Posts Tagged ‘John Hare’

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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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Hope Booth

February 15, 2013

Hope Booth (1872-1933), American actress and singer
(photo: unknown, USA, circa 1895)

Hope Booth’s disastrous London debut, 1894
‘Miss Hope Booth, a relative of the late Mr Edwin Booth, who was in negotiation with Mr Hare for the use of the Garrick Theatre, eventually sublet to Mr Willard, has now secured the Royalty. She intends shortly to produce there a farcical comedy of the American variety, including songs and dances. The title of the it is Little Miss Cute.’
(The Bristol Mercury and Daily Post, Bristol, England, Saturday, 25 August 1894, p. 8f)

‘On Friday night (too late for notice this week) Miss Hope Booth, an American soubrette, of the Minnie Palmer order, opens the Royalty Theatre with an American entertainment piece called Little Miss Cute.’
(The Sporting Times, London, Saturday, 15 September 1894, p. 4e)

‘I fancy Little Miss ‘Cute has capped the record – in matters theatrical at least. There was once a ”Single Speech Hamilton” who built up a Parliamentary reputation on the basis of a single oration. But I doubt if there was ever – prior to the production of of Little Miss ‘Cute at the Royalty on Friday week – a play the run of which was limited to a single night. It was indeed a case of ave atque vale – how d’ye do and good-bye – with (Miss) Hope Booth and her histrionic companions. If you ask me why the Royalty opened its doors on Friday only to close them on Saturday, I answer that, though the course was strange, the reason was simple. Little Miss ‘Cute was, to use the favourite phrase of the lady-novelists, too ”impossible” for endurance in a longer run. The piece is called a ”Variety Comedy,” though melodrama would have been much nearer the mark. One of the characters shows a quite cat-like vitality as, although twice murdered, he is alive and kicking at curtain-fall. The entire play may be said to consist of a variety of incidents strung together without sequence or continuity.
‘The heroine was played by Hope Booth – the lady preferred to drop the ”Miss” before her name on the programme. This actress hails from the United States, and suffice it to say that though she essays to act, to sing, and to dance, she can at present do none of these things. She has indeed everything to learn. Some members of the company did much better, and, under more favourable circumstances, might do really well. Of the men, Mr. Gerald Spencer, Mr. Frank Fenton, and Mr. Ivan Watson, and of the ladies, Miss Violet Ambruster and Miss Italia Conti, did their utmost to save the play from its impending fate. But if they had one and all reached the counsels of perfection, the result must have remained unaltered, and the première and the dernière would still have been the same day.’
(The Country Gentleman: Sporting Gazette, Agricultural Journal, and ”The Man about Town”, London, Saturday, 22 September 1894, p. 1205c)

‘NEW FARCES
‘The TRAFALGAR SQUARE Theatre has reopened [on 13 September 1894] with a new three-act farce by Mr. John Tresahar, which belongs to a rather old-fashioned type in which extravagance is carried to the point of puerility. Its title is The Chinaman, and its business mainly depends upon the efforts of a young barrister to palm himself off on his aunt and patron as a Chinese mandarin and a wealthy client. Finally, the young barrister is found availing himself of the disguise to keep watching upon his wife, whose proceedings have awakened in him jealous suspicions. the part of the masquerading young barrister is played by Mr. Tresahar himself with an abandonment to its farcical spirit which, together with the sprightly acting of Miss Edith Kenward, Miss Cicely Richards, Mr. Frank Wyatt, and Miss Clara Jecks, may help to explain the favour with which this piece was received. Little Miss Cute, at the ROYALTY, may also be included under this heading, although its official classification is that of ”variety comedy.” As it only survived for one more night the first exposure of its childish absurdity, there is no need to do more than express a hope that it may prove to be the last production of its class on our stage, and that Miss Hope Booth, to whom we are indebted, or more strictly speaking, not indebted for this American importation, may, ere she appears again, learn to correct the irritating affectations and eccentricities of her style of acting.’
(The Graphic, London, Saturday, 22 September 1894, p. 335b)

Little Miss Cute was so cute that she didn’t attempt to keep the Royalty open for more than one night. If she had only been a little cuter she would have saved herself a lot of money and me a very miserable evening. Miss Hope Booth is a merry little woman, but there is more hope about her than genius, sorry as I am to have to say it. We are all tired of the Minnie Palmer drama, especially when Minnie isn’t in it.’
(Gossamer, ‘Waftings from the Wings,’ Fun, London, 2 October 1894, p. 139a)

‘LONDON, Saturday [22 December 1894]…
‘THE LAST OF LITTLE MISS ‘CUTE.
‘The last act of Little Miss ‘Cute was played to a not unsympathetic audience in the Bankruptcy Court to-day. Little Miss ‘Cute was the foolish play brought over from America by Miss Hope Booth, who had the intention of carrying London by storm. She brought a thousand pounds and the right to produce the play free of royalty. Its first night (at the Royalty) was also its last night. Miss Hope Booth had to confess no assets, but, as her indebtedness is only £162, this was not of much consequence. The mortifying part of the business is that the American papers had published glowing accounts of how the nobility were at the feet of Miss Hope Booth, and how men struggled to get near her with gifts of diamonds! Alas this was only a journalistic fantasy. If the diamonds had existed they would have had to appear in court to-day in the shape of assets. But we all admire Miss Hope Booth’s pluck, and hope she will have better luck.’
(Western Mail, Cardiff, Wales, Monday, 24 December 1894, p. 4g)

‘MISS HOPE BOOTH’S BANKRUPTCY.
‘In the Court of Bankruptcy, on Wednesday, before Mr Registrar Giffard, a sitting was held for the public examination of Miss Hope Booth, formerly an actress in America, and who came to England about April, 1894. She stated, in reply to the assistant receiver (Mr E.S. Grey), that when she came to England she had £200, not £1,000 as represented in a private examination taken in the official receiver’s office. That must have been somebody’s mistake. Neither was it the fact, as alleged in the examination, that the objects of her visit to England was the production of the play Miss Miss Cute. She came for a holiday. She did produce Little Miss Cute at the Royalty Theatre, and formed a company for the purpose, but the piece proved a failure, and was only played one night. She afterwards returned to America, and it was not the fact that she was possessed of some valuable diamonds. She had none, and wished she had.
‘Mr D.N. Pollock appeared for the bankrupt, and Mr Warburton on behalf of the Actors’ Association, representing certain professional creditors.
‘On further examination, the bankrupt said her manager was recommended to her by Mr Hare, and she was given to understand that Little Miss Cute would probably succeed. The manager refused, however, to ring up the curtain after the first night. She regretted that the company had had the trouble of a three weeks rehearsal without remuneration, but could not help it. She took no money back with her to America, her passage expenses being paid by her family when she arrived. Her recent expenses at the Hotel Victoria had been paid by friends. She had been an actress in America for some years – since she was a little girl.
‘The examination was adjourned pro forma for the amendment of the accounts.’
(The Era, London, Saturday, 26 January 1895, p. 13d)

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Lawrance D’Orsay, English actor

February 1, 2013

Lawrance D’Orsay (1853-1931)
English actor
(photo: unknown, circa 1900)

D’ORSAY, Lawrence [sic]:
‘Actor, was born in Peterborough, England. He comes of an old family of lawyers, and was himself educated for the law, but threw up Blackstone for the stage. After considerable experience in stock companies and the provinces with the usual ups and downs, Mr. D’Orsay eventually made a position for himself in London in “swell” parts principally of the military order, until of late years these special parts began to be designated by authors and managers as D’Orsay parts. In 1886 he played a sort of Dundreary character with Minnie Palmer in My Sweetheart at the Strand Theatre, London, and subsequently made his first visit to American with Miss Palmer under the management of John R. Rogers. Then followed a long series of engagements in the principal theatres in London with such well-known stars and managers as John Hare, Edward Terry, Thomas Thorne, George Edwardes, etc. During a three years’ engagement with George Edwardes at Daly’s Theatre, London, he created parts written for him in A Gaiety Girl, An Artist’s Model, and The Geisha. He came to America with An Artist’s Model. Mr. Charles Frohman brought Mr. D’Orsay to America again six years ago to support Annie Russell and to play the King in A Royal Family, and Mr. D’Orsay has stayed here ever since. After two seasons with A Royal Family Mr. Frohman cast him for a part in The Wilderness at the Empire Theatre, New York, and it was his performance in this play that influenced Augustus Thomas to write The Earl of Pawtucket for Mr. D’Orsay, the success of which made him a star. The production was made by the late Kirke La Shelle at the Madison Square Theatre and it ran just a year in New York. Augustus Thomas next wrote The Embassy Ball for Mr. D’Orsay, which Mr. Frohman accepted and produced. The winter of 1907 he co-starred with Cecilia Loftus in The Lancers. Mr. D’Orsay married Miss Marie Dagman, from whom he obtained a divorce. On August 18, 1907, he married Miss Susie Rushholme, an English actress, in England.’
(Who’s Who on the Stage, Walter Browne and E. De Roy Koch, editors, B.W. Dodge & Co, New York, 1908, p.136)

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‘LAWRANCE D’ORSAY.
‘It is an old story that those who know stage favourites with the footlights as barrier to a more intimate acquaintance believe the characteristics displayed on the stage are natural in private life. The audience en masse does not stop to analyze the assumption of mannerisms, the transformation of the player into some one else. May Irwin has often bewailed the fact that those she met socially expected to find her constantly saying funny things and singing coon songs. Naturally Miss Irwin possesses a keen sense of humor, but off the stage she tries to get as much rest from hilarity as possible. If an actress depicts characters of gentle disposition, she is immediately supposed to be like them. Annie Russell has always regretted that her managers allowed her to fall into this sort of rut. Because of this peculiar like of roles with which she has so long been associated the public has an idea that Miss Russell is a sad little creature. “Why won’t they let me be merry and vivacious?” she said, in speaking of this to me. Louis James, whom we all know as the greatest living exponent of the old school of heavy tragedy, is welcomed among his friends as a “jolly fellow.” He drops his dignified and somber air and delights in telling funny stories. Even when acting, his love of the ridiculous is so powerful that he with difficulty restrains himself from playing pranks upon his fellow-actors during tragic moments.
‘We have all heard so much about the Englishman, his heaviness, and his failure to understand jokes until some time after they have been told: therefore, when Mr. Lawrance D’Orsay appeared as the Earl of Pawtucket we were delighted to make his acquaintance, because he was exactly as we supposed he would be. Again Mr. D’Dorsay gives us the same type of Englishman in The Embassy Ball, and he plays these rules so naturally that it is to be expected that the public will believe he is treating it to a display of his own private characteristics. In these days when there are so many types it is a genuine relief to find one that is not hackneyed. The Embassy Ball would never take place if Mr. D’Orsay were not among the invited guests. Mr. Augustus Thomas was clever enough to offer us our pet conception of the Englishman, and it is difficult to imagine that he is not real.
‘Mr. D’Orsay off the stage is not what he seems on. He is the same tall, handsome man, for his figure is all his own, whether in the British uniform or in plain clothes. His face bears close inspection, for in meeting him minus the grease paint and powder, one sees how little he employs in his make-up. He walks in much the same manner as he does on the stage, and talks with a delightful accent which is most pronounced, but not exaggerated. Naturally he must lengthen his oral syllables when playing. It makes the character more laughable. Wherein then is the difference?
‘Mr. D’Orsay was a revelation in the cleverness of his conversation. He possesses more wit and appreciation of humor than any American actor of my acquaintance. Nothing escapes him, and this, too, without unusual endeavour, on his part to catch points. He has forever vanquished, in my opinion, the old belief of the dullness of Englishmen. He is as keen as the steel blades of the table knives with which he tells me his countrymen cut their daily meat. We use plated affairs. He laughs heartily and frequently. We all know what a jolly laugh Admiral Schley has. Well, D’Orsay’s is just as jolly, although purely British. His manner is the perfection of good breeding and courtesy. He does not have to be advertised as coming of a good family.
‘“Let us sit ovah heah by the winow,” said Mr. D’Orsay, “wheah at least we can see the aiah, even if we can’t feel it. You Americahns are so dreadfully afraid of the cold, aren’t you? I love it. This is a very strange country, you know. You overhead youahselves so awfully in wintah, and then you swallow large quantites of ice watah in ordah to keep cool. In England we live in cool places, and so we don’t find it necessary to drink ice watah. We nevah drink it in summah weathah, eithah. The watah is cool, certainly, but not iced. Americahns in England must have their iced watah, and so it is that recently, I may say, the restaurants are compelled to keep ice for the Americahns, who become dreadfully angry, really, if they cahn’t get what they want. I have heard youah countrymen make disagreeable remarks when warm beeah was served them. Now, in England, believe me, we nevah drink our beeah any othah way. I think there must be something in the climate which causes this. When I am in England I nevah think of ice, but the moment I return to this country I call for iced drinks.
‘Americahns laugh heartily as us and we laugh heartily at them about toast. You don’t know toast. You haven’t the faintest idea of it. In Americah, you call for toast and they bring you something which is warmed on each side and putty in the middle. Americahns call it hot toast. In England we each ouah dry toast cold and without buttah. Our hot toast is buttahed, but all of it is very crisp through and through. Youah toast and yoah iced watah are the causes, in my opinion, of so much nervous indigestion. Then youah roast beef. It isn’t the same as ouahs. I dare say the meat is originally almost as good as ouahs, but you spoil it in the cooling, reahly. You won’t baste youah roast beef. Why don’t you? Youah roast has no seasoning. You cook all the goodness out of it. It is tasteless. Life is too short in Americah to baste anything, isn’t it? Then, you eat it in such huge slices. I shall nevah become accustomed to youah carving. We cut our beef in slices as thin as wafers. When I first came to this country I used to say, ‘Bring me a very thin slice of beef.’ When what you call a ‘chunk’ was place befoah me I would say, ‘If this is thin, what is a thick one like?’ Hah, hah!
‘“Another thing – why will you eat youah eggs in so sloppy a fashion?”
‘“Oh, do we?” I asked, eager to learn more of ourselves as “othahs” see us.
‘“In what way are they sloppy?”
‘“What you call ‘soft eggs’ are slopped into a glass and they you put in salt and peppah and enjoy then horrible mixture. It takes one’s appetite, reahly.
‘“How should we eat tem?” I asked.
‘“Why, how else but in the shell, of course,” answered Mr. D’Orsay. “You eat them in a glass or a saucah or anything you choose. We eat them in egg cups. They are so much moah appetizing.
‘“Why are Americahns so fond of oystahs?” he inquired. “I cahn’t understand why you take the trouble to eat them, because you consume so much time in eliminating the taste of the oystah with catsup, lemon juice, the mixture you call horseradish, and tabasco. By the time salt and peppah is added, what becomes of the original flavour of the oystah? A beautiful woman does not need to be smothahed in perfume; and an oystah needs nothing but itself to make it delicious. Anothah thing I have noticed is that the men in Americah prefers [sic] damp cigar to dry ones. In England we nevah think of smoking a damp cigar. We hang our boxes up to get the dampness out and you use wet sponges to keep it in. Most curious custom, because a dry cigar is so much easier to smoke than a damp one. It does not requiah as much breath, and there you are!
‘“I enjoy youah American salng. It is most amusing. I roah with laughtah when I heah one fellow say to his friends: ‘Well, old chap, I’m awfully sorry, but I’ll have to go now.’ He doesn’t go, but talks a while longah, and then makes the same remark again. He does this several times, until one of his companions says, ‘Well, deah boy, theahs no string tied to you, you know,’ which I have learned to understand as a polite way of saying, ‘Why the deuce don’t you go?’ It’s awfully funny, you know.”
‘“Do you find that our language differs widely from yours?” I asked.
‘“The difference is in the meaning and pronunciation of words. It is rather troublesome at first for an Englishman to understand a strange use of a familiar word. Youah pronunciation if quite different. Befoah coming to this country I had been told that the Boston people speak more like the English than any othah people in the Sates. How could any one evah believe this? The Boston people are not a bit English. They are not American, either. They are something in between. Their accent is most affected. ‘Why chan’t you be natural?’ I feel like saying to them. When evah I heah an Americahn say ‘fawcey,’ it makes me laugh, because originally he must have said ‘fancy.’ In English we nevah say ‘fawncy.’ We always say ‘fancy.’ We also say ‘dance’ quite as much as we say ‘dahnce.’ ‘Dawnce’ is a favorite with many in this country. This is true of many words which Boston people say with the idea that they are speaking like us.
‘“It was so very silly of the Boston people to throw the tea overboard, wasn’t it? It was such a waste, for now they have tea every aftahnoon. From my observation I would say that the Southern people speak more as we do.
‘“It is remarkable how my friends at home expect to hear me speak with an Americahn accent. I become quite indignant at times, realhy, because there is no reason why a few months heah should cause one to forget his original pronunciation. At a dinner given in London during my last visit home a woman who sat next me remarked, ‘You’ah not an Americahn, are you?’
‘“Rather not,” I answered. How could any one suppose such a thing. It was too absurd.
‘“I’m an Americahn,’ she said.
‘“Oh” said I. Imagine how beastly rude I had been.
‘“I heard that the British military attache was out from the othah evening and was very much amused. I sinceahly hope that he was amused in the propah way.
‘“I believe that The Embassy Ball will be as successful in New York as The Earl of Pawtukat. Gus Thomas and I are very deah friends, and I should like so much to see the deah boy’s play succeed. I had made my reputation in England long before I evah thought of coming to America. I started at the bottom and worked my way up as I think every actah should do. Gradually, the parts I played became known as individual special parts. They were written to suit me. My first engagement heah was in the Edwardes production, The Artist’s Model [sic], in which Marie Studholm [sic] appeared. My role was that of an English offisah. Aftah that I played with Annie Russell in The Royal Family [sic], and look back upon that season as one of the happiest and most delightful of my entiah careeah. Mrs. Gilbert, the deah old lady, played my mothah, and it is a singular thing that her age was the same as that of my mothah. I have played with John Hare, Charles Wyndham, Edwin Terry [i.e. Edward Terry] – in fact, with all of them except Alexander and Irving. Of course, you wouldn’t have expected me to play with [sic] such plays as Hamlet, would you? I never did, because I thought that Hamlet shouldn’t have too many laughs. Forbes Robertson is a deah friend of mine. ‘“I played in the Gaiety Girl, which was my first engagement with Edwardes, and a most amusing thing occurred. There was a charactah in the piece which had been modeled on the chaplain of the Household Brigade Guards. In the play he was a doctah. Now, the real chaplain was a deah friend of the King [then Prince of Wales], who, when he heard about the play, ordered the character changed. In the meantime, the chaplain himself learned about his caricature and came to see himself on the stage. He had not heard about the change, and if you will believe it, came behind the stage and the deah old boy was so disappointed because he could not see himself doing the can-can with his daughtah. In that piece I had to say some curious lines. A young woman asked me ‘Don’t you long for war?’
‘“‘I cahn’t say that I do,’ I replied.
‘“‘How unmartial. Why on earth do people support an army?’ she continued; to which I answeredL ‘I don’t know, unless it is to heah the bands play.’
‘“On heahs so much about the artistic and the commercial struggles. As a mattah of fact, the two are very necessary to each other. It is seldom you find the combination of business manajah and actah. It amuses me most heartily that the box office thinks it draws the money. The press agent goes about telling how he does it all; and the poah actah – wheah does he come in? They think he has nothing to do with it. Let him stay away from the theatah one performance, and the question would be very easily settled, would it not?” asked Mr. D’Orsay, stroking his long mustache thoughtfully.
‘“As an illustration of this belief of managers and press agents, I must tell you about the man I met who had just completed a million dollah theatah. When it was all finished he discovered that there were no dressing-rooms for the actachs. He laughed heartily, for he thought it was a good joke. When I played at his theatah I found the dressing-rooms to consist of a few boahds stuck up between two boilahs. The grease paint on our faces ran down in streams into our boots. This man came to me and boasted of his theatah and told that he had put up those dressing-rooms at twelve houahs’ notice.
‘“I said to him: ‘I deah sir, I am very pleased to meet you, and if you will accept a bit of advice from me, the next time you build a theatah make four walls and see that the decorations are beautiful. Charge two dollahs a seat and you will find that you can do without the actahs and the people will fill youah theatah just the same.’
‘“Do you know he didn’t see the meaning of my remark? It was plain enough, wasn’t it? And the man is an Americahn. Of course, I didn’t take the trouble to explain it.
‘“I like Washington so much. The city is so beautiful. It is more like home than any othah place in yoah country. Then you have such distinguished persons heah. The quiet is delightful aftah the noise and bustle of othah cities. I should nevah suffah from insomnia heah.”
‘Knowing Washington’s reputation as a quiet place, I looked keenly at the Britisher to see if he were poking fun at us. But he was imperturbable.
‘“If The Embassy Ball is as great a success as Pawtucket, I shall play it next season,” said Mr. D’Orsay in conclusion. “A few days ago I received a splendid offah from Mrs. Fiske to appeah with her in a new play which is to be put on in the fall. On account of The Embassy Ball I was obliged to decline the honah of appearing with this actress, whom I admiah. She is a charming woman and a great artist. I had the pleasuah of playing The Earl of Pawtucket for six consecutive months in Harrison Grey Fiske’s theatah, in New York, the Manhattan.”’
(Marie B. Schrader, ‘Stage Favorites,’ The Washington Post, Washington, D.C., Sunday, 28 January 1906, Third Part, p.6d-f)

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Lawrance D’Orsay also appeared in a number of films, for which see the Internet Movie Database