Posts Tagged ‘The Merry Widow (musical play)’

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Gertrude Glyn as she appeared as Sonia during the run of The Merry Widow, Daly’s Theatre, London, 1907-1909

January 23, 2015

Gertrude Glyn (1886-1965), English musical comedy actress, as she appeared as understudy to Lily Elsie in the role of Sonia during the first London run of The Merry Widow, produced at Daly’s Theatre, Leicester Square, on 8 June 1907 and closed on 31 July 1909.
(photo: Bassano, London, probably 1908 or 1909; postcard no. 1792M in the Rotary Photographic Series, published by the Rotary Photographic Co Ltd, London, 1908 or 1909)

Gertrude Glyn began her career in 1901 at the age of 15 with Seymour Hicks when he cast her in one of the minor roles in the ‘musical dream,’ Bluebell in Fairyland (Vaudeville Theatre, London, 18 December 1901), of which he and his wife, Ellaline Terriss were the stars. Miss Glyn was subsequently under contract to George Edwardes, appearing in supporting roles at the Gaiety and Daly’s theatres in London and where she was also one of several understudies to both Gabrielle Ray and Lily Elsie. She also seen from time to time in other United Kingdom cities. Her appearances at Daly’s in The Merry Widow, The Dollar Princess (1909-10), A Waltz Dream (1911), and The Count of Luxembourg (1911-12) were followed during 1912 or 1913 by her taking the role of Lady Babby in Gipsy Love (also played during the run by Avice Kelham and Constance Drever), in succession to Gertie Millar.

On 10 April 1914, Gertrude Glyn and Elsie Spain sailed from London aboard the SS Otway bound for Sydney, Australia. Their first appearances there were at Her Majesty’s Theatre, Sydney, on 6 June that year in Gipsy Love in which they took the parts respectively of Lady Babby and Ilona, the latter first played in London by Sari Petrass.

Gipsy Love, Her Majesty’s Theatre, Sydney, 6 June 1914
‘A thoroughly artistic performance is that offered by Miss Gertrude Glyn, another newcomer, in the role of Lady Babby. Although her singing voice is not a strong point in her equipment of talent, this actress artistically makes one forget this fact in admiration for the skilful interpretation of her lines and lyrics, and also the gracefulness of her dancing and movements. Another point of excellence about Miss Glyn’s work is that she acts easily and naturally, always keeping well within the pictures and confines of the character she impersonates.’
(The Referee, Sydney, NSW, Wednesday, 17 June 1914, p. 15c)

Gertrude Glyn’s last appearances were as Lady Playne in succession to Madeline Seymour and Mary Ridley in Paul Rubens’s musical play, Betty, which began its long run at Daly’s Theatre, London, on 24 April 1915 and ended on 8 April 1916.

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Gertrude Glyn’s real name was Gertrude Mary Rider. She was the youngest daughter of James Gray (or Grey) Rider (1847/49-1900), a civil servant, and his wife, Elizabeth. She was baptised on 24 October 1886 at St. Mark’s, Hanwell, Middlesex. She married in 1918.
‘CAPTAIN BULTEEL and MISS GERTRUDE GLYN (RIDER).
‘The marriage arranged between Captain Walter Beresford Bulteel, Scottish Horse, youngest son of the late John Bulteel, of Pamflete, Devon, and Gertrude Mary Glyn (Rider), youngest daughter of the late James Grey Rider, and of Mrs. Rider, 6, Windsor Court, Bayswater, will take place at St. Paul’s Church, Knightsbridge, on Thursday, May 9, at 2.30.’
(The Times, London, 7 May 1918, p. 9c)
Bulteel, one of whose maternal great grandfathers was Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey (1764-1845), was born in 1873 and died in 1952; his wife (Gertrude Glyn) died on 16 October 1965.

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Irene Desmond, English musical comedy actress

January 5, 2015

Irene Desmond (1884-1975), English musical comedy actress, who appeared in supporting roles in The Belle of Mayfair (Vaudeville Theatre, London, 11 April 1906) and The Merry Widow (Daly’s Theatre, London, 8 June 1907).
(photo: unknown, probably London, circa 1907)

Irene Desmond, whose real name was Irene Marguerite Pix, was the elder daughter of John Henry Charles Pix (1851-1887), a German born stuff merchant and naturalized British subject, and his wife, Emilie (née Stead, 1860-), who were married in Yorkshire in 1881. The couple’s younger daughter was the actress, Gladys Desmond (Gladys May Pix, Mrs Herbert G. Reynolds, 1886-1945). Emilie (Emily) Pix subsequently married James Kelly in 1900.

Irene Desmond was married on 15 February 1910 at St. George’s, Hanover Square, London, to Sir Richard William Levinge (1878-1914), 10th Bt. Her second marriage was on 31 August 1916 to Robert Vere Buxton (1883-1953) whose maternal grandfather was John Laird Mair Lawrence (1811-1879), 1st Baron Lawrence of the Punjaub and of Grately.

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‘ACTRESS’S QUIET WEDDING.
‘SIR R.W. LEVINGE MARRIED TO MISS IRENE DESMOND.
‘Sir Richard William Levinge, of Knockdrin Castle, Millingar, Ireland, was married yesterday, at St. George’s, Hanover-square, to Miss Irene Desmond. The Rev. David Anderson, the rector, took the service. The bride, who was given away but Mr. Close, wore a dress of soft grey crêpe de Chine trimmed with lace and chiffon, and a large black hat adorned with grey feathers, while she wore a long chinchilla stole, and carried a bag muff to match. After the service the wedding party drove to the Carlton Hotel, where luncheon was served, Sir Richard and Lady Levinge leaving early in the afternoon for their honeymoon tour.
‘Miss Irene Desmond was a well-known musical comedy actress. The time and place of the wedding were kept secret, and only a few select friends of the bride and bridegroom were present.’
(The Standard, London, Wednesday, 16 February 1910, p. 7c)

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Amy Webster, who appeared in the first English production of The Merry Widow at Daly’s Theatre, London, and was later sent to America

June 21, 2014

Amy Webster (active 1900-1908), English actress/showgirl, at about the time of her appearance as Jou-Jou during the long run of the first English production of The Merry Widow, which was produced at Daly’s Theatre, London, on 8 June 1907 and closed on 31 July 1909. During that time Jou-Jou was at various times also played by Dolly Dombey, Dorrie Keppell and Gladys Carrington.
(photo: Rita Martin, London, probably 1908)

Amy (sometime Aimee) Webster was born in London about 1886, the daughter of Frederick Webster, about whom nothing is at present known. She is thought to have made her first professional appearance as an extra in The Price of Peace, the ‘Drama of Modern Life’ produced at Drury Lane Theatre on 20 September 1900. She remained at Drury Lane until early 1903, a period during which she was seen in two more dramas and also in two pantomimes, Blue Beard and Mother Goose (26 December 1901 and 26 December 1902 receptively). She then progressed to adult roles, as Mary Macclesfield in The Little Cherub (Prince of Wales’s Theatre, London, 31 January 1906) and its revised edition entitled The Girl on the Stage (same theatre, 5 May 1906) in which her part was renamed Gertie Macclesfield. Her last appearances were in The Merry Widow, as above.
Amy Webster was married for the first time on 15 March 1906 at Fulham Register Office to Owain Edward Whitehead Greaves (1882-1941); their wedding was kept secret owing to his position in the Royal Horse Guards. In January 1907 he was posted to India and between August that year and March 1908 she is said to have committed adultery with Eric Loder (who in 1912 married Gabrielle Ray) and George Jervis Wood (who in 1909 married Rosa, Countess von Lónyay de Nagy-Lónya und Vásáros-Namény). When Greaves sued his wife for divorce in 1909, she and Wood denied any wrongdoing while Loder failed to appear or file an answer. Rufus Isaacs represented Greaves; Sir Edward Carson represented Wood. (The Times, London, 27 March 1909)

In 1912 Mrs Greaves gave birth to a daughter, Josephine, whose father was George Maria Joseph Alphonsus Grisewood (1891-1916) of the Grenadier Guards. He served with the Expeditionary Force in France from February 1915 and the couple were married in Marylebone while he was home on leave early in 1916. He died at the front near Merville on 27 March 1916 of pneumonia.

According to Grisewood’s grandson, his widow was subsequently obliged to sever her connection with both the Grisewood family and her daughter. In 1919 she was given a one-way ticket to America and duly arrived at the Port of New York aboard the SS Royal George on 23 February that year. Nothing is known of her life after that date.

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A tribute to Lily Elsie in the title role of The Merry Widow, Daly’s Theatre, London, 1907

April 9, 2014

a flyer issued by The Edison Bell Consolidated Phonograph Co Ltd, 30 Charing Cross Road, London, WC, in June 1907 for the Edison Bell recording of ‘The Merry Widow Waltz,’ ‘The enormously successful Waltz now being encored nightly at Daly’s Theatre, London.’

‘The Merry Widow Waltz’ and other selections from Franz Lehar’s The Merry Widow were recorded innumerable times, particularly after the play’s production in London (Daly’s Theatre, 8 June 1907), with Lily Elsie and Joseph Coyne, and in New York (New Amsterdam Theatre, 21 October 1907), with Donald Brian and Ethel Jackson respectively playing Prince Danilo and Sonia.

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October 26, 2013

José Collins (1887-1958), English actress and singer, as she appeared in Alone at Last, an operetta in three acts with music by Franz Lehar, adapted from the German for the American stage by Edgar Smith and Joseph Herbert and produced at the Shubert Theatre, New York, on 19 October 1915.
(photo: Moffett, Chicago, 1915)

‘Jose Collins returned to the cast of Alone at Last this week after having walked out of the rehearsals last week. Miss Collins will open with the show when it comes into the Shubert theatre unless she changes her mind between now and the opening date.’
(Variety, New York, Friday, 8 October 1915, p. 1d)

‘White Alone at Last, the most recent operetta from the pen of Franz Lehar, famed as the composer of the celebrated and justly sensational success, The Merry Widow, is endowed with a fine musical score, it is only fair to state that the big song hit of the piece is an interpolation. The song in question, contrary to the usual rule, is not a dreamy waltz ballad of love and soul kisses, but a comic ditty entitled “Some Little Bug Will Find You Some Day.”
‘It occurs during the action of the second scene of the second act, and receives the best of treatment through the very able recitative attainments of Roy Atwell. Incidentally the latter collaborated in the writing of it in conjunction with Benjamin Hapgood Burt and Silvio Hein. Mr. Atwell tendered some ten extra verses of the ”Bug” song the opening night, and, to use a vaudeville colloquialism, “stopped the show.”
‘But there is a great deal more to Alone at Last besides this most excellent humorous lyric. Take, for instance, Mr. [Joseph Harry] Benrimo’s superior producing ability as evidenced in the Swiss mountain scene in the second act.
‘The effect obtained is atmospheric to a remarkable degree, thanks to extraordinary lighting and Mr. Benrimo’s superlative knowledge of stage craft.
‘There are other beautiful and convincing scenic backgrounds as well, notably in the first act, with brings froth a realistic hotel set. The third act set, a hotel interior, while good in its way, is not up to the outdoor effects.
‘Then the music, both solo and ensemble, is pleasing, sweet and melodious. The score on the whole, although it contains nothing startling in the way of an individual “hit,” is highly satisfactory. One might say that Lehar’s music was “pretentious,” inasmuch as it often approaches great opera standards.
‘The chorus costumes are correct, in no way vulgar or obtrusive, and sufficiently kaleidoscopic in coloring. They show a nice refinement of taste in their designing and selection.
‘The book is only fair, and judicious eliminations of long and tedious passages of dialogue would help considerably. Particularly is is lacking the comedy values. This fault, of course, must be charged up to its programmed foreign authors [Dr. A.M. Willner and Robert Bodansky]. Admittedly the book contains no horseplay or buffoonery.
‘The cast is exceptionally talented in almost every instance. Jose Collins, as Tilly Dachau, sings charmingly, acts competently and wears her numerous costume changes bewitchingly. A champagne colored riding suit work in the second act, with the cutest of tightly fitting “pants” imaginable, fills the eye in decidedly pleasure fashion. Miss Collins, it might be said in passing, fills the costume quite in the same manner.
‘John Charles Thomas, a strapping young fellow with a beautiful singing voice, that is quite as robust as his splendid physique, established himself in the good graces of the first nighters immediately after his first vocal number. His performance was highly enjoyable in every way.
‘Harry Conor, veteran American comedian, did splendidly with the material at hand. He was always at east and made his rather inane lines sound natural and convincing. A genuine achievement.
Madame Namara is a pretty girl of the frail, flower-like variety of beauty. The madame made the most of excellent opportunities offered her tat the finish of the second act. Her singing voice, a soprano of good range and fair quality, seemed to be not in the best of condition on the opening night.
‘Roy Atwell was very slightly remindful of Richard Carle as a mollycoddle sort of lover. Outside of the big song hit in the second act, Mr. Atwell was assigned little that was entertaining or amusing. He seemed to be mis-cast. However, the way in which he put over the “Bug” song more than made up for any deficiencies of singing or acting.
‘The rest of the large cast, including Ed. Mulcahey [Edward Mulcahy], who made a realistic looking and sonorous voiced Swiss mountaineer, and Elizabeth Goodall, who impersonated an American widow without unnecessary affectations, were eminently satisfactory with one or two exceptions.
‘The dialogue exchanged by three or four chorus men in the second act should either be given to competent principals or else left out altogether. It would never be missed.
Alone at Last is a big show scenically, a delightful show musically, and a pleasing show generally speaking.’
(The New York Clipper, New York, Saturday, 30 October 1915, p. 27a/b)

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José Collins in Alone at Last, Shubert Theatre, New York, 1915

October 26, 2013

José Collins (1887-1958), English actress and singer, as she appeared in Alone at Last, an operetta in three acts with music by Franz Lehar, adapted from the German for the American stage by Edgar Smith and Joseph Herbert and produced at the Shubert Theatre, New York, on 19 October 1915.
(photo: Moffett, Chicago, 1915)

‘Jose Collins returned to the cast of Alone at Last this week after having walked out of the rehearsals last week. Miss Collins will open with the show when it comes into the Shubert theatre unless she changes her mind between now and the opening date.’
(Variety, New York, Friday, 8 October 1915, p. 1d)

‘White Alone at Last, the most recent operetta from the pen of Franz Lehar, famed as the composer of the celebrated and justly sensational success, The Merry Widow, is endowed with a fine musical score, it is only fair to state that the big song hit of the piece is an interpolation. The song in question, contrary to the usual rule, is not a dreamy waltz ballad of love and soul kisses, but a comic ditty entitled ”Some Little Bug Will Find You Some Day.”
‘It occurs during the action of the second scene of the second act, and receives the best of treatment through the very able recitative attainments of Roy Atwell. Incidentally the latter collaborated in the writing of it in conjunction with Benjamin Hapgood Burt and Silvio Hein. Mr. Atwell tendered some ten extra verses of the ”Bug” song the opening night, and, to use a vaudeville colloquialism, ”stopped the show.”
‘But there is a great deal more to Alone at Last besides this most excellent humorous lyric. Take, for instance, Mr. [Joseph Harry] Benrimo’s superior producing ability as evidenced in the Swiss mountain scene in the second act.
‘The effect obtained is atmospheric to a remarkable degree, thanks to extraordinary lighting and Mr. Benrimo’s superlative knowledge of stage craft.
‘There are other beautiful and convincing scenic backgrounds as well, notably in the first act, with brings froth a realistic hotel set. The third act set, a hotel interior, while good in its way, is not up to the outdoor effects.
‘Then the music, both solo and ensemble, is pleasing, sweet and melodious. The score on the whole, although it contains nothing startling in the way of an individual ”hit,” is highly satisfactory. One might say that Lehar’s music was ”pretentious,” inasmuch as it often approaches great opera standards.
‘The chorus costumes are correct, in no way vulgar or obtrusive, and sufficiently kaleidoscopic in coloring. They show a nice refinement of taste in their designing and selection.
‘The book is only fair, and judicious eliminations of long and tedious passages of dialogue would help considerably. Particularly is is lacking the comedy values. This fault, of course, must be charged up to its programmed foreign authors [Dr. A.M. Willner and Robert Bodansky]. Admittedly the book contains no horseplay or buffoonery.
‘The cast is exceptionally talented in almost every instance. Jose Collins, as Tilly Dachau, sings charmingly, acts competently and wears her numerous costume changes bewitchingly. A champagne colored riding suit work in the second act, with the cutest of tightly fitting ”pants” imaginable, fills the eye in decidedly pleasure fashion. Miss Collins, it might be said in passing, fills the costume quite in the same manner.
‘John Charles Thomas, a strapping young fellow with a beautiful singing voice, that is quite as robust as his splendid physique, established himself in the good graces of the first nighters immediately after his first vocal number. His performance was highly enjoyable in every way.
‘Harry Conor, veteran American comedian, did splendidly with the material at hand. He was always at east and made his rather inane lines sound natural and convincing. A genuine achievement.
Madame Namara is a pretty girl of the frail, flower-like variety of beauty. The madame made the most of excellent opportunities offered her tat the finish of the second act. Her singing voice, a soprano of good range and fair quality, seemed to be not in the best of condition on the opening night.
‘Roy Atwell was very slightly remindful of Richard Carle as a mollycoddle sort of lover. Outside of the big song hit in the second act, Mr. Atwell was assigned little that was entertaining or amusing. He seemed to be mis-cast. However, the way in which he put over the ”Bug” song more than made up for any deficiencies of singing or acting.
‘The rest of the large cast, including Ed. Mulcahey [Edward Mulcahy], who made a realistic looking and sonorous voiced Swiss mountaineer, and Elizabeth Goodall, who impersonated an American widow without unnecessary affectations, were eminently satisfactory with one or two exceptions.
‘The dialogue exchanged by three or four chorus men in the second act should either be given to competent principals or else left out altogether. It would never be missed.
Alone at Last is a big show scenically, a delightful show musically, and a pleasing show generally speaking.’
(The New York Clipper, New York, Saturday, 30 October 1915, p. 27a/b)

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October 26, 2013

José Collins (1887-1958), English actress and singer, as she appeared in Alone at Last, an operetta in three acts with music by Franz Lehar, adapted from the German for the American stage by Edgar Smith and Joseph Herbert and produced at the Shubert Theatre, New York, on 19 October 1915.
(photo: Moffett, Chicago, 1915)

‘Jose Collins returned to the cast of Alone at Last this week after having walked out of the rehearsals last week. Miss Collins will open with the show when it comes into the Shubert theatre unless she changes her mind between now and the opening date.’
(Variety, New York, Friday, 8 October 1915, p. 1d)

‘White Alone at Last, the most recent operetta from the pen of Franz Lehar, famed as the composer of the celebrated and justly sensational success, The Merry Widow, is endowed with a fine musical score, it is only fair to state that the big song hit of the piece is an interpolation. The song in question, contrary to the usual rule, is not a dreamy waltz ballad of love and soul kisses, but a comic ditty entitled ”Some Little Bug Will Find You Some Day.”
‘It occurs during the action of the second scene of the second act, and receives the best of treatment through the very able recitative attainments of Roy Atwell. Incidentally the latter collaborated in the writing of it in conjunction with Benjamin Hapgood Burt and Silvio Hein. Mr. Atwell tendered some ten extra verses of the ”Bug” song the opening night, and, to use a vaudeville colloquialism, ”stopped the show.”
‘But there is a great deal more to Alone at Last besides this most excellent humorous lyric. Take, for instance, Mr. [Joseph Harry] Benrimo’s superior producing ability as evidenced in the Swiss mountain scene in the second act.
‘The effect obtained is atmospheric to a remarkable degree, thanks to extraordinary lighting and Mr. Benrimo’s superlative knowledge of stage craft.
‘There are other beautiful and convincing scenic backgrounds as well, notably in the first act, with brings froth a realistic hotel set. The third act set, a hotel interior, while good in its way, is not up to the outdoor effects.
‘Then the music, both solo and ensemble, is pleasing, sweet and melodious. The score on the whole, although it contains nothing startling in the way of an individual ”hit,” is highly satisfactory. One might say that Lehar’s music was ”pretentious,” inasmuch as it often approaches great opera standards.
‘The chorus costumes are correct, in no way vulgar or obtrusive, and sufficiently kaleidoscopic in coloring. They show a nice refinement of taste in their designing and selection.
‘The book is only fair, and judicious eliminations of long and tedious passages of dialogue would help considerably. Particularly is is lacking the comedy values. This fault, of course, must be charged up to its programmed foreign authors [Dr. A.M. Willner and Robert Bodansky]. Admittedly the book contains no horseplay or buffoonery.
‘The cast is exceptionally talented in almost every instance. Jose Collins, as Tilly Dachau, sings charmingly, acts competently and wears her numerous costume changes bewitchingly. A champagne colored riding suit work in the second act, with the cutest of tightly fitting ”pants” imaginable, fills the eye in decidedly pleasure fashion. Miss Collins, it might be said in passing, fills the costume quite in the same manner.
‘John Charles Thomas, a strapping young fellow with a beautiful singing voice, that is quite as robust as his splendid physique, established himself in the good graces of the first nighters immediately after his first vocal number. His performance was highly enjoyable in every way.
‘Harry Conor, veteran American comedian, did splendidly with the material at hand. He was always at east and made his rather inane lines sound natural and convincing. A genuine achievement.
Madame Namara is a pretty girl of the frail, flower-like variety of beauty. The madame made the most of excellent opportunities offered her tat the finish of the second act. Her singing voice, a soprano of good range and fair quality, seemed to be not in the best of condition on the opening night.
‘Roy Atwell was very slightly remindful of Richard Carle as a mollycoddle sort of lover. Outside of the big song hit in the second act, Mr. Atwell was assigned little that was entertaining or amusing. He seemed to be mis-cast. However, the way in which he put over the ”Bug” song more than made up for any deficiencies of singing or acting.
‘The rest of the large cast, including Ed. Mulcahey [Edward Mulcahy], who made a realistic looking and sonorous voiced Swiss mountaineer, and Elizabeth Goodall, who impersonated an American widow without unnecessary affectations, were eminently satisfactory with one or two exceptions.
‘The dialogue exchanged by three or four chorus men in the second act should either be given to competent principals or else left out altogether. It would never be missed.
Alone at Last is a big show scenically, a delightful show musically, and a pleasing show generally speaking.’
(The New York Clipper, New York, Saturday, 30 October 1915, p. 27a/b)