Posts Tagged ‘The Shop Girl (musical farce)’

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Bertie Wright and other members of the English cast of the New York production of The Shop Girl, Palmer’s Theatre, Manhattan, 1895

March 25, 2014

Bertie Wright (1871-after 1958), English actor and singer, as he appeared as Mr Miggles, together with other members of the English cast in the New York production of The Shop Girl, which opened at Palmer’s Theatre, New York, on 28 October 1895.
(cabinet photo: Sarony, New York, 1895)

‘At PALMER’S THEATRE, on Oct. 28, there was produced, for the first time in this country, The Shop Girl, a musical farce, in two acts, by H.J.W. Dam, music by Ivan Caryll, with additional numbers by Lionel Monckton and Adrian Ross. The work was originally produced Nov. 24, 1894, at the Gaiety Theatre, London, Eng., where it met with great success. The company presenting it here is under the local management of Charles Frohman, but was sent from England by George Edwardes, proprietor and manager of the Gaiety Theatre. Of its principal members only two appeared in the original London production. The story concerns a search for an heiress. John Brown, an American millionaire, has advertised through his solicitor, Sir George Appleby, for a female foundling, the child of his late partner, who inherits a large fortune. Colonel Singlton, a retired officer; the Count St. Vaurien, secretary to Mr. Brown, and Mr. Hooley, proprietor of the ”Royal Stores,” are in possession of the secret that a fortune of four millions sterling awaits the missing heiress, whose identity they hope to establish by means of a birth mark known to exist. Many founding girls present themselves, being congenital marks, but all are doomed to disappointment. Mr. Hooley believes he has discovered the missing girl in Ada Smith, a good natured but illiterate and somewhat vulgar apprentice in his employ. He proposes to this girl, and she accepts and marries him, although she is engaged to Mr. Miggles, a floor walker of the establishment. It is eventually discovered that the real heiress is Bessie Brent, the prettiest girl in the stores, who is engaged to marry Charles Appleby, son of the solicitor who is seeking her. The farce has gained success here at a bound. In fact the nature of its reception was almost a foregone conclusion, for the coming of the company was eagerly awaited, and the advance sale of seats showed that nothing less than an absolutely bad performance would rob it of its anticipated triumph. The event proved that the performance was very far from bad, although the book was equally far from good, and the music was not above mediocrity. In spite of all shortcomings, however, there is sufficient exhilaration supplied by the performers to warrant the favorable verdict rendered. The state forces were admirably handled, and from the principals down to the most obscure member of the company every one was in constant motion. The principal comedians, including Seymour Hicks, George Grossmith Jr., W.H. Rawlins, Bertie Wright and George Honey, are undoubtedly clever. They labored assiduously and effectively to promote merriment, and displayed powers that suggested their ability to accomplish even better results had they a work which would afford them greater opportunities.

The Shop Girl (Musical), by H.... Digital ID: th-50908. New York Public Library
Connie Ediss as Ada Smith and W.H. Rawlins as Mr. Hooley in The Shop Girl, Palmer’s Theatre, New York, 1895)
(photo: Sarony, New York, 1895; Collection of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts / Billy Rose Theatre Division )

The female contingent, however, showed less capability than the male, but Ethel Sydney, as Bessie Brent, and Connie Ediss, as Ada Smith, fairly won an excellent report, Miss Ediss being especially deserving of mention for good comedy work. Some very pretty dancing was shown, but the terpsichorean features were less praiseworthy than have been seen in previous Gaiety productions. The staging was quite effective. They first act showed the interior of the ”Royal Stores,” and the action in the second act occurred in a fancy bazaar at Kensington. Some of the costumes were very pretty. There was much color shown, but by reason of strong contrasts there was little harmony I this respect and much gaudiness. The average of beauty among the women was not high, and in figure there was shown more bulk than daintiness. Still the show throughout its length was rather pleasing to the eye, and in spite of its friskiness was restful in so far as it made no demands whatever upon the intellect. It was plainly in evidence that it afforded the greatest delight to that portion of the audience which, for a very obvious reason, brought no brains to bear upon it. The assignment of roles was as follows: Mr. Hooley, W.H. Rawlins; Charles Appleby, Seymour Hicks; Bertie Boyd, George Grossmith Jr.; John Brown, [Michael] Dwyer; Sir George Appleby, Walter McEwen; Singleton, George Honey; Count St. Vaurten, A. Nilson-Fisher; Mr. Tweets, Alfred Asher; Mr. Miggles, Bertie Wright; Bessie Brent, Ethel Sydney; Lady Dodo Singlton, Annie Albu; Miss Robinson, Marie Paucett; Lady Appleby, Leslie Greenwood; Ada Smith, Connie Ediss; Faith, May Beaugarde; Hope, Minnie Sadler; Charity, Minnie Rose; Maud Plantagenet, Adelaide Astor; Eva Tudor, Violet Dene; Lillie Stuart, Ida Wallace; Ada Harrison, Hylda Galton; Mabel Beresford, Nellie Huxley; Florence White, Zara De L’Orme; Birdie Waudesfaude, Nellie Langton; Maggie Jocelyn, Violet Durkin; Violet Deveney, Annie Vivian. A solo dance in Act II was contributed by Dorothy Douglass, who was not included in the assignment. Of the above Seymour Hicks had already been seen here in Cinderella [sic], and Adelaide Astor, now the wife of George Grossmith Jr., had previously appeared here [in September 1893] upon the vaudeville stage under the name of Cissy Lind . With these exceptions all of the members of the company were, upon this occasion, seen her for the first time.’
(The New York Clipper, New York, New York, Saturday, 9 November 1895, p. 567d)

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Seymour Hicks in The Shop Girl, Gaiety Theatre, London, 1894

October 12, 2013

Seymour Hicks (1871-1949), English actor, as he appeared as Charles Appleby, a medical student, in The Shop Girl, the musical farce produced at the Gaiety Theatre, London, on 24 November 1894. It was in this show that Seymour Hicks sang ‘And the Golden Hair was Hanging Down Her Back.’
(photo: Alfred Ellis, London, 1894)

‘The Gaiety Theatre was reopened on Saturday night after having undergone extensive structural alteration at the instance of the County Council, with a new musical piece by Mr. H. Darn [i.e. H.J.W. Dam] entitled The Shop Girl. There is a distinct resemblance between the general structure and idea of Mr. Darn’s [sic] piece and the highly successful Gaiety Girl, and it is quite evident that the London playgoer has not yet tired of a form of entertainment which is a species of hybrid between burlesque and comedy opera. The Shop Girl depends for its attractions, not on any cohesion of story or any attempt at plot, but on its songs and dances and the drolleris of the members of the company performing it… . Mr. Seymour Hicks shows a distinct advance in his art in the part usually associated in this theatre with Mr. Arthur Roberts. His singing is particularly good and he seems to have a decided gift for dancing of a grotesque but highly amusing character… .’
(Freeman’s Journal and Daily Commercial Advertiser, Dublin, Monday, 25 November 1894, p. 7b)

‘… Mr. Seymour Hicks shows cleverness of a quality superior to the work he has to do in The Shop Girl, and acts, sings, and dances with an activity and a refinement worthy of comedy. By his tactful treatment he almost disguises the unpleasant flavour of his song about the girl with the golden hair… .’
(The Era, London, Saturday, 1 December 1894, p. 8b)

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Ethel Negretti

July 2, 2013

Ethel Negretti (1879-1918?), English singer (soprano) and actress
(photo: Alfred Ellis & Walery, London, circa 1902)

Ethel Negretti (Ethel Amelia Rosenstreich) was born in London in 1879, the daughter of Nathaniel Rosenstreich (1841/42-1903), a German-born looking glass and furniture manufacturer, and his first wife, Amelia (née Biddle, 1828-1898). On 28 July 1904 she was married to Albert Pembridge Parker, a sometime manager in the motor trade, at St. George’s, Bloomsbury. They appear to have had no children and may have separated before 1918, the last mention of her in the records. Parker married again in 1926, to Winifred Lilian Edith Grayson and died at the age of 75 in 1949.

Ethel Negretti appears to have begun her theatrical career in the summer of 1898 with Wallace Erskine’s company in a tour of the UK of The Shop Girl, a musical farce which was first produced at the Gaiety Theatre, London, on 24 November 1894; she took the part of Lady Dodo Singleton, originally played by Helen Lee.

She was next seen at the end of October, 1898, in a small part at the Royal Theatre, Jersey, in the comedy The Dove-Cot, starring Seymour Hicks, following its London run at the Duke of York’s Theatre (12 February 1898). Miss Negretti was the Princess Haidée in the pantomime Dick Whittington, at the Grand Theatre, Fulham, at Christmas 1898, in which she was praised for the song ‘Carmencita,’ ‘rendered with such sweetness and verve.’ (The Era, London, Saturday, 21 January 1899, p. 12c). She was then seen in tours of the musical farcical comedy The Topsy-Turvey Hotel Co and the musical comedy The French Maid.

On 19 October 1899 appeared as Cyrene in a revival at the Lyceum Theatre, London, of Wilson Barrett’s drama The Sign of the Cross. She was next seen in a tour with G.H. Snazelle in The Prince of Borneo, an opera farce.

Derby, Wednesday, 7 November 1900
‘BANJO AND MANDOLIN CONCERT AT THE TEMPERANCE HALL.
‘Though the weather was miserable – rain fell sharply at times and the streets were thick with mud – there was a capital audience at the Temperance Hall on Wednesday evening, on the occasion of Mr. and Mrs. M.L. Merton’s fourth grand banjo and mandolin concert. The programme was a delightful one and the artistes were ladies and gentlemen of acknowledged ability. Mr Clifford Essex and Miss Ethel Negretti achieved considerable success at one of Mr. Merton’s previous concerts, and their second appearance in Derby was naturally looked forward to with much interest and pleasure. Of Mr. Essex and his pierrots it may be said that they have performed, by command, before the Prince and Princess of Wales and other members of the Royal Family on no fewer than five occasions. Then Mr. Olly Oakley there are few more celebrated banjoists and he too was exceedingly well received on a previous visit to the town… . Mr. Clifford Essex and Miss Negretti were heard to particular advantage in ”I love the man in the moon” (which was encored), and Miss Negretti, who has a very sweet, clear voice, sang ”Baby,” (from [Gustave Kerker’s] ”The American Beauty” [sic]), a particularly pretty song, charmingly… .’
(The Derby Mercury, Derby, Wednesday, 14 November 1900, p. 6e)

At Christmas 1900 Miss Negretti was seen in the pantomime Dick Whittington at the Prince’s Theatre, Bristol. The two leading parts of Dick and Alice were taken by Millie Hylton and her sister, Lydia Flopp; other parts were played by Ernest Shand, Tennyson and O’Gorman and Bessie Featherstone.

In November 1901 Ethel Negretti appeared as one of Clifford Essex’s Pierrots (the others being Clifford Essex, Joe Morley and Wilson James) at the Town Hall, Eastbourne. She remained with Essex until the autumn of 1902 after which she appeared as Ida in the pantomime Mother Goose at Drury Lane Theatre (26 December 1902), with Dan Leno, Herbert Campbell, Madge Lessing, Marie George and others. She was next seen in The School Girl, a musical play which opened at the Prince of Wales’s Theatre, London, on 9 May 1903; the cast was headed by Edna May and G.P. Huntley. Following a tour in A Country Girl, Miss Negretti appeared again in pantomime at Drury Lane: Humpty Dumpty, produced on 26 December 1903, with Dan Leno, Herbert Campbell, George Bastow, Marie George, Louise Willis and Ruth Lytton.

With further appearances on tour and in pantomime, Ethel Negretti’s career continued until 1914/15, when she appeared as Mme. Alvarez in a tour of the successful Shaftesbury Theatre musical, The Pearl Girl. Her final appearances seem to have been in The Magic Touch, a musical comedy produced at the Palace Theatre, Walthamstow, on 18 January 1915; and in the revue, So Long, Lucy!, which was produced on 27 September 1915 at the Hippodrome, Derby, with Paul Barnes, the American black-face comedian and song-writer, in the lead; other members of the cast were Clay Smith (husband of Lee White, the American revue star), Phyllis Barnes and Phil Lester.