Posts Tagged ‘Lionel Monckton’

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Bertie Wright and other members of the English cast of the New York production of The Shop Girl, Palmer’s Theatre, Manhattan, 1895

March 25, 2014

Bertie Wright (1871-after 1958), English actor and singer, as he appeared as Mr Miggles, together with other members of the English cast in the New York production of The Shop Girl, which opened at Palmer’s Theatre, New York, on 28 October 1895.
(cabinet photo: Sarony, New York, 1895)

‘At PALMER’S THEATRE, on Oct. 28, there was produced, for the first time in this country, The Shop Girl, a musical farce, in two acts, by H.J.W. Dam, music by Ivan Caryll, with additional numbers by Lionel Monckton and Adrian Ross. The work was originally produced Nov. 24, 1894, at the Gaiety Theatre, London, Eng., where it met with great success. The company presenting it here is under the local management of Charles Frohman, but was sent from England by George Edwardes, proprietor and manager of the Gaiety Theatre. Of its principal members only two appeared in the original London production. The story concerns a search for an heiress. John Brown, an American millionaire, has advertised through his solicitor, Sir George Appleby, for a female foundling, the child of his late partner, who inherits a large fortune. Colonel Singlton, a retired officer; the Count St. Vaurien, secretary to Mr. Brown, and Mr. Hooley, proprietor of the ”Royal Stores,” are in possession of the secret that a fortune of four millions sterling awaits the missing heiress, whose identity they hope to establish by means of a birth mark known to exist. Many founding girls present themselves, being congenital marks, but all are doomed to disappointment. Mr. Hooley believes he has discovered the missing girl in Ada Smith, a good natured but illiterate and somewhat vulgar apprentice in his employ. He proposes to this girl, and she accepts and marries him, although she is engaged to Mr. Miggles, a floor walker of the establishment. It is eventually discovered that the real heiress is Bessie Brent, the prettiest girl in the stores, who is engaged to marry Charles Appleby, son of the solicitor who is seeking her. The farce has gained success here at a bound. In fact the nature of its reception was almost a foregone conclusion, for the coming of the company was eagerly awaited, and the advance sale of seats showed that nothing less than an absolutely bad performance would rob it of its anticipated triumph. The event proved that the performance was very far from bad, although the book was equally far from good, and the music was not above mediocrity. In spite of all shortcomings, however, there is sufficient exhilaration supplied by the performers to warrant the favorable verdict rendered. The state forces were admirably handled, and from the principals down to the most obscure member of the company every one was in constant motion. The principal comedians, including Seymour Hicks, George Grossmith Jr., W.H. Rawlins, Bertie Wright and George Honey, are undoubtedly clever. They labored assiduously and effectively to promote merriment, and displayed powers that suggested their ability to accomplish even better results had they a work which would afford them greater opportunities.

The Shop Girl (Musical), by H.... Digital ID: th-50908. New York Public Library
Connie Ediss as Ada Smith and W.H. Rawlins as Mr. Hooley in The Shop Girl, Palmer’s Theatre, New York, 1895)
(photo: Sarony, New York, 1895; Collection of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts / Billy Rose Theatre Division )

The female contingent, however, showed less capability than the male, but Ethel Sydney, as Bessie Brent, and Connie Ediss, as Ada Smith, fairly won an excellent report, Miss Ediss being especially deserving of mention for good comedy work. Some very pretty dancing was shown, but the terpsichorean features were less praiseworthy than have been seen in previous Gaiety productions. The staging was quite effective. They first act showed the interior of the ”Royal Stores,” and the action in the second act occurred in a fancy bazaar at Kensington. Some of the costumes were very pretty. There was much color shown, but by reason of strong contrasts there was little harmony I this respect and much gaudiness. The average of beauty among the women was not high, and in figure there was shown more bulk than daintiness. Still the show throughout its length was rather pleasing to the eye, and in spite of its friskiness was restful in so far as it made no demands whatever upon the intellect. It was plainly in evidence that it afforded the greatest delight to that portion of the audience which, for a very obvious reason, brought no brains to bear upon it. The assignment of roles was as follows: Mr. Hooley, W.H. Rawlins; Charles Appleby, Seymour Hicks; Bertie Boyd, George Grossmith Jr.; John Brown, [Michael] Dwyer; Sir George Appleby, Walter McEwen; Singleton, George Honey; Count St. Vaurten, A. Nilson-Fisher; Mr. Tweets, Alfred Asher; Mr. Miggles, Bertie Wright; Bessie Brent, Ethel Sydney; Lady Dodo Singlton, Annie Albu; Miss Robinson, Marie Paucett; Lady Appleby, Leslie Greenwood; Ada Smith, Connie Ediss; Faith, May Beaugarde; Hope, Minnie Sadler; Charity, Minnie Rose; Maud Plantagenet, Adelaide Astor; Eva Tudor, Violet Dene; Lillie Stuart, Ida Wallace; Ada Harrison, Hylda Galton; Mabel Beresford, Nellie Huxley; Florence White, Zara De L’Orme; Birdie Waudesfaude, Nellie Langton; Maggie Jocelyn, Violet Durkin; Violet Deveney, Annie Vivian. A solo dance in Act II was contributed by Dorothy Douglass, who was not included in the assignment. Of the above Seymour Hicks had already been seen here in Cinderella [sic], and Adelaide Astor, now the wife of George Grossmith Jr., had previously appeared here [in September 1893] upon the vaudeville stage under the name of Cissy Lind . With these exceptions all of the members of the company were, upon this occasion, seen her for the first time.’
(The New York Clipper, New York, New York, Saturday, 9 November 1895, p. 567d)

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Topsy Sinden as the principal dancer in The Cingalee, Daly’s Theatre, London, 1904

November 12, 2013

Topsy Sinden (1877-1950), English musical comedy, pantomime and variety theatre dancer, actress and singer, as she appeared as the principal dancer in The Cingalee, a musical play with music by Lionel Monckton and additional numbers by Paul Rubens, which was produced at Daly’s Theatre, London, on 5 March 1904.
(photo: F.W. Burford, 109 Great Russell Street, London, WC, 1904)

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May Etheridge about 1912, later Duchess of Leinster

November 2, 2013

May Etheridge (1892-1935), English chorus girl
(photo: unknown, possibly Elwin Neame, London, circa 1912)

May Etheridge (née May Juanita Etheridge) was first seen on the stage in the chorus of The New Aladdin, an extravaganza, at the Gaiety Theatre, London, on 29 September 1906. She then transferred to the Aldwych Theatre under the management of Seymour Hicks before taking the part of Ko-Giku, a geisha, in The Mousmé, a musical play with music by Lionel Monckton and Howard Talbot, which was produced by Robert Courtneidge at the Shaftesbury Theatre, London, on 9 September 1911. Her final official part was in the small role of Ursula in Princess Caprice, a comedy with music by Leo Fall, produced at the same theatre on 11 May 1912. It is believed, however, that she appeared in a small uncredited part in the musical comedy, Betty at Daly’s Theatre, London, during 1915.

By then, however, on 12 June 1913 at Wandsworth Registrar’s Office, near London, May Etheridge married Lord Edward FitzGerald (1892-1976), later 7th Duke of Leinster. They separated in 1922 and divorced in 1930. He was subsequently married three more times (including in 1946 to the former actress, Denise Orme) and committed suicide on 8 March 1976.

‘A Duchess Bound Over.
‘LONDON, April 19 [1930]. – Charged with having attempted to commit suicide, the Duchess of Leinster, formerly May Etheridge, a musical comedy star [sic], who was found unconscious on April 1 [1930] in a gas-filled room at a Brixton boarding house, was bound over to-day to be of good behaviour for two years, in her own recognisances of £50 and two sureties for a like amount.’
(The West Australian, Perth, Tuesday, 22 April 1930, p. 15b)

The Duchess, who eventually changed her name to May Murray, died at her home at Saltdean, near Brighton, Sussex on 11 February 1935; the inquest returned a verdict of death by misadventure following an accidental overdose of narcotics taken to induce sleep.

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Les Merveilleuses

May 8, 2013

Les Merveilleuses, the comic opera at Daly’s theatre, first produced on 27 October 1906, with music by Hugo Felix, reopens after various changes, including the title to The Lady Dandies at the same theatre at the end of January 1907; Huntley Wright, Gabrielle Ray and others join the cast. Huntley Wright (1868-1943), English actor and singer, as St. Amour in The Lady Dandies, a part in which he succeeded W.H. Berry at the end of January 1907. (photo: Ellis & Walery, London, 1907)

‘At Daly’s they do things in a grand style which distinguishes Mr. George Edwardes’s productions at this theatre from other plays of the same order if not of the same class, and Mr. Edwardes, in all these years, has given us nothing more beautiful at Daly’s than The Merveilleuses, of which the title has now been changed to The Lady Dandies, a wise reversion to the title, or something very like it, chosen for the play before it was first produced. It is a change for the better, for Merveilleuse happens to be just one of those words which an Englishman may pronounce in such a way that nobody can understand what he means – or what he says, which is not exactly the same thing. The name of the piece is not the only thing that has been changed, and on Wednesday evening Mr. Huntley Wright returned once more to the scene of his great successes, and with the return of Mr. Wright to the fold Daly’s is itself again. With the interpolation of new songs, for which Mr. Lionel Monckton has written the music to the words of Captain Basil Hood, who has done M. Victorien Sardou’s “book” into good English, the dalyfication of this “comedy opera” is complete. Mr. Wright has now the part of St. Amour, the Prefect of Police, which was first played by Mr. W.H. Berry. It is not into the background, however, that Mr. Berry retires. In his part of Tournesol, the “police agent,” he is as funny as ever, while the character of St. Amour has expanded wonderfully at the magic touch of the ready and inventive Huntley Wright. Mr. Wright acted and sang and danced and joked as if he felt glad to be back at Daly’s, and the audience laughed as if they were glad to see him back. His satirical, topical song, “Only a Question of Time,” made a great hit, and although I have no great liking for the growing custom of introducing all sorts of personalities – social, political, and domestic – into musical plays, I must acknowledge that the audience seemed to find immense enjoyment in the verse which says “It is only a question of time (And the prominence given her part), And the charming Camille [Clifford], [Edna] May become Nelly Neil, Which is [Charles] Frohman for Sarah Bernhardt.”
‘Another new-comer to The Lady Dandies is Miss Gabrielle Ray, who has an accent all her own in dancing as she has in singing, and this I will say, a daintier dancer I never wish to see, though Miss Ray must make haste to get rid of her air of self-consciousness if she wishes to make the best of her talents. The student of theatrical astronomy may discover a whole constellation of stars at Daly’s just now, and the beautiful music of Dr. Hugo Felix is admirably rendered. Miss Evie Greene, who has a new song since the first night, is in great form; I have never seen her look better, nor act better, nor sing better than she looks and acts and sings as the “merveilleuse” Ladoiska in The Lady Dandies, and Miss Denise Orme, the purity and sweetness of whose voice would melt a heart of india-rubber, is a sheer ecstasy. Mr. Robert Evett, as the hero, and Mr. Fred Kaye have warmed to their parts, and I should say the same of Mr. Louis Bradfield’s performance of the “Incroyable” if I had not found it already admirable when the piece was first produced. Musical plays have a curious elasticity, and I find it difficult to realise what has been taken out of Les Marveilleuses [sic] to put so much more in. Certainly the new infusion of fun does not diminish the attractiveness of The Lady Dandies, and there is a long life, if I am not mistaken, and a merry one, in store for the piece.’
(‘Carados’, The Referee, London, Sunday, 3 February 1907, p.3b)

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January 25, 2013

Gertie Millar (1879-1952),
English musical comedy star,
interviewed by New York drama critic,
Alan Dale (1861-1928), London, 1911
(photo: Foulsham & Banfield, London, circa 1908)

”’GERTIE MILLAR SIGHS FOR SOMETHING NEW” – Says Alan Dale.
”’It is possible for a Gaiety girl to own all the Gaiety requirements and yet be able to throw plates and break glasses in moments of festive indignation.”
‘By Alan Dale.
‘The George Edwardes Girl is not necessarily a beautiful, pleasurable mollusc. Don’t believe it for a solitary moment. Perhaps the most memorable and pictorially interesting of the Gaiety sirens have been the placidly lovely damsels who have ”married into the peerage.” But – there are others. It is possible, though not at all unusual, to be a George Edwardes Girl with a ”temperament.” By that I mean that it is possible for a girl to own all the Gaiety requirements and yet be able to throw plates and break glasses in moments of festive indignation.
‘I always thought that Miss Gertie Millar had a certain ”temperament” of her own. Slim, willowy, with flashing eyes, and very red lips (I didn’t say very ”reddened” lips), Miss Millar appealed to me as a personality rather than a beauty. In New York she had very little chance. She was one of the Girls of Gottenberg, and they were not at all skittish. In London, of course, she can do what she likes, and I fancy that she does it.
‘It was after witnessing a very curious incident at the Adelphi Theatre, where I went to see Miss Millar in The Quaker Girl, that I asked her to ”chat” with me.
‘This was the incident: It was the night of the Derby and London was conventionally demoralized. Mr Joseph Coyne, who plays ”lead” in The Quaker Girl, did not appear at all in the cast. His place was taken by an understudy. Miss Millar came on in due-est course, and sang her opening song, prettily enough. As far as I could make out from the front, Coyne’s understudy seemed to ”get on her nerves.” At any rate, after having sung her first song, she never appeared again that night. An understudy finished the performance for her. Nothing was explained. I could imagine her ”throwing things.” It pleased me to believe that here at last was a London favorite with ”nerves,” and so overjoyed was I at the discover that I begged Miss Millar to ”receive” me.
‘And so I went to the Adelphi Theatre to meet her at home, in her dressing-room. I’ve come to the slow conclusion that the dressing-room is the very best place in the world in which to meet actor-ladies. It beats the suburban flat, the stereotyped hotel or the lonely diggings in which the stage lady attempts to pretend that she is not. Real? Who wants reality? If she were real I should not want to be chatting with her. It is because she isn’t real that she is interesting. Therefore, I say, ‘Rah for the dressing-room!

Gertie Millar

Gertie Millar as Prudence in The Quaker Girl,
Adelphi Theatre, London, 5 November 1910
(photo: Rita Martin, London, 1910;
postcard published by Rotary Photographic Co, London,
Rotary Photographic Series, no. 11749 B)

‘Miss Gertie Millar’s star-chamber was most comfortable and alluring. I’ll say one thing for London theatres, and it is that they don’t ”stye” their artists, as is often the case in New York. The London star dressing-room is commodious, even ”elegant,” and it has repose – like everything in London. It is restful, not suggestive of hustle, and it is, furthermore, picturesque. Miss Millar had just pirouetted from the stage when I was ushered in. The act was over. She had quite a long wait, and as she greeted me she allowed a gracious smile to illumine her thin features.
‘Very thin is Gertie Millar. Her movements are quick, electric and vivacious. Her dark eyes fix you and scintillate as she talks. She isn’t a bit like the usual London favorite. It dawned upon me that it would be seemly and pious to appear deferential. After all, I have to do a bit of acting myself on these hectic occasions, and by dint of long practice I have become a tolerably successful actor.
”’I used to read you every day when I was in New York,” she said, ”so I know all about you, and you can consider yourself introduced.”
‘Of course, that was very graceful. If I had been ten years younger I should have been flattered. Most scribbling fledglings like to be told by pretty girls that they have been ”read.” I fancy I used to like it myself, once upon a time. Now, alas! it cuts no ice. When an actress tells me that she ”reads” me, it sounds like a platitude – a mere substitute for ”We’re having fine weather,” or ”We’re not having fine weather.”
”’You recall New York to me,” she continued with a plaintive sigh. ”And I loved it. Oh, I had a lovely time in New York, and I want to go back.”
‘I was sorry for this conventionality and felt it my duty to nip it in the bud. The day was long since passed when ”I love dear America” had the slightest interest for anybody. And as for dear America, it got tired of being loved at least a quarter of a century ago.
”’You are so much on the alert,” she continued, piling on the agony, ”and you have such delightful ingenues and soubrettes. Here in London nothing new happens and no new favorite occurs. It is really dreadful. Personally, I should welcome the advent of new blood. It inspires competition, and it is healthy. But year in and year out we have the same people. I look around everywhere for some new personality. This is nobody.”
‘This sounded awfully good. Miss Millar’s eyes flashed. I wondered what she was ”getting at.” For a star to complain that there was nobody to vie with her seemed ominous. I was puzzled.
”’You wouldn’t like” – I began.
”’But I should,” she said most energetically. ”Indeed, I should. Why, the other night, when that little girl played my part, I was really delighted. I had given her a chance, and I fancy that she made good.”
‘Miss Millar looked at me steadily. My face, I believe, was immobile. I’ve never yet met a stage lady who liked a successful understudy. In fact, I’ve known many stage ladies who have recovered from the acutest forms of nervous prostration as soon as they head of their understudies’ pleasing success. Of course, I didn’t say this.
”’You were very angry that night when you didn’t go on,” I suggested.
‘Miss Millar looked pained – not angry, but grieved. ”Not at all,” she said. ”I was feeling very ill indeed. I simply couldn’t face the situation. I felt I should collapse, so I withdrew. It was annoying, but I couldn’t help it.”
‘I was hoping for something more sensational. I should have known better. Yet I could still see ”temperament” in the dark pool of her eyes, and I liked her. I liked her very much better than the soft, pretty, clamlike little ladies, who cling and look helpless.
”’You mustn’t imagine,” said Miss Millar, ”that because my husband, Lionel Monckton, writes all the music for me that I can’t sing anybody else’s. That would be quite wrong. I appeared in The Waltz Dream [sic], and honestly enjoyed it immensely. It was quite a relief singing somebody else’s music. And that lovely music!”
‘but Mr. Monckton’s music is delicious,” I suggested.
”’Oh, he is very clever,” said Mrs Gertie Millar-Monckton, ”and, of course, he understands me. He ought to do so, don’t you think?” (She laughed rather amusingly.) ”He knows the sort of thing that I ought to song, and he tried to fit me, and if he doesn’t fit I shall tell him so. I do not stand upon any ceremony with him.”
‘I could believe it. I could almost hear Monckton curtain-lectures on the subject of songs, seemly and otherwise.
”’It would be very foolish of me if I sang songs that I didn’t like, just because my husband, Mr. Monckton, wrote them. Wouldn’t it? Why, only the other day he gave me a new ditty to introduce into The Quaker Girl, and I wouldn’t introduce it. I didn’t like it, and I told him so.”
‘Miss Millar said this very emphatically and made a charming little grimace into the bargain. In that grimace I saw more ”temperament.” I could even hear clair-audiently such phrases as ”I won’t sing that, you pie-face!” I believe in clair-audience.
”’Mr. Monckton studies me, of course,” said said, ”and he can usually gauge my qualities. I never took singing lessons in my life, and I never studies dancing. I can’t understand why I am considered a dancer, because I really do nothing. I just jig to the rhythm of the music. I don’t consider that there is any art in it. I love dancing, and I adore watching it, but I don’t admire my own at all.”
”’Suppose somebody possibly new did occur in London,” I queried, reverting to her own theme, ”wouldn’t you feel just a little tiny bit vexed?”
”’Not at all,” she said. ”I am tired of it all, anyway. I’ve been at work now for a very long time without any holiday worth speaking of. I am tired and I’d like to settle down.”

Gertie Millar

Gertie Millar as Lallie in The New Aladdin,
the part originally played by Lily Elsie when that production opened
at the Gaiety Theatre, London, on 29 September 1906
(photo: Foulsham & Banfield, London, 1907)

”’Settle down!” I was aghast.
”’Yes, settle down,” she declared. ”Don’t look so surprised. Is it so extraordinary?”
”’You’d like to be a domesticated married woman and sit by the fire and tat?”
‘There was horror in my voice – very well managed horror, I flatter myself.
”’Oh, I didn’t say that,” quoth Gertie Millar, amused. ”I made no such statement. I merely said that I wast ired and that I’d like to settle down, and I mean it. One can get enough and I have no more illusions. I’ve been with Mr. Edwardes for a long time. I’ve played many parts. I’ve seen my understudies blossom forth. Miss Gabrielle Ray was my understudy, and she is doing very nicely. Miss Lily Elsie, though not exactly my understudy, was engaged to play my part [Lally in The New Aladdin] for a certain time. What is there left for me? As I said, there is nobody new. Nothing happens. I don’t know what will become of me later on. It is quite serious.”
‘I looked at her and liked her some more. She wasn’t a bit satisfied, and yet she has every reason to be. With the most musical husband in London and the most discerning manager in the world, Miss Gertie Millar’s lot in life would seem enviable. Still, musical comedy must grate. It is, in good sooth, gritty. I didn’t want to butt in and suggest to Miss Millar that with her temperament (that’s about the s’teenth time I’ve used that revolting word) she might aim higher. What’s the use of sowing the seeds of discontent? Moreover, Miss Millar, who is anything but a fool, has probably thought that matter out for herself, very carefully, and perhaps much more logically that I can think it out. But she is the first established musical comedy girl who has ever repined or seemed to repine, at her eminently successful career. So I think she is distinctly worth emphasizing, don’t you?
”’But I must do America again,” she continued. ”I didn’t have enough of it. I only played New York. I was anxious to go to Philadelphia, but Mr. [Charles] Frohman wouldn’t let me. I’ve heard a lot about your one-night stands.”,br> ”’Philadelphia is not a one-night stand,” said I, though I hold no brief for Philadelphia.
”’No?” she ventured, gently interrogative. ”Oh, I know that, of course. But I wanted to travel in America and see the country, for New York inspired me. I don’t find much difference between a New York and London audience. It seems to me that they are very much akin. When they like anybody in New York they are just as enthusiastic as they are in London. But I wouldn’t like to appear in New York in The Quaker Girl. I don’t think it is my best part by any means. It is to be done in New York, but not with me. When I return I want something better for the Americans. I have heaps of friends in American. Will you give my love to them?”
‘Wasn’t that cute? Of course, I promised I would, and I will. All friends of Miss Gertie Millar, in U.S.A., please accept her love. I shan’t bring it back with me because I might have to pay duty on it (love, being a sort of present, is not admitted free of duty at the Customs House), so I enclose it herewith, and those who receive it will kindly acknowledge it to Miss Gertie Millar, Adelphi Theatre, Strand, London, England.
”’You won’t settle down before you go to America?” I asked anxiously.
‘She laughed. ”You take me so seriously,” she said. ”I’m just tired, that’s all, and I feel I’d like to settle down. I don’t say that I shall, but that I’d like to.”
‘Which seems like a distinction without a difference, for what lovely woman likes she generally does. Just the same, between you, me and the bedpost. I don’t think for a moment that Miss Gertie Millar wants to retire. Therefore, she won’t.’
(San Antonio Light, San Antonio, Texas, Sunday, 9 July 1911, supplement)