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no. 350

Saturday, 29 May 2004

The ballet Our Crown,
designed and supervised by C. Wilhelm, action and dances arranged by Katti Lanner,
Empire Theatre, Leicester Square, London, 28 May 1902

Mdlle. Cora, Miss Paston and Miss Tree

Mdlle Cora as India, Miss Paston as Australia and Miss Tree as Canada
in the ballet Our Crown, Empire, Leicester Square, London, 28 May 1902

(photo: George Garet-Charles, London, 1902)

'When I sat down in the only vacant seat at the Empire, a little while back, for the purpose of having a second look at Our Crown, I made up my mind to compare notes with previous productions at this house. I did so, with the result that I fancy the new ballet is perhaps the most gorgeous thing that even the Empire has given us. All concerned have laboured harmoniously and successfully, and have produced a show that will attract all London.
'The curtain rises on the Caves of Memory, and here the must of English history recalls the chief incidents in the reigns of the Royal Edwards. We are treated to a panoramic, historical survey, beginning with a series of "living pictures" of events in the times of the earlier King Edward, and passing on to six magnificent tableaux representing the formation of the Crown. Whilst a picture of the earth is seen revolving, there appear first the bearers of gold from Australia, clad in gorgeous costumes of cloth of gold. Then, in turn, come the rubies of Burmah, the sapphires of India (the ladies wearing ruby and sapphire tinted dresses of dazzling brilliancy), pearl laden ladies from Ceylon, others bearing diamonds from Cape Colony, and finally ermine-clad attendants from Canada. The effect of movement amongst this mass of dainty costume, rich dresses, and scintillating garments, needs to be seen to be understood. All then assist in the construction of the crown, which closes the first scene.
'The second scene – the Royal Pavilion – is a brilliant scene in red and gold, and represented the "Coronation festival." The Rose Ballet, which takes place here, is a feast of variegated colour, whilst the striking electrical effects of the final tableau, when thousands of tiny electric jets illuminate the crowns borne by the corps de ballet, bring deafening applause from an enchanted audience. Mdlle. Adeline Genée, as usual, wins all hearts with her wonderful and beautiful movements, and she is loyally supported by the second dancers, the Misses [May] Paston, [Elise] Clerc, [Ada] Vincent, [Quetta] Papucci, and [E.] Tree. Finally, I will say that this ballet is just magnificent, added to which I will shout "Well don everybody!".'
(The Playgoer, London, July 1902, p.238)

Our Crown

The ballet Our Crown,
Empire, Leicester Square, London, 28 May 1902

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Gladys Cooper

Gladys Cooper as she appeared in Havana,
Gaiety Theatre, London, 1908

(photo: Bassano, London, 1908)

A sample of John Culme's hand made greetings cards,
currently available at the National Portrait Gallery, London.

The above greetings card and others like it have been made to celebrate Terence Pepper's current exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, London, devoted to Bassano's early 20th Century photographs of theatrical celebrities. Images of Gabrielle Ray and Gladys Cooper are featured in the exhibition as are some of their contemporaries on the London stage, including Gertie Millar, Moya Mannering, Gaby Deslys, Olive May and Gina Palerme. The exhibition runs until 31 August.

A special CD entitled Gaiety Girls has been produced to coincide with the exhibition, available at the National Portrait Gallery bookshop and also direct from Tony Barker. With masterly transfers by Dominic Combe from rare original recordings, and twelve pages of sleeve notes by Patrick O'Connor, the CD comprises the following tracks:
Alice Delysia - I Know What I Want (1933)
Jessie Matthews and Sonnie Hale - Hold My Hand (1932)
Cicely Courtneidge and Harold French - A tiny flat in Soho Square (1927)
Dorothy Brown and Roy Royston - When I Waltz With You (1926)
José Collins and Kingsley Lark - The Last Waltz (1922)
Mamie Watson and Roy Royston - Japanese Duet (1920)
Marjorie Gordon - Tickle Toe (1918)
Ada Reeve - Is It Nothing To You? (1915)
Moya Mannering and Leslie Henson - Meet Me Around The Corner (1915)
Haidee de Rance and George Grossmith Jnr - They Didn't Believe Me (1915)
Connie Ediss - I Like To Have A Little Bit On (1911)
Olive May - The Lass With A Lasso (1911)
Gaby Deslys - Tout En Rose (1910)
Denise Orme and Arthur Grover - Swing Song (1906)
Delia Mason and Maurice Farkoa - My Portuguese Princess (1905)
Evie Greene - Try Again, Johnny (1902)
Ellaline Terriss - Gaiety Medley (1903).
The disc also includes the following unique recordings of broadcasts from the 1930s: Gertie Millar - Keep Off The Grass; Phyllis Dare and W. H. Berry - Let Me Introduce You To My Father; Ethel Levey - Ragtime Medley; and Evelyn Laye - The Call Of Life.

The National Portrait Gallery has also published a number of postcards for the occasion, taken from original Bassano negatives, which are available from the gallery's bookshop

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