. Pauline Chase appeared again in The Little Japanese Girl at the London Coliseum in the summer of 1911.

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‘PAULINE CHASE AS A STAR.
‘She Makes a Great Success in London in a Play by Loie Fuller.
‘Special Cable to THE NEW YORK TIMES.
LONDON. Aug. 26 [1907]. – Miss Pauline Chase made a brilliant success this evening in Loie Fuller’s one-act play, ”The Little Japanese Girl,” produced at the Duke of York’s Theatre under the management of Charles Frohman.
‘Among her most enthusiastic admirers were Oscar Lewisohn and his wife, (A HREF=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edna_May>Edna May,) who came to London from the country specially to witness the performance.’
(The New York Times, New York, 27 August 1907, p. 7)

‘Pauline Chase is now appearing in a one-act play by Loie Fuller, entitled ”The Little Japanese Girl.” Miss Chase has become so closely identified with the English stage that the British public has come to regard her as its own.’
(The Washington Times, Third Section, Woman’s Magazine, Washington DC, 8 September 1907, p. 8d)

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London, week beginning Monday, 24 July 1911
‘At the Coliseum this week Miss Pauline Chase will appear with three others in Miss Loie Fuller’s one-act play A Little Japanese Girl, with music by Mr. John Crook.’
(The Times, London, Monday, 24 July 1911, p. 10d)

London, 2 August 1911 ‘Pauline Chase came an awful cropper at the Coliseum, where she is appearing in a Japanese play previously done in pantomime by Hanako. It is called ”A Little Japanese Girl,” and it deals with the vanity of a little laundress who put on a Princess’s kimono and rouged her face. She was mistaken for the princess and killed by an outraged princely lover. When the curtain descended on the act at the opening afternoon, there was none insistent ”hand” and Pauline took a bow where she needn’t have troubled. It seems as though ”Peter Pan” will have to be revived.’ (Variety, New York, Saturday, 12 August 1911, p. 15b)

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Seymour Hicks and Ellis Jeffreys in The Dove Cot, Duke of York’s Theatre, London, 1898

September 14, 2013

Seymour Hicks (1871-1949), English actor manager, and Ellis Jeffreys (1872-1943), English actress, in a scene from The Dove Cot, a comedy by Charles H.E. Brookfield, produced at the Duke of York’s Theatre, London, on 12 February 1898.
(cabinet photo: Alfred Ellis & Walery, 51 Baker Street, London, W, negative no. 26415-4)

The Dove Cot was decidedly a better name for the new comedy at the Duke of York’s Theatre than Jalouse, if for no other reason, because in ceasing to be French in locality and language MM. [Alexandre] Bisson and [Adolphe] Leclercq’s gay and amusing comedy ought obviously to take to itself an English title… . the main theme of The Dove Cot is the vagaries of an habitually jealous woman, and this is a subject that can claim no particular nationality… .
‘The piece is very fortunate in its interpreters. The bickerings between that comely young couple, Mr. and Mrs. Allward, arising out of the incorrigible propensity of the lady to find cause for jealous explosions in trifles light as air, were portrayed by Mr. Seymour Hicks and Miss Ellis Jeffreys with a most amusing and at the same time a most convincing air of reality. Unstable as our English climate, the lady is constantly brining charges of infidelity, repenting of them, and when forgiven by her devoted husband, suddenly starting upon some new ground of jealous distrust. The climax is reached when the jealous wife detects in her husband’s clothing on his return home one night a scent which is only in use among ladies, and, horror of horrors, discovers on his shoulder two long golden hairs. In vain Allward observes that his wife happens to have at that moment a black spot upon her nose, but that he does not on that account suspect her of ”kissing a chimney sweep.” The suspicion has, however, passed beyond mere badinage, and a separation is impending… .’
(The Daily News, London, Monday, 14 February 1898, p. 3b)

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Sheila Hayes, London, 1915

September 12, 2013

Sheila Hayes (fl. early 20th Century), English actress
(photo: Rita Martin, London, 1915)

‘MISS SHEILA HAYES Another of the latest talented recruits to the film. Miss Sheila Hayes will be remembered as the beautiful Plum Blossom in that quaint and amusing Chinese play, The Yellow Jacket, which was produced at the Duke of York’s Theatre about two years ago. Miss Hayes has now gone abroad to study cinema acting.’
(The Sketch, London, Saturday, 15 December 1915, p. 333)

Although Sheila Hayes appeared in several London productions between 1911 and 1917, including the small part of Ko-Matsu in The Mousmé (Shaftesbury Theatre, 9 September 1911), it is for her playing Moy Fah Loy in The Yellow Jacket (Duke of York’s Theatre, 27 March 1913) that she is chiefly remembered. In spite of The Sketch‘s report (quoted above), no trace of her going abroad in 1915/1916 can be found. She did, however, go to America about 1919 where she appeared at the Garrick Theatre, New York, between August 1920 and April 1922 in the comedy, Enter Madame. Miss Hayes returned briefly to England before returning to America where in November 1922 she was in the cast of Charles Dillingham’s melodrama, Bull Dog Drummond at the National Theatre, Washington, with H.B. Warner in the lead. She remained in the United States until 1936, when she returned to England.

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Hilda Trevelyan and Pauline Chase in a revival of J.M. Barrie’s fairy play, Peter Pan; or, The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up, Duke of York’s Theatre, London, 16 December 1907

August 14, 2013

Hilda Trevelyan as Wendy and Pauline Chase as Peter in J.M. Barrie’s fairy play, Peter Pan; or, The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up, revived at the Duke of York’s Theatre, London, 16 December 1907
(photo: Bassano, London, 1907)

‘The Christmas season in the playhouse has begun thus early, for the Duke of York’s has reopened for the fourth year in succession with Peter Pan, Miss Pauline Chase reappearing as Peter and Miss [Hilda] Trevelyan as Wendy. I know of no type of entertainment with the exception of the Savoy operas that has created such a cult as Peter Pan, and like those delightful entertainments it has introduced the playhouse in quarters where it was never heard of before. Peter Pan parties are likely to be the vogue of the day as they were last season, and there will probably be a new outburst of Peter Pan literature of various kinds.’
(J.M. Bulloch, The Sphere, London, Saturday, 21 December 1907, p.238a)

‘The vogue of Peter Pan is really extraordinary. The first night it was produced on this its fourth-year season it was received with almost hysterical enthusiasm by a house which knew every line of the script and every turn of stage management. Every new “line,” every new bit of business, came as a delightful surprise, and the entertainment was sent off with a welcome as hearty as the cheers which have just made Tetrazzini a lion elsewhere.
‘The other theatre entertainments for children – Alice in Wonderland not excepted – have never attracted such a huge audience as Peter Pan. This is rather astonishing, for unlike Alice it has curiously grown-up elements in it which deserve the attention of some serious student of psychology although nobody has treated it in that light. Yet I believe it is just those elements – some of them like a sad, far-off voice – that attract grown-ups, and it is just these moments which Miss Pauline Chase with all her charm does not capture. Thus, for example, when standing on the rock amid the rising seas, she exclaims “To die would be a great adventure,” she says it as a child from a copybook not as one who feels it – as Melisande would have felt it.
‘Miss [Nina] Boucicault [in the first production of Peter Pan, Duke of York’s, London, 27 December 1904] with her fine wistfulness is the true Peter, but on the first night her place was the stalls and not the stage. In all the lighter moments Miss Chase is very bright and pretty, leaving the pathos to Miss Trevelyan, a far more experienced actress, whose Wendy has lost none of its delicacy. Mr. Robb Harwood, replacing Mr. [Gerald] Du Maurier, is excellent as the Pirate Hook, and Miss [Sybil] Carlisle resumes her part of Mrs. Darling to the excellent inconsequence of Mr. A.E. Matthews as the father of the children. The mounting is just as ingenious as ever, showing an extraordinary appreciation of the child’s desire to see the inside of things.
‘The entertainment has, as I suggested last week, duly produced its own literature, for Mr. John Hassall has issued a series of six long panels illustrating Mr. Barrie’s charming story. The pictures, which are issued by Lawrence and Jellicoe at 2s. each (unframed), are beautifully reproduced in colour and form ideal decorations for a nursery.’
(J.M. Bulloch, The Sphere, London, Saturday, 28 December 1907, p.264a)

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Gwen Farrar

July 14, 2013

Gwen Farrar (1899-1944), English duettist, ‘cellist, singer, actress and comedienne
(photo: unknown, probably London, circa 1925)

‘Miss Gwen Farrar is the daughter of Sir George Farrar, Bart., and became an established favourite immediately after the Great War in her partnership with Miss Norah Blaney. A very talented Actress, Vocalist and Instrumentalist, she delights in making weird noises with her voice much to the discomfort of her partner. She has deserted the Music Halls several times for Revues but always to return to her “first love.”’
(halftone cigarette card of Gwen Farrar, published in England during the mid/late 1920s by R. & J. Hill Ltd as no.23 in its ‘Music Hall Celebrities Past & Present,’ first series)

Norah Blaney and Gwen Farrar first performed together at various concerts and entertainments for the benefit of troops in France and Belgium towards the end of the First World War. ‘Miss Blaney played the piano and sang in a pretty, light voice, while her partner sang in deep, almost lugubrious, tones, played her ‘cello – quite seriously at moments – and made a most amusing play with it. A tallish woman, with a rather long, pale face with straight, bobbed black hair which divided into two angular locks on each side of her forehead, Gwen Farrar had an element of the clown in her which was emphasized by her broad, white collar and black pierrot costume. Her sudden changes of voice and unexpected movements, as when she brusquely took herself off the stage dragging her ‘cello along behind her or slinging it across her shoulder, were extremely entertaining. There was an acidity about her which, contrasted with the more conventional sweetness of her companion, showed that their turn belong to the sophistication of the [nineteen-]twenties rather than to the old world of the music-halls which it invaded.’

Gwen Farrar was one of the six daughters of Sir George Farrar, a prominent figure in South African mining and politics. Born on 14 July 1899, her education was undertaken in England where she eventually trained as a cellist. At his death her father left her a comfortable fortune which, together with earnings from her own successful stage career as a ‘noted feminine grotesque,’ allowed her to live in some style. She spent much of her spare time at a beautiful seventeenth century mansion she owned in Northamptonshire, while in London her base was a house at 217 King’s Road, Chelsea, ‘where she will be remembered as a hostess, sympathetic companion and unchanging friend.’ Gwen Farrar mixed with women of Radclyffe Hall’s set, and she was romantically linked at one time with the actress Tallulah Bankhead. Her recreations were tennis, motoring and riding, and as an expert horsewoman she won more than thirty prize cups at various horse shows.

About 1920 Norah Blaney and Gwen Farrar formed their partnership ‘“about a piano,” an act with [Blaney] as pianist, the amusingly nonchalant Farrar as cellist, and a constant flow of repartee.’ Over a period of four years from about 1921 to 1924 they appeared at leading London and provincial variety theatres, as well as in the cabaret show Pot Luck! (24 December 1921), for which the above photograph was taken, starring Jack Hulbert and Beatrice Lillie; and the revues Rats (21 February 1923), starring Alfred Lester and Gertrude Lawrence; and Yes! (29 September 1923), starring A.W. Bascomb, Norah Blaney and Gwen Farrar, all of which were presented by André Charlot at the Vaudeville Theatre, Strand, London. On 21 May 1924 they opened in another Charlot revue, The Punch Bowl, at the Duke of York’s Theatre, London, with Alfred Lester, Billy Leonard, Sonnie Hale, Ralph Coram, Hermione Baddeley and Marjorie Spiers.

Blaney and Farrar were back together again from September 1925 in a series of variety theatre appearances. The following year they went to New York to join the cast of the long-running Louis the 14th (Cosmopolitan Theatre, 3 March 1925) starring Leon Errol, and then appeared in Palm Beach Nights. The pair then returned to London to go their separate professional ways, Blaney to play Huguette du Hamel in Rudolf Friml’s musical play The Vagabond King (Winter Garden Theatre, London, 19 April 1927) with husband and wife Derek Oldham and Winnie Melville; and Farrar to appear in the revue White Birds (His Majesty’s Theatre, London, 31 May 1927), starring Maurice Chevalier, Anton Dolin, Billy Mayerl, José Collins and Maisie Gay. She began a short professional partnership at this time with the popular pianist Billy Mayerl. Thereafter Norah Blaney’s work included various tours in musical comedies, and pantomimes; and Gwen Farrar’s in such pieces as Wonder Bar (Savoy Theatre, London, 5 December 1930), a ‘musical play of night life,’ and the ill-fated revue After Dinner (Gaiety Theatre, London, 3 November 1932) which ran for only fifteen performances. However, Blaney and Farrar were together again in The House that Jack Built (originally produced at the Adelphi Theatre, London, 8 November 1929) with Jack Hulbert and Cicely Courtneidge upon its transferral to the Winter Garden on 14 April 1930. Their farewell appearance was at the London Palladium in February 1932.

In addition to her continued presence in the theatre, Gwen Farrar appeared in three British films: She Shall Have Music (1935), with Jack Hylton; Beloved Imposter (1936), which featured the popular pianist Leslie Hutchinson; and Take a Chance (1937), with Binnie Hale, Claude Hulbert and Harry Tate. Miss Farrar’s health is said never to have been robust and she died after a short illness on Christmas day, 1944.

(Sources for the above include Who’s Who in the Theatre; and The Times, London, 27 December 1944, p.8b, and 15 December 1983, p.14g)

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For information on Norah Blaney and Gwen Farrar’s recorded output see Brian Rust with Rex Bunnett, London Musical Shows on Record 1897-1976, General Gramophone Publications Ltd, Harrow, 1977, pp.323-325, 425 and 425, which lists duets by Blaney and Farrar between 1922 and 1935, including ‘Second-Hand Rose,’ ‘The Hen-House Blues’ (complete with clucking effects), ‘Lookin’ Out the Window (Wearin’ Out the Carpet),’ and ‘Shall I Have it Bobbed or Shingled’ from The Punch Bowl; and duets by Farrar and Mayerl between 1926 and 1931, including ‘Masculine Women! Feminine Men!’

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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
‘BANJO AND MANDOLIN CONCERT AT THE TEMPERANCE HALL.
‘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.