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FOOTLIGHT NOTES
no. 358

updated
Saturday, 24 July 2004

The Girl in the Taxi,
musical play by Frederick Fenn and Arthur Wimperis,
with music by Jean Gilbert,
Lyric Theatre, London, 5 September 1912

The Girl in the Taxi

The Girl in the Taxi, Lyric Theatre, London, 5 September 1912,
with Yvonne Arnaud as Baroness Delphine Dauvray,
Alec Fraser as René, Arthur Playfair as Baron Dauvray
and Robert Averell as Hubert

(photo: Daily Mirror Studios, London, 1912, from the cover of
The Play Pictorial, 'The Girl in the Taxi' issue, no.124, vol.XXI, London, 1912)

'"My taxi, I believe!" says Baron Dauvray, as he enters the vehicle from one side while piquant Mme. Charcot enters it from the other; "No, mine," she replies, to which the gallant Baron, with a quick appreciation of feminine beauty, responds "Then ours!" and as they each find their destination is the Restaurant Jeunesse Dorée, supper arrangements are quickly concluded.
'That is the incident which gives to the amusing piece, so cleverly done into English by Messrs. Frederick Fenn and Arthur Wimperis, its title; beyond that the "Girl in the Taxi" plays but a subordinate part.
'The principal lady is Suzanne Pomarel, the wife of a provincial silk merchant, and she and her husband have come to Paris to thank Baron Dauvray for the prize he has awarded her for conjugal virtue.
'The Baron poses as a philosopher and scientist and holds pronounced opinions on the subjects of Heredity. His home life is a model of decorum and both his son and daughter have been brought up in the strict path of propriety, but Hubert, the son, is bursting to kick over the traces, only, as he confesses to his sister's fiancé, very little can be done on an allowance of five shillings a week.
'As the two young men as discussing the situation Suzanne makes her appearance and the young lieutenant recognises the lady with whom he had a desperate flirtation some time previously. They agree to sup together at the Jeuness Dorée, as Mons. Pomarel has to depart that evening to take up a fortnight's military duty.
'Suzanne makes a great impression on the unsophisticated heart of Hubert, who persuades René to allow him to take his place at the supper rendezvous, the funds for which he obtains by pawning a valuable little picture.
'When the household has retired to rest the Baron emerges from his room intent on nocturnal amusement and is only saved from being discovered by the Baroness by hiding under the table.
'Their daughter, Jacqueline, is another naughty nightbird, as she has prevailed upon René to take her to the famous restaurant. Consequently there promises to be a surprising family reunion that night, with some interesting revelations of character.
'In a private room on one side of the restaurant is the Baron with Mme. Charcot; on the other side is Hubert with Mme. Pomarel, making the most of his opportunities, but troubled with the thought that the supper bill will exceed the limits of his purse.

Yvonne Arnaud


Yvonne Arnaud as Baroness Delphine Dauvray
in The Girl in the Taxi, Lyric Theatre, London, 5 September 1912

(photo: Daily Mirror Studios, London, 1912)

'An unexpected visitor then arrives in the person of Mons. Pomarel, who had missed his train, but not the cup that cheers. He recognises Hubert, and the comic suggestiveness of the situation is heightened by the fact that he does not suspect that the fair lady behind the curtain, whose outstretched hand he kisses with bibulous gallantry, is none other than his own wife.
'Provessor Charcot adds another element of uncertainty to the situation, and with amused curiosity we wait to see in which manner the authors will avert the crushing dénouement of recognition. In the more delicate scenes this is cleverly carried out, while the Baron's surprise at meeting Hubert is only equalled by the gratification that his theories with regard to heredity are strengthened by finding that he is not the champagne father of a Mellin's food son.
'Everyone we know to be skating on tin ice, but we know, also, that it is Palais Royal ice, and that, though it may crack her and there, it is sufficiently strong to guarantee the revellers against immersion.
'Such merry farces more frequently than not practically terminal with the second act, but the gay antics of The Girl in the Taxi only end with the final fall of the curtain.
'Breakfast is anything but a happy meal for the roisterers of the night as they find, to their consternation, that the new butler engaged by the Baroness was the chief waiter at the Restaurant.
'Nor are the final explanations at all tedious, for a satisfactory way out of the imbroglio is found by impressing Pomarel with the fact that he was frightfully intoxicated and that it is his duty to apologise for the trouble he has caused, which he does and thus allays all suspicions as to the compromising escapades of those whose "night out" might have ended so very disastrously.
'I must pay tribute to the melodious quality of Jean Gilbert's music and to the excellent manner in which the piece was played. The Girl in the Taxi has made the reputation of Mlle. Yvonne Arnaud and enhanced that of others already well established. Moreover, Mr. P. Michael Faraday is to be congratulated on the admirable way in which he has "produced" this merriest of musical farces.'
(B.W. Findon, The Play Pictorial, 'The Girl in the Taxi' issue, no.124, vol.XXI, London, 1912, pp.2 and 3)

a scene from The Girl in the Taxi


Arthur Playfair as Baron Dauvray, Robert Averell as Hubert,
Yvonne Arnaud as Baroness Delphine Dauvray and Alec Fraser as René
in a scene from The Girl in the Taxi, Lyric Theatre, London, 5 September 1912

(photo: Daily Mirror Studios, London, 1912)

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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.

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