Posts Tagged ‘St. George and the Dragon (pantomime)’

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Miss Amalia sings ‘Dolly Varden,’ early 1870s

September 5, 2013

Miss Amalia (1859-1911), English actress, singer and dancer, as she appeared in the early 1870s singing G.W. Hunt’s song, ‘Dolly Varden,’ which was inspired by the character of that name in Dickens’s novel, Barnaby Rudge.
(carte de visite photo: G.J. Tear, 12 Clapham Road, London, SW, probably 1871)

Amalia, usually billed as Mdlle. Amalia or Miss Amalia, was one of the daughters of Scipion Brizzi (1835?-1899), a commercial traveller and sometime clerk to a parliamentary agent, and his wife Annie (née Michael), who were married in London in 1856. Miss Amalia’s daughter, Ethel Constance Brizzi, who was born in 1882, married in May 1911 at St. George’s, Hanover Square, Thomas Robinson Stavers (1877-1957). She died in 1940.

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‘Mr. G.W. Hunt, the popular composer of comic songs, has just written a new and original song for Mdlle. Amalia, entitled ”Dolly Varden,”’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 8 October 1871, p. 9d)

‘MDLLE. AMALIA, the Celebrated Juvenile Burlesque Actress, Vocalist, Pianiste and Danseuse, OXFORD THEATRE OF VARIETIES, BRIGHTON, To-morrow, Twelve Nights. Metropolitan, London (Six Weeks) to follow. Royal Princess’s Theatre, Christmas. Niblo’s Garden, New York, next August. Sole Agents, Messrs. Parravicini and Corbyn. ”Dolly Varden” (Copyright) will shortly be published.’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 29 October 1871, p. 16a)

Metropolitan music hall, London, November 1871
‘Miss Amalia, who is a new comer here, is in great favour. She looks a bewitching little woman as ”Dolly Varden,” and as a smart Prince causes much amusement by singing of ”Promenading the Spa,” imitating Mr. George Leybourne’s manner of rendering the strain ”After the Opera is over,” and by other clever vocal efforts. As usual, she dances excellently and charmingly.”
(The Era, London, Sunday, 19 November 1871, p. 12c)

‘NEW MUSIC … Dolly Varden, By G.W. Hunt… . Dolly Varden, founded upon a pretty waltz melody has already become very popular, and, together with Amalia’s comical singing, is found wonderfully attractive just now. Many other singers are also adopting the air in the various Music Halls.’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 14 January 1872, p. 4c)

The East London music hall, week beginning Monday, 3 November 1873
‘Miss Amalia, whose good looks and ability increase with her years, on the evening of our visit appeared first as a pretty little ”Dolly Varden,” and secondly in the garb of a bewitching representative of that honest-hearted race over whose lives a sweet little cherub has been specially appointed ”up aloft” to keep watch. She not only sang well, but danced in a style which somewhat astonished us. She, too, retired amid well-merited marks of approbation.’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 9 November 1873, p. 11c)

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‘AMALIA, MISS, burlesque actress, made her début on the London state at the Surrey Theatre, December 26, 1869, in the pantomime of St. George and the Dragon. She subsequently played in other pantomimes, securing, conjointly with Miss Violet Cameron, the full honours of the evening on December 27, 1873, at Drury Lane Theatre, ”for her acting and singing in a ballad called ‘Buttercup Green,”’ introduced into the burlesque opening. More recently Miss Amalia has been engaged at the Gaiety, and has played in many of the extravaganzas of Mr. Byron on which that theatre mainly, and for the most part profitably relies as its principal attraction.’
Charles E. Pascoe, editor, The Dramatic List. A Record of the Performances of Living Actors and Actresses of the British Stage, London, 1880, p. 3)

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Doris Ashton

May 20, 2013

Doris Ashton (fl. 1919-1938), English popular singer, variety theatre entertainer and pantomime principal boy
(photo: Hana, London, circa 1919)

Doris Ashton appears to have had some success as a popular singer in the United Kingdom during the 1920s and ’30s. She began her career in 1919 and that year and the following she was at the London Coliseum. In 1920 she made a handful of recordings in London for the Regal label. She next appeared in Pot Luck!, described as a ‘Cabaret Show,’ which opened for a successful run at the Vaudeville Theatre, London, on 24 December 1921. The cast also included Jack Hulbert, Beatrice Lillie, Mary Leigh, Margaret Bannerman, Norah Blaney and Gwen Farrar, and Maidie Scott. ‘Miss Doris Ashton has a good voice, which she has no need to force.’ (The Daily Mirror, London, Tuesday, 27 December 1921, p. 12a)

During 1926 and again in the 1930s, Doris Ashton made a number of broadcasts for the BBC. In the late 1920s she also appeared with the entertainer Billy Rawson. They were at the London Palladium together in 1928, the year in which they made an 8 minute synchronized sound film in London for the De Forest Phonofilm company, which was released in May that year. In January 1929 the couple appeared in the pantomime Dick Whittington and His Cat, at the Metropole Theatre, Glasgow. This was followed in March by a personal appearance on stage at the Astoria cinema in London.

Doris Ashton’s other pantomime parts included as the Princess Guenevere in the Brixton Theatre, London, pantomime of 1927/28, St. George and the Dragon. At Christmas 1931 she was principal boy at the Brixton Theatre’s pantomime, Sleeping Beauty. ‘Miss Doris Ashton is a principal boy good enough in diction, presence, and voice for Drury Lane – or should it be in these days be the Lyceum?’ (The Times, London, 28 December 1931, p. 8b) (The last Drury Lane pantomime was The Sleeping Beauty at Christmas 1929). Miss Ashton returned to the Brixton Theatre for the Christmas pantomimes of 1936 and 1937, respectively Babes in the Wood, when she appeared as Robin Hood, and The Sleeping Beauty, when she appeared as the principal boy.