Posts Tagged ‘Royalty Theatre (London)’


Phoebe Don, English burlesque actress and singer

February 2, 2015

Phoebe Don (active 1872-1882), English burlesque actress and singer, latterly music hall serio-comic and dancer, in an unidentified role, possibly as the Prince in the pantomime The House that Jack Built, produced at the Surrey Theatre, London, 26 December 1878
(two carte de visite photos: The London Stereoscopic & Photographic Co Ltd, London, circa 1878/79)

Ixion; or, The Man at the Wheel, a burlesque by F.C. Burnand, produced at the Court Theatre, London, Wednesday, 5 February 1873
‘What old playgoer is there who fails to have a pleasant reminiscence of that ”Ixion” which made the fortune of the New Royalty Theatre ten years ago? The chic of Miss Jenny Wilmore as Ixion, the charms of Miss Ada Cavendish as Venus, the delicious pertness of Miss [Blanche] Elliston as Juno, the drollery of Felix Rogers as Minerva, the unctuous officiousness of Joseph Robins as Ganymede after the fashion of Mr. Wardle’s Fat Boy [in Dickens’s Pickwick Papers], still linger in our memory. Was it only our hot youth which impressed us with the devout belief that the goddesses of the little theatre in Dean-street [Soho, London] made up a galaxy of beauty which never had been, would be, or could be surpassed? Labuntur anni; we have grown to despise puns, to stickle for the dramatic unities, and to declaim against what we are pleased to call dramatic nudities and we rather anticipated that the ”Ixion” of 1873 would be likely to dis-illusion us as to the ”Ixion” of 1863. We are glad to say that this is not the case. The ”Man at the Wheel” of the Court appears to us to be in all respects equal to the ”Man at the Wheel” of the New Royalty. It hangs fire, indeed, in the prologue, which is altogether an unnecessary encumbrance, and it contains allusions to topics of the last decade which might be modernised with advantage. But is pleased us more than anything of the same kind that we have seen since the ”Vivanière” [i.e. Vivanière; or, True to the Corps, an operatic extravaganza by W.S. Gilbert, produced at the Queen’s Theatre, London, 22 January 1868]; Mr. [Edward] Righton is the most mirth-moving Minerva possible; the charms of Miss Phœbe Don, Miss M. Don, and half a dozen other Olympians could only be expressed by an unlimited number of notes of admiration; the songs are really funny and sparkling, the dances are lively, and the whole extravaganza has an amount of ”go” in it which is very attractive indeed. We should be rather glad if Bacchus could be transformed into a stanch [sic] teetotaller; for with Marks very tipsy half through ”Lady Audley’s Secret,” and Bacchus very tipsy all through ”Ixion,” we have an unpleasant surfeit of inebriation. In real life a drunkard is an exceedingly unpleasant companion, and we are not much more fond of him on the stage. Furthermore, we have a decided objection to those repeated encores of songs and dances which are now so common; and we cannot help thinking that an advertisement to the effect ”that such and such a dance is encored four times nightly” must have a decidedly repellent effect on sensible people. But here our cavilling ends, and we heartily recommend ”Ixion” to our readers.’
(The Observer, London, 9 February 1873, p. 3c/d)

‘Mr. R. BLACKMORE as organised another company for a five months’ season in Calcutta, the artistes engaged comprising Messrs Crawford, Cowdery, [George] Titheradge, Bond, E. Sheppard, Owen, Beverley; and the Misses Alice Ingram, Bessie Edwards, Alma Sainton, A. Rose, Phœbe Don, G. Leigh, F. Seymour, and Tessy Hamerton. They sailed from Southampton on the 21st inst. in the ”Poonah.” The Corinthian Theatre will be the scene of their operations.’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 24 September 1876, p. 4c)

‘My dear Tahite, – Miss [Rosa] Cooper‘s benefit came off a few days ago. She played Miami in ”Green Bushes,” and the house was wedged. I understand the low-comedy man of this theatre is engaged to Mr. Coppin. The artist and the manager are shortly going to China in a panorama (”The Prince in India”). The French opera has been a disheartening failure. I never saw anything so bad, even at a third-class concert in Melbourne. Miss Bessy Edwards is a pretty taking actress, and Miss Phœbe Don, if not a great actress, is so bewilderingly beautiful a woman, that young men – and for the matter of that old men – go distraught about her… .’
(The Australasian, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 28 April 1877, p. 19c)

The House that Jack Built, pantomime, produced at the Surrey Theatre, 26 December 1878
‘Miss Phoebe Don, a promising young actress and singer, plays the part of the Prince effectively, and is ably seconded by Miss Nelly Vane as Princess Rosebud.’
(The Daily News, London, Friday, 27 December 1878, p. 6a)

Venus; or, The Gods as They Were and Not as They Ought to Have Been, a burlesque by Edward Rose and Augustus Harris, produced at the Royal Theatre, London, on 27 June 1879
‘The new extravaganza, ”Venus,” can hardly be deemed worthy, from a literary point of view, to follow Mr. [G.R.] Sims‘s still-popular comedy of ”Crutch and Toothpick.” Mr. Edward Rose and Mr. A. Harris are named as the authors of ”Venus,” and Mr. rose is so graceful a writer that probably he should be credited with work the goodness of which may have been drowned in the noise and obtrusive horse-play of the first night’s representation. The extravaganza, however, was possibly merely intended to served as a vehicle for the exhibition of the majority of the mythological deities, from Venus (Miss Nelly Bromley) to Adonis and Mars, who find comely representatives in Miss Alma Stanley and Miss Phœbe Don. Subdued to a tone more in keeping with the smallness of the house, ”Venus” may now run smoothly, and the vivacity of Miss Kate Lawler as a dashing Cupid would certainly be appreciated none the less for a little moderation. But ”Venus” will not be a second ”Ixion.”’
(The Illustrated London News, London, Saturday, 5 July 1879, p. 7b)

Nelly Power’s benefit, the Cambridge music hall, London, Wednesday, 27 October 1880
‘… The Sisters Lindon, in a duet in praise of waltzing, were generally admired, as was Miss Phœbe Don in her song with the chorus commencing ”D’ye take me for a stupid little silly?” a chorus which the audience was not slow to take up… .’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 31 October 1880, p. 4c)

London Pavilion, Piccadilly Circus, London, week beginning Monday, 8 November 1880
‘… Mr Fred Law, who should rapidly make his way in public favour, sang ”Allow me to see you home,” and ”If a girl likes to kiss me,” in a merry style; and was following by handsome Phœbe Don, who, though possessed of only a small voice, makes the most of it, and contrived to win admiration in her song of the ”Little Cat,” and in another which allowed the audience to exercise their own sweet voices… .’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 14 November 1880, p. 4b)

Phoebe Don played the small part of Blue Peter in the pantomime Robinson Crusoe, produced at Drury Lane Theatre, on 26 December 1881, of which the stars were Dot and Minnie Mario, James Fawn, Miss Amalia, Arthur Roberts, Fanny Leslie, Harry Nicholls and Charles Lauri junior. Miss Don’s last known appearances were at the London Pavilion, Piccadilly Circus, London, in May 1882.


Gladys Cooper photographed by Bassano, London, 1911

May 21, 2014

Gladys Cooper (1888-1971), English actress.
(photo: Bassano, London, 1911)

When this photograph was published in May 1911, Miss Cooper had lately left the cast of Our Miss Gibbs and, turning her back on pantomime and musical comedy, was about to begin her theatrical career in earnest by appearing as Ethel Trent in Frank Howell Evans’s farce, Half-a-Crown, produced at the Royalty Theatre, London, on 31 May 1911. The cast was headed by Dennis Eadie.


programme cover for the Royalty Theatre, Dean Street, Soho, London, for Easter Monday, 14 April 1879

April 19, 2014

programme cover for the Royalty Theatre, Dean Street, Soho, London, for Easter Monday, 14 April 1879, lessee and manager, Edgar Bruce (1843/45-1901)
(artwork by A. Sansom, printed by Sprague & Co, lithographers, &c, 22 Martins Lane, Cannon Street, London, 1879)

Members of the cast included Edgar Bruce, W.S. Penley, Lytton Sothern, Rose Cullen, Lottie Venne and, as a gentleman of the chorus, John Le Hay.


Sydney Valentine in The Light that Failed, Lyric Theatre, London, 1903

February 11, 2014

Sydney Valentine (1865-1919), English actor, as he appeared in the role of J.G. Fordham (‘Nilghai’) in the first production of The Light That Failed by George Fleming after the novel of the same name by Rudyard Kipling, published in 1890.
(photo: probably Bassano for The Play Pictorial, London, 1903)

The play, whose cast also included Johnston Forbes-Robertson, C. Aubrey Smith, Leon Quartermaine, Gertrude Elliott, Margaret Halston and Nina Boucicault, ran at the Lyric Theatre, London, from 7 February 1903 to 18 April 1903 and then at the New Theatre, London, from 20 April 1903 to 20 June 1903. Forbes-Robertson subsequently organized a tour of the United Kingdom of The Light That Failed with a different cast, headed by Sydney Brough and Beatrice Forbes-Robertson. Johnston Forbes-Robertson afterwards took the play to the United States, opening at the Knickerbocker Theatre, New York on 9 November 1903. Of the original London cast, he was accompanied by C. Aubrey Smith, Leon Quartermaine and Gertrude Elliott; Sydney Valentine’s old part of J.G. Fordham (‘Nilghai’) was played by George Sumner.

* * * * *

A ‘quite inadequate’ one act adaptation by Courtenay Thorpe of Kipling’s well known work was previously presented as a curtain-raiser at the Royalty Theatre, London, on 7 April 1898. Thorpe himself headed the cast, supported by Frank Atherley, Ruth Mackay and Furtado Clarke. The Stage (London, Thursday, 14 April 1898, p. 15b) described Miss Mackay as ‘a lady of handsome appearance and good voice, who may be recommended a close study of Cockney pronunciation if she wishes to make her present work more successful.’


An incident from the original production of Brandon Thomas’s farce, Charley’s Aunt, with W.S. Penley in the title role

February 9, 2014

Babbs (Lord Fancourt Babberley): ‘This IS all right!’ – an incident from the original production of Brandon Thomas’s farce, Charley’s Aunt with W.S. Penley (seated) in the title role, Emmie Merrick as Amy Spettigue, Henry Farmer as Charley Wykeham and H. Reeves-Smith as Jack Chesney. Charley’s Aunt was produced at the Royalty Theatre, London, on 21 December 1892, transferred to the Globe Theatre on 30 January 1893 and closed on 19 December 1896 after a run of 1,469 performances.
(cabinet photo: J.C. Turner & Co, 10 Barnsbury Park, London, N, copyrighted 7 November 1894 [ref: National Archives COPY 1/418/386])

Kate Gordon was the first to play Amy Spettigue and was replaced by Emmie Merrick and then by Audrey Ford; Henry Farmer was eventually replaced by Alfred C. Seymour as Charley Wykeham; and H. Reeves-Smith replaced Percy Lyndal as Jack Chesney.


Sarah Bernhardt in London, 1907, for the publication of her autobiography

August 20, 2013

Sarah Bernhardt (1845-1923), French tragedienne, in London, October/November 1907, for the French season and the publication of her autobiography, My Double Life

Madame Sarah Bernhardt and some of her Company; a group taken at the Royalty Theatre, London, October/November 1907.
left to right: Madame Allisson, M. Richard, M. Gerval, Mdlle. Flori, Madame Cerda, Madame Renée Parny, M. Mathillon, M. Maxudian, Madame Blanche Defrene, Madame Sarah Bernhardt, M. Decœur, Mdlle. Seylor, Madame Boulanger, M. Deneubourg, Madame Due, M. Piron, M. Guide, and M. Bouthors.
(photo: Dover Street Studios, London, 1907)

‘The interest of the playhouse in the feminine has been greatly increased during the week by the publication of My Double Life, the autobiography of Sarah Bernhardt, and the appearance of the lady herself at the Royalty. There has been so little of the mollusc [a reference to the comedy, The Mollusc, Criterion Theatre, London, 15 October 1907] about her that she might have well called it My Sextuple Life, for she has crammed into it enough to fill the lives of half-a-dozen ordinary women. She has dabbled in all the arts and touched the heights of passion in a way that would obsess most other women completely. It is a lively book tingling with sensations, and will interested everybody who cares to come into contact with a personality which feels life – and death for that matter – acutely. Her appearance at the Royalty is the most interesting event of the French season. Mr. Heinemann, who publishes the book (at 15s.) has also issued a cheap single-volume edition of Mr. Bram Stoker’s book on Sir Henry Irving.’
(J.M. Bulloch, The Sphere, London, Saturday, 26 October 1907, p.82b)

Sarah Bernhardt
Madame Bernhardt asleep in her coffin. The celebrated photograph from My Double Life, the memoirs of Sarah Bernhardt, published in London in October 1907 by William Heinemann. (photo: unknown, Paris, 1880s)

‘It was by a curious coincidence that the week which saw the production of Mr. [Roy] Horniman’s play [The Education of Elizabeth, Apollo Theatre, London, 19 October 1907] should also have seen the publication of Madame Bernhardt’s autobiography My Double Life, which gives an extraordinarily vivid impression of the working of the wheels of the real theatrical mind, not so much in a direct way but so far as its entire spirit is concerned. The impression of the book has been heightened by the opportunity of seeing Sarah at the New Royalty, where Mr. Gaston Mayer is conducting a very brilliant French season. Madame Bernhardt, like everybody with a temperament, varies greatly, but of recent years she has seemed really to be getting younger. The mere ability of being able to play such stuff as [Victorien Sardou’s] La Sorcière is extraordinary.’
(The Sphere, London, Saturday, 2 November 1907, p.104c)


W.S. Penley with his son, Charles Fancourt Brandon Penley

May 14, 2013

W.S. Penley (1852-1912), English actor manager, with his youngest son, Charles Fancourt Brandon Penley (1894-1969)
(photo: unknown, probably near London, late 1890s)

This tinted halftone postcard was published about 1902 by Henry Moss & Co of London in its ‘Actors & Actresses’ series. It shows the English actor W.S. Penley and his son. Penley created the title role Brandon Thomas’s farcical comedy, Charley’s Aunt, first produced at the Royalty Theatre, London on 21 December 1892. During the following year the play was transferred to the Globe Theatre, where it ran for a record breaking 1,466 performances.

For further details of Penley’s busy career, see David Stone’s web site, Who Was Who in the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company.


May 14, 2013

W.S. Penley (1852-1912), English actor manager, with his youngest son, Charles Fancourt Brandon Penley (1894-1969)
(photo: unknown, probably near London, late 1890s)

This tinted halftone postcard was published about 1902 by Henry Moss & Co of London in its ‘Actors & Actresses’ series. It shows the English actor W.S. Penley and his son. Penley created the title role Brandon Thomas’s farcical comedy, Charley’s Aunt, first produced at the Royalty Theatre, London on 21 December 1892. During the following year the play was transferred to the Globe Theatre, where it ran for a record breaking 1,466 performances.

For further details of Penley’s busy career, see David Stone’s web site, Who Was Who in the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company.


three unidentified cast members in Don Juan Junior, 1880

April 13, 2013

three unidentified cast members in Don Juan Junior, Royalty Theatre, London, 3 November 1880
(photo: W. & D. Downey, London, 1880)

Don Juan Junior, an ‘Eastern Extravaganza’, was written by the Prendergast Brothers and produced under the management of Kate Lawler at the Royalty Theatre, London, on 3 November 1880. The cast was headed by Kate Lawler in the title role, with Edward Righton, Phil Day, T.P. Haynes, Francis Wyatt, Maggie Brennan, Emma Ritta, Dora Vivian and Annie Lawler. Other members of the cast were Florence Lavender, E. Bayard, Elise Ward, Connie Carlin, Millie Thornhill, Hellina Dupont, Lizzie Lawson, Maude De Vere, Jessie Braham, Sylvia Gray, Edith Gower, Lottie Nelson, Clare St. Clare, Nelly Stuart, Connie Edmonds, Alice Johnson, Kate Leicester, T. Henri, Amy Clifford, Rose Helm, Louise Causton, Bertha Young, Bessie Stanley and Rose Robinson.


Albina di Rhona

March 26, 2013

a carte de visite photograph of Albina di Rhona (fl. 1850s/1860s), the Servian actress, dancer and singer who arrived in London in 1860, in 1861 revived the fortunes of the Soho Theatre, which afterwards became the Royalty Theatre, and who the following year embarked on a brief tour of the United Kingdom
(photo: Mayer Brothers, 133 Regent Street, London, 1860 or 1861)

St. James’s Theatre, London, 26 November 1860
‘A young Servian lady, Mdlle. Albina di Rhona, who has made a great sensation in St. Petersburg, made her first appearance last night in a little sketch written for the display of her talent as a dancer. Very pretty, and with a little elegant figure, expressive face, and graceful action, Mdlle. di Rhona soon won the favour of the audience, and was greeted in each successive pas with thunders of applause. In the little skeleton of plot of the piece (which is called Smack for Smack) she personates a young French girl, who so captivates an English soldier that he foregoes for her sake a determination to avenge an insult offered by a Frenchman to his sister by boxing the ears of the French girl he encountered, and finally abstracts a kiss from the savage Briton. The Cracovienne, the Ecossaise (our old friend the Highland Fling, we thought, made fashionable for a St. James’s audience), and one or two other dances, were performed with great spirit and taste, and the young lady was well seconded by the blunt absurdities of Mr. Belmore.’
(Daily News, London, Tuesday, 27 November 1860, p. 3b)

‘St. James’s. – Mdlle. Albina di Rhona, the danseuse-sou-brette, whose performance, in private, at this theatre, we recorded a fortnight ago, made her first public appearance here on Monday evening in a semi-Anglicised version of the little vaudeville of which we spoke on that occasion. The piece, now entitled Smack for Smack, has thus the peculiar novelty of being played in French and English, for Madlle. Albina, as Fanchette, speaks only the former language, and Mr. George Belmore, who, as John Trott, takes the place of the original Prussian, supplies the other half of the dialogue with good honest Saxon vernacular. The latter individual (who during the farce attempts a comic song that might wisely be expunged), is supposed to be a soldier attached to the army of occupation in our last war with France, but he is here only used as the means of preventing the stage being wholly vacant, whilst the danseuse heightens her personal attractions by some becoming assumptions of various national costumes. The piquant style and expressive action, which we described as being the prominent characteristics of this young Servian artiste when seen by a select few, we found even more strong marked when the additional stimulus of a public performance was afforded. The sprightliness of her acting is accompanied by a dashing dexterity in her dancing, which, although not distinguished by any original features, will not be unlikely to attract the public on account of the novelty of the medium through which they are presented. At the end of the piece, which did not severely tax the patience of the auditory, Mdlle. di Rhona was called before the curtain, and, amidst a vehement expression of approval, received a further tributary acknowledgement of her success in the form of numerous bouquets from a friendly box. In fact, Mdlle. Albina di Rhona is not superior (if equal) to Miss Lydia Thompson as an actress or dancer, but dresses with similar indelicacy. The little vaudeville was preceded by the comedietta of A Loan of a Wife, and was followed by the petite drama of Mons. Jacques, and the farce of Next Door.’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 2 December 1860, p. 10b)

‘Mdlle. Albina di Rhona, the ”dancing soubrette,” who first raised the Soho playhouse to the rank of a recognized theatre, and endowed it with its present title, the ”New Royalty,” has lately been exposed to serious peril. Her present calling, it seems, is that of a performer of legerdemain, and at the Salle de l’Orient, Brussels, she has been giving a series of performances, comprising the well-known trick of receiving uninjured the supposed contents of an apparently loaded pistol. One evening, when the weapon, after it had been handed round for the inspection of the public, was returned into her hands, she inserted her magic wand into the barrel, and felt it come into contact with an unexpected obstacle. She retired, and afterwards reappeared in a state of violent agitation. It subsequently transpired that some scoundrel among the spectators had slipped into the barrel a screw of about an inch in length, which, if it had not been discovered, would have killed or seriously wounded the fair enchantress.’
(The Pall Mall Gazette, London, Thursday, 29 October 1868, p. 7b)