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no. 309

Saturday, 16 August 2003

Kate Vaughan on tour in England, 1890

Kate Vaughan

Kate Vaughan (1852-1903), English actress and dancer

(photo: W. & D. Downey, London, late 1880s)

'Miss Kate Vaughan at the Theatre Royal [Leamington, Monday, 24 February 1890, for five nights and one matinee]. – During the past week Miss Kate Vaughan, supported by an able company, has appeared at the Theatre Royal, but not, we regret to stage, to crowded houses. Although Miss Kate Vaughan cannot command successes, she thoroughly deserves it. The repertoire is sufficiently varied to meet even the exacting tastes of the Leamington public. On Monday evening [24 February 1890] Miss Kate Vaughan sustained the principal rolé [sic] in one of the most successful adaptations from the French – a play entitled The Little Viscount [adapted by Hermann Vezin from [J.-F.-A.] Bayard's Le Vicomte de Letorrièrres; first produced at the Gaiety, London, 2 August 1884] - which was preceded by a most amusing farce, The Little Rebel [by J. Stirling Coyne, first produced at the Olympic, London, 17 March 1869]. The Little Viscount is a piece which serves to introduce Miss Kate Vaughan in the somewhat extravagant character of the hero, created by Dejerzat [Virginie Déjazet] in the zenith of her power, and repeated by her in the period of decay. It would be useless disguising the fact that Miss Kate Vaughan possesses many qualifications for the various rolés [sic] she essays, and her acting is always attractive and interesting. She is bright, saucy, and has a superabundance of animal spirits and espieglerie, whilst she has the happy knack of indulging in that inimitable swagger so necessary to the success of such a piece, and which assigned to Déjazet for nearly half a century the practical monopoly of a young but ordinarily licentious hero. As The Little Viscount Miss Kate Vaughan was an undoubted success, and thoroughly deserved the applause which her acting elicited from an altogether inadequate house. The other characters, too, were well sustained. As Desperrierres Mr. H.J. Lethcourt gave a highly comic and certainly realistic interpretation of the drunken counsellor, and Mr. Austen Leigh played The Baron remarkably well, Miss Kate Mills as The Princess, Miss Gracie Noble as Herminie, Mrs. Campbell Bradley as Genevieve, and Miss Lillie woods as Veronique all deserve a word of praise. On Tuesday evening there was a distinct change in the programme, when a comedy entitled The Country Girl was produced. It is [David] Garrick's adaptation of [William] Wycherley's Country Wife. In the character of Peggy Miss Kate Vaughan showed a very clever appreciation of comedy, and her able rendering of the rolé [sic] was wanting neither in vivacity nor grace. On Wednesday evening Love and Honour was performed. On Thursday The Country Girl was repeated, and last evening another performance was given of The Little Viscount. To-day (Saturday) there will be a special matinee, when the quarrel scene from The School for Scandal, a comedietta entitled Blindfold [by Robert Soutar, first produced at the Gaiety, London, 4 May 1882], and a monologue, How it Happened, will be performed. Miss Kate Vaughan will appear in each piece.'
(The Warwick and Warwickshire Advertiser and Leamington Gazette, Warwick, Saturday, 22 February 1890, p.4d, and 1 March 1890, p.8b)

Kate Vaughan

Kate Vaughan as Lady Teazle in Sheridan's The School for Scandal

(photo: W. & D. Downey, London, circa 1887)

'Vaughan, Kate. (Hon. Mrs. Wellesley.) – No one has ever enjoyed such a popularity as a danseuse as Miss Kate Vaughan since her first appearance at the Gaiety [London], where she invented, exploited, and brought to perfection the decorous, but absolutely delightful fashion of dancing in long skirts, which has so happily superseded the style of pirouetting in undress that was previously in vogue. Miss Kate Vaughan's maiden name was Candelon. She was a pupil of Mrs. Conquest of the old Grecian Theatre, and commenced her career on the Music Hall stage, being associated with her sister, Miss Susie Vaughan, in giving "sketches" under the management of Mr. W. Maynard, and also as a member of the Vaughan Dancing Troupe. So highly did she distinguish herself in this combination that it was not long before she was translated to a higher sphere, and was a member of Miss [Marie] Litton's Company at the Court Theatre in 1872. Ultimately she ascended the throne of the Terpsichorean Province of the London stage. In the full flush of this particular career she suddenly determined to emancipate herself from burlesque, and pursue instead a purely histrionic course of old comedy. That she was equally successful in it is now a matter of history, and her Lady Teazle and Miss Hardcastle were as delightful as any the modern stage has seen. In March, 1887, her Peg Woffington in Masks and Faces (when Mr. [James] Fernandez played Triplet), proved her a mistress of light and delicate acting, and in this character, with its incomparable minuet, she was at her best. She was for some time associated with Mr. H.B. Conway in the management of the Conway-Vaughan English Comedy Company, which made such a triumphant provincial progress; and in 1887 took the Opera Comique, and opened in London with the same class of plays. During the last four years she has been less often seen in the metropolis than her many devotees could wish. In August, 1890, she left town to tour in the provinces again. Miss Kate Vaughan possesses a beauty which is statuesque and a loveliness that is real; her eyes melt and sparkle, and in her dainty dresses, in old English Comedy, she looks for all the world like a rare piece of delicate Dresden china endowed with life, and with the brightest, merriest spirits and most captivating smiles. She lives at Merton Abbey, in Surrey, and her husband, Colonel the Hon. Arthur Wellesley, in a brother of Lord Cowley.'
(Erskine Reid and Herbert Compton, the Dramatic Peerage, Raithby, Lawrence & Co Ltd, London, 1892, pp.221 and 222)

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