Posts Tagged ‘Robinson Crusoe (pantomime)’

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Frank Backus

July 6, 2013

Frank Backus (1848?-after 1901), English comedian, billed in 1874 as ‘The Voluble and Eccentric Negro Delineator’
(photo: unknown, probably UK, 1870s)

‘EAST OF ENGLAND MUSIC HALL, NORWICH.
‘MESSRS. J.C. MARSHALL and FRANK BACKUS beg most respectfully to thank Albert D. Lane, Esq., for his kindness in giving them an Engagement and Benefit, and also presented them with a handsome Silver Cup on their farewell benefit, January 10th, 1868. Yours most respectfully, J.C. MARSHALL and FRANK BACKUS, the Only American Flag Comedians in England. Present Engagement, ORIENTAL MUSIC HALL, GRAVESEND.’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 2 February 1868, p. 1c, advertisement)

Bellamy’s Royal Model Gallery, Alford, Lincolnshire, December 1870.
‘BELLAMY’S ROYAL MODEL GALLERY has been located here during the past three weeks, and at this time of year is very acceptable. In addition there is a promenade concert every evening, in which some well-known artistes appear, including Miss Victorine Bellamy, an excellent juvenile pianist; Mrs. Pat Dennis, a good Irish comedian; and Mr. Frank Backus (Negro comedian) whose songs, dances, jokes, &c., create roars of laughter.’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 1 January 1871, p. 5a)

‘MR. FRANK BACKUS, American comedian and Minstrel Corner Man, will be at Liberty June 12th and future dates for Troupe or Concert Hall Business. First-class Wardrobe. Address, 87, Cleveland-street, Doncaster.’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 4 June 1871, p. 16b)

The Bedford Music Hall, London, February 1880
‘Mr Frank Backus (a Negro comedian) who next undertook the task of amusing the audience, thoroughly succeeded in accomplishing it. He sang of being ”Samuel the Great.” ”The Nigger Swell,” ”I’m going to Kentucky once more,” and ”There’s a funny little Nigger I know,” were also sung by him. His rendering of the last-named merry, laughing lay was preceded by facetious talk about being in gaol and about trades. While some of his sayings were familiar many were fresh. His manner is original and funny. He made the people laugh heartily.’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 8 February 1880, p. 4a)

The People’s Palace of Varieties, London, October 1881
‘The name of Mr Alf. Rivers was in the bill, but he did not appear, owing, it was announced, to indisposition. His place was taken by Mr Frank Backus, who caused great amusement by his Negro eccentricities. He talked in fluent and humorous fashion about the disadvantages of being married, and sang of being a coloured boy aged twenty-one, who is fond of dancing. His second discourse was concerning various trades, and included smart puns and jokes. The titles of newspapers were ingeniously worked into a piece about what the newsboy sells, and might be, as he does. This facetious speech was followed by a song with the retrain ”I’m going to Kentucky once more.” He finished with a dance of an original and nimble kind, which, like his other doings, caused hearty applause.’
(The Era, London, Saturday, 8 October 1881, p. 4b)

Robinson Crusoe, pantomime, with Amy Grundy in the title role, Theatre Royal, Nottingham, Christmas, 1881
‘… Mr. Frank Backus as King Cockalorum introduces some sprightly dancing, and makes much of the somewhat minor character.’
The Stage, London, Friday, 6 January 1882, p. 5a)

The Coliseum, Leeds, December 1885
‘THE SAN FRANCISCO MINSTRELS. – This band of sable minstrels have at present a brief engagement at the Coliseum, Leeds. They gave the second of a series of eight entertainments on Saturday evening, and the crowded state of the house indicated afresh how popular still is this class of amusement. The variety which the programme of such a band usually presents, and which is no doubt one of the chief attractions, is here found in full measure. There is a good display of vocal power, with the sentimental and comic happily blended, delightful choruses, in which the instrumentalists take no unimportant part, much laughter provoked by the end men, with burlesque, negro eccentricities, and ventriloquism to heighten the merriment. The comic business is not entirely new – it never is – but taken as a whole it is very amusing. Mr. Charles Wilson’s singing of ”Tidings of Comfort and Joy,” is irresistibly funny, as are also the joint performances of himself and his droll colleague, Mr. James Sanford, in ”Nic-nacs.” Mr. Frank Backus does the chief part of the dancing, and does it well. The ventriloquist is Mr. Frank Mordaunt, who also excites hilarity. Amongst the vocalists, none excel Mr. A. Clifford, who has a find baritone voice, and Mr. Fred Salcombe, one of the tenors. the entertainment is a capital one of its kind.’
(The Leeds Mercury, Leeds, Monday 28 December 1885, p. 5c)

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December 28, 2012

Madge Rockingham (fl. late 19th Century), English actress manageress, singer and pantomime principal boy and principal girl(photo: unknown, UK, probably 1890s)

This real photograph cigarette card of Madge Rockingham was issued about 1900 in England in one of Ogden’s Guinea Gold series. It shows her in the title role of Robinson Crusoe, a pantomime in which she took the lead at the Theatre Royal, Halifax (Christmas, 1894) and at the New Theatre, Kilburn (Christmas, 1895)

New Theatre, Kilburn.

‘But the bright particular star and success of the production is Miss M.R. as Crusoe, one of the best principal boys on the stage. Why this lady is not heard more of in London we cannot understand. Now, Mr. George Edwardes, keep your eye on this. A lady with a fine presence, pretty face and figure, grand mezzo=soprano voice, and can use it, and, what is more, an actress. Bravo! Dick Mansell [manager of the New Theatre, Kilburn], for being the first in the field in London with such a valuable article.’ (from The Encore, London, 3 January 1896, reprinted in The Era, London, Saturday, 11 January 1896, p. 12a)

‘Miss Madge Rockingham is a native of Sheffield, where Mr Edgar Ward, the theatrical manager and musical director, heard her sing at a concert in the Albert Hall. He engaged her for Fairy Queen in the pantomime at the Theatre Royal, Plymouth, 1883, and so she made her first appearance on the stage. Subsequently, Miss Rockingham played Germaine throughout five tours of Les Cloches de Corneville, the last with Mr Shiel Barry. She appeared on tour in La Fille du Tambour Major, Les Manteaux Noirs, and The Princess of Trebizonde. Miss Rockingham played principal girl in Randolph the Reckless (with Mr Victor Stevens, Miss Alice Brookes, and Miss Alice Cooke); in Miss Esmeralda, with Maggie Duggan and Little Tich; and in Cartouche and Company, with Miss Vesta Tilley. Miss Rockingham also toured as Thames Darrell, in Little Jack Sheppard, with Miss Fanny Robina and Mr J.J. Dallas. For three years she was in management on her own account, the ”Madge Rockingham company” appearing in the Gaiety version of Miss Esmeralda, also in a musical comedy, specially written by Mr Arthur Shirley and Mr Benjamin Landeck, entitled A Fight for Freedom. Miss Rockingham’s pantomime engagements include the following: – Principal girl – Alexandra Theatre, Liverpool; Theatre Royal, Sheffield; Theatre Royal, Bath; Avenue Theatre, Sunderland; and two Easter pantomimes at York; principal boy – Opera Comique, London; Theatre Royal, Brighton; Alexandra Theatre, Liverpool; Theatre Royal, Reading; and Theatre Royal, Kilburn. Next Christmas Miss Rockingham plays Aladdin at the West London Theatre. Meanwhile she is appearing as Madame Montesquieu with Miss Cissy Grahame’s All Abroad company.’ (The Era, London, Saturday, 17 October 1896, p. 13d)