Posts Tagged ‘Red Riding Hood (pantomime)’


Margaret Ruby, English actress and singer, in the role of a pantomime principal boy

March 6, 2014

Margaret Ruby (1886?-1937), English actress and singer, in the role of a pantomime principal boy, probably as she appeared as Boy Blue in the pantomime Red Riding Hood, produced at the King’s Theatre, Glasgow, at Christmas, 1905, the other principals being Malcolm Scott as the Dame, Phyllis Monkman as Red Riding Hood, and Dorothy Monkman as Bo-Peep. Miss Ruby sang in this production ‘My Irish Molly’ and ‘Bombay.’
(photo: unknown, probably 1905; postcard published by the Rotary Photographic Co Ltd, London, no. 4006 D, 1905/06)

Margaret Ruby’s real name was Margaret Louise Madeline Hirschberg. She was born on 3 September 1875 and baptised at the parish church of St. Marylebone, London, on the 1 January following, the daughter of Robert Gustave Hirschberg (1843-1910), a merchant in the City of London, and his wife Anna (née Kowska, 1847-1926). Her theatrical career began in 1897 or 1898 with various music hall and pantomime appearances. She also featured in the casts of the musical plays, Kitty Grey and A Country Girl on tours of the United Kingdom. It was then that she met her future husband, the actor and singer, Ernest (Francis) Laws (1881-1954). They were married at Richmond, Surrey, in 1903. The Laws appeared together for the next few years, one of their post popular vehicles being the ‘miniature musical comedy,’ Cora’s Visitors. They appear to have retired from acting in 1911, when they and their son emigrated to Canada, where they settled at Grand Forks, British Columbia. Mrs Laws died on 16 Dec 1937 and her husband on 18 Nov 1954.


Florrie Forde

July 4, 2013

Florrie Forde (1876-1940), Australian-born British music hall singer and pantomime principal boy, takes her benefit during the run of the pantomime Red Riding Hood, Prince’s Theatre, Bradford, Tuesday, 2 March 1909
(photo: J.P. Bamber Galleries, Blackpool, England, circa 1912)

‘The popularity of Miss Florrie Forde was never so manifest as it was last night, when, on the occasion of her benefit performance, a crowd that thronged every part of the Prince’s Theatre cheered her every song and greeted her every appearance with boisterous applause. At the end of almost every act there were bouquets to hand up from the orchestra. There were large bouquets, small bouquets, spray bouquets, and shower bouquets of every description, but all showing the admiration in which she is held. Nor was she alone favoured, for there were also gifts for many of the other artists.
‘The performance itself was specially attractive. James Elivo was given a well-deserved rest, his place being taken for the occasion by Mr. Nathaniel Hepworth, the genial acting-manager, who is shortly leaving to take up the managership of the Leeds Royal Theatre. In addition, a large number of artists had come from the music halls in Bradford, Leeds, and Halifax to add to the evening’s enjoyment.
‘The more serious and, from some aspects, the most pleasing, portion of the entertainment was during the seventh scene, when a number of interesting presentations were made. Mr. Francis Laidler, the proprietor-manager, stepped on to the stage and delivered a happy little speech. He commenced by saying that, as was well known, the pantomime had been a record so far as the Prince’s Theatre was concerned. They had still to run one week, making eleven and a half weeks in all, which, so far as he was able to gather, was the longest run of any pantomime in the kingdom, with the exception of Drury Lane. Every member of the company would agree with him when he said that much of the success was due to his principal boy, Miss Florrie Forde. Not only was she an able artist, but her personal charm had endeared her to all. She was held in the highest esteem by every member of the company, and was simply worshipped by the children. ”It is artists of the character and disposition of Miss Florrie Forde,” he concluded, ”who have raised the tone of the theatre and the music halls to such a high level as it is to-day.”
‘With a few appropriate words, Mr. James Elvio, on behalf of the company, then presented Miss Forde with a handsome silver eclectic centre lamp, suitably inscribed; and Mr. Bert Byrne was chosen to give her a fine picture of herself by a local artist from an anonymous donor. Many other gifts were then presented from private friends.
‘Miss Forde was loudly cheered on coming forward to respond. She thanks the company and the public generally for the kind way they had treated her. As regarded any work she might have been able to do for the charities, she was glad to say that next year she was to be in pantomime not far from Bradford, and she would no doubt be able to continue the work which had made her so happy.
‘At the request of Mr. Laidler, the audience sang ”For she’s a jolly good fellow,” which he said was quite in keeping, as she was principal boy.
‘Mr. H.T. Butler, the stage-manager, and Mr. Henry Rushworth, the musical-director, were the recipients of a gold pencil-case and a box of silver-backed brushes respectively, the gifts of Miss Forde.
‘Both replied happily, Mr. Rushworth mentioning the interesting fact that he would also be connected with Miss Forde during the next pantomime season as musical-director. This was afterwards explained by Mr. Laidler. Miss Forde is to be his principal boy in The Babes in the Wood at the Leeds Royal, which he has lately acquired, and where Mr. H. Rushworth is to go as musical-director in a week or so.
‘After the performance the presents and bouquets were shown on the stage. They completely covered the tops of two large tables.’
(Daily Telegraph, Bradford, Yorkshire, Wednesday, 3 March 1909)


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)