Posts Tagged ‘Kennington Theatre (London)’


Erroll Stanhope, ‘England’s Lady Whistler’

February 18, 2014

Erroll Stanhope (1872-1969), English siffleuse, musician and music hall and pantomime actress and singer, sometime billed as ‘England’s Lady Whistler’
(postcard photo: Alfred Ellis & Walery, London, circa 1903)

Erroll [sometimes Errol] Stanhope (Erroll Augusta Stanhope Drake) was born on 20 February 1872, the elder daughter of Collard Augustus Drake (1843-1911) by his second wife Julia Annie (née Eales). Drake, better known as ‘A. Collard,’ was an accomplished flautist, a flute and piccolo manufacturer trading as A. Collard & Co., and author of Method of Practising the Flute (London, 1875). Miss Stanhope’s earliest public appearances seem to have been with her father. She later went on to feature in various pantomimes, including Babes in the Wood at the Alexandra Theatre, Sheffield, at Christmas 1899, and as Jack in Sweet Red Riding Hood, at the Kennington Theatre, produced on 26 December 1901. She also made numerous music hall appearances before her marriage in 1904 to the music hall singer, Whit Cunliffe (1876-1966).

* * * * *

‘Miss Erroll Stahope rivals Mrs. Alice Shaw, the original belle siffleuse, in the gentle art of whistling. She has whistled, and the Sketch tells us, from babyhood. In those early days she whistled for her own amusement, now she purses her pretty lips and whistles for the delectation of the playgoing public. During the run of King Kodak at Terry’s Theatre [produced on 30 April 1894] Miss Stanhope whistled nightly ”‘Way Down the Swanee River,” as well as a whistling piece of her own composition. In one thing she beats Mrs. Alice Shaw – she whistles three notes higher; her register being from C natural to C sharp. By way of change Miss Stanhope, who does not look more than sweet seventeen in the Sketch‘s portrait, sometimes plays the flute, and is even suspected of a determination to learn the Scottish bagpipe when her engagements leave her the necessary time.’
(The Weekly Standard and Express, Blackburn, Saturday, 11 August 1894, p. 7f)

‘TO-MORROW (SUNDAY) AFTERNOON, at 3.30; doors open 2.30.
‘Organist, Mr. Alfred Hollins. Vocalists, Miss Beatrice Frost, Mr. Iver M’Kay. Violinist, Miss Cecile Elleson. Flute Quartette, Miss Erroll Stanhope, Messrs J. Radcliff, J. Lemmons, A. Collard. Accompanists, Mr. Henry J. Wood, Mr. Richard Rickard. Admission free; reserved seats, 6d., 1s., 1s. 6s., 2s., at Robert Newman’s box-office, Queen’s Hall, Langham-place.’
(The Morning Post, London, Saturday, 25 May 1895, p. 6b, advertisement)

Royal Pier Entertainments, Southampton, Hampshire, 3 August 1895,br> ‘… Miss Erroll Stanhope specially distinguished herself as a vocalist and siffleuse. Her song ”Little Miss Prim” was encored. Her whistling solos were perfection itself, and several encores followed.’
(The Hampshire Advertiser, Southampton, Saturday, 10 August 1895, p. 6a)

‘MISS ERROLL STANHOPE Theatre Royal, York. – ”Miss Erroll Stanhope is a young lady who has a diversity of attractions. As Daisy Madcap she sings and acts well; but, beyond that, she is able to whistle with a sweetness and brilliancy rarely met with in either male or female. On Saturday night she whistled Arditi‘s ‘Il Bacio’ [orchestral version with saxophone] with all the sweetness and brilliancy of execution which one would have expected from an accomplished piccolo player. The inevitable encore followed.” – Yorkshire Herald March 25th [1899]’
(The Stage, London, Thursday, 28 March 1901, p. 2d)

* * * * *

Mrs Alice Shaw is said to have made several cylinder recordings. One, with her twin daughters, entitled, ‘Spring-tide Revels,’ described as ‘A whistling trio novelty,’ was released in 1907 by Edison in the United States.


the Redmond Brothers in the pantomime Aladdin, Kennington Theatre, London, 1904/05

September 22, 2013

‘Willie, come here!’ A colour lithograph and halftone postcard photograph of the Redmond Brothers (active early 20th Century), comedians and ‘grotesque acrobats,’ as they appeared in the pantomime Aladdin at the Kennington Theatre, London, SE, 24 December 1904. The cast included Rachel Lowe as Aladdin and Harry Brayne as Widow Twankey.
(photo: unknown; postcard: Valentines Pantomime Series, 1904)


Albert Felino

June 14, 2013

Albert Felino (1877-1924), English animal impersonator, as he appeared as the cat in Dick Whittington, at the Theatre Royal, Edinburgh, Christmas 1908.
(photo: unknown, England or Scotland, probably 1908; postcard, The Philco Publishing Co, London, Philco Series 3438E)

Albert Felino was born Albert Brady in Blackburn, Lancashire, in 1877, one of the children of John (b. 1847) and Mary Brady (née Johnson, 1852-1943), who were married in 1868 and were music hall duettists and burlesque artists professionally known as Albert Brady and Marion Johnson. Felino, still known as Brady, performed with his parents until about 1900, after which he began to specialise in impersonating animals. In 1904 he was married to Cora McCole, the daughter of the Scottish music hall artist, John Hina (né Andrew McCole, 1883?-1929), by whom he had two daughters. ‘QUEEN’S BENCH DIVISION.
‘Brady and Another v. The North Metropolitan Tramways Company. – The Plaintiffs in this case, Mr. and Mrs. Brady, were music-hall artistes, and damages were claimed in respect of personal injuries suffered by the female Plaintiff in a street accident on the 17th of April last [1896], which injuries produced a very deleterious effect upon their professional prospects… . ‘It was stated that the Plaintiffs, Mr. and Mrs. Brady, were ”operatic and comic-sketch artistes,” the processional name of the lady being Miss Marian [sic] Johnson, and they worked the ”Brady-Johnson Combination.” The members of this combination were the Plaintiffs themselves, Miss Nicholls, and a lad, who was the son of Mr. Brady. Mrs. Brady was the life and soul of the performance, which greatly depended upon her dancing. The combination gave their performances at various music halls in the country and in London… .’
The Sebright music hall, Hackney, London, March 1898
(The Standard, London, Thursday, 25 March 1897, p. 6b)

‘The comic side of life is presented with unbroken energy by the Brady and Johnson company in Turning the Tables, in which a hen-pecked husband and a down-trodden wife take counsel and assert their rights to the dismay and confusion of their respective better-halves.’
(The Era, London, Saturday, 19 March 1898, p. 18d)

Shortly after this Albert Felino began to appear regularly in pantomimes and other Christmas productions, such as the donkey in The Forty Thieves, pantomime, Kennington Theatre, Christmas, 1903.

The Forty Thieves, pantomime, Kennington Theatre, Christmas, 1903
‘… ”Abbas,” an intelligent donkey, very cleverly played by Mr. Albert Felino, causes much fun. The children were particularly delighted with his antics in the second scene, Ali Baba’s stables, and when he was being loaded up with the treasure which Ali Baba and Ganem, the latter character being impersonated with much spirit and refinement by Miss Georgina Middleton, had purloined from the cave of the thieves.’ Other members of the cast included Tom E. Murray (Ali Baba), Beatrice Willey (Morgiana) and Little Cliff (i.e. Laddie Cliff) as the donkey boy.
(The Times, London, 28 December 1903, p. 10e)

He was next seen as Esau the monkey on tour during 1904 in The Cherry Girl, a part originated by Edward Sillward when the piece opened at the Vaudeville Theatre, London, on 21 December 1903. At Christmas 1904 he was in The Forty Thieves and the Theatre Royal, Edinburgh, with Ruth Lytton, Tom E. Murray, Rhoda Gordon and others. He played the cat in Dick Whittington at the same theatre at Christmas, 1908, a pantomime with Jane Eyre in the title role, Ethel Erskine as Alice, Florence Warde as the Prince of Morocco, Molly Maguire as the Fairy Queen, Phil Ray as Alderman Fitzwarren and Will Evans as Idle Jack. At Christmas 1911 he appeared in The Forty Thieves at the Prince of Wales’s Theatre, Birmingham, Christmas, when other parts were played by Malcolm Scott, Happy Fanny Fields, Regan and Ryan and Dorothy Craske.

At the end of 1915 Albert Felino travelled with his family to Australia where he appeared as Priscilla the goose in the pantomime Mother Goose, at Her Majesty’s Theatre, Melbourne, opposite Harry Farrow in the title role. Gladys Moncrieff played the Fairy Queen. Early in 1916 the production transferred to the Theatre Royal, Adelaide, before moving on to His Majesty’s Theatre, Brisbane, and then to Her Majesty’s Theatre, Sydney.

Mother Goose, Her Majesty’s Theatre, Melbourne, Christmas, 1915 ‘A famous animal impersonator is coming to Australia to play the Golden Goose in the J.C. Williamson, Ltd., ”Mother Goose” pantomime in Melbourne. This is Albert Felino, a specialist in these parts. For years the pantomime season in London has not passed without Mr. Felino appearing in an animal role, and his long list of impersonations includes cat, donkey, goose, dog, parrot, baby elephant, money, horse, cow, teddy bear, and giraffe. ”No wonder I have often been described as a whole menagerie in myself,” said Mr. Felino. His success as an animal actor was not achieved without years of assiduous training. A great deal of his time was spent watch the various animals and birds, for, as Mr. Felino explains, ”while the characterisation must be exaggerated and highly coloured, as it were, at the same time it must be close to the original. It is the natural touches – the lifelike characteristics – that appeal so strongly to an audience, as well as the humorous side. The Golden Goose is only of my favourite parts. This will be my sixth ‘goose.””
(The Queenslander, Brisbane, Saturday, 20 November 1915, p. 3d)

‘Albert Felino, who plays the golden goose in J.C. Williamson’s pantomime, after playing cats, dogs, donkey, geese, and other quaint things, thousands of times, had gradually gown shorter. He has to adopt a crouching attitude, or walk with knees bent. ”The golden goose in the ‘Mother Goose’ pantomime,” explained Mr. Felino, ”is the most trying of zoological roles, as it means not only supporting an enormous weight the whole of the time, but throughout the performance I am never able to assume an erect or normal position. My knees are bent all the time, and I have to walk like that or waddle from side to side. Since I took to playing roles like these I have lost five inches in height. I had the distinction in forming the subject of an examination in London last year by some of the most noted medical men, who were extremely curious regarding my loss of stature. Three pages were devoted to the matter in the leading medical journal.’
(The Mail, Adelaide, Saturday, 26 February 1916, p. 7d)

Among Felino’s last appearances were in Robinson Crusoe at the Royal Court Theatre, Liverpool, at Christmas, 1920, with Ralph Lynn, Lottie Collins junior, Lillie Soutter, La Pia and others, followed by those in the same production at the Theatre Royal, Glasgow, Christmas, 1921, and the Theatre Royal, Newcastle, Christmas, 1922, with Will Fyffe, Lillie Soutter and La Pia


Bessie Butt

April 16, 2013

Bessie Butt (fl. early 20th century), English dancer, actress and singer, as principal boy in Aladdin, pantomime, Theatre Royal, Glasgow, Christmas 1909
(photo: Langfier, Glasgow, 1909)

‘Born in London within the sound of Bow Bells [the traditional description of a Cockney], Miss Bessie Butt commenced her stage career at a very early age by playing the child part in [Minnie Palmer’s popular vehicle] My Sweetheart. While still in her early ‘teens she toured through many European countries in company with her brothers – the Reed Family – and made quite a big reputation as a transformation dancer, being billed as “Baby Butt.” An unfortunate illness kept her from the stage for a long period, and her next appearance was under the management of Mr. John Tiller, who looked upon her as one of the most promising of his young recruits.
‘Having ambitions, Miss Butt decided on doing a single turn on the halls, and at once sprang into popularity wherever she appeared. The late Walter Summers saw her, and recommended her so highly to Mr Robert Arthur that she was engaged by him as second girl for the Kennington theatre pantomime of Red Riding Hood, and there she made her first great success in [singing] “Ma blushing Rosie.” The late Clement Scott [dramatist and theatre critic, 1841-1904] was so taken with this number that he went several times to hear it. Miss butt’s next appearance was [on tour] under the management of Mr. George Edwardes as Susan in The Toreador [originated by Violet Lloyd, Gaiety, London, 17 June 1901], and this was followed by Sophie in A Country Girl [originated by Ethel Irving, Daly’s, London, 18 January 1902] and Thisbe in The Orchid [originated by Gabrielle Ray, Gaiety, London, 26 October 1903]. After this she was for twelve months at the London Coliseum, where she created several parts, notably the Black Pearl in Mr. Leslie Stuart’s song specially written for Mr. Eugene Stratton, and produced at the Coliseum in 1905. She also appeared as a wonderfully life-like doll in Mr. Will Bishop’s [ballet] My Gollywog. This was in 1906.
‘A pantomime engagement as Cinderella at Cheltenham was followed by a return to the halls under the managements of Mr. Oswald Stoll, the late Mr. G.A. Payne, and others; and then Miss Butt was seen and secured by Mr. Lester Collingwood to play the title roole in his pantomime of Cinderella at the Alexandra, Birmingham, in 1907. The success was phenomenal, as the run of the pantomime was a record for the country. On that occasion also Miss Butt won the “Owl” cake and diamond ring in a local beauty competition. This year Miss Butt has discarded skirts and gone in for principal boy, and as Dandini at the Royal County Theatre, Kingston, she is undoubtedly the hit of a most successful [Cinderella] pantomime [; other members of the cast were Dorothy Grassdorf, Hilda Vining and Laurie Wylie]. During her short career she has introduced many popular songs, of which probably the most successful have been “Scarecrow,” “Amelia Snow,” “Cherries are blooming,” “Peggy, the pride of the Mill,” and “Sunshine Soo,” her latest effusion, which is likely to eclipse in popularity all the others.
Gifted with youth, beauty, a sweetly clear and distinct voice, a genius for dancing, and unlimited vivacity, there is no knowing to what heights this clever lady may aspire.’
(The Era, London, Saturday, 30 January 1909, p.13c)

Bessie Butt

Bessie Butt
(photo: White, Bradford, circa 1908)