Posts Tagged ‘Knickerbocker Theatre (New York)’


Katie Seymour sings ‘In Disguise (The Masquerade Song’ in The Casino Girl, Knickerbocker Theatre, New York, 1901

April 13, 2014

Katie Seymour (1870-1903), English actress, dancer and singer, featured on a lithograph poster advertising the New York Journal for Sunday, 21 April 1901, in which copies were included of ‘In Disguise (The Masquerade Song),’ which, as Dolly Twinkle, she sang in The Casino Girl at the Knickerbocker Theatre, New York, in April and May 1901.

‘Knickerbocker Theatre (Harry Mann, manager). – The rather mildly entertaining and only fairly creditable American product, The Casino Girl, returned to this [New York] the city of its original production, after having been Angelicised [sic] to some extent. The house on the opening night, April 8 [1901], was crowded in all parts, and, thought there is little genuine humor in the book and lyrics, the play’s spectacular features and several musical contributions were hailed as sufficient compensation for a visit to the house, and the evening was successful. James E. Sullivan suffered from a lame dialect, but was otherwise capable, and Katie Seymour danced gracefully and made a distinct hit. Albert Hart and Sam Collins, in their original roles, proved as nimble and as clever as formerly, while Ella Snyder made a pleasing exponent of the title role. Charles Dox contrived to do some creditable work, and the others of the cast made the most of their opportunities… .’
(The New York Clipper, New York, 13 April 1901, Saturday, 148c)


Sydney Valentine in The Light that Failed, Lyric Theatre, London, 1903

February 11, 2014

Sydney Valentine (1865-1919), English actor, as he appeared in the role of J.G. Fordham (‘Nilghai’) in the first production of The Light That Failed by George Fleming after the novel of the same name by Rudyard Kipling, published in 1890.
(photo: probably Bassano for The Play Pictorial, London, 1903)

The play, whose cast also included Johnston Forbes-Robertson, C. Aubrey Smith, Leon Quartermaine, Gertrude Elliott, Margaret Halston and Nina Boucicault, ran at the Lyric Theatre, London, from 7 February 1903 to 18 April 1903 and then at the New Theatre, London, from 20 April 1903 to 20 June 1903. Forbes-Robertson subsequently organized a tour of the United Kingdom of The Light That Failed with a different cast, headed by Sydney Brough and Beatrice Forbes-Robertson. Johnston Forbes-Robertson afterwards took the play to the United States, opening at the Knickerbocker Theatre, New York on 9 November 1903. Of the original London cast, he was accompanied by C. Aubrey Smith, Leon Quartermaine and Gertrude Elliott; Sydney Valentine’s old part of J.G. Fordham (‘Nilghai’) was played by George Sumner.

* * * * *

A ‘quite inadequate’ one act adaptation by Courtenay Thorpe of Kipling’s well known work was previously presented as a curtain-raiser at the Royalty Theatre, London, on 7 April 1898. Thorpe himself headed the cast, supported by Frank Atherley, Ruth Mackay and Furtado Clarke. The Stage (London, Thursday, 14 April 1898, p. 15b) described Miss Mackay as ‘a lady of handsome appearance and good voice, who may be recommended a close study of Cockney pronunciation if she wishes to make her present work more successful.’


Marilyn Miller – ‘Peter Pan (I Love You)’

April 9, 2013

Song sheet cover for ‘Peter Pan (I Love You)’ by Robert King and Ray Henderson. Marilyn Miller (1898-1936), American actress and dancer, as she appeared in the title role of Charles Dillingham’s revival of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, which was produced at the Knickerbocker Theatre, New York, on 6 November 1924.
(photo: unknown, USA, 1924; published by Shapiro, Bernstein & Co Inc, New York, 1924)


Robert Loraine

February 17, 2013

Robert Loraine (1876-1935),
English actor manager and aviator,
as John Tanner in George Bernard Shaw’s play,
Man and Superman,
produced at the Criterion Theatre, London, on 28 September 1911
(photo: Daily Mirror Studios, London, 1911)

Mr. Robert Loraine – Actor and Producer
By John Wightman
‘It was the smoking-room of a country gentleman. The polished oak floor with its warm rugs, the low leather chairs made for comfort rather than show, the good old engravings on the walls, the rifle in the corner, the hunting crop flung carelessly down, all indicated the sportsman. The stage is the last profession you would associate with the owner, yet it is the “den” of Robert Loraine, one of the brainiest of our younger school of actors.
‘A typical Englishman, tall, clean-made, with a fresh complexion and clear eye, Mr. Loraine gives you the impression of a man who spends much of his time in the open, as indeed, he does. In his opinion, if an artiste desires to give the public of his best mentally, he must be at his best physically.
‘“I suppose you know,” he remarked during a recent chat, “that acting is in my blood, for both my parents were connected with the profession. They did not assist me, however, as when only fifteen I ran away to Liverpool. There I joined the stock company at a local theatre. It was real hard work, as we usually did six different plays in a week, with two performances nightly. The proprietor catered for popular audiences, and the prices could hardly be called prohibitive, as they ranged from a penny to threepence, the latter sum securing a private box.
‘“I look back with awe to those days, when I remember my rough attempts at making-up. The third week I had to appear as an old, hoary-headed man in the first piece and a sallow, saturnine villain in the second. Just imagine, my entire make-up consisted of a white wig and beard in one case and a black moustache in the other. Yes, I have studied and learnt a lot since then.
‘“For instance, it took me weeks to perfect my make-up as the Chinaman, Ah Ching, in A Tragedy at Tientsin, which I produced in New York. So complete was the disguise that on the opening night, Miss Grace George, who was in a box with her husband, turned round and said to him, ‘What’s wrong with Mr. Loraine? Why isn’t he playing? Surely he’s not ill?’ ‘Don’t talk like that,’ was the reply; ‘why he’s on the stage.’ ‘Now you’re just saying that to satisfy me,’ answered Miss George; and it was not until I cam forward to take my call that she recognised me. This was one of the greatest compliments I ever received. But I am wandering away from my early days.
‘“After the Liverpool apprenticeship I joined Ben Greet’s Woodland Players and appeared in a large Shakespearean repertoire all over the country, the performances taking place in the open air. Then I remembered a favourite saying of my father’s, that only London counts theatrically, so determined to put my fortune to the test.
‘“Arriving in town, I was engaged by Mr., now Sir, George Alexander, and only left him to go to Drury Lane. A part I enjoyed playing immensely was Dudley Keppel, the young Highland officer, in the old Princess’s [Theatre, Oxford Street] production of One of the Best [revival, 1 June 1899; the part was first played in this production by Harry B. Stanford]. Shortly after I had a taste of the real thing, for when war broke out in South Africa I joined the Yeomanry, and saw a good deal of fighting under General Hunter and Major Baden-Powell. Then followed my first appearance on the American stage. It was in 1901, at the Knickerbocker Theatre, New York, as Ralph Percy in To Have and to Hold. Although a failure, it started my theatrical connection with our cousins across the Atlantic, which culminated in my producing at the Hudson Theatre, in 1905, the play I am now appearing in – viz., Mr. G. Bernard Shaw’s brilliant Man and Superman. Needless to say it proved an instantaneous success, and for the next two years I toured it all over the Eastern States, where every city endorsed the verdict pronounced by New York. What led me to choose Man and Superman for my first managerial venture? Well, as a matter of fact, one day in New York I commenced reading the book. So struck was I with the sparkling dialogue, deep human interest and strong dramatic situations, that I immediately sailed for England, where arrangements were soon completed. The striking feature of Bernard Shaw’s work? Truth! With all its wit, audacity and vivacity, it has no characteristic so striking as truth.”
‘I have purposely avoided touching upon Mr. Loraine’s career as an aviator, and the magnificent work he has done to forward the development of flying in this country. Lest, however, my readers should imagine that his labours at the Criterion may interfere with his flying, let me assure them Mr. Loraine is sending to Paris shortly for his latest machine, a 70 h.p. Nieuport, on which he hopes to make some important flights this winter.’
(The Playgoer and Society Illustrated, ‘Man and Superman’ edition, London, 15 January 1912, p.25)


Julia Neilson

February 17, 2013

Julia Neilson (1868-1957),
English actress,
as Marguerite de Valois in William Devereux’s romantic play,
Henry of Navarre
(photo: Alfred Ellis & Walery, London, 1908/09)

William Devereux’s romantic play, Henry of Navarre was first produced at the Theatre Royal, Newcastle on 5 November 1908 before transferring to the New Theatre, London, on 7 January 1909. The cast was led by Fred Terry, as Henry de Bourbon, and his wife, Julia Neilson, as Marguerite de Valois. Other members of the cast included Malcolm Cherry, Philip Merivale, Maurice Elvey and Tita Brand. The play ran at the New for 228 performances. The production was remounted at the Knickerbocker Theatre, New York, on 28 November 1910 prior to a tour of the United States.


The Rogers Brothers in Harvard, produced at the Knickerbocker Theatre, New York City, on 1 September 1902

February 1, 2013

a scene from the musical farce, The Rogers Brothers in Harvard,
produced at the Knickerbocker Theatre, New York City, on 1 September 1902,
with, left to right, Gus Rogers, Clara Palmer, Hattie Williams and Max Rogers
(photo: unknown, New York, 1902)

The Rogers Brothers in Harvard at the Knickerbocker …
‘The career of the Rogers Brothers in Harvard, as represented at the Knickerbocker Theatres, takes place with the dignified Colonial proportions of Harvard Hall on the left of the stage, and on the right the ivy-covered walls of Massachusetts Hall, memorable as having been converted into a hospital during the Revolution. Between these is the neo-Colonial gate, over which broods no less a spirit than that of Charles Eliot Norton.
‘Upon the quiet walks between, and in the shade of the academic elms above, two old rakes of guardians and two young dogs of wards, two French milliners and two young women to whom virtue is too easy, are entangled in a plot resembling a double quadrille, in which the dry is always, “Change partners!”
The Rogers Brothers meanwhile appear now and again with song, dance, and jocularity, sometimes in the character of professors, sometimes in that of members of the ‘Varsity eleven, thus effacing with one masterful stroke a long standing difference between the faculty and athletics. The most superficial observer must note that Mr. James J. McNally and his fellow-artists in the service of the Rogers Brothers have caught the very breath of Harvard reality.
‘The first of the scenes of the play is in the garden at Claremont, with Grant’s tomb looming on the back-drop; and the third is in the entertainment hall of the Eden Musee. All three, and especially the Harvard yard, are done with admirable scenic effect, and all the trappings of the show are in luxurious good taste. Especially to be noted is the ballet.
‘Its gowns are of excellent variety and richness; it is at once well trained and spirited, and the young women who compose it are far above what one is accustomed to in seemliness and good looks. Take it all in all it is as much above the average of this sort of thing as it is above the other features of the performance.
‘Of the book of the play, and of the many principals in the cast, the best that can be said is that they are repeatedly applauded and seemed to give genuine pleasure. To a critical mind the jokes were mainly old and the songs mainly flat.
‘A topical song of William Gould’s had two amusing stanzas, and Hattie Williams’s “I’m a Lady,” by Ed Gardiner, has the true touch of satire; but for the rest it was vaudeville merely, and not more than passable at that.
‘As for the Rogers Brothers it is to be recorded that they – or is it Messrs Klaw & Erlanger? – have spared no expense, at least as regards scenery and costume, to make a pleasant evening.
‘They worked hard, moreover, and refused many recalls in order that the rest of the cast might have a fair chance; and even if, on a rigid judgment, they lacked genuine merriment, they were beyond question the cause of merriment in an indulgent audience.
‘Their performances, as they would be the first to admit, are the result of an inspiration from Weber & Fields. One great service they render, and that is to show beyond peradventure of a doubt that the originators of this sort of thing are, in their excellent line of nonsense, indisputably men of genius, and that Mr. Edgar L. Smith, or whoever gets up the business for the house down Broadway, has the touchstone of true burlesque and satire.
‘In such matters the great public is, happily for itself perhaps, not very knowing, and in consequence having once learned to laugh at this particular kind of broken English, it laughs on any and all occasions. Yet those who have a palate for the real vintage will do well to pass by the doctored dilution proffered by the Rogers brothers.’
(The New York Times, Tuesday, 2 September 1902, p.9e)


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.


Daisy Le Hay in the United States touring production of The Dollar Princess, 1910

January 9, 2013

Daisy Le Hay (b. 1883), English actress and singer,
as she appeared during 1910/11 in the United States’ touring production of
The Dollar Princess as Alice Cowder, a part originated on the
English-speaking stage by Adrienne Augarde at the Knickerbocker, New York, 6 August 1909,
and by Lily Elsie at Daly’s, London, 25 September 1909.
(photo: Moffett, Chicago, 1910)

‘Daisy Le Hay is the Alice. She plays the part with fire, and has a voice that will keep her in the front rank of musical comedy artists. She sang the songs allotted to her with a resonance and quality of tone that were delightful.’
(The Washington Post, Washington, D.C., Tuesday, 21 March 1911, p.5b)

Lillian Russell and Daisy Le Hay, who are appearing in Chicago, model their dresses at a dressmakers’ convention, 1910
‘Actresses set the fashion in dress for America. So insisted Mrs. Idah McGlone Gibson in the address she delivered at the dressmakers’ convention. And the reason therefor is that actresses ”dress the part.” their dresses always are en rapport with the character they seek to portray.
”’For that same reason the fashionably dressed woman must choose a gown indicative of her own temperament,” said Mrs. Gibson. ”The best dressed actresses of the stage choose gowns that exactly fit their own personalities.”
‘Just at that moment a velvet curtain cutting off a portion of the stage was drawn aside and in the glare of the lights appears Miss Lillian Russell, her daughter, Mrs. Dunsmore, and Miss Daisy Le Hay, actresses appearing now in the Chicago theatres.
”’No woman in America has spent more money in the American dress shops than Miss Russell,” said Mrs. Gibson, after she had introduced the actresses and each had performed a bewitching smile for the benefit of the audience of dressmakers.
‘Then she pointed out that the dress worn by Miss Russell was just the sort that should be affected by the sort of woman Miss Russell is. Miss Daisy Le Hay was attired in a frock of another character in perfect consonance with her individual type of figure.
‘Then Mrs. Gibson proceeded to hammer home the philosophy of perfect gown wearing.’
(New Castle News, New Castle, Pennsylvania, Friday, 30 September 1910, p.9b)