Posts Tagged ‘The Geisha (‘Japanese’ musical play)’

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Marguerite Naudin

August 29, 2013

Marguerite Naudin (1879?-), child prodigy, vocalist and actress, as she appeared as O Mimosa San in Frederick Mouillot’s principal touring company of The Geisha between 1901 and 1903.
(photo: unknown, probably London, circa 1901)

Marguerite Naudin, daughter of the French tenor, Emile Naudin (1823-1890), was a pupil of Isidore de Lara (1858-1935), the English song writer and vocalist. As a child she made a number of well-received concert appearances before embarking on a career in musical comedy and comic opera between about 1901 and 1907.

‘At Mr. De Lara’s concert on May 16 [1888] – the first given by him in London since his return from an eight months’ sojourn on the Continent – an interested début took place, that of little Marguerite Naudin, a child only nine years old, and daughter of the famous French tenor. This tiny girl, whose voice is peculiarly sweet and ”tender with tears,” sings perfectly in tune, with a justness of phrasing and passionate pathos that are simply marvellous in one so young. Whilst interpreting De Lara’s beautiful setting of Lord Lytton’s lines, ”If sorry have taught me anything,” she touched her audience to the very heart’s core; and yet, what should this pretty child know about sorrow, or have learnt from it? She has certainly been taught to mimic passion with such exactitude that he imitation may readily pass for the genuine article. Her rendering, too, of Tosti’s ”Pepita” was inimitably sympathetic and interesting. The Cavaliere Paolo himself could not have ”spoken” the charming song more effectively.’
(‘Our Musical-Box,’ The Theatre, London, 1 June 1888, p. 312)

‘At Miss Helen Townshend’s concert, besides the bénéficiaire, Isidor de Lara sang delightfully, and his Virgin Choir covered itself with chased glory. Little Marguerite Naudin also ”spoke” two songs most touchingly. I heard this gifted child again at De Lara’s second recital (June 4 [1888]), and was profoundly impressed by her imitative pathos. She is every whit as sympathetic as Pepi Hofmann, though quite in a different way. What voice she has is naturally veiled and tearful in quality, and there are tender little breaks in it that are ineffably touching.’
(‘Our Musical-Box,’ The Theatre, London, 2 July 1888, pp. 28 and 29)

Following her tour in The Geisha, 1901-1903, Marguerite Naudin again toured with Frederick Mouillot’s company as Chandra Nil in The Blue Moon in 1906 and 1907.

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Edna May in The Belle of New York

June 29, 2013

Edna May (1878-1948), American star of musical comedy, as she appeared as Violet Gray in The Belle of New York, which was first produced at the Casino Theatre, New York, on 28 September 1897 and then at the Shaftesbury Theatre, London, on 12 April 1898.
(cabinet photo: W. & D. Downey, London, 1898; the photograph has been inscribed by Miss May to Reginald Edward Golding Bright (1874-1941), the English literary and dramatic agent.

THE ”BELLE OF NEW YORK” IN LONDON.
A chat with Miss Edna May, ”THE BELLOF NEW YORK.”
‘PROSPERITY, through a fascinating Salvation [Army] lass, has come to the Shaftesbury Theatre. Crowded houses are nightly and at every matinée welcoming with rapture the gay American Company which has come, I hope, to stay. So delighted was I with my visit to this comfortable playhouse that I obtained an introduction to
Miss Edna May,
‘the sweet-voiced Belle herself, and found her as charming and as delightfully ingenuous as she appears before the footlights, where she takes all our hearts captive.
”’Perfectly lovely,” is Miss Edna May’s concise opinion of her reception. ”We were told before the curtain went up not to be disheartened if we did not get encores. Therefore the reception you gave us made a still more agreeable surprise. Indeed, your enthusiasm outrivalled even that of New York.”
”’So you are inclined to lie us here in London?”
”’Everything is Delightful.
”’I have not seen much as yet, but I mean to do so. I have been to see ‘The Geisha,’ and immensely admired dear little Maggie May’s voice; and last Sunday I lunched at Richmond, and then explored Hampton court. Your parks are splendid. But why do your women wear such long skirts when biking?
”’Do I Bike?
”’What a question! Yes, ever since I was twelve. I wouldn’t be without my Spalding wheel for anything.”
”’Is this your first appearance in a musical fantasia?”
”’Why, yes. I haven’t been on the boards more than eighteen months.”
”’Indeed! From where did you get your charming young voice, which for strength, timbre, register, and perfect harmony pleased me immensely?”
”’Well, I was born in Syracuse, New York State, but my schooling as a girl was acquired in New York, where I receive a general education, my musical instructor being Professor Walters; but I fear I gave most of my attention to fencing, which, although the most delightful exercise, is not particularly beneficial to the voice. But you must know that
”’I Never Studied for the Stage ”’in any way, my parents being of quite a different turn of mind. Nor have I sung before in public, excepting solos in church occasionally, at home, and in New York. However, a friend recommended me to go on the stage when I was barely seventeen – i.e. two years ago [sic] – when
”’I appeared in ‘Santa Maria
”’under Mr. Hammerstein at the Olympic Theatre in New York, and in the chief cities of the United States. Afterwards I played a small part with Mr. Hoyt, his wife being the star, in ‘A Contended Woman’; but seeing no prospect of getting on, I returned home rather discouraged.”
”’And then came your opportunity?”
”’The Character of Violet Gray
”’in ‘The Belle of New York.’ Isn’t it a sweet-sounding name?”
”’Your voice is so fresh and natural, and its register is very great; quite up to upper E I should say.”
”’Yes, that is the extent of my register. The music of ‘The Belle of New York’ scarcely does me credit, as it is written for a medium register. It is when I get on the higher notes that I feel most at home. The fact is
”’I Really Love to Sing.
”’I got the nickname of Adelina Patti at school, partly for that reason, and because my patronymic is very similar. Edna May, my stage name, being really Christian names only.”
”’Before I go I wonder if you would oblige me with a verse of that charming Salvation-lass song, which has haunted me ever since I heard it?”
‘Most obligingly Miss May sat down and sang the sweet, demurely expressed refrain, which has become the talk of London –
”’When I ask then to be good,
As all young men should be,
they only say they would
Be very good – to me.
Follow on, follow on,
Till the light of Faith you see
But they never proceed
To follow that light
But always follow – me.”’
(The Penny Illustrated Paper and Illustrated Times, London, Saturday, 30 April 1898, p. 276)

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Marie Tempest

May 9, 2013

Marie Tempest (1864-1942), English actress and vocalist, as O Mimosa San in The Geisha: A Story of a Teahouse, Daly’s, London, 25 April 1896.
(photo: Alfred Ellis, London, 1896)

500th performance of The Geisha, Daly’s Theatre, London, September 1897
’ By the way, the 500th performance of The Geisha, at Daly’s Theatre, last week – albeit there was no distribution of souvenirs, and Mr. George Edwardes refrained from making one of his characteristic speeches – was memorable if only by reason of the stirring ovation accorded by the overflowing audience to each of the prominent members of the cast now happily returned from well-deserved holidays. Miss Tempest, who resumed her part after a short visit to Aix-les-Bains, received a welcome on her home-coming which visibly affected her. Later on in the play, when Miss Letty Lind tripped across the bridge with her ‘riskha, there was another burst of applause, which prevented her from beginning her dialogue for some moments. For the rest the popular enthusiasm was pretty evenly distributed among Mr. Hayden Coffin, Mr. Huntley Wright, and Mr. Rutland Barrington. At the close a galleryite summed up the situation in a terse sentence which nobody seemed inclined to dispute, “Good old George [Edwardes] always gives us good value!” Amongst the artists who are still filling their original parts in The Geisha at Daly’s is Miss Mary Collette, the original O Kamurasaki San.’
(The Bristol Times and Mirror, Bristol, Tuesday, 14 September 1897, p.3g)

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February 3, 2013

Thelma Raye (née Thelma Victoria Maud Bell-Morton, 1890-1966)
English musical comedy actress,
in costume as O Kiku San
in the revival of The Geisha, Daly’s Theatre, London, 18 June 1906.
The front-of-house frame encloses
photographs of Miss Raye by the Dover Street Studios
as she appeared in The Little Michus.
(photo: unknown, probably London, 1906)

Auburn haired Thelma Raye was born on 6 September 1890 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Nothing is known at present of her early life and training as an actress and singer in musical comedy, and the first we hear of her is in The Little Michus (Daly’s, London, 29 April 1905), playing Marie Blanche in succession to Mabel Green and Denise Orme, and Ernestine in succession to Nina Sevening, Bertha Callan, Iris Hoey, Mabel Russell and Marie Löhr. Remaining with the same management for the next two years she was next seen in the revival of The Geisha (Daly’s, 18 June 1906) as O Kiku San, before playing in Les Merveilleuses (Daly’s, 27 October 1906) as Illyrine in succession to Denise Orme, and in The Girls of Gottenberg (Gaiety, 15 May 1907) as Elsa in succession to May de Sousa and Enid Leonhardt.

Thelma Raye’s next engagement was to play Helene in the American production of the popular English musical, The Dairymaids (Criterion, New York, 26 August 1907, 86 performances). Returning to England she was re-engaged by George Edwardes for the part of Elsa in a touring company of The Girls of Gottenberg, beginning with a short stay at the Adelphi Theatre, London (10 August 1908, 12 performances). She was next seen in a tour of The Pigeon House, first produced at the New Theatre, Cardiff, on 27 June 1910; during the run her part of Léontine de Merval was later played by Iris Hoey and Dorothy Moulton. Miss Raye was afterwards engaged to play Mariana in Bonita (Queen’s, London, 23 September 1911, 42 performances), Honorka in The Grass Widows (Apollo, London, 7 September 1912, 50 performances), and Fifi du Barry (in which part she was succeeded by Marie Blanche) in The Joy-Ride Lady (New, London, 21 February 1914, 105 performances).

Thelma Raye
Thelma Raye as Fifi du Barry in
The Joy-Ride Lady, New Theatre, London, 21 February 1914.
(photo: Foulsham & Banfield, London, 1914)

On 21 Marcy 1917, now aged 26, Thelma Raye was married to Percy Stewart Dawson (1888-1947), an Australian and member of the Steward Dawson family of jewellers and silversmiths of Sydney & London. The couple had already had a daughter, Dawn, who was born at Bournemouth in England on 1 April 1913. The marriage foundered, however, and in March 1918 Miss Raye returned to London. During 1919 she was on a UK tour as the lead in Cosmo Hamilton’s play, Scandal. It was at about this time that she met the actor Ronald Colman (1891-1958); they were married at on 18 September 1920. Frustrated by his inability to make headway with his career, Colman left England for New York less than a month later followed by his wife in February 1921.

Later recalling that this was the most difficult period in his career, Colman was lucky enough to be chosen to appear in Henri Bataille’s drama, La Tendresse, starring Ruth Chatterton (Empire, New York, 25 September 1922). This led to his being cast as leading man to Lillian Gish in the 1923 Hollywood film, The White Sister, in which Thelma was allocated a tiny part. Such was the success of this venture, at least as far as Colman was concerned, that he was awarded a contract by Samuel Goldwyn and during the next eighteen months he appeared in several other films, two of which respectively starred May McAvoy and Constance Talmadge. In 1924 Colman was seen again with Lillian Gish, in a film version of George Eliot’s novel, Romola, in which Thelma Raye was given an uncredited bit part.

There is little doubt that Colman’s steeply rising success as a Hollywood star soon put an intolerable strain on his marriage. The couple publicly acknowledged a breakdown in their relationship by early 1926 and although separated they did not formally split for another eight years. As one writer has put it, ‘Raye loomed in the background and would periodically appear – often demanding more money in proportion to her husband’s increasing financial success. A divorce was finally arranged after Raye was offered a hefty financial settlement and the parasitic relationship finally came to an end.’ This view was endorsed in the biography, Ronald Colman: A Very Private Person (William Morrow & Co Inc, 1975) by Juliet Benita Colman (b.1944), Colman’s daughter by his second marriage to the English actress Benita Hume. Miss Colman’s opinion of her father’s first wife was that she had ‘a jealous and vindictive nature.’

Of Thelma Raye very little else is heard. In the summer of 1938 it was rumoured that she was to return to the stage in a play, A Garden of Weeds by Ronald Gerard, which was to tour in the United States before a New York opening, but nothing seems to have come of this or any other theatrical project. Then in early in 1939, describing herself as ‘the Original Mrs. Ronald Colman,’ Thelma Raye was reported to have opened a small sports/novelty shop at Laguna Beach, California. She settled in New South Wales, Australia, about 1943 and died at Port Macquarie on 29 June 1966.

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February 3, 2013

Thelma Raye (née Thelma Victoria Maud Bell-Morton, 1890-1966)
English musical comedy actress,
in costume as O Kiku San
in the revival of The Geisha, Daly’s Theatre, London, 18 June 1906.
The front-of-house frame encloses
photographs of Miss Raye by the Dover Street Studios
as she appeared in The Little Michus.
(photo: unknown, probably London, 1906)

Auburn haired Thelma Raye was born on 6 September 1890 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Nothing is known at present of her early life and training as an actress and singer in musical comedy, and the first we hear of her is in The Little Michus (Daly’s, London, 29 April 1905), playing Marie Blanche in succession to Mabel Green and Denise Orme, and Ernestine in succession to Nina Sevening, Bertha Callan, Iris Hoey, Mabel Russell and Marie Löhr. Remaining with the same management for the next two years she was next seen in the revival of The Geisha (Daly’s, 18 June 1906) as O Kiku San, before playing in Les Merveilleuses (Daly’s, 27 October 1906) as Illyrine in succession to Denise Orme, and in The Girls of Gottenberg (Gaiety, 15 May 1907) as Elsa in succession to May de Sousa and Enid Leonhardt.

Thelma Raye’s next engagement was to play Helene in the American production of the popular English musical, The Dairymaids (Criterion, New York, 26 August 1907, 86 performances). Returning to England she was re-engaged by George Edwardes for the part of Elsa in a touring company of The Girls of Gottenberg, beginning with a short stay at the Adelphi Theatre, London (10 August 1908, 12 performances). She was next seen in a tour of The Pigeon House, first produced at the New Theatre, Cardiff, on 27 June 1910; during the run her part of Léontine de Merval was later played by Iris Hoey and Dorothy Moulton. Miss Raye was afterwards engaged to play Mariana in Bonita (Queen’s, London, 23 September 1911, 42 performances), Honorka in The Grass Widows (Apollo, London, 7 September 1912, 50 performances), and Fifi du Barry (in which part she was succeeded by Marie Blanche) in The Joy-Ride Lady (New, London, 21 February 1914, 105 performances).

Thelma Raye
Thelma Raye as Fifi du Barry in
The Joy-Ride Lady, New Theatre, London, 21 February 1914.
(photo: Foulsham & Banfield, London, 1914)

On 21 Marcy 1917, now aged 26, Thelma Raye was married to Percy Stewart Dawson (1888-1947), an Australian and member of the Steward Dawson family of jewellers and silversmiths of Sydney & London. The couple had already had a daughter, Dawn, who was born at Bournemouth in England on 1 April 1913. The marriage foundered, however, and in March 1918 Miss Raye returned to London. During 1919 she was on a UK tour as the lead in Cosmo Hamilton’s play, Scandal. It was at about this time that she met the actor Ronald Colman (1891-1958); they were married at on 18 September 1920. Frustrated by his inability to make headway with his career, Colman left England for New York less than a month later followed by his wife in February 1921.

Later recalling that this was the most difficult period in his career, Colman was lucky enough to be chosen to appear in Henri Bataille’s drama, La Tendresse, starring Ruth Chatterton (Empire, New York, 25 September 1922). This led to his being cast as leading man to Lillian Gish in the 1923 Hollywood film, The White Sister, in which Thelma was allocated a tiny part. Such was the success of this venture, at least as far as Colman was concerned, that he was awarded a contract by Samuel Goldwyn and during the next eighteen months he appeared in several other films, two of which respectively starred May McAvoy and Constance Talmadge. In 1924 Colman was seen again with Lillian Gish, in a film version of George Eliot’s novel, Romola, in which Thelma Raye was given an uncredited bit part.

There is little doubt that Colman’s steeply rising success as a Hollywood star soon put an intolerable strain on his marriage. The couple publicly acknowledged a breakdown in their relationship by early 1926 and although separated they did not formally split for another eight years. As one writer has put it, ‘Raye loomed in the background and would periodically appear – often demanding more money in proportion to her husband’s increasing financial success. A divorce was finally arranged after Raye was offered a hefty financial settlement and the parasitic relationship finally came to an end.’ This view was endorsed in the biography, Ronald Colman: A Very Private Person (William Morrow & Co Inc, 1975) by Juliet Benita Colman (b.1944), Colman’s daughter by his second marriage to the English actress Benita Hume. Miss Colman’s opinion of her father’s first wife was that she had ‘a jealous and vindictive nature.’

Of Thelma Raye very little else is heard. In the summer of 1938 it was rumoured that she was to return to the stage in a play, A Garden of Weeds by Ronald Gerard, which was to tour in the United States before a New York opening, but nothing seems to have come of this or any other theatrical project. Then in early in 1939, describing herself as ‘the Original Mrs. Ronald Colman,’ Thelma Raye was reported to have opened a small sports/novelty shop at Laguna Beach, California. She settled in New South Wales, Australia, about 1943 and died at Port Macquarie on 29 June 1966.

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February 3, 2013

Thelma Raye (née Thelma Victoria Maud Bell-Morton, 1890-1966)
English musical comedy actress,
in costume as O Kiku San
in the revival of The Geisha, Daly’s Theatre, London, 18 June 1906.
The front-of-house frame encloses
photographs of Miss Raye by the Dover Street Studios
as she appeared in The Little Michus.
(photo: unknown, probably London, 1906)

Auburn haired Thelma Raye was born on 6 September 1890 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Nothing is known at present of her early life and training as an actress and singer in musical comedy, and the first we hear of her is in The Little Michus (Daly’s, London, 29 April 1905), playing Marie Blanche in succession to Mabel Green and Denise Orme, and Ernestine in succession to Nina Sevening, Bertha Callan, Iris Hoey, Mabel Russell and Marie Löhr. Remaining with the same management for the next two years she was next seen in the revival of The Geisha (Daly’s, 18 June 1906) as O Kiku San, before playing in Les Merveilleuses (Daly’s, 27 October 1906) as Illyrine in succession to Denise Orme, and in The Girls of Gottenberg (Gaiety, 15 May 1907) as Elsa in succession to May de Sousa and Enid Leonhardt.

Thelma Raye’s next engagement was to play Helene in the American production of the popular English musical, The Dairymaids (Criterion, New York, 26 August 1907, 86 performances). Returning to England she was re-engaged by George Edwardes for the part of Elsa in a touring company of The Girls of Gottenberg, beginning with a short stay at the Adelphi Theatre, London (10 August 1908, 12 performances). She was next seen in a tour of The Pigeon House, first produced at the New Theatre, Cardiff, on 27 June 1910; during the run her part of Léontine de Merval was later played by Iris Hoey and Dorothy Moulton. Miss Raye was afterwards engaged to play Mariana in Bonita (Queen’s, London, 23 September 1911, 42 performances), Honorka in The Grass Widows (Apollo, London, 7 September 1912, 50 performances), and Fifi du Barry (in which part she was succeeded by Marie Blanche) in The Joy-Ride Lady (New, London, 21 February 1914, 105 performances).

Thelma Raye
Thelma Raye as Fifi du Barry in
The Joy-Ride Lady, New Theatre, London, 21 February 1914.
(photo: Foulsham & Banfield, London, 1914)

On 21 Marcy 1917, now aged 26, Thelma Raye was married to Percy Stewart Dawson (1888-1947), an Australian and member of the Steward Dawson family of jewellers and silversmiths of Sydney & London. The couple had already had a daughter, Dawn, who was born at Bournemouth in England on 1 April 1913. The marriage foundered, however, and in March 1918 Miss Raye returned to London. During 1919 she was on a UK tour as the lead in Cosmo Hamilton’s play, Scandal. It was at about this time that she met the actor Ronald Colman (1891-1958); they were married at on 18 September 1920. Frustrated by his inability to make headway with his career, Colman left England for New York less than a month later followed by his wife in February 1921.

Later recalling that this was the most difficult period in his career, Colman was lucky enough to be chosen to appear in Henri Bataille’s drama, La Tendresse, starring Ruth Chatterton (Empire, New York, 25 September 1922). This led to his being cast as leading man to Lillian Gish in the 1923 Hollywood film, The White Sister, in which Thelma was allocated a tiny part. Such was the success of this venture, at least as far as Colman was concerned, that he was awarded a contract by Samuel Goldwyn and during the next eighteen months he appeared in several other films, two of which respectively starred May McAvoy and Constance Talmadge. In 1924 Colman was seen again with Lillian Gish, in a film version of George Eliot’s novel, Romola, in which Thelma Raye was given an uncredited bit part.

There is little doubt that Colman’s steeply rising success as a Hollywood star soon put an intolerable strain on his marriage. The couple publicly acknowledged a breakdown in their relationship by early 1926 and although separated they did not formally split for another eight years. As one writer has put it, ‘Raye loomed in the background and would periodically appear – often demanding more money in proportion to her husband’s increasing financial success. A divorce was finally arranged after Raye was offered a hefty financial settlement and the parasitic relationship finally came to an end.’ This view was endorsed in the biography, Ronald Colman: A Very Private Person (William Morrow & Co Inc, 1975) by Juliet Benita Colman (b.1944), Colman’s daughter by his second marriage to the English actress Benita Hume. Miss Colman’s opinion of her father’s first wife was that she had ‘a jealous and vindictive nature.’

Of Thelma Raye very little else is heard. In the summer of 1938 it was rumoured that she was to return to the stage in a play, A Garden of Weeds by Ronald Gerard, which was to tour in the United States before a New York opening, but nothing seems to have come of this or any other theatrical project. Then in early in 1939, describing herself as ‘the Original Mrs. Ronald Colman,’ Thelma Raye was reported to have opened a small sports/novelty shop at Laguna Beach, California. She settled in New South Wales, Australia, about 1943 and died at Port Macquarie on 29 June 1966.

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February 2, 2013

Marie Studholme (1875-1930)
English musical comedy actress
and postcard beauty, in The Geisha
(photo: Langfier, Glasgow, late 1890s)

This real photograph postcard, a ‘Midget Post Card’ in the Rotary Photographic Co Ltd’s Rotary Photographic Series (no. 6865i), published about 1902 or 1903, shows Marie Studholme as she appeared in The Geisha, first produced at Daly’s Theatre, London, on 25 April 1896. This highly successful musical play by Owen Hall, with lyrics by Harry Greenbank and music by Sidney Jones, ran in London for 760 performances. Although Miss Studholme is said to have understudied Letty Lind as Molly Seamore in this production (The Green Room Book, 1909), the fact that this photograph was taken by Langfier in Glasgow suggests that she was in the cast of one of several touring versions of The Geisha that criss-crossed the United Kingdom during the late 1890s.

Marie Studholme was again seen as Molly Seamore in the revival of The Geisha at Daly’s, London, on 18 June 1906. The cast also included May de Sousa.

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Lawrance D’Orsay, English actor

February 1, 2013

Lawrance D’Orsay (1853-1931)
English actor
(photo: unknown, circa 1900)

D’ORSAY, Lawrence [sic]:
‘Actor, was born in Peterborough, England. He comes of an old family of lawyers, and was himself educated for the law, but threw up Blackstone for the stage. After considerable experience in stock companies and the provinces with the usual ups and downs, Mr. D’Orsay eventually made a position for himself in London in “swell” parts principally of the military order, until of late years these special parts began to be designated by authors and managers as D’Orsay parts. In 1886 he played a sort of Dundreary character with Minnie Palmer in My Sweetheart at the Strand Theatre, London, and subsequently made his first visit to American with Miss Palmer under the management of John R. Rogers. Then followed a long series of engagements in the principal theatres in London with such well-known stars and managers as John Hare, Edward Terry, Thomas Thorne, George Edwardes, etc. During a three years’ engagement with George Edwardes at Daly’s Theatre, London, he created parts written for him in A Gaiety Girl, An Artist’s Model, and The Geisha. He came to America with An Artist’s Model. Mr. Charles Frohman brought Mr. D’Orsay to America again six years ago to support Annie Russell and to play the King in A Royal Family, and Mr. D’Orsay has stayed here ever since. After two seasons with A Royal Family Mr. Frohman cast him for a part in The Wilderness at the Empire Theatre, New York, and it was his performance in this play that influenced Augustus Thomas to write The Earl of Pawtucket for Mr. D’Orsay, the success of which made him a star. The production was made by the late Kirke La Shelle at the Madison Square Theatre and it ran just a year in New York. Augustus Thomas next wrote The Embassy Ball for Mr. D’Orsay, which Mr. Frohman accepted and produced. The winter of 1907 he co-starred with Cecilia Loftus in The Lancers. Mr. D’Orsay married Miss Marie Dagman, from whom he obtained a divorce. On August 18, 1907, he married Miss Susie Rushholme, an English actress, in England.’
(Who’s Who on the Stage, Walter Browne and E. De Roy Koch, editors, B.W. Dodge & Co, New York, 1908, p.136)

* * * * * * * *

‘LAWRANCE D’ORSAY.
‘It is an old story that those who know stage favourites with the footlights as barrier to a more intimate acquaintance believe the characteristics displayed on the stage are natural in private life. The audience en masse does not stop to analyze the assumption of mannerisms, the transformation of the player into some one else. May Irwin has often bewailed the fact that those she met socially expected to find her constantly saying funny things and singing coon songs. Naturally Miss Irwin possesses a keen sense of humor, but off the stage she tries to get as much rest from hilarity as possible. If an actress depicts characters of gentle disposition, she is immediately supposed to be like them. Annie Russell has always regretted that her managers allowed her to fall into this sort of rut. Because of this peculiar like of roles with which she has so long been associated the public has an idea that Miss Russell is a sad little creature. “Why won’t they let me be merry and vivacious?” she said, in speaking of this to me. Louis James, whom we all know as the greatest living exponent of the old school of heavy tragedy, is welcomed among his friends as a “jolly fellow.” He drops his dignified and somber air and delights in telling funny stories. Even when acting, his love of the ridiculous is so powerful that he with difficulty restrains himself from playing pranks upon his fellow-actors during tragic moments.
‘We have all heard so much about the Englishman, his heaviness, and his failure to understand jokes until some time after they have been told: therefore, when Mr. Lawrance D’Orsay appeared as the Earl of Pawtucket we were delighted to make his acquaintance, because he was exactly as we supposed he would be. Again Mr. D’Dorsay gives us the same type of Englishman in The Embassy Ball, and he plays these rules so naturally that it is to be expected that the public will believe he is treating it to a display of his own private characteristics. In these days when there are so many types it is a genuine relief to find one that is not hackneyed. The Embassy Ball would never take place if Mr. D’Orsay were not among the invited guests. Mr. Augustus Thomas was clever enough to offer us our pet conception of the Englishman, and it is difficult to imagine that he is not real.
‘Mr. D’Orsay off the stage is not what he seems on. He is the same tall, handsome man, for his figure is all his own, whether in the British uniform or in plain clothes. His face bears close inspection, for in meeting him minus the grease paint and powder, one sees how little he employs in his make-up. He walks in much the same manner as he does on the stage, and talks with a delightful accent which is most pronounced, but not exaggerated. Naturally he must lengthen his oral syllables when playing. It makes the character more laughable. Wherein then is the difference?
‘Mr. D’Orsay was a revelation in the cleverness of his conversation. He possesses more wit and appreciation of humor than any American actor of my acquaintance. Nothing escapes him, and this, too, without unusual endeavour, on his part to catch points. He has forever vanquished, in my opinion, the old belief of the dullness of Englishmen. He is as keen as the steel blades of the table knives with which he tells me his countrymen cut their daily meat. We use plated affairs. He laughs heartily and frequently. We all know what a jolly laugh Admiral Schley has. Well, D’Orsay’s is just as jolly, although purely British. His manner is the perfection of good breeding and courtesy. He does not have to be advertised as coming of a good family.
‘“Let us sit ovah heah by the winow,” said Mr. D’Orsay, “wheah at least we can see the aiah, even if we can’t feel it. You Americahns are so dreadfully afraid of the cold, aren’t you? I love it. This is a very strange country, you know. You overhead youahselves so awfully in wintah, and then you swallow large quantites of ice watah in ordah to keep cool. In England we live in cool places, and so we don’t find it necessary to drink ice watah. We nevah drink it in summah weathah, eithah. The watah is cool, certainly, but not iced. Americahns in England must have their iced watah, and so it is that recently, I may say, the restaurants are compelled to keep ice for the Americahns, who become dreadfully angry, really, if they cahn’t get what they want. I have heard youah countrymen make disagreeable remarks when warm beeah was served them. Now, in England, believe me, we nevah drink our beeah any othah way. I think there must be something in the climate which causes this. When I am in England I nevah think of ice, but the moment I return to this country I call for iced drinks.
‘Americahns laugh heartily as us and we laugh heartily at them about toast. You don’t know toast. You haven’t the faintest idea of it. In Americah, you call for toast and they bring you something which is warmed on each side and putty in the middle. Americahns call it hot toast. In England we each ouah dry toast cold and without buttah. Our hot toast is buttahed, but all of it is very crisp through and through. Youah toast and yoah iced watah are the causes, in my opinion, of so much nervous indigestion. Then youah roast beef. It isn’t the same as ouahs. I dare say the meat is originally almost as good as ouahs, but you spoil it in the cooling, reahly. You won’t baste youah roast beef. Why don’t you? Youah roast has no seasoning. You cook all the goodness out of it. It is tasteless. Life is too short in Americah to baste anything, isn’t it? Then, you eat it in such huge slices. I shall nevah become accustomed to youah carving. We cut our beef in slices as thin as wafers. When I first came to this country I used to say, ‘Bring me a very thin slice of beef.’ When what you call a ‘chunk’ was place befoah me I would say, ‘If this is thin, what is a thick one like?’ Hah, hah!
‘“Another thing – why will you eat youah eggs in so sloppy a fashion?”
‘“Oh, do we?” I asked, eager to learn more of ourselves as “othahs” see us.
‘“In what way are they sloppy?”
‘“What you call ‘soft eggs’ are slopped into a glass and they you put in salt and peppah and enjoy then horrible mixture. It takes one’s appetite, reahly.
‘“How should we eat tem?” I asked.
‘“Why, how else but in the shell, of course,” answered Mr. D’Orsay. “You eat them in a glass or a saucah or anything you choose. We eat them in egg cups. They are so much moah appetizing.
‘“Why are Americahns so fond of oystahs?” he inquired. “I cahn’t understand why you take the trouble to eat them, because you consume so much time in eliminating the taste of the oystah with catsup, lemon juice, the mixture you call horseradish, and tabasco. By the time salt and peppah is added, what becomes of the original flavour of the oystah? A beautiful woman does not need to be smothahed in perfume; and an oystah needs nothing but itself to make it delicious. Anothah thing I have noticed is that the men in Americah prefers [sic] damp cigar to dry ones. In England we nevah think of smoking a damp cigar. We hang our boxes up to get the dampness out and you use wet sponges to keep it in. Most curious custom, because a dry cigar is so much easier to smoke than a damp one. It does not requiah as much breath, and there you are!
‘“I enjoy youah American salng. It is most amusing. I roah with laughtah when I heah one fellow say to his friends: ‘Well, old chap, I’m awfully sorry, but I’ll have to go now.’ He doesn’t go, but talks a while longah, and then makes the same remark again. He does this several times, until one of his companions says, ‘Well, deah boy, theahs no string tied to you, you know,’ which I have learned to understand as a polite way of saying, ‘Why the deuce don’t you go?’ It’s awfully funny, you know.”
‘“Do you find that our language differs widely from yours?” I asked.
‘“The difference is in the meaning and pronunciation of words. It is rather troublesome at first for an Englishman to understand a strange use of a familiar word. Youah pronunciation if quite different. Befoah coming to this country I had been told that the Boston people speak more like the English than any othah people in the Sates. How could any one evah believe this? The Boston people are not a bit English. They are not American, either. They are something in between. Their accent is most affected. ‘Why chan’t you be natural?’ I feel like saying to them. When evah I heah an Americahn say ‘fawcey,’ it makes me laugh, because originally he must have said ‘fancy.’ In English we nevah say ‘fawncy.’ We always say ‘fancy.’ We also say ‘dance’ quite as much as we say ‘dahnce.’ ‘Dawnce’ is a favorite with many in this country. This is true of many words which Boston people say with the idea that they are speaking like us.
‘“It was so very silly of the Boston people to throw the tea overboard, wasn’t it? It was such a waste, for now they have tea every aftahnoon. From my observation I would say that the Southern people speak more as we do.
‘“It is remarkable how my friends at home expect to hear me speak with an Americahn accent. I become quite indignant at times, realhy, because there is no reason why a few months heah should cause one to forget his original pronunciation. At a dinner given in London during my last visit home a woman who sat next me remarked, ‘You’ah not an Americahn, are you?’
‘“Rather not,” I answered. How could any one suppose such a thing. It was too absurd.
‘“I’m an Americahn,’ she said.
‘“Oh” said I. Imagine how beastly rude I had been.
‘“I heard that the British military attache was out from the othah evening and was very much amused. I sinceahly hope that he was amused in the propah way.
‘“I believe that The Embassy Ball will be as successful in New York as The Earl of Pawtukat. Gus Thomas and I are very deah friends, and I should like so much to see the deah boy’s play succeed. I had made my reputation in England long before I evah thought of coming to America. I started at the bottom and worked my way up as I think every actah should do. Gradually, the parts I played became known as individual special parts. They were written to suit me. My first engagement heah was in the Edwardes production, The Artist’s Model [sic], in which Marie Studholm [sic] appeared. My role was that of an English offisah. Aftah that I played with Annie Russell in The Royal Family [sic], and look back upon that season as one of the happiest and most delightful of my entiah careeah. Mrs. Gilbert, the deah old lady, played my mothah, and it is a singular thing that her age was the same as that of my mothah. I have played with John Hare, Charles Wyndham, Edwin Terry [i.e. Edward Terry] – in fact, with all of them except Alexander and Irving. Of course, you wouldn’t have expected me to play with [sic] such plays as Hamlet, would you? I never did, because I thought that Hamlet shouldn’t have too many laughs. Forbes Robertson is a deah friend of mine. ‘“I played in the Gaiety Girl, which was my first engagement with Edwardes, and a most amusing thing occurred. There was a charactah in the piece which had been modeled on the chaplain of the Household Brigade Guards. In the play he was a doctah. Now, the real chaplain was a deah friend of the King [then Prince of Wales], who, when he heard about the play, ordered the character changed. In the meantime, the chaplain himself learned about his caricature and came to see himself on the stage. He had not heard about the change, and if you will believe it, came behind the stage and the deah old boy was so disappointed because he could not see himself doing the can-can with his daughtah. In that piece I had to say some curious lines. A young woman asked me ‘Don’t you long for war?’
‘“‘I cahn’t say that I do,’ I replied.
‘“‘How unmartial. Why on earth do people support an army?’ she continued; to which I answeredL ‘I don’t know, unless it is to heah the bands play.’
‘“On heahs so much about the artistic and the commercial struggles. As a mattah of fact, the two are very necessary to each other. It is seldom you find the combination of business manajah and actah. It amuses me most heartily that the box office thinks it draws the money. The press agent goes about telling how he does it all; and the poah actah – wheah does he come in? They think he has nothing to do with it. Let him stay away from the theatah one performance, and the question would be very easily settled, would it not?” asked Mr. D’Orsay, stroking his long mustache thoughtfully.
‘“As an illustration of this belief of managers and press agents, I must tell you about the man I met who had just completed a million dollah theatah. When it was all finished he discovered that there were no dressing-rooms for the actachs. He laughed heartily, for he thought it was a good joke. When I played at his theatah I found the dressing-rooms to consist of a few boahds stuck up between two boilahs. The grease paint on our faces ran down in streams into our boots. This man came to me and boasted of his theatah and told that he had put up those dressing-rooms at twelve houahs’ notice.
‘“I said to him: ‘I deah sir, I am very pleased to meet you, and if you will accept a bit of advice from me, the next time you build a theatah make four walls and see that the decorations are beautiful. Charge two dollahs a seat and you will find that you can do without the actahs and the people will fill youah theatah just the same.’
‘“Do you know he didn’t see the meaning of my remark? It was plain enough, wasn’t it? And the man is an Americahn. Of course, I didn’t take the trouble to explain it.
‘“I like Washington so much. The city is so beautiful. It is more like home than any othah place in yoah country. Then you have such distinguished persons heah. The quiet is delightful aftah the noise and bustle of othah cities. I should nevah suffah from insomnia heah.”
‘Knowing Washington’s reputation as a quiet place, I looked keenly at the Britisher to see if he were poking fun at us. But he was imperturbable.
‘“If The Embassy Ball is as great a success as Pawtucket, I shall play it next season,” said Mr. D’Orsay in conclusion. “A few days ago I received a splendid offah from Mrs. Fiske to appeah with her in a new play which is to be put on in the fall. On account of The Embassy Ball I was obliged to decline the honah of appearing with this actress, whom I admiah. She is a charming woman and a great artist. I had the pleasuah of playing The Earl of Pawtucket for six consecutive months in Harrison Grey Fiske’s theatah, in New York, the Manhattan.”’
(Marie B. Schrader, ‘Stage Favorites,’ The Washington Post, Washington, D.C., Sunday, 28 January 1906, Third Part, p.6d-f)

* * * * * * * *

Lawrance D’Orsay also appeared in a number of films, for which see the Internet Movie Database

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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)