Posts Tagged ‘London Coliseum’


Maud Rochez, animal trainer and proprietor of a music hall and vaudeville monkey act

October 27, 2014

Maud Rochez (1885?-1930), animal trainer and proprietor of a celebrated monkey act
(postcard photo: unknown, circa 1906)

Maud Rochez (née Birtwhistle) was the wife of Harry Rochez (Henry James Percy Dutfield Rochez, 1869-1955), whom she married at Cardiff in 1903. She appears to have retired from performing about 1920 after which her husband continued with their act.

Keith’s Theatre, Boston, Massachusetts, week beginning Monday, 2 August 1909
‘The regular vaudeville section of the bill will be even stronger than that of last week, and will have as a leading feature a summer sensation on Hammerstein’s Roof. It is called ”An Amateur Night in a Monkey Music Hall,” and act brought over from England by Maud Rochez, in which there is a large company of monkeys giving an entire performance on a stage built on the stage.
‘They are even provided with a monkey orchestra, the leader of which is an artist in that way. The monkeys themselves manage the stage, drawing the curtain, hanging the cards, setting the stage, and introducing the money actors.’
(The Boston Sunday Post, Boston, Massachusetts, Sunday, 1 August 1909, dramatic page)

London Coliseum, June 1911
‘Maud Rochez’s monkys are always welcome, and their return to the Coliseum bill is a feature worth recording. A miniature music-hall performance is provided entirely by a troupe of well-trained monkeys, who do everything on their own unimpeded by the usual officious parading of a conceited trainer. It is a unique show, and withal an incomparably good one.’
(‘Between the Turns,’ Penny Illustrated Paper, London, Saturday, 10 June 1911, p. 770a)

The Alhambra, Leicester Square, London, January 1927
‘London, Jan. 18 [1927] … The Alhambra holiday program was a magnet for the huge crowds filling the Leicester Square building. Daisy Taylor, Scotch singing comedienne, with pianist also attired in Highland costume, opened. This was a tough spot for this kind of an act. Went over very well, however. Clay Keyes, the dancing club juggler, was on second, and what a hit! Harry Rochez’ Monkey Music Hall was a scream, with the simians as orchestra and other monks [sic] as variety performers. The part that tickled me was where the monk [sic] doing the ”strong act” always heaved his props into the orchestra when he had finished with them. What a wow that would be in real life! Debroy Somer’s [sic] Band, very good outfit, played their stuff with brilliance. Hilda Glyder in snappy songs was a big hit, especially in her dance bit after singing ”Am I Wasting My Time?” The society entertainer in hob-nailed boots then rolled on – and what did not Bill Bennett do to ‘em! Layton & Johnstone were their usual popular triumph, with The Hassans, novelty wire and cycling act, closing.’
(Frank O’Connell, The Vaudeville News and New York Star, New York, 22 January 1927, p. 6a/b)


Mabel Berra in London, 1910

October 17, 2014

Mabel Berra (1886-1928), American prima donna and vaudeville star, as she appeared at the London Coliseum ‘in operatic excerpts and other songs’ in August 1910.
(photo: Hana, London, probably 1910)

Mabel Berra was accidentally killed on 28 December 1928 when she was hit by a motor car on Park Avenue, New York City. She was buried with her mother and sister in the Vermillion Cemetery, Haesville, Ashland County in her home state of Ohio.


Ruth St. Denis at the London Coliseum in her ‘Hindoo Temple Dance,’ ‘Radha,’ April/May 1909

August 7, 2014

Ruth St. Denis (1879-1968), American pioneer of modern dance and teacher, as she appeared for a short season at the London Coliseum in 1909, beginning Monday, 19 April, in her ‘Hindoo Temple Dance’ entitled ‘Radha.’ The accompanying music was adapted from the ballet music of Delibes’ opera Lakmé
(photo: Alfred Ellis & Walery, London, circa 1909)

‘Miss Ruth St. Denis was seen at the London Coliseum last week in the most picturesque and imaginative of the Indian temple dances that she has made her peculiar domain. This is the one in which as the reincarnated Rhada, wife of Khrishna, she symbolises for the watching worshippers the mortifying of the flesh by the renunciation of the five senses, and the consequent attainment of final peace. Always graceful and always significant, her dancing has in this instance an almost austere restraint that accords perfectly with its ritual intent and its temple frame. The audience showed a thorough appreciation of the artistic character of the dance, and Miss St. Denis was warmly called at the close.’
(The Sunday Times, London, Sunday, 25 April 1909, p. 5f)


Florence Yaymen

August 5, 2013

Florence Yaymen (died 1927), English music hall character comedienne and dancer
(photo: unknown, probably United Kingdom, circa 1905)

Florence Yaymen (sometimes Yayman) began her career about 1905, finding immediate success as a ‘coon burlesque artist.’ She died suddenly on 22 July 1927, the cause being given as the bursting of a blood vessel.

London Coliseum, London, November 1908
‘Rough ”coon” stuff is very acceptable over here. Florence Yayman has some, but inside that she is an excellent dancer.’
(Variety, New York, Saturday, 5 December 1908, p. 8c)

Metropolitan music hall, Edgware Road, London, September 1907
‘Florence Yayman gets away with some comedy that seems to hurt her in her Topsy speciality [a reference to Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin]. Miss Yayman was quite popular.’
(Variety, New York, Saturday, 2 October 1909, p. 11b)

‘The committee of the Music Hall Ladies’ Guild, 3, Newport House, Great Newport Street, [London] W.C.2, desire to thank Florence Yayman, who has kindly been making dolls, and has sent a donation of £2 0s. 6d… .’
(The Stage, London, Thursday, 7 June 1917, p. 8c)

‘Big Christmas Show at Tivoli [Sydney, NSW, 1923]
‘Originality in vaudeville is the keynot of success. Because Florence Yayman, who made her first Australian appearance at the Tivoli yesterday, possess that requisite in a particularity marked degree, she at once sang and acted her easy way into the good graces of the big audience.
‘Miss Yayman is a character impersonator, in itself an unusual line for a female artist. She is also a delightful yodeller – a phase of entertainment usually confined to the sterner sex. She changes costume on the stage but in a light dim enough to make anybody open wide their eyes and presents a series of character sketches commencing with that of a Chinese. This is followed by a Tyrolean love songs, and then Miss Yayman presents what is obviously her forte – the impersonation of the American coal-black ”cooness.” As a coon flapper she gives a quaint rendering of I Want a Boy, and then concludes a too-brief programme with a lullaby, in which she appears as a black mammy… I Her impersonation of the old mammy and the ”picken’ ‘em up and puttin’ ‘em down again feet” are perfect.’
(Sunday Times, Sydney, NSW, 23 December 1923, p. 6b)


Alhambra (Leicester Square), London Coliseum, Stoll Picture Theatre, London

May 15, 2013

joint advertisement for the Alhambra, Leicester Square; the London Coliseum; and the Stoll Picture Theatre (late the London Opera House), London, February 1920
(from The Honey Pot, London, February 1920, back cover)


Ada Reeve

April 18, 2013

Ada Reeve as the principal boy in the pantomime, Jack and the Beanstalk, Shakespeare Theatre, Liverpool, Christmas 1908
(photo: C Co, Liverpool, 1908)

London Coliseum, 27 September 1915
‘Miss Ada Reeve has returned to the Coliseum – a fact that was intensified on Monday by two enthusiastic and crowded houses. One again the London public can enjoy the delightful experience of hearing a really gifted comedienne interpret a song so fully, completely, and with such an absolute command of every shade of expression that each phrase vividly stands out. In the case of the diseuse it often happens that the music is sacrificed to the words, and the art of the composer, which has been welded with that of the poet, loses its significance. But Ada Reeve has the gift – rare on any stage – of giving out the tune with a richness and volume of tone, and at the same time revealing the pathos or humour of the words. There was a touch of raillery in her opening number, “Ladies, beware” [from the musical comedy, Peggy, Gaiety, London, 4 March 1911, originally sung by Phyllis Dare; Miss Reeve recorded this song for HMV twice in 1915, but both versions were rejected and never issued], which hardly prepared her audience of Monday afternoon for the depth of pathos she revealed in “Lonely,” a song burdened with unavailing regret, and rendered with a sweet melancholy that touched all hearts. The dreaminess and charm of “My Oriental girl” were in vivid contrast to the banter and sarcasm of “Foolish questions” (HMV B-523, mx HO-1806ae, recorded Hayes, near London, 16 September 1915; 1.5mb mp3), which in its turn yielded pride of place to the domestic sentiment of “Jim,” the exquisite little monologue of a coster’s wife who talks to her baby. The cheering audience was too insistent to let Miss Reeve depart, even after five songs, and she obliged with a sixth, singing before the “tabs” “The girl I left behind,” which made a special appeal to the large number of Tommies in front. The distinguished artiste has returned to London in the full possession of her powers, and her popularity was never greater.’
(The Era, London, Wednesday, 29 September 1915, p.14d)

Ada Reeve
Ada Reeve as she appeared at the Alhambra, Leicester Square, London, December 1908
(caricature by Max Lowe, 1908)


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)