Posts Tagged ‘Harry Nicholls’


Florence Dysart as Maid Marion in the pantomime, Babes in the Wood and Robin Hood and his Merry Men, produced at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London, on 26 December 1888

May 3, 2014

Florence Dysart (active 1881-1897), English mezzo-soprano and actress, as she appeared as the principal girl, Maid Marion in the pantomime Babes in the Wood and Robin Hood and his Merry Men, which was produced at the Drury Lane Theatre, on Boxing night, 26 December 1888.
(cabinet photo: The London Stereoscopic & Photographic Co Ltd, London, 1888)

‘TEN MINUTES’ CHAT WITH AUGUSTUS DRURIOLANUS [i.e. Augustus Harris, manager of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane].
‘I risked my life in order to catch Mr. Harris, for I arrived at the stage door in the middle of the great scene in The Armada, and when I reached the stage soon began to feel as helpless as a straw in a maelström. I was driven hither by perspiring men-at-arms, and thither by panting halberdiers, shoved here by the blowing scene-shifters and there by gallant knights, glared at by beetle-browed Spaniards, glowered at by Elizabethan jacks, nearly spitted by the professional rippers [a reference to Jack the Ripper]of the period, crushed by the tumbling masts, blinded by the flash of musketry, and deafened by the cannon’s roar. So I was glad to find myself in the Harrisian haven, a cosy little den, from which the great Druriolanus directs his many enterprises.
”’Well, Mr. Harris, how is the pantomime getting on, and what is it to be?”
”’Jack the Giant K——, Babes in the Wood, I mean, replied Druriolanus, who had forgotten for the moment.
”’Will the Babes beat the record?”
”’The Babes will beat the record.”
”In what way, Mr. Harris? More money, more spectacle?”
”People seem to think that a successful pantomime is only a matter of money, It is a great mistake. You can’t make an omelette without eggs, of course, but many an omelette has been spoiled notwithstanding the sacrifice of a good many good eggs.”
”’Your refer to brains, Mr. Harris?” Mr. Harris refused to answer; but a smile played about his swarthy countenance, and he, blushing in his confusion, began to take to pieces a little camera, with which he photographs designs and scenery.
”’There is no doubt that money spent on a pantomime without brains might as well be thrown into the gutter.”
”’Well, now, tell me, Mr. Harris, when do you begin to thank about pantomimes?”
”’Last January I fixed on the Babes, and began to make arrangements for my book, my business, my stars, my properties, and my sensations.”
”’Which are ——?”
”’My big scene will be the ‘Ballet of Birds,’ the most beautiful thing I have ever done. You smile. Ha! because I told you that last year, eh? You bow. But don’t I tell you that every year I try to beat the record? So it will be more beautiful than ever. The birds will be selected for their splendid plumage. Birds of Paradise, birds of Japan, birds of the East – but there, you can imagine the stage filled with hundreds of feathered things.” Without knowing, I should prophesy that Mr. Harris will invent a good many specimens unknown to ornithologists, such as birds with tails of diamond sprays, with golden beaks, silver legs, ruby eyes, and so on.
”’Any other sensation, Mr. Harris?”
”’Well, I think I have got a novelty which will be very attractive. When the ‘Babes’ go into the wood, the wood will move with them. As they lose themselves the forest gets thicker, the scrub denser, until they reach the gloomiest glade of the forest, when they lie down and die. I have tried to get this effect for four years, but only now have I succeeded. The machinery is made abroad.”
”’Who are the ‘Babes’?”
Mr. Harry Nicholls and Mr. Herbert Campbell. Mdme. Ænea is Robin Redbreast, Miss Harriet Vernon is ‘the’ boy, and Miss Florence Dysart the leading lady.”
”’And your danseuse?”
”’Well, the pantomime public doesn’t care about the ballet in the sense that the word is used – I mean too much dancing.”
”’Nevertheless I suppose you will have a good many ladies on the stage?”
”’A few hundreds,” replied Mr. Harris, with nonchalance.
”’I suppose you are overwhelmed with applications?”
”From all parts of the country, for months past. The process of selection takes some time and trouble, I can tell you. When a girl writes we ask her to send her photo and previous experience, and all the letters are carefully sifted. I need not tell you that all sorts of dodges are tried in order to secure an engagement. A young lady may squint, in which case she would probably send me the photo of her sister or her friend. Or she may have only one eye, and request the photographer to add the other. What I do is to sift the photos, and I have letters written to the likely ones requesting them to be at the theatre on a certain day. They come and are marched on to the stage. I then arrange them in regiments, putting them into little squadrons of all and small, and fair and dark, and comely and otherwise. With my secretary I then go through them, having already sampled them, so to speak. We have their letters, and as we pass each one I say to the secretary, ‘A,’ ‘B,’ ‘C,’ ‘D,’ ‘E,’ &c., each of the letters having a special significance. This done, we then write to the selected ones. I need not tell you that this is a very important business which I always do myself.”
”’Have you many children in the pantomime this year?”
”’Not many. The children are a great deal of trouble.” The the joy bells began ringing, and Mr. Harris took me to see the grand procession in the Armada.’
(The Pall Mall Gazette, London, Tuesday, 4 December 1888, p. 6a)


Ada Neilson as Queen Elizabeth I in The Armada, Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London, 1888

November 13, 2013

Ada Neilson (1846-1905), English actress, specialising in ‘leavy leads,’ as she appeared as Queen Elizabeth I in Henry Hamilton and Augustus Harris’s romantic play, The Armada, produced at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London, on 22 September 1888.
(cabinet photo: Elliott & Fry, 55 Baker Street, London, W, and 7 Gloucester Terrace, London, SW, 1888)

‘DRURY LANE. – AUGUSTUS HARRIS, Lessee and Manager.
‘Will REOPEN on SATURDAY, 22d September, with a New Grand Spectacular Drama, entitled
‘THE ARMADA: A Romance of 1588.
‘Winifred Emery, Edith Bruce, Kate James, Ada Neilson, and Maud Milton; Leonard Boyne, Luigi Lablache, Edward Gardiner, Victor Stephens, A Beaumont, Mervin, Dallas, Stanislaus, Calhaem, B. Robins, F. Dobel, Basil West, W. Wridge, F. Harrison, W. Winter, S. Dawson, FitzDavis, Parkes, H. Denvil, F. Thomas, and Harry Nicholls.’
(The Morning Post, London, Thursday, 6 September 1888, p. 4a, advertisement)

‘… Miss Ada Neilson was made up, with uncompromising realism, to Knoller’s picture, and acted just as Elizabeth Tudor may have been supposed to have acted in real life. Her sumptuous dress in the third act was one mass of gold embroidery and blaring gems… .’
(Reynold’s Newspaper, London, Sunday, 23 September 1888, p. 8d)

‘… Miss Ada Neilson, as Queen Elizabeth, looked the part to perfection; but her efforts to be impressive were too painfully marked… .’
(The Pall Mall Gazette, London, Monday, 24 September 1888, p. 6a)

‘Queen Elizabeth, in the reddest hair I ever saw, may be dressed – indeed, is dressed – in the costume of the period.
‘The gods, however, accept it as burlesque.
‘And when the red-headed monarch exclaims –
”’Play heaven my hair turn not grey.”
The aspiration is accepted as a very fine joke indeed… .
‘Elizabeth, Queen of England, has frequently been made the subject of burlesque.
‘No one who has yet attempted the character has been so successful as the present author.
‘However, ”no scandal about Queen Elizabeth.”
‘Miss Ada Neilson played the part.
‘And as she no doubt played to order it would be unfair to criticise her too severely… .’
(‘Flashes from the Footlights,’ The Licensed Victualler’s Mirror, London, Tuesday, 25 September 1888, p. 418c)


Harry Nicholls (1852-1926), English actor, dramatist, song writer and theatrical manager, as Private Jupp in One of the Best, Adelphi Theatre, London, 21 December 1895

January 3, 2013

Harry Nicholls (1852-1926), English actor, dramatist, song writer and theatrical manager, as Private Jupp in One of the Best, a drama by George Edwardes and Seymour Hicks, first produced at the Adelphi Theatre, London, 21 December 1895 (photo:Foulsham & Banfield, London, 1909)

This real photograph postcard was published in London in 1909 by the Rotary Photographic Co Ltd, no. 7473B in the Rotary Photographic Series. It shows Harry Nicholls as Private Jupp in One of the Best, a drama by George Edwardes and Seymour Hicks which was revived at the Aldwych Theatre, London, on 1 May 1909. Nicholls had created the part of Jupp when the play was first produced at the Adelphi Theatre, London, on 21 December 1895.

‘Speaking of authors, I don’t suppose there are many people who know that the famous play One of the Best, which was one of William Terriss’ great successes, was written by George Edwardes and Seymour Hicks. I remember them discussing it in the office, and my being there gave them the name of the humorous character “Private Jupp,” played by Harry Nicholls. My name brought me a nice present in the shape of a heavy gold ring. Mr. Hicks said : “We’re going to christen one of our characters after you, Jupp – hope you won’t mind – and I want to make you a present. What about a gold ring as a memento?” Of course I accepted and went to Lewis and Salome in Cranbourne Street and got a beauty, which I wear to the present day.’ (James Jupp [who for many years was stage door keeper at the Gaiety Theatre, London], The Gaiety Stage Door. Thirty Years’ Reminiscences of the Theatre, Jonathan Cape, London, 1923,p. 299)