Posts Tagged ‘George Dance’


Katie Barry as Fifi in A Chinese Honeymoon, New York, 1902

October 12, 2014

Katie Barry (1869?-after 1909), English actress and singer, as Fifi in the first American production of A Chinese Honeymoon, produced at the Casino, New York, on 2 June 1902. The part of Fifi was first played in London (Strand Theatre, 5 October 1901) by Louie Freear who was succeeded by Hilda Trevelyan.
(photo: Gilbert & Bacon, 1030 Chestnut Street. Philadelphia, probably 1902)

‘English Musical Comedy is Presented at the Casino.
‘Distinct achievement in A Chinese Honeymoon, the new musical comedy seen at the Casino last evening, is to be credited to Katie Barry, a diminutive newcomer, who, by reason of a quaint personality, a semblance of buoyant good nature and ability in the direction of grotesque activity, scored an unusual success with an audience that was not always as discriminating as it was demonstrative. From the occasion of her first entrance through the successive drolleries in which she figured, as well as in her individual songs, which proved among the most diverting features of the entertainment, Miss Barry’s efforts provided occasion for much spontaneous laughter. Entirely unknown here up to last night, her success is, therefore, a fact to be recorded.
‘Another surprise of the evening was provided by Aimee Angeles, who blossomed forth as an imitator of no mean ability, to the satisfaction of those who had heretofore known her simply as a graceful dance in the Weber and Fields ranks. The enthusiasm evoked by her mimicry, in which she was admirably assisted by William Pruette, was unbounded.
‘Mention of these distinctly favored features of the new musical comedy seem fitting in the very beginning for such success as the piece achieved is largely due to the efforts of the actors, and to those of the scene painters and costumers. If the author of the book and the composer of the music had been as successful as those who had the setting forth of their work, praise, which must now be qualified, might be accorded without stint. But there is little in the book, which is by George Dance, that provides any occasion for humor, and most of Howard Talbot’s music, which it is not reminiscent, is lacking in such tunefulness as is required to make it of the essentially popular sort. One has passed the stage nowadays of asking for great originality in such composition – or, at any rate, one is mightily surprised if it is forthcoming. But that the tunes shall fall pleasingly on the ear and that they shall come readily to the lips of whistlers and singers – that may be fairly demanded. Perhaps after a few nights, too, the tendency toward ear-crashing effects in the rendering of the choruses will have been overcome – that may well be hoped for, for last night noise, rather than melody, marked much of what was sung.
‘In point of lavishness of production A Chinese Honeymoon is entitled to much praise. The two scenes – ”the garden of the hotel at Yiang Yiang” and ”the room in the Emperor’s palace” – are well painted, and the pictures presented, with many richly dressed women on the stage, is one of Oriental splendor. In the combinations of colors one notes the absence of those faults in taste which so often mar. An exceptionally pretty and novel effect was obtained in the second act, where disappearing and reappearing lines of chorus girls in bright colored gowns provide a panorama of changing color.
‘The story of the Chinese Honeymoon is not important. It concerns one Simon Pineapple, who goes to China on a honeymoon with his bride, under the somewhat unusual conditions of being accompanied by her eight bridesmaids. The chief uses of these bridesmaids is apparently to blow screeching whistles, which add to the general clamor, and to wear ”creations” in the now absolutely essential ”octet speciality” [a reference to Leslie Stuart’s song, ‘Tell Me Pretty Maiden‘ from Florodora (1899]. Pineapple meets in China his nephew, Tom Hatherton, who is there for the purpose of falling in love with Soo Soon, the Emperor’s niece, Fifi, a waitress in a hotel, is in love with Tom, but sacrifices herself to make that worthy young man happy. The Emperor has ordered his Lord Chancellor to find him a bride, one of the conditions being that the aspirant for that position shall not known the real rank of her fiance-to-be, but shall be allowed to think that he is a bill-poster. Various complications result through the peculiarities of the Chinese laws. Pineapple finds himself married to his niece-that-was-to-be and Hatherton’s intended bride becomes his aunt-in-law. It may readily be observed, therefore, that atmosphere is not entirely forgotten even to the extent of providing a Chinese puzzle in the disposing of the variously related persons.
‘Thomas Q. Seabrooke, who played ”Pineapple,” won favor for a song, ”Mr. Dooley” and Van Renssalear Wheeler was particularly favored for his number, ”I Love Her.” Edwin Stevens was successful as the emperor, as was Amelia Stone, the ”Soo Soo”.’
(The New York Times, New York, Tuesday, 3 June 1902, p. 9a)

* * * * *

Katie Barry (whose real name appears to have been Catherine Patricia Rafferty or, possibly, Laverty), was a niece of the actor and playwright, George Conquest (1837-1901), sometime manager of the Grecian Theatre in the City Road, London. She is said to have been born in London about 1869 and her career began as a small child at the behest of her uncle. She subsequently had a very busy career, including a tour of Australia in the late 1888s, before going to the United States in 1902 to star as Fifi in A Chinese Honeymoon. Miss Barry remained in America, where she became very popular, both in musical comedy and in vaudeville. Her career appears to have ended upon her marriage in 1908 as the second wife of Julius Scharmann (1867?-1914), a widower with three children and a member of the well-known brewing firm of H.B. Scharmann & Sons of 355-375 Pulaski Street, Brooklyn, New York. Mr Scharmann committed suicide by shooting himself with a revolver on 3 December 1914. It was said that he was grieving over the recent death of his closest friend, Ferdinand Schwanenfingel (various contemporary reports, including The Brooklyn Daily Eagle,, New York City, Thursday, 3 December 1914, p. 1c). It is assumed that Mrs Scharmann (Katie Barry) remained in the United States but her whereabouts following the death of her husband is as yet unknown.

Katie Barry’s recording (Columbia 1797, circa May 1904) of ‘I Want to Be a Lidy’ is included on the CD, Music from The New York Stage, 1890-1920, vol. I, Disc 2, no. 11.


H. Robert Averell, grandson of Jenny Lind, on tour in the United Kingdom during 1908 in The Girls of Gottenberg

February 12, 2014

H. Robert Averell (1885-1913), English actor and singer, as he appeared on tour in the United Kingdom during 1908 in the role of Prince Otto in George Dance’s The Girls of Gottenberg company. The part was first played by George Grossmith junior in the original production of The Girls of Gottenberg at the Gaiety Theatre, London (15 May 1907).
(photo: Foulsham & Banfield, London, 1908; postcard published by The Rotary Photographic Co Ltd, London, in the Rotary Photographic Series, no. 2356 B)

The promising young actor known as H. Robert Averell (and sometimes as Robert Averell) was born Walter Averell Lind Goldschmidt in Kensington, London, on 4 May 1885. He was the son of Walter Otto Goldschmidt (1854-1929) and his first wife, Mary Julia (née Daniell, 1859-?), who were married in 1884 and acrimoniously separated ten years later. Averell was therefore the grandson of Jenny Lind (1820-1887), the celebrated soprano known ‘The Swedish Nightingale,’ his father being her eldest child by her husband, the German-born musician, Otto Moritz David Goldschmidt (1829-1907).

* * * * *

‘Mr Robert Averell, a promising young English actor, died suddenly recently from the after effects of a chill. Only a few days previous Mr Averell, who made his name on the metropolitan stage as Hubert in The Girl in the Taxi, was playing in Oh, I Say at the London Criterion. A grandson of Jenny Lind, the famous Swedish diva, he was an old Westminster schoolboy and a ward in Chancery, and, consent to his adopting the stage as a career being practically impossible to obtain, he made his way to South Africa, where although under age he managed to join the Cape Mounted Rifles. Then he joined a travelling theatrical company which was often unable to proceed for lack of funds and the privations he then met with unquestionably hastened his end.’
(The New Zealand Observer, Auckland, Saturday, 13 December 1913, p. 14a)

In 1910 Averell was declared bankrupt, ‘his failure being attributed to his having lived in excess of his income.’ (The Times, London, Saturday, 14 May 1910, p. 17d) This reverse did not interfere with his career, however, and he went on to appear in several West End productions including Our Little Cinderella, a play with music (Playhouse Theatre, London, 20 December 1910), with his kinsman Cyril Maude (1862-1951) in the leading role; and The Girl in the Taxi, the musical play produced at the Lyric Theatre, London, on 5 September 1912. Averell’s last appearance was in the Parisian farce, Oh! I Say!, produced at the Criterion Theatre, London, on 28 May 1913. During the run he became ill and died suddenly in October that year, when his part was taken over by Ronald Squire who went on to become a well-known character actor.


Lady Dunlo (Belle Bilton)

March 23, 2013

a cabinet photograph of Lady Dunlo, the former Belle Bilton (1867-1906) of the Sisters Bilton, who, upon the death of her father-in-law in 1891 became the Countess of Clancarty
(photo: Bassano, London, circa 1890)

The Babes in the Wood, pantomime, produced at the Prince’s Theatre, Manchester on 21 December 1889,
with Lady Dunlo and Flo Bilton (formerly the Sisters Bilton), Little Tich, Jennie M’Nulty and Phoebe Carlo, et al

‘Great efforts are being put forth to make the forthcoming pantomime of The Babes in the Wood, at the Prince’s Theatre, Manchester, even more than worthy of the reputation of that house. it promises, above all things, to be pantomime of surpassing beauty. The majority of the dresses and their fair wearers are likely to be of a high degree of attractiveness. Scenery, by K.J. M’Lennan and others, of great brilliance, has been prepared and the company of actors and actresses – and specially the latter – it would be difficult to eclipse. Mr. George Dance has written the book, and the interpolated lyrics and local references are the work of Mr. W. Richardson. The music of the pantomime is under the capable care of Mr. Alfred Haines.

Flo Bilton
a cabinet photograph of Flo Bilton (b. 1872), formerly with her sister Belle (Lady Dunlo) as the Sisters Bilton, English music hall singer and dancer
(photo: LPSCo, probably London, early 1890s)

‘The principal characters and their representatives will be: The Baron, Mr. Arnold Bell (who is stage manager of the pantomime); the Baroness, Miss Lydia Lillian; the Baron’s Page, Little Tich; Willie and Teddy (the Babes), Miss Jennie M’Nulty and Miss Phoebe Carlo; Tabitha (the schoolmistress), Mr. Tom Bass; Dorcas (the pupil teacher), Miss Nannie Harding; the ruffians, Mr. Louis Kellagher and Mr. Witty Watty Walton; Robin Hood, Miss Florence Bilton; Little John, Miss Clara Bernhardt; Will Scarlet, Miss Madge Mildren; Allan-a-Dale, Miss Florence Dene; Mat the Miller, Mr. Villiers; Maid Marion, Lady Dunlo; Hubert and Lionel, the miller’s sons, Miss Lily Edmonds and Miss Denny Fitzherbert; the miller’s men, the Avolos; Peter Pinder (the innkeeper), Mr. A. Bolton; Margery and Patience, villagers, Miss Mabel Love and Miss Daisy Ashton; Friar Tuck, Mr. Walter Wright; Sergeant O’Neill, Mr. Alfred Sakee; Corporal O’Branigan, Mr. Walter Lonnen; Captain Peveril, Miss Ada Blanche; the Archdruid (the demon), Mr. John Henry Dew; the Fairy Queen, Miss Ruth d’Aunton. The first performances will take place on the 21st December.’
(The Manchester Weekly Times, Manchester, England, Saturday, 14 December 1889, p. 2h)

Madge Mildren
a cabinet photograph of Madge Mildren (fl. late 1880s/early 1890s), English actress, as Will Scarlett in Babes in the Wood, Prince’s Theatre, Manchester, 21 December 1889. Miss Mildren was subsequently connected with the Gaiety Theatre, London, where she appeared in Carmen-Up-To-Data (photo: The London Stereoscopic & Photographic Co Ltd, London, 1889)

The Babes in the Wood is a very luxurious pantomime; yet this exceeding richness is a sort of chastened luxury which will commend itself to the most refined tastes. The pictures within the frame of the proscenium are one after another magnificent, displaying resources, inventiveness, and above all, taste, on the part of Mr. T.W. Charles. Mr. George Dance’s book is more or less responsible for this; but the main credit due to him is that of telling a straightforward story in such a manner as to give opportunity to clever performers, rhyming with more than ordinary neatness and being careful always to measure his lines with one common foot rule. The first scene is a large picture – probably of Stonehenge – called the ”Hemlock Stone,” where long-bearded druids hold converse. In this weird region we behold burlesque on the incantation scene in Macbeth. Mr. John H. Dew’s singing of the Druid King is a hit, and so is the ludicrous Highland fling of the venerable Druids. Then, with tinklings from the orchestra and a blaze of silvery light from the flies, Titania and the fairies come rustling on. The net dramatic result of scene 1. is that the Druids vow vengeance against Robin Hood, whom Titania and the fairies protect. Green moonlight vanishes, hoary boulders collapse, and in an instant the village of Bumblebee, radiant as an August sun can make it, bursts upon the sight. The theatre rings with applause, and on the first night, Mr. M’Lennan, the scenic artist, was called and bowed again and again. Shepherds and shepherdesses and village beauties come trooping in by the score, until the whole stage is a swaying garden of infinite colour. These revels are held in honour of the wedding of the Bad Baron (Mr. Arnold Bell). The new Baroness (Miss Lydia Lillian) is a professional beauty, with a temper which enables her to hold her own anywhere. The Baron has a footman of the name of Bantam, which appropriately describes the most remarkable performer in the pantomime. Little Tich – for that is his name – is a young gentleman who cannot be much more than three feet high. The audience quickly recognises in him a consummate comedian. At his every gesture the audience roar with delight. Then two more funny people come on – Mr. Witty Watty Walton and Mr. Louis Kellagher, the ruffians of the play – and when Robin Hood (Miss Florence Bilton) and his merry-men, who have all the time been amusing themselves with the village beauties, have been proclaimed outlaws by a regiment of comic soldiers, the scene closes with a lively chorus. Here it may be mentioned that the village beauties, presonated by Miss Mabel Love, Miss Mary Marden, Miss Edith Milton, and Miss Daisy Ashton, are all very well worthy of the name. We are next introduced to Bumblebee Board School, where Miss Tabitha Bluestocking (Mr. Tom Bass) and Dorcas (Miss Nannie Harding) are teaching the young ideal how to shoot under great difficulties. Among the obstreperous pupils are the Baron’s nephew and niece, Willie and Tillie – not the tiny babes of the picture books, but two charming adults, Miss Jennie M’Nulty and Miss Phoebe Carlo. Gag’em and Scrag’em, the ruffians, disguised as schoolboys, arrive here and lure the Babes away. ”The Road to the Forest” – a beautifully painted scene showing a receding tunnel of russet foliage – is lowered, and when it rises ”Robin Hood’s Glen” is disclosed. This scene is admirable for its distance, a sunlit gorge with brown cliffs rising from the depths high above the trees. When the evolutions of green-dressed foresters are finished, Maid Marion strolls in in the person of Lady Dunlo. It is at once seen that her ladyship’s photographs only do her bare justice. Lack of spirit characterises both her acting and her singing, but her dancing and her costume are charming. A couple of soldier spies (Mr. Alfred Saker and Mr. Walter Lonnen) are dragged in, and Robin Hood, finding he is in peril, departs with his merry men to find the enemy. Then we come to ”The Depths of the Wood” and the famous fight between the ruffians. The next scene is ”The Fairies’ Home in Dreamland.” It serves as a suitable background for an exquisite ballet, called ”The Wedding of the Months and flowers.” In ”Friar Lawrence’s Cell” we are treated to some very comical lovemaking between the Friar (Mr. Walter Wright) and the schoolmistress, and to some wonderful dulcimer playing by the Avolos. Scene 9, ”The Windmill” – a glimpse far up over sparkling cascades to the head of a wooded glen – is perhaps the finest of all Mr. M’Lennan’s efforts. A spirited clog dance by a white-dressed ballet opens the action. Then comes the irresistible Little Tich in a pair of boots nearly as big as himself, and he indulges in antics which throw the audience into prolonged convulsions. Other scenes are given before dramatic matters are put straight. The vanquished villain returns, the Baron repents, and the Babes are restored to their rights, and the customary patriotic song closes the scene. Altogether Mr. Charles is to be congratulated on a pantomime which is not likely to be surpassed for constant exuberant fun, and which it would be difficult to equal for the beauty and splendour of its scenes.’
(The Manchester Weekly Times, Manchester, England, Saturday, 28 December 1889, p. 2d)

Mabel Love
a cabinet photograph of Mabel Love (1874-1953), English actress and dancer
(photo: The London Stereoscopic & Photographic Co Ltd, London, late 1880s)

‘A second edition of the pantomime, The Babes in the Wood, was performed for the first time at the Prince’s, Manchester, on Monday evening. New music, new songs, and other novel features were freely introduced. Little Tich proved a host in himself, his eccentricities of movement being the most distinctly humorous feature of the pantomime. Lady Dunlo and Miss Florence Bilton introduced a pretty new dance, which they executed admirably.’
(Manchester Times, Manchester, England, Saturday, 22 February 1890, p. 6c)


A Chinese Honeymoon, 2nd Anniversary Souvenir, 5 October 1903

January 22, 2013

cover of A Chinese Honeymoon souvenir,
distributed at the Strand Theatre, London, 5 October 1903
(from original artwork by ‘Kin’,
published for the Strand Theatre by The Stage Souvenir Co, London,
printed by David Allen & Sons Ltd, London and Belfast, 1903)

This attractive souvenir of the long-running musical comedy by George Dance, with music by Howard Talbot, which began its career at the Theatre Royal, Hanley, on 16 October 1899, contains photographs of and text by the leading personalities of the piece (including Picton Roxborough) on the occasion of its second anniversary at the Strand Theatre, London, where it had opened on 5 October 1901. A Chinese Honeymoon eventually closed there after 1,075 performances on 23 May 1904.

George Dance

George Dance (1858-1932), English dramatist and theatrical manager
(photo: Lizzie Caswall Smith, London, 1903

May honestly claim to be the most successful of all musical comedies. Originally produced by Mr. George Dance’s Company on October 16th, 1899, at the Theatre Royal, Hanley, it at once leaped into pubic favour. Two companies were sent immediately on the road, and it was while paying a visit to the Theatre Royal, Darlington, the following year that Mr. Frank Curzon first saw it. He determined to bring it to London, and he produced it eventually at this theatre on October 5th, 1901. Since that date it has been played here without a break, and this evening it registers its second anniversary.
In addition to the Strand production, A Chinese Honeymoon is being represented to-night by five different companies in the British provinces, under the direction of Mr. George Dance.
Messrs. Shubert ‘presented’ it at the Casino Theatre, New York, on June 2nd, 1901, where it met with an enthusiastic reception, and 500 consecutive performances were given – hereby establishing a record for musical plays in New York. It is now being played by four ‘road’ companies in the United States and Canada, under the management of the Messrs. Shubert.
It was produced by Mr. George Musgrove at the Princess’s Theatre, Melbourne, on June 30th, 1902, with equal success; and ran into 165 performances – a record for the Antipodes. Mr. Musgrove’s Company is now touring it in Australia and New Zealand [and Tasmania].
One February 14th, 1901, Mr. George Walton produced it at the Theatre Royal, Capetown, with its customary success (a success that was continued throughout South Africa) and a second tour is now being organized to open in Capetown in a few months’ time.
A German version was given at the Central Theater, Hamburg, by Mr. C.M. Roehr on February 12th, 1903, whtn the universal verdict was repeated. It is now included in the répertoire of the principal theatres throughout Germany, Austria and Hungary.
Mr. Maurice E. Bandmann is at the present time taking it on a third tour through the English-speaking cities situated round the Mediterranean.
Arrangements are already conducted for its presentation to the Parisian public. And it would seen that with this last invasion it had no other worlds left to conquer; but this is not so, for a series of unauthorized performances were given last year in China itself.
R. Byron Webber, Business Manager. Strand Theatre, Oct. 5th, 1903.