Posts Tagged ‘St. James’s Theatre (London)’

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Fay Davis as Monica Blayne in The Tree of Knowledge, St. James’s Theatre, London, 1897

February 1, 2015

Fay Davis (1869-1945), American actress, as Monica Blayne in R.C. Carton’s play, The Tree of Knowledge, produced by and starring George Alexander at the St. James’s Theatre, London, on 25 October 1897.
(cabinet photo: Alfred Ellis, 20 Upper Baker Street, London, NW, negative no. 23806-1a, which appears to be a cropped version of negative no. 23806-1, which is described in the copyright registration form submitted by Alfred Ellis on 29 April 1897 as ‘Photograph, panel [i.e. 8 ½ x 4 in.] of Miss Fay Davis … Three quarter length standing figure, with hat on, leaning against cabinet.’)

Fay Louise Davis was born in Houlton, Maine, Massachusetts, on 15 December 1869, the youngest child of Asa T. Davis (1830-?), the proprietor of an express line, and his wife, Mary F. (nèe Snell, 1835-?). She visited England for the first time in 1895, arriving at Southampton on board the S.S. Columbia on 16 May. Introduced to London society by Edith Bigelow (first wife of the noted American journalist and author, Poulteney Bigelow), she soon received an offer from Charles Wyndham to join his company at the Criterion Theatre, London. Her first appearance was there as Zoë Nuggetson in The Squire of Dames, a comedy adapted by R.C. Carton from the French, produced on 5 November 1895. Her immediate success brought further offers, including the part of Fay Zuliani (photographed by Alfred Ellis) opposite George Alexander in A.W. Pinero’s comedy, The Princess and the Butterfly; or, The Fantastics, produced at the St. James’s Theatre, London, on 29 March 1897.

Miss Davis was married at the home of Mrs Frank M. Linnell, 61 Columbia Road, Dorchester, Boston, Massachusetts, on 23 May 1906, to the English actor manager, Gerald Lawrence (1873-1957). The latter’s first wife, whom he had married in 1897, was the actress Lilian Braithwaite, who obtained a divorce from him in November 1905.

Fay Davis’s final professional appearance was as Mary Dawson in Vivian Tidmarsh’s ‘unusual comedy,’ Behind the Blinds, produced at the Winter Garden Theatre, London, on 10 October 1938, in which her husband played Richard Dawson.

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An incident in the original production of H.A. Jone’s play, The Masqueraders, London, 1894

November 30, 2014

an incident from the original production of Henry Arthur Jones‘s play, The Masqueraders with, left to right, Mrs Edward Saker as Lady Crandover, Beryl Faber as Lady Charles Reindean, W.G. Elliott as Montagu Lushington and Irene Vanbrugh as Charley Wisranger. The play opened at the St. James’s Theatre, London, on 28 April 1894.
(cabinet photo: Alfred Ellis, 20 Upper Baker Street, London, NW, negative no. 16228-2)

Emily Mary Kate Saker (1847-1912) was the widow of the actor manager, Edward Sloman Saker (1838-1883); before her marriage she was known on the stage as Marie O’Berne (or O’Beirne).

Beryl Crossley Faber (1872-1912) was the first wife of the playwright and novelist, Cosmo Hamilton (1870-1942). She was also the sister of the stage and film actor, C. Aubrey Smith.

Irene Vanbrugh (née Irene Barnes) (1872-1949) was married in 1901 to the actor and director, Dion Boucicault junior.

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Pedro de Cordoba as Prince Calaf in the American production of Turandot, Princess of China, 1912

December 6, 2013

Pedro de Cordoba (1881-1950), American stage and film actor, as he appeared in the role of Prince Calaf in the American production of Karl Vollmoeller’s ‘Chinoiserie in Three Acts’ entitled Turandot, Princess of China, which was staged by the Shuberts in December 1912. The play previously had been directed by Max Reinhardt in Berlin in1911 and another version, which ran for 27 performances, was produced by Sir George Alexander at the St. James’s, Theatre, London, early in 1913.
(photo: unknown, probably New York, 1912)

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Miss Varcoe

May 28, 2013

Miss Varcoe (fl. late 1860s/early 1870s), actress/dancer
(carte de visite photo: The London Stereoscopic & Photographic Co Ltd, London, circa 1870)

Identified simply as ‘Varcoe,’ the sitter in this photograph is probably the Miss Varcoe who is first mentioned as appearing as one of the supernumeraries in Turko the Terrible; or, The Fairy Roses, an extravaganza written by William Brough, with a ballet arranged by Kiralfy, which was product at the Theatre Royal, Holborn, on 26 December 1868. The cast included Fanny Josephs and George Honey, supported in minor parts by Kate Love (the mother of Mabel Love), Eliza Weathersby and others. Miss Varcoe also appeared in The Corsican ‘Brothers’; or, The Troublesome Twins, a burlesque extravaganza by H.J. Byron, produced at the Globe Theatre, London, on 17 May 1869; and La Belle Sauvage, a burlesque, adapted from J. Brougham’s Pocohontas, and produced at the St. James’s Theatre, London, on 27 November 1869.

It is possible that this Miss Varcoe is the Agnes Varcoe who in early 1871 successfully brought a charge of assault against Elizabeth Alleyne, the manageress of the Globe Theatre, London, for having abused her behind the scenes there during a performance on Boxing Night, 1870. The production was a revival of Palgrave Simpson’s drama, Marco Spada, the first night of which took place on Saturday, 1 October 1870. The case was widely reported in the Press. The controversial Mdme. Colonna and her troupe of dancers were introduced into the piece towards the end of the same month.

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‘Madame Colonna and her ”troupe dansante,” whose peculiar evolutions at the Alhambra so provoked the indignation of the Middlesex magistrates as to lead to the withdrawal of the dancing license from that establishment, have been engaged at Miss Alleyne’s theatre. It is hardly necessary to say that in their new sphere of action these noted performers no longer indulge either in the ”can can” or any similar saltations. They appear in a so-called ”Dance of Brigands” in the concluding act of Mr. Palgrave Simpson’s drama of ”Marco Spade;” and though their performances are not always in the best ”form” – to use the strange phrase of the day – they are in most cases agile and spirited, and in the instance of one dancer even graceful and expressive. They are so decorous also as to the void of offence in the estimation of the most fastidious. If any ballet is to be tolerated there is no reason why this should be objected to on any plea of decorum. Madame Colonna and her associates are received with enthusiasm, and their dance is clamorously encored.’
(The Morning Post, London, Tuesday, 1 November 1870, p. 2d)

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May 28, 2013

Miss Varcoe (fl. late 1860s/early 1870s), actress/dancer
(carte de visite photo: The London Stereoscopic & Photographic Co Ltd, London, circa 1870)

Identified simply as ‘Varcoe,’ the sitter in this photograph is probably the Miss Varcoe who is first mentioned as appearing as one of the supernumeraries in Turko the Terrible; or, The Fairy Roses, an extravaganza written by William Brough, with a ballet arranged by Kiralfy, which was product at the Theatre Royal, Holborn, on 26 December 1868. The cast included Fanny Josephs and George Honey, supported in minor parts by Kate Love (the mother of Mabel Love), Eliza Weathersby and others. Miss Varcoe also appeared in The Corsican ‘Brothers’; or, The Troublesome Twins, a burlesque extravaganza by H.J. Byron, produced at the Globe Theatre, London, on 17 May 1869; and La Belle Sauvage, a burlesque, adapted from J. Brougham’s Pocohontas, and produced at the St. James’s Theatre, London, on 27 November 1869.

It is possible that this Miss Varcoe is the Agnes Varcoe who in early 1871 successfully brought a charge of assault against Elizabeth Alleyne, the manageress of the Globe Theatre, London, for having abused her behind the scenes there during a performance on Boxing Night, 1870. The production was a revival of Palgrave Simpson’s drama, Marco Spada, the first night of which took place on Saturday, 1 October 1870. The case was widely reported in the Press. The controversial Mdme. Colonna and her troupe of dancers were introduced into the piece towards the end of the same month.

* * * * *

‘Madame Colonna and her “troupe dansante,” whose peculiar evolutions at the Alhambra so provoked the indignation of the Middlesex magistrates as to lead to the withdrawal of the dancing license from that establishment, have been engaged at Miss Alleyne’s theatre. It is hardly necessary to say that in their new sphere of action these noted performers no longer indulge either in the “can can” or any similar saltations. They appear in a so-called “Dance of Brigands” in the concluding act of Mr. Palgrave Simpson’s drama of “Marco Spade;” and though their performances are not always in the best “form” – to use the strange phrase of the day – they are in most cases agile and spirited, and in the instance of one dancer even graceful and expressive. They are so decorous also as to the void of offence in the estimation of the most fastidious. If any ballet is to be tolerated there is no reason why this should be objected to on any plea of decorum. Madame Colonna and her associates are received with enthusiasm, and their dance is clamorously encored.’
(The Morning Post, London, Tuesday, 1 November 1870, p. 2d)

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Mary Godsall

May 26, 2013

Mary Godsall (1844-1922), English actress, as she appeared as Meenie during the run of Dion Boucicault’s dramatization of Rip Van Winkle at the Adelphi Theatre, London, first produced there on 4 September 1865, with Joseph Jefferson in the title role
(Window & Bridge’s patent Diamond Cameo Portrait carte de visite, photos: Adolphe Beau, London, 1865)

The Cabinet Theatre, London, Wednesday, ‘The little building in Liverpool-street, King’s cross, which was formerly used as a lecture hall, &c., has been fitted up and licensed under the above name for dramatic performances by Mr. J. Dryden. On Wednesday night last was played a new drama by Mr. G. Wood in three acts, entitled The Sisters; or, The Rovers of Salee. both the piece and the acting were below the range of criticism of any kind. The most ordinary knowledge of the English language on the part of the author must have sufficed to have shown him the absurdity of the combinations of words in which the piece abounds. Anything more absolutely ridiculous and farcical than the parts intended to be serious it would not be easy to imagine. The repetition of the sentences by the actors and actresses, of whom there was a long list, was quite as bad, or worse, than the matter, in those cases where they knew what they had to say, which was a very rare occurrence. Consequently the stage was continually kept ”waiting.” We left at the close of the second act, when, after a ”wait” of longer duration than usual, the curtain descended on the emotional, impromptu exclamation of a father to the two sisters, ”Well, come my dears, we’ll be off.” It is just possible that with training and education Mr. Bingley and Miss Mary Godsall might learn to make a passable use of what natural qualifications they possess. The others have none… .’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 13 March 1864, p. 10c)

F.C. Burnand’s English version of La Belle Hélène, produced at the Adelphi Theatre, London, on 30 June 1866
‘Miss Godsall’s beauty of feature and remarkable grace of movement and expression make Glauce a very attractive personage.’

‘MISS GODSALL, of the Theatres Royal, St. James’s, and Adelphi, London, and New Prince of Wales and Theatre Royal, Liverpool, will be Disengaged at Easter, and will be happy to treat with responsible managers for Juvenile and Burlesque Business. Address, 98, Brownlow-hill, Liverpool.’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 31 March 1867, p. 1b)

From 1867 little or nothing appears to have come Mary Godsall’s way in the form of theatrical engagements. Instead she seems to have pursued a career as an artist, describing herself in the 1901 Census as an ‘artist, painter, sculptor.’ Long before that, however, she was commissioned by the British Museum to make drawings of certain ancient Roman coins in the Department of Coins and Medals, which were published as Autotypes in 1874. Miss Godsall’s painting entitled ‘Jacqueline,’ ‘a pretty, bright-eyed girl, in blue-trimmed mob cap’ was shown at the Dudley Gallery Exhibition, London, in 1877. (The Illustrated London News, London, Saturday, 3 February 1877, p. 118b). And at The Royal Academy Exhibition, London, 1879, ‘… Of the rank and file whose works seem especially worthy of notice we may mention ”Cinderella” (668), [by] Mary Godsall.’ (Nottinghamshire Guardian, London, Friday, 16 May 1879, p. 7c). This watercolour, wrote The Portfolio: An Artistic Periodical, ‘is tender in colour, the deep old-fashioned hearth, with its crouching figure of the melancholy maiden, make a charming picture.’ Another of her paintings, a ‘lifesize half-length of a little girl,’ was shown at the Dudley Gallery in 1880. (The Illustrated London News, London, Saturday, 28 February 1880, p. 203b).

On 24 October 1880, at St. Barnabas’s Church, Pimlico, London, Mary Godsall was married by the Bishop of North Queensland to Robert Christison (1837-1915), a native of Scotland, who had gone to Australia at the age of 15. The couple were together in Australia from about 1883 to 1887 but Mary disliked the country so much that she returned to England with their three surviving children (two girls and a boy) and subsequently enrolled to study with Charles Augustus C. Lasar (1856-1936) in Paris, who had opened his studio for students in 1886. Mr Christison finally returned to England permanently in 1910; he died at Foulden, Scotland, in 1915. For reasons unknown, Mary Christison returned to Australia where she died of heart failure on 14 November 1922 (The Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney, Tuesday, 14 November 1922, p.8).

A photograph of Mary Christison and her three children, taken in the late 1880s, is in the John Oxley Library at the State Library of Queensland.

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A scene from Pierre le Rouge

May 12, 2013

a scene from Pierre le Rouge, during a season of French plays at the St. James’s Theatre, London, January 1845, ‘in which Pierre tears the unmerited wreath from the head of Jeanneton.’
(from The Illustrated London News, London, Saturday, 1 February 1845, p. 73)

‘The season of these very attractive performances commenced on Monday [27 January 1845], having been postponed from the preceding week, at first announced in the programme. The opening of the French theatrical campaign is, in the dramatic world, what the first primrose is in the natural one – the sign that winter is on the turn, and that preparations are being made to herald in the spring. The migratory birds of fashion collect together again – some from the Continent, others from provincial hybernacula, and others from living through the winter at the backs of their houses, that the blinds might be down, and the shutter-knobs papered in the front, to gain at least the credit of being out of town. The occupants of the boxes at the French plays no longer wish their attendance to remain a secret to the world on account of the unfashionable period, but swell the lists of the distinguished personages reported as having visited the performances during the week.
‘The opening of the St. James’s Theatre is the avant courier of the Opera; and, simultaneously with it, the West-end begins to show signs of returning animation.
‘The house on Monday evening was excellently attended, every box being filled, and the other parts of the house showing few vacant places. Contrary to the usual custom of putting up some insignificant farce, supported by second-rate performers, to ”play the audience in,” M. Lafont, of the Variétés, and Mdlle. Nathalie both appeared in the first piece – a pleasant vaudeville, entitled Le Mari à la Ville et la Femme à la Campagne. The title of the play may suggest some of the incidents, which were exceedingly light, but sufficiently amusing to keep the audience in great good humour; at the same time it was admirably played throughout. The drama which followed, called Pierre le Rouge, is exceedingly interesting, embracing three epochs – before, during, and after the Revolution; and in this the capabilities of the new performers were admirably developed. They at once established themselves as favourites, and were warmly applauded, being called for at the end of the piece. With respect to M. Lafont, however, it was rather a reappearance than a débût. Some of our readers may remember to have seen him in the same piece at the Lyceum, some years back. Mdlle. Nathalei [sic], as Jeanneton, made a decided impression on the audience. She is a valuable actress.
‘The prospectus of the season looks well. Mr. Mitchell promises us many of our old favourites, including Acard, Madam Albert, and Mdlle. Plessy; together with Frederic Lempaitre, and M. Arnal. It is likewise stated that Alexander Dumas has written a comedy, expressly for the company, and will be over here to superintend its production.’
(The Illustrated London News, London, Saturday, 1 February 1845, p. 73)