Posts Tagged ‘Percy Brough’


Cora Stuart

February 20, 2013

Cora Stuart (1857-1940),
English actress
(photo: Alfred Ellis, London, early 1890s)

The English actress Cora Stuart is chiefly remembered for her appearances as Lady Kitty Clare in E. Haslingden Russell’s one act musical comedy sketch, The Fair Equestrienne; or, The Circus Rider which was first produced at the Prince’s Theatre, Bristol, on 14 March 1890. Afterwards Miss Stuart toured successfully in the piece for some years throughout the United Kingdom on the music hall circuit, with two matinee performances at the Trafalgar Square Theatre, London, on 14 and 15 March 1893, when the other parts of Charles Kinghorn and Lord Loftus were respectively sustained by W.T. Lovell and Percy Brough.

‘Mounted upon nothing more spirited than an ordinary cane-bottomed chair, the “Fair Equestrienne,” when I was admitted to her dressing room, presented a far easier subject to interview than I had anticipated. Miss Stuart was riding her quadruped Mazeppa fashion – that is to say, she was sitting upon it with the back of her head touching the back of her chair; and the thought occurred to me as I looked at the two – the cane-bottomed quadruped and its skilful rider – that I had seen many a circus Mazeppa urging on her wild career (thought it was always the horse that wanted urging) on an animal with quite as little life in it as that chair.
‘When I was comfortably seated on the nubbly surface of a tall dress basket, such as you see riding about on the outsides of broughams at night, the “Fair Equestrienne” turned in her saddle, and said to me, sweetly: “Well, and I suppose you have come to blow me up for deserting the theatres for the halls?”
‘“Nothing of the kind, Miss Stuart. I should indeed be unreasonable to complain of your behaviour. It may be a loss to the theatre, but, at the same time, ‘sketch’ artists who can act are by no means so plentiful that we can afford to blow them up when we have them.”
‘An interval of one minute’s silence, which I occupy in converting a couple of towels into a cushion. the basket was beginning to make me which I hadn’t sat upon it.
‘“And how do you like your new line, Miss Stuart?” ‘“Oh, I think variety is charming!” was the enthusiastic reply.
‘“You are not the only one I have heard say that, Miss Stuart. It seems to me to be the universal opinion.”
‘“I have tried all stages,” Miss Stuart continued, “and I must say I prefer the variety stage to any other. One thing, the audiences are so awfully good.”
‘“They wouldn’t be unless you were awfully good, Miss Stuart, you may depend upon that.”
‘“And I find I can always depend upon them.”
‘“That is because they find they can always depend upon you.”
‘“You seem determined that I shall not acknowledge my indebtedness to my audiences, Mr. Call Boy.”
‘“I am determined, Miss Stuart, for I have hear – and having heard it so often, I cannot help thinking there must be some truth in it – that one good ‘turn’ deserves another… . You haven’t another towel or something to spare me while I am here, have you? I’ve been doing my best to imagine this wicker-work lid is eiderdown, but it won’t let me. Thanks! … And now, Miss Stuart – -“
‘“Now, Mr. Call Boy, I suppose you want me to tell you something; but what am I to tell? Nothing new, that’s certain. Of course you know I have done the whole ‘round’ – made my first appearance in grand opera; played in nearly all the comedies written by my father-in-law, the late T.W. Robertson; made hits in Pinero-comedy; been in melodrama, farce, and farcical-comedy; and now you behold me ‘on at the halls.’ Yes, and I’m not sorry; I like it. I always have a dressing room to myself, and they are every bit as comfortable as the dressing rooms in the theatre. Everyone has been most kind to me – public, critics, and managers alike; and I contemplate going on as I have begun – since, of course, I joined the music-hall profession.”
‘“Thank you, Miss Stuart. I’m much obliged for the ‘sketch’ of your career; and now, as I see you want [to] be going on, I’ll be going off.”
‘And the ‘Fair Equestrienne,” graciously and gracefully dismounting from her chair, pointed out to me the passages which would not lead to my first appearance on the music-hall stage, and I eventually, and by the grossest error, passed out of the right exit. “And so home.”’
(On and Off, Judy’s Annual, London, 1894, p.38)