Posts Tagged ‘Shafesbury Theatre (London)’

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Florence Smithson, English soprano and musical comedy and pantomime actress

February 19, 2014

Florence Smithson (1884-1936), English soprano and musical comedy actress, who appeared in several Drury Lane pantomimes and spent much of the last part of her career touring variety theatres in the United Kingdom. She is best remembered for her appearance as Sombra in the original production of The Arcadians (Shaftesbury Theatre, London, 28 April 1909).
(photo: Metropole Studios, Cardiff, circa 1915)

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May Etheridge about 1912, later Duchess of Leinster

November 2, 2013

May Etheridge (1892-1935), English chorus girl
(photo: unknown, possibly Elwin Neame, London, circa 1912)

May Etheridge (née May Juanita Etheridge) was first seen on the stage in the chorus of The New Aladdin, an extravaganza, at the Gaiety Theatre, London, on 29 September 1906. She then transferred to the Aldwych Theatre under the management of Seymour Hicks before taking the part of Ko-Giku, a geisha, in The Mousmé, a musical play with music by Lionel Monckton and Howard Talbot, which was produced by Robert Courtneidge at the Shaftesbury Theatre, London, on 9 September 1911. Her final official part was in the small role of Ursula in Princess Caprice, a comedy with music by Leo Fall, produced at the same theatre on 11 May 1912. It is believed, however, that she appeared in a small uncredited part in the musical comedy, Betty at Daly’s Theatre, London, during 1915.

By then, however, on 12 June 1913 at Wandsworth Registrar’s Office, near London, May Etheridge married Lord Edward FitzGerald (1892-1976), later 7th Duke of Leinster. They separated in 1922 and divorced in 1930. He was subsequently married three more times (including in 1946 to the former actress, Denise Orme) and committed suicide on 8 March 1976.

‘A Duchess Bound Over.
‘LONDON, April 19 [1930]. – Charged with having attempted to commit suicide, the Duchess of Leinster, formerly May Etheridge, a musical comedy star [sic], who was found unconscious on April 1 [1930] in a gas-filled room at a Brixton boarding house, was bound over to-day to be of good behaviour for two years, in her own recognisances of £50 and two sureties for a like amount.’
(The West Australian, Perth, Tuesday, 22 April 1930, p. 15b)

The Duchess, who eventually changed her name to May Murray, died at her home at Saltdean, near Brighton, Sussex on 11 February 1935; the inquest returned a verdict of death by misadventure following an accidental overdose of narcotics taken to induce sleep.

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The Arcadians, Liberty Theatre, New York, 1910

June 24, 2013

some of the cast in the New York production of The Arcadians, Liberty Theatre, 17 January 1910, including (fourth from left) Julia Sanderson as Eileen Cavanagh, fifth from left) Connie Ediss as Mrs Smith, (centre, left) Frank Moulan as James Smith / Simplicitas and (centre, right), Alan Mudie as Jack Meadows
(photo: unknown, New York, 1910)

The Arcadians, an immensely popular English musical play by Mark Ambient, A.M. Thompson and Arthur Wimperis, with music by Lionel Monckton and Howard Talbot, that ran for 810 performances at the Shaftesbury Theatre, London, between June 1909 and July 1911, reached the United States early in 1910. After playing for three weeks in Philadelphia (Forrest Theatre, 4 January 1910), the Charles Frohman production moved to New York where it opened on 17 January.

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February 1, 2013

an incident from The Jury of Fate,
with H.B. Irving as Rene Delorme and William Lugg as the stranger,
Shaftesbury Theatre, London, 2 January 1906 (photo: Dover Street Studios, London, 1906)

This real photograph postcard, published by J. Beagles & Co, no. 273 D, shows an incident with William Lugg and H.B. Irving from The Jury of Fate, a play in 7 tableaux by C.M.S. McLennan, which opened at the Shaftesbury Theatre, London, on 2 January 1906 for a run of twenty-six performances. Alexandra Carlisle as Honorine was the leading lady.

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February 1, 2013

an incident from The Jury of Fate,
with H.B. Irving as Rene Delorme and William Lugg as the stranger,
Shaftesbury Theatre, London, 2 January 1906 (photo: Dover Street Studios, London, 1906)

This real photograph postcard, published by J. Beagles & Co, no. 273 D, shows an incident with William Lugg and H.B. Irving from The Jury of Fate, a play in 7 tableaux by C.M.S. McLennan, which opened at the Shaftesbury Theatre, London, on 2 January 1906 for a run of twenty-six performances. Alexandra Carlisle as Honorine was the leading lady.

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Mabelle Gilman

December 28, 2012

Mabelle Gilman as Yvette Millet in The Mocking Bird (photo: Falk, New York, 1902)

‘MABELLE GILMAN’S PAPA.
‘Speaking of home, it is home-and-father, not home-and-mother with Mabelle Gilman, chief chirper in
The Mocking Bird, at the Bijou. The story goes that out in Sacramento, Cal., Miss Gilman’s father keep[s] a small every-day-is-bargain-day dry-goods and notion store. Every new photograph of herself that Miss Gilman sends home her father, it is said, places in the show window, where it stands in stage, festooned with bleached and unbleached muslins and stockings upon which ”the price is plainly marked.”
‘Whenever a fresh picture arrives and is exhibited in the window, the father, so they say, takes the greatest pleasure in calling it to the attention of friends and customers. He is very proud of Mabelle. He knew her when she had only one ”l” and one ”e” to her name. Now count ‘em!’ (
The Evening World, New York, Monday, 17 November 1902, p. 5e/f)

‘MABELLE GILMAN AND CROWN PRINCE.
‘Mabelle Gilman isn’t numbered among the grand-opera stars, and, what’s more, she never expects to be. But, according to a boastful little secret she’s telling, she has warbled her way into the heart of the Crown Prince of Siam, who, it is further alleged, would put the pretty ”Mocking Bird” of the Bijou in a gilded cage were it not for the fact that his royal parents have told him he mustn’t.
‘The Crown Prince, it is said, capitulated to Mabelle’s charms when she was singing in
The Casino Girl in London two seasons ago [Shaftesbury Theatre, 11 July 1900]. So lasting has been the spell, Miss Gilman avers, that on the opening night of The Mocking Bird the Prince sent her, along with some flowers, a diamond mocking bird with a royal crest. She also holds out a white little hand to show a ring, likewise ”crested,” and points with pride to her corsage, whereon sparkles a solitaire pin which is represented to have set the Crown Prince back several hundred ”plunks.”
‘Mabelle will dream on with the Sires a couple of seasons and then –
‘But what’s the use wondering whether dreams will come true?’ (
The Evening World, New York, Saturday, 29 November 1902, p. 9b/c)

National Theatre, Washington, D.C.
‘Mabelle Gilman, with dainty wiles and coquettish grace, as Yvette Millet in
The Mocking Bird, will come to the New National this week. This new opera is said to have captivated theatregoers generally, and to about in sparkling wit and satire, with music which is tuneful and catchy.
‘A. Baldwin Sloane, who is responsible for the pleasing music, has been identified with a number of New York successes, and in
The Mocking Bird he is said to have accomplished his best work. Some of his successes have been Jack and the Beanstalk, The Hall of Fame, The Liberty Belles, and The Man in the Moon [sic].
‘Miss Gilman, in 1897, was one of the many pretty, graceful, and bright girls who graduated from the Mills Seminary, in San Francisco. At the closing exercises she, like the others, participated in recitations, dancing and singing. Among those present happened to be a wire prophet who penned some lines on this order:
”’Beautiful Mabelle Gilman is another California girl who, should the opportunity be presented, will grace the dramatic profession and create a name for herself on both continents.”
‘The well-known theatrical manager, Augustin Daly, who was then visiting San Francisco, proceeded to hunt up this ”sweet girl graduate,” and the result was that the name of Mabelle Gilman was soon on the program of the company playing
The Geisha. Without previous study or even without being stage struck, this California girl made an instantaneous hit with both audience and manager. Her next steps toward the top was in [A] Runaway Girl and The Casino Girl. Now, as the creator of the star role in this tuneful comediettea The Mocking Bird, Miss Gilman has reached a height in a few years that is a little less than amazing.’ (The Washington Times, Washington, D.C., Sunday, 19 April 1903, p. 2f)