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FOOTLIGHT NOTES
no. 323

updated
Saturday, 22 November 2003

The Oxford Music Hall, London,
programme for the week ending Saturday, 20 August 1881

Oxford Music Hall programme cover

Programme cover for the Oxford Music Hall, London.

(artwork by J.H. Jennings,
unknown printer, London, 1881)

'Excellent audiences are nightly filling the Oxford, a result which stamps Mr. Jennings's policy with distinct approval. As a structure, the Oxford is, in our humble opinion, the handsomest hall in London; and at the present moment it is looking unusually bright, for the decorator has just been engaged in setting his mark upon it, and it may be safely said that he has left it in a very brilliant condition. We cannot find the shade of a fault with the decorations, except, perhaps, in one respect, and that is – we think that the upright columns rising from the balcony would be better left dull than varnished; for, in the latter condition, they assert themselves too much – they catch the eye too readily, and are calculated to mar the general effect. We do not give out this as a dogma; it is only our opinion, and its is quite possible that three out of four of the Oxford habitués approve of the columns in their present enamelled state.
'The company here is made up of the same features that were included in the programme on the occasion of our last visit. Mr. Bryant's excellently-worked "marionette minstrels" ['Lilliputian Actors, Comedians, and Singers'] are still revealed here, and their doings bring about the same amount of wonderment and mirth that they have provoked at all our best music-halls for now some years. The female voice concerned with this admirable "show" does rare justice to Randegger's "Ben è ridicolo," a circumstance which we remember to have noted in a previous report. Mons. [Francisco] Gaillard ['In New French and English Songs'] is still retained here, and uses his capital voice in such a manner as to ensure him a plenteous amount of applause. Why that military song which this gentleman sings should be selected for special emphasis by the chairman of the establishment we do not pretend to understand, for, as a composition, it, to us, seems rather trashy – one of those noisy essays which may be said to be full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Mr. Dick Devlin ['The American Irish Artist'] is in possession of a small, but agreeable, voice. His sketch of an Irish woman suffers, though, when compared with the same kind of performances sponsored by Mr. W. Ashcroft, who was a great and deserved favourite at this hall. Mr. James Fawn ['Comedian and Singer, From Theatre Royal Drury Lane'] seems to be shaking hands with good fortune just now, for the songs which he sings independently are most highly esteemed, while the duet of "Goodness Gracious," which he shared with Mr. Arthur Roberts ['The incomparable Comedian, Mimic and Singer'], may honestly be described as one of the most successful features ever proffered at the Oxford. Mr. Arthur Roberts must be ranked as the lion of the evening here, and is in immense request. His song, in which a certain amount of whistling adds to the humour of the situation, is given with wonderful effect, and is received with undeniable enthusiasm. In some hands this song would be comparatively valueless, but Mr. Roberts makes it irresistibly funny. Miss Marie Compton ['The fair gem of Serio-Comic Minstrelsy'] is a vocalist who has made admirable progress since first we had the pleasure of listening to her, and her treatment of legitimate morceaux is musicianly and artistic. Miss Compton's face and figure lend importance to her vocalism, while her various dresses may be said to be miracles of good taste. On the occasion of our recent visit to the Oxford, we were unable to enjoy the entertainment given by Mr. Albert and Miss Frederica ['Burlesque Artistes and Versatile Caricaturists'] who are infallible as mirth-makers, they having so late a "turn."
'It must rejoice the heart of Mr. Jennings to find his efforts as a caterer so liberally responded to.'
(The Entr'acte, London, Saturday, 20 August 1881, p.11b)

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