Posts Tagged ‘Nellie Farren’

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Connie Gilchrist as The Slave of the Lamp in Aladdin, Gaiety Theatre, London, 24 December 1881

August 13, 2014

Connie Gilchrist (1865-1946), English artist’s model, dancer and actress, as she appeared as The Slave of the Lamp in Aladdin; or, the Sacred Lamp, a burlesque by Robert Reece, produced at the Gaiety Theatre, London, on 24 December 1881. Other members of the cast included Edward Terry, Nellie Farren, E.W. Royce, Kate Vaughan and J.J. Dallas.
(photo: W. & D. Downey, London, 1881/82)

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Meyer Lutz, resident musical director and conductor at the Gaiety Theatre, London, 1869 to 1894

May 1, 2014

(Wilhelm) Meyer Lutz (1829-1903), German-born English composer and conductor, and resident musical director and conductor at the Gaiety Theatre, London, between 1869 and 1894.
(photo: Russell & Sons, London, circa 1885)

‘A LONDON FAVORITE ‘MEYER LUTZ.
‘The death of one so popular with all who know him as the late Herr Meyer Lutz has caused widespread regret among the older generation of London playgoers. A man of the most genial temperament and a musician of no small accomplishment. M. Lutz had always at command a fund of amusing anecdote and reminiscence relating alike to his twenty-five years’ experience at the Gaiety and to his earlier career as organist in Birmingham, Leeds and elsewhere, while his capacity for hard work and business aptitudes made him an invaluable helper in all the enterprises with which he was associated. Some of his stories of the famous artists he had known – Mario with his perpetual cigar, Grisi (ready to give a street singer a diamond ring if his efforts pleased her), Madame Sainton Dolby, Mrs Kendal, Alfred Wigan, Terry, Royce, Fred Leslie, Nellie Farren, Kate Vaughan, Arthur Roberts and others whose genius burned in the old days at the shrine of the sacred lamp [of burlesque (i.e. the Gaiety Theatre)] – were very amusing, but never unkind, for Lutz was as much beloved by his fellow artists as he was admired by the general pubic who found such delight in his bright and captivating music.
‘On one occasion, Lutz used to relate, when he was conducting a performance or Maritana, the leader of the orchestra was particularly bad, so, when it came to his violin solo in the second Act, Lutz pretended as if by accident to known the desk down on which was the music. Then while the player was fumbling about on the ground to find it, Lutz started his solo on the harmonium, and so got over the difficulty. Another instance of similar resourcefulness on the part of [Alfred] Wigan he used to recall. In this case Wigan was supposed to play the piano in a certain piece, but as he knew nothing of music a dummy instrument was provided, and it was Lutz’s business to play on another piano behind the scenes. On the occasion in question the boy forgot to call Lutz, so that when Wigan sat down and proceeded to play not a sound resulted. Grasping the situation in a moment he blandly observed that he had ”forgotten his music,” left the stage, routed out Lutz, returned with a roll of music, and sat down once more at the ”dummy,” when of course all went well.’
(widely printed in the Press, including West Gippsland Gazette, Warragul, Victoria, Australia, Tuesday, 14 April 1903, p. 5b)

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Kate Cutler in A Model Trilby, 1895

July 28, 2013

Kate Cutler (1864-1955), English actress, as she appeared in the title role of the burlesque, A Model Trilby; or, A Day or Two After Du Maurier, which opened at the Opera Comique, London, 16 November 1895. Trilby, the play, with Dorothea Baird in the title role, had opened at the Haymarket Theatre, London, on 30 October 1895.
(photo: unknown, probably London, 1895; Ogden’s Guinea Gold cigarette card issued about 1900)

‘Miss Nellie Farren has fixed the date of the reopening of the Opera Comique with A Model Trilby; or, A Day or Two After Du Maurier, for the 16th [November 1895]. The burlesqued Trilby will be represented by clever Miss Kate Cutler, and Mr Tree’s Svengali will be travestied by Mr Robb Harwood… . The interior [of the Opera Comique] has been greatly altered; new stalls, dress circle, and upper boxes have been added, and a new and spacious pit has been provided; so that Miss Farren’s enterprise will have a fair start, so far as the house in which it is made is concerned.’
(The Era, London, Saturday, 2 November 1895, p. 10a)

‘Messrs Yardley and Brookfield’s burlesque The Model Trilby had a trial trip on Monday afternoon at the Kilburn Theatre. Miss Kate Cutler was demurely droll as Trilby, and Mr Robb Harwood imitated cleverly the appearance, voice, and manner of Mr Beerbohm Tree as Svengali. Miss Cutler’s song ”The Altogether” seems decidedly smart; and we await with agreeable anticipation the production of the ”skit” at the Opera Comique on Saturday next.’
(The Era, London, Saturday, 9 November 1895, p. 12b)

A MODEL TRILBY, AT THE OPERA COMIQUE.
‘The trilby jokes date back to the fifties, Taffy in the burlesque says in apology. It may be out of regard to the unities that Miss Farren has gone to the same period for the ”new and original comedy” which precedes A Model Trilby at the Opera Comique. Nannie is a good half-century belated. With its naïve sentiment, its old-fashioned seducer, its painstaking dialect, it might perhaps have brought tears to the eyes of the Amelias of a more susceptible generation. But the early Victorian revival could not make this sort of primitive pathos and humour again the fashion, and in the face of it a modern audience yawns politely from the stalls, laughs uproariously from the gallery. Or, it may be that there is wisdom in the choice. After so tame a performance, the weakest attempt at burlesque could not by seen gay.
‘The Model Trilby of Mr. C.H. Brookfield and Mr. W. Yardly, is, however, something more than an attempt, and would, in parts, amuse under any circumstances. Trilby, the book, it must be confessed, adapts itself to parody with unusual facilities. Indeed, with us it is a question whether the play at the Haymarket belongs, strictly speaking, to burlesque or to melodrama. The Haymarket Taffy, with his pepper-pot and dumb-bells, the Haymarket Mrs. Bagot with her unreserved confidences to a chance concierge, the Haymarket Mr. Bagot, modelled upon Mr. Blakeley in his familiar rôles, are really conceived in as farcical spirit as the same characters at the Opera Comique, and are, if anything, the funnier because of the seriousness with which they are played. And if the magnificent proportions of Trilby herself have grown less at the Opera Comique – because the part has been so much cut down, Durien, the artist-author explains – at least the lady has an ankle to account for her speciality as a model. In the Haymarket, too, the success, in large measure, depends upon make-up; the characters are received with applause in proportion as they look like Mr. Du Maurier’s drawings. But the trick is an easy one, and on the stage of the Opera Comique, Svengali and Taffy and the Laird and Trilby all reappear with a genuinely comic excellence of imitation. In the case of Svengali, Mr. Robb Harwood and Mr. Tree might change places, and the two audiences be none the wiser. The burlesque takes all the usual indispensable liberties with the play and the novel. The whole story is turned topsy-turvy. Little Billie weeps unrestrainedly because he is counted too young to see Trilby pose in the ”altogether”; Trilby’s voice is ruined by Svengali in the training, and so on. But, after all, plot in burlesque matters little. The great thing is the way it is written and played. Mr. Brookfield and Mr. Yardley, in the beginning at least, are not wanting in wit and gaiety. They have seized upon the real weakness of Trilby, and got all the fun out of it they can; to provide harmless, Bowdlerized indecency for the middle classes; that is the little game of Durien, their artist-author, ”the present scribe,” who is perpetually appealed to by his puppets to set them straight. But. Apparently, the material, made to their hand as it might be, could not hold out for an hour or more. The second half of the performance, ending in an indifferent variety entertainment, drags and is as dull as the first half is light and gay and spontaneous. And here the trouble must rest with the authors; for, to the end, the actors do their very best. The whole thing is carried through with plenty of ”go” and life and vivacity. Mr. Eric Lewis, as Durien, may show unexpected restraint in his get up, but he plays with spirit, and his song and dance with Mdme. Vinard is one of the best things in the whole burlesque. Miss Kate Cutler does not bother to study the Haymarket Trilby, except to borrow a hint for her first costume, and, perhaps, this is just as well. Mr. Farren Soutar and Mr [C.P.] Little and Mr. [George] Antley make the Taffy and Laird and Little Billie of the play seem by comparison more tedious than ever, and before dullness sets in on their own stage they have one very jolly dance. We have already said that Mr. Harwood’s Svengali is a capital piece of mimicry. The music has the appropriate gaiety, and there is a Trilby dance, which means, of course, bare, or rather stockinged, feet. And the chances are that in the course of time the last part will go at a more lively rate, and A Model Trilby will be as amusing a little skit, which is all it pretends to be, as you could have.
‘But on Saturday, perhaps, the prettiest bit of comedy of the evening was given by Miss Nellie Farren in the little speech to her ”boys and girls,” a lump in her ”froat,” ready for the good cry all ”females” must have at such a critical moment. Miss Farren the manager has not forgotten Miss Farren the actress.’
(The Pall Mall Gazette, London, Monday, 18 November 1895, p. 3b)

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The Chorus of Fairies in the burlesque Ariel

May 24, 2013

the chorus of fairies in the burlesque Ariel, Gaiety Theatre, London, 8 October 1883
(photo: unknown, London, 1883)

F.C. Burnand’s burlesque fairy drama Ariel, based on Shakespeare’s The Tempest, was produced at the Gaiety Theatre, London, on 8 October 1883. Nellie Farren undertook the title role and Arthur Williams appeared as Prospero.

‘To criticize Ariel at the Gaiety adversely, to pretend to say it was not the most brilliant production of this or any other age, to dare to hint that the loss of Mr. Edward Terry is most acutely felt, or that the Gaiety company is not what it was, would be to draw down on our devoted heads sarcastic advertisements in the daily Press [probably a reference to John Hollingshead, manager of the Gaiety and former journalist, who was an inveterate advertiser], the scorn of the leading comic paper, and the studied impertinence of the popular sporting oracles. To say that Ariel is written down to the intelligence of the typical masher is sufficient to say that it could not contain any definite sign of the merry geniality and robust humour of its author. It is not at all likely that the Johnnies and Chappies of the Gaiety brigade take the slightest interest in the art that The Theatre endeavours to foster and encourage, and it is mot certain that the directors and sympathizers with The Theatre differ toto cœlo from the Gaiety brigade. The world is wide enough to hold partisans of either school. It has been said, and unfairly said, that it takes a very heavy hammer to force a joke into a Scotchman’s head. The author of Ariel evidently thinks that the masher’s cranium is harder still, so he refuses to take the trouble to force a smile upon the sheep’s faces of an uninteresting crowd. To say that a burlesque is written for the special patrons of the Gaiety is enough to say that it is pap foot for overgrown infants of amiable temperaments and blameless exterior. The author of a criticism of Ariel in a comic paper, mainly devoted to ridiculing all who do not consider Ariel the most side-splitting and hilarious entertainment ever produced, professes himself as objecting to “gush.” Probably he omitted to revise the proofs of his article, for he does not practise what he preaches. Incidentally, however, he touches on a subject on which must has been said from time to time in these columns. He writes as follows:-
‘“Objecting to ‘gush’ as we do, we could wish that in the interest of true criticism the critics’ night were everywhere postponed until the third performance of any new piece.” We wonder if that opinion would have been changed if the “gush” had been ladled out pretty freely within a few hours of the first performance. As we have repeatedly pointed out, the production of a new burlesque or any other play is considered as news of the day, and treated accordingly by the conductors of newspapers. This is an implied compliment to the drama of every degree. If things go on as they are going on now, it is quite certain that the newspaper-reading public will no longer allow the news of the world to be postponed in favour of the recorded history of the latest melodrama or the newest burlesque. Newspaper space is valuable, and the burlesque that can wait three days to be criticized, may well wait for three weeks or any indefinite period. It is either news or the reverse; and it is surely a false policy to demand that recognition in the daily press of the country should be removed from what is now generally recognized. If the mashers like Ariel, if the management is satisfied, if the author is pleased and looks upon the production with pride, why, of course it must be good. Let the author take a leaf out of the book of Augustus Harris [manager of Drury Lane Theatre], and boldly advertise “By far the best burlesque I have ever been associated with!” An inelegant sentence, but in strict accord with managerial modesty. Cela va sans dire! There is no more to be said about it. But it is not beyond the regions of probability that even Miss [Nellie] Farren and her clever companions have from time to time given more favourable specimens of their art, although their popularity was never more strongly pronounced. The Gaiety is popular, Mr. [F.C.] Burnand is deservedly popular, the company is equally popular; but critics are not necessarily idiots because they consider the pubic time is occasionally wasted, or because they deplore the existence in the stalls of a steady contempt for all humour, a wretched hankering after the childish in art, and an inert materialism that is necessarily the opponent of fancy and imagination.’
(The Theatre, London, Monday, 1 November 1883, pp.271 and 272)

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Miss Raynham

April 26, 2013

a carte de visite photograph of Miss Raynham (1844?-1871), English actress, as Sam in Tom Taylor’s drama The Ticket-of-Leave Man, produced at the Olympic Theatre, London, on 27 May 1863
(photo: W. Rowland Holyoake, 23 Great Coram Street, Russell Square, London, W.C., probably 1863)

The Ticket-of-Leave Man was revived many times, as on 25 May 1885 when Sam was played by Nellie Farren

‘The Olympic [Theatre, London] entertainments comprise the comedy of Taming a Truant, in which Mr. Robert Soutar, from the Brighton Theatre, now sustains the part of Captain Pertinax, and gives promise of being a valuable acquisition to the London boards; followed by an extravaganza, called Acis and Galatea [Acis and Galatea; or, The Nimble Nymph and the Terrible Troglodyte, produced at the Olympic, 6 April 1863], written by Mr. Burnand, and which may be pronounced to be the best and most successful of the Easter novelties. It is superior in refinement and language than these pieces generally are, and is admirably acted as well as elegantly put on the stage. One of the leading features in it is a clever imitation of Mr. Fechter by Miss Raynham.’
(The Sporting Gazette, London, Saturday, 11 April 1863, p. 383b)

Olympic Theatre, London
‘Mr Tom Taylor’s new drama is a success, though he has departed from his accustomed style of writing, and given us a piece more after the fashion of the Adelphi or Surrey dramas. It is called The Ticket-of-Leave Man, and is the history of the endeavours of one Brierly (Mr Neville) to free himself from the consequences to which he has become exposed owing to the villainy of a fellow named Dalton (Mr Atkins). Exiled from his native land, he returns to find all occupation denied to him as soon as it is known that he is the bearer of the fatal document called a ticket of leave. But, after many trials and troubles, he contrives to foil the schemes of Dalton, and to become restored to the paths of rectitude one more. In these honest intentions he is aided by Mary (Miss Kate Saville), to whom he is ultimately married. There are other characters in the piece which was admirably played by all the dramatis personae – a gamin of the English type being capitally played by Miss Raynham, and a professional vocalist being as admirably sustained by Miss Hughes, who sang twice during the progress of the drama. Miss Kate Saville was expressive and pathetic, and Mr Neville, whose rising qualities as an actor are being more apparently every day, took the leading business of the evening with the greatest success. The drama was most favourably received, and will doubtless have a long run.’
(Bell’s Life in London and Sporting Chronicle, London, Sunday, 31 May 1863, p. 3b). The cast of the original production of The Ticket-of-Leave Man also included George Vincent

‘DEATHS OF ARTISTES. – The theatrical world has been much shocked by the self-imposed death of Mr Walter Montgomery, who so lately played at the Gaiety. It is supposed he had overworked himself in dramatic study. Miss Raynham, the original representative of Sam Willoughby, in the Ticket of Leave Man, at the Olympic, has died recently at Homburg. Mr St Auby has also died of consumption at the Charing-cross Hospital.’
(Bell’s Life in London and Sporting Chronicle, London, Saturday, 9 September 1871, p. 11a)

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Harry Monkhouse

March 1, 2013

a cabinet photograph of Harry Monkhouse (1854-1901), English actor,
as Duvet in the comic opera Captain Thérèse,
by Alexandre Bisson and F.C. Burnand, with music by Robert Planquette,
which was produced at the Prince of Wales’s Theatre, London, on 25 August 1890.
The cast also included Hayden Coffin, Joseph Tapley, Tom A. Shale,
Attalie Claire (in the title role), and Phyllis Broughton
(photo: Alfred Ellis, London, 1890)

‘Monkhouse, Harry. (John Adolph McKie.) – there is no more general favourite than Mr. Harry Monkhouse, who is a native of Newcastle-on-Tyne, where he was born in 1854. Of course he was never intended for the stage – actors and actresses never are – and his parents, who were Presbyterians, gave him a liberal education at Newcastle Grammar School, which they intended should fit him either for a clergyman or a doctor. From acting in amateur theatricals and assisting behind the scenes at the local theatre on benefit nights, he rose to the dignity of small parts, and at length secured his first regular engagement at the Theatre Royal, Blythe, where Mrs. Wybert Rousby seeing him act, offered him his next engagement to go to Jersey as one of her company. From the Grecian, where he first played in London, he migrated to the Alhambra, and thence to the Gaiety for three years. He met, whilst touring with the Nellie Farren Gaiety Company, Mr. Wilton Jones, who wrote for him a very funny burlesque entitled Larks, and with this and other plays, he made several long and very successful provincial tours. Just as every comedian fancies himself a tragedian, so Mr. Monkhouse, who made his name in burlesque, fancies himself for parts in melodramas where pathos is the prevailing characteristic, and squeezes into his characters a little touch of pathos whenever the chance occasion offers. As Bouillabaisse in Paul Jones (1889) he made himself wonderfully popular, and the way he eventually worked up the part during its run at the Princes of Wales’ Theatre was very marked. As Gosric in Marjorie and M. Duvet in Captain Thérèse he further added to his reputation for originality and humour. There he also played during the run of The Rose and the Ring and Maid Marian, but was drafted over to fill the ranks at the Lyric when the second edition of La Cigale was produced, and played with great drollness the part of Uncle Mat.’
(Erskine Reid and Herbert Compton, The Dramatic Peerage, Raithby, Lawrence & Co Ltd, London, 1892, pp. 154 and 155)

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January 24, 2013

Jenny Dawson (Mrs Clara Sharlach, d. 1936),
English actress and vocalist
(photo: London Stereoscopic Co, London, mid 1890s)

‘Dawson, Jenny. – Miss Jenny Dawson made her début at the Theatre Royal, Nottingham, in a minor part, and shortly afterwards gained her first success as Pousette in the pantomime of Cinderella at the Prince’s Theatre, Manchester. In 1886 she came to London, and appeared as Jeames in Oliver Grumble at the Novelty Theatre [25 March 1886], under the management of Mr. Willie Edouin. An Autumn tour with Mr. G.P. Hawtrey, to play in The Pickpocket, was followed by her charming impersonation of Allan-a-Dale in the successful pantomime of The Babes in the Wood at the Prince of Wales’ Theatre, Liverpool. She remained in the provinces for a year, undertaking juvenile and leading parts, and principal burlesque. In September, 1887, she accepted an offer to join the Drury Lane Company, where she played Mrs. Egerton in Pleasure, and made an adorable Cupid in the pantomime of Puss in Boots. Mr. George Edwardes next engaged Miss Dawson for his provincial tour of Miss Esmeralda, and she then crossed the Atlantic solely to understudy Miss Nelly Farren in America, which brought her but barren honours. Returning to England in June, 1888, she appeared in Faust up to Date at the Gaiety during Mr. Van Bienne’s short autumnal season, to the success of which she very materially conduced. A pantomime engagement took her to Edinburgh for the winter, and in the spring of 1890 she was cast for Millie in The Bungalow at Toole’s [7 October 1889]. When Carmen up to Data was produced [Shakespeare Theatre, Liverpool, 22 September 1890, transferred to the Gaiety, London, 4 October 1890], Miss Dawson created the rôle of Escamillo, but not liking the part, resigned it after the first week. Liverpool again claimed her for the winter pantomime, and in the spring of 1891 she was engaged by Mr. Thomas Thorne for Lady Franklin in the revival of Money, alternating the part with Miss Kate Phillips, after which she joined Mr. Charles Hawtrey’s Company at the Comedy, and besides creating the part of Rosabel in Houp La with unqualified success, filled the leading part in Husband and Wife with equal verve during Miss Lottie Venne’s absence.’
(Erskine Reid and Herbert Compton, The Dramatic Peerage, Raithby, Lawrence & Co Ltd, London, 1892, pp.67 and 68)

Jenny Dawson, whose husband was Robert E. Sharlach, was the mother of the actress, singer and mimic, Marie Dainton (1880-1938).