Posts Tagged ‘Gerald du Maurier’

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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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Kitty Melrose, English musical comedy actress and singer, London, circa 1909

January 10, 2013

Kitty Melrose (1883-1912),
English musical comedy actress and singer;
(photo: Rita Martin, London, circa 1909)

This real photograph of the actress and singer Kitty Melrose was published in London about 1909 by A. & G. Taylor in its ‘Reality’ Series, no. 1353.

Miss Melrose first came to notice in 1905 when she made an appearance as Rectory Belle in a revival of Seymour Hicks’s musical dream play, Bluebell (Aldwych Theatre, London, 23 December 1905). Remaining with Hicks, she was next seen as one of the twelve Bath Buns in The Beauty of Bath, a musical play produced at the Aldwych on 19 March 1906. Again with Hicks, she then took the part of Miss Liverpool in the less successful musical play, My Darling (Hicks, 2 March 1907) before appearing as Trixie Clayton in Brewster’s Millions (Hicks, 1 May 1907), a comedy with Gerald du Maurier in the leading role. Miss Melrose’s next part was Fanny in Cosmo Hamilton’s farce, ProTem (Playhouse, 29 April 1908) before returning to musical comedy in Charles Frohman’s New York production of The Dollar Princess at the Knickerbocker Theatre (6 August 1909). Kitty Melrose’s last appearance was as Cleo in The Quaker Girl (Adelphi, 5 November 1910), starring Joseph Coyne, and Gertie Millar for whom she was sometime understudy.

‘Golf Ball Hurts Actress.
‘Miss Melrose May Be Disfigured – Her Nose Fractured.
‘Kiss Kitty Melrose, an English actress, playing in The Dollar Princess at the Knickerbocker Theatre, received so severe a fracture of the nose on Friday afternoon from a blow of a golf ball that the doctors who have her in charge fear that she may be permanently disfigured.
‘She was hurried to this city in an automobile from the Links of the Danwoodie Country Club under an anaesthetic for treatment here. She had gone to the course with F. Pope Stamper of the same company. They had gone over the course once when Mr. Stamper prepared to make a long drive. Miss Melrose stood watching, about forty feet to the right. He swung with great force, but sliced the ball. It shot out, rotating at an angle, and, making a curve, struck Miss Melrose squarely on the side of the nose.’
(New York Times, New York, Sunday, 17 October 1909, p.18f)

‘Pathetic Death of Deserted Woman.
‘Actress Dead With Her Head Inside a Gas Oven.
‘London, June 7 [1912]. – the love affairs of the actress, Kitty Melrose, aged 29, who has lately been an understudy for Gertie Millar in The Quaker Girl, at the Adelphi theater and who was found dead in her flat with her head inside a gas oven, occupied the attention of the coroner at Westminster today.
‘Letters read at the inquest, showed that she had been living with Lawson Johnston, a young man about town, who had promised to marry her. Later he wrote her that he found it impossible to carry out his promise owing to the opposition of his people, upon whom he was dependent.
‘He acknowledged it was wrong for him to allow her to think that marriage was possible, but he added, the family had found out that they had been living together and said the marriage was impossible.
‘Kitty’s letters in reply were very pathetic. The last one said among other things:
‘“Eddie. By leaving me alone, you thought you were doing right, but it was all wrong. God forgive you, as I hope he will forgive me.”’
(The Evening Observer, Dunkirk, New York, 7 June 1912, p.7d)

The full story surrounding Kitty Melrose’s suicide, which took place on 3 June 1912, is recounted by James Jupp, The Gaiety stage door; thirty years’ reminiscences of the theatre, Jonathan Cape, London, 1923. She is buried at Kensal Green Cemetery, London.