Posts Tagged ‘Richard III (tragedy)’


Alexandra Dagmar as Dandini in the pantomime Cinderella, Drury Lane Theatre, Christmas 1895

December 24, 2014

Alexandra Dagmar (1868-1940), English music hall vocalist and pantomime principal boy as Dandini in the Ballroom Scene of the pantomime Cinderella, produced at Drury Lane Theatre on Boxing Night, 26 December 1895.
(cabinet size photo: Alfred Ellis, 20 Upper Baker Street, London, W, negative no. 20706-7, early 1896)

‘Miss Alexandra Dagmar, the Dandini, is an accomplished vocalist, and her singing adds much to the general effect.’
(The Standard, London, Friday, 27 December 1895, p. 2b)

* * * * *

Alexandra Dagmar, whose real name was Dagmar Alexandra Heckell, was born in Polar, east London, on 13 March 1868, one of the daughters of her Danish-born parents, Charles Heckell (1828?-1889), a ship’s chandler (bankrupt, 1868) and later a wholesale provision merchant, and his wife, Christine (1833?-1898).

Miss Dagmar first came to general notice on 8 November 1884 under the management of ‘Lord’ George Sanger at his Grand National Amphitheatre, Westminster Bridge Road, London. Sanger, who billed her as ‘First appearance in England of the celebrated American actress Miss Grant Washington,’ cast her as Richard, Duke of Glo’ster to appear in ‘the Fifth Act of ”Richard III.,” portraying the Battle of Bosworth Field and Death of White Surrey – a scene of unparalleled effect.’ (The Era, London, Saturday, 1 November 1884, p. 16b) ‘… and then the last act of ”Richard III.” was given, an especial novelty being the representation of the chief personages by ladies. It had certainly a comic effect when Miss Grant Washington appeared as the crook-backed tyrant with beard and moustache, fighting and declaiming in the most ”robustious” manner. If Shakespeare was shaky it could not be denied that Miss Grant Washington was a handsome young lady with a fine figure and a good voice, and her rendering of Richard was vigorous in the extreme.’ (The Morning Post, London, Monday, 10 November 1884, p. 2f)

Miss Dagmar subsequently toured the United States under the auspices of the Boston Redpath Lyceum Bureau. Here she met Edmond DeCelle (1854?-1920), a tenor, and the couple were married in New York in 1888; their son, Edmond Carl DeCelle (1890-1972), became an artist and costume designer. Mr and Mrs DeCelle subsequently appeared for a few years together on both sides of the Atlantic, billed as Dagmar and DeCelle, before Miss Dagmar resumed her solo career. She appears to have retired on the outbreak of the First World War, after which she and her family resided exclusively in America.

Alexandra Dagmar died in Mobile, Alabama, on 8 December 1940.


Emily Levettez

May 22, 2013

a carte de visite photograph of Emily Levettez (fl. 1866-1911), actress and dancer, as Prince Can-Can in the pantomime Beauty and the Beast, Royal Theatre, Greenwich, Christmas 1871
(photo: James Clark, Dover, Kent, England, probably 1871)

Emily Levettez, who had a long and varied career, has been noted as appearing in a number of plays, including Streets of London; or, The Real Poor of the World on a tour of the United Kingdom in 1882. She also appeared as the Duchesse de Vervier in J.T. Tanner and Herbert Keen’s The Broken Melody for a single matinee performance at the Opera Comique, London, on 25 October 1894; this production, with Auguste van Biene in the leading role, was toured by him for several thousand performances. In 1902-1903 Miss Levettez was with Nellie Stewart, Harcourt Beatty, Albert Grau and others in Musgrove’s English Comedy Co in a tour of Australasia. Miss Levettez later played the part of Lady Skettles in the stage adaptation of Dickens’s Dombey and Son produced at the Savoy Theatre, London, on 14 June 1911.

* * * * *

The Cabinet Theatre, King’s Cross, London, Thursday, 16 August 1866
‘Mr. A. Lauraine, a well-known Harlequin, an expressive pantomimist, and a graceful dancer, in conjunction with his pupils, Les Petits Levettez, took a benefit here on Thursday night. The entertainments were miscellaneous, and the audience anything but polite… . the real point of interest was a new comic ballet, ”invented by the Costermonger,” and called The Miser. It introduced Master L. Levettez and Miss E. Levettez, who, considering they were on the stage for the first time (we believe), may be said to promise well for the future. The lady, especially, is still very young. The action of the ballet is clear and understandable. Mr. Lauraine plays the Miser, and the Levettez children personate two beggars who come to the miser’s cottage for relief. Finding themselves repulsed they concert a plan of proceeding, and persecute their unfortunate opponents [sic] with great pertinacy. Greengriff bewitches a table so that it opens and lets the bags of money on to the floor. He substitutes blacking for brandy, and thus furnishes Mr. Lauraine with a pretext to introduce a dance expressive of violent internal pains. When east expected Greengriff appears and chastises the parsimonious individual that a bladder and stick as usual. Greengriff is invulnerable, and is vainly shot at by the Miser. A cat is substituted for a shank bone, which the victim intends for his dinner, and he is at length worried into repentance. He meets with forgiveness, and before the curtain falls, Master Levettez dances a hornpipe, Miss Levettez follows with a skipping-rope dance, and Mr. A. Lauraine goes through some of those evolutions peculiar to male professors of the Terpsichorean art. The adult and the juveniles were all enthusiastically called for… .’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 19 August 1866, p. 11d)

According to the 1872 edition of The Era Almanack (p. 32), Emily Levettez’s first official London appearance was as the Duke of York in Richard III, at Sadler’s Wells on 12 November 1867.


Jessie Vokes dead, 1884

January 9, 2013

Jessie Vokes (1851-1884), Victoria Vokes (1853-1894)
and Rosina Vokes (1854-1894), English actresses and dancers
(photo: Mora, New York, circa 1880)

‘Miss Jessie Vokes, the actress, a member of the well-known Vokes family, died yesterday in London. She was educated to the stage from a tender age, and when only 4 years old appeared at the Surrey Theatre, where she played in children’s characters. In the early part of her career she played Mamillius in The Winter’s Tale; Prince Arthur in King John, and the Prince of Wales in Richard III. She attracted special notice first as one of the children in [Charles Reade and Tom Taylor’s comedy] Masks and Faces, dancing, with her sister, a jig, when old Benjamin Webster played Triplet at the London Standard Theatre. With her brothers and sisters, Fred and Fawdon and Victoria and Rosina, she began began her career as ”The Vokes Children,” which was afterward changed to ”The Vokes Family,” at the Operetta House in Edinburgh. Their success was pronounced and continuous. Their debut was made in London at the Lyceum Theatre on Dec. 26, 1868, in the pantomime of Humpty Dumpty, and they traveled through a great part of the civilized world. Jessie Vokes, the eldest of the sisters, was educated in the ”business” of the stage by Mr. Cheswick, and in dancing, in which she excelled, by Mr. Flexmore. The piece that most successfully carried an audience by storm was The Belles of the Kitchen, in which the ”family” made its debut in this country at the Union-Square Theatre on April 15, 1872. Jessie’s clever recitations and dancing were appreciated, but she was not so prominent in the cast as Victoria and Fred, who were especially happy in their rendering of the tower scene from Il Trovatore, or as Miss Rosina, who was regarded by the young men as the flower of the family.’
(The New York Times, New York, Friday, 8 August 1884, p. 5b)