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no. 367

Saturday, 25 September 2004

The Whirl of the World
a review in 21 scenes by Albert de Courville,
Edgar Wallace, William K. Wells and others,
with music by Frederick Chappelle and others,
London Palladium, 14 March 1924

The Whirl of the World

'The Whirl of the World,
Oh! What a fearful rush!
The Whirl of the World,
No one can avoid the crush!'

The largest bed in the world in 'Crowded London,'
a scene from The Whirl of the World, London Palladium, 1924

(photo: Stage Photo Co, London, 1924)

The Whirl of the World, a review in 21 scenes by Albert de Courville, Edgar Wallace, William K. Wells and others, with music by Frederick Chappelle and others, opened at the London Palladium on 14 March 1924 for a run of 635 performances. The cast included Billy Merson, Walter Williams, Fred Groves, Leslie Sarony, Mark Stone, Tommy Handley, Teddy Knox and Jimmy Nervo; Nellie Wallace, Nora Delaney, Ethel Hook, Vera Wray, Dora Duby and Alice Pollard; the dancers Jean Myrrio and Natacha Nattavo; the Spazzoni Troupe of acrobats; and Beauty Chorus.

The Whirl of the World

Two scenes from The Whirl of the World.

left, Nellie Wallace and Billy Merson in the duet, 'The Musical Comedy Couple,'
He: 'What would you say, dear, if I asked you just to kiss me?'
She: 'I'd say. "Oh! Billie, you're drunk again."'

right, The Spazzoni Troupe in their 'Coup de Grace,' Nellie Wallace supports the troupe.
Spazzoni: 'My grandmother will support the whole troupe and nothing but the troupe.'

(photo: Stage Photo Co, London, 1924)

The Successful Revue at the Palladium.

'This is one of those big, jolly musical shows to which Mr. de Courville has accustomed us in the past, and the Palladium is just the home for it. In The Whirl of the World we find gorgeous scenes, beautiful costumes, side-splitting sketches, and, most important of all, tuneful numbers succeeding one another in quick succession.
'There is a fine opening containing three good musical numbers, one of which is "Strum that Tune" [words by Donovan Parsons, music by Frederick Chappelle] sung by Nora Delany and Walter Williams.
'Another is "Dancing Jim" [words by D. Parsons, music by Marc Antony] sung by Leslie Sarony and girls.
'After this we are plunged straight into one of the best comedy scenes seen in London for a long time. "The Shop-lifter" shews Nellie Wallace in the congenial character of a charlady, whose husband was a good husband but not to her.
'The "Mannequin Patrol" [words by D. Parsons, music by F. Chappelle] which follows, introduces a Parade of wonderful frocks.
'Not to be outdone, Billy Merson follows with a burlesque sketch "The Shooting of Dan McGrew." The hero, Dangerous Dan, opens the proceedings by shooting a gentleman in a western shack, and when his action is called into question by the Sheriff, things get very lively indeed, for Dan kills all the witnesses one by one and ends up by shooting the canary a delightful climax.
'A pretty topical scene is called "The Queen's Doll House" [words by D. Parsons, music by F. Chappelle]. We only see the outside of this wonderful toy, but the dolls that come out of it dance in a manner that is quite delightful. Myrio and Nattova excel in a fascinating measure and the humour is supplied by that droll couple Nervo and Knox, who later on provide something quite out of the ordinary in "Slow Movies" a screaming skit on the slow motion pictures.

The Whirl of the World

"Don Juan Up-to-Date"

Don Juan: 'One for all and all for one,
Let her go and we got fun.'

left to right, Tommy Handley as Alfonso, Mark Stone as Fernan, Billy Merson as Don Juan and Nellie Wallace as Juliet

(photo: Stage Photo Co, London, 1924)

'One of the best sketches of the revue is "Don Juan Up-to-date." There have been Gaiety burlesques in the past, but nothing quite on these lines. Imagine Nellie Wallace as Juliet, with Billy Merson as one of the three Romeos. Imagine Romeo trying to climb the treacherous ivy to get at his Juliet! Imagine the entire balcony collapsing beneath his weight and you have some idea of the fun that these accomplished players manage to extract from the situation.
'The finale of the first act is one of the most striking scenes stage at the Palladium, or elsewhere. It has a suggestion of HASSAN [the play by James Elroy Flecker, stage by Basil Dean, His Majesty's, London, 20 September 1923] with its references in song to Smarkand and the Golden Road. The full force of the company is utilised, and Ethel Hook appears in the most magnificent cloak that was ever seen. It reaches from the top of the stage to the foot-lights, and is alone worth going to see. During this scene Ethel Hook sings, with great effect, "The Goddess of the Night" [words by D. Parsons, music by F. Chappelle].
'The second act begins with a beautiful garden scene, which should surely set a new fashion in sunshades for the coming summer, during which a charming song "Underneath the Sunshade" [words by D. Parsons, music by F. Chappelle] is sung.
'This is followed by "Rose in Bloon" [words by D. Parsons, music by F. Chappelle] a most effective ballad which is sung to a wonderful flower in a wonderful vase.
'There is a sketch called "Neighbours" which should appeal to dwellers in flats or semi-detached houses. An elderly couple, who have never had a cross word in twenty years, heard the couple next door quarrelling. They decide to interfere, with the inevitably result that in ending one squabble they start another between themselves. It may therefore be said that the little play has a moral, but what is much more important, it has more laughs to the minute than three ordinary revue sketches rolled into one.
'Other items in a most generous programme include a beautiful scene called "Treasures" in which a Sevres Stand, a Tangara Statuette, a Chinese Idol, a cameo and pictures all play a part. [This scene included 'Sweet Mem'ries of the Bygone Days, words by D. Parsons, music by F. Chappelle.]
'Also, there is a comic burlesque of a troupe of acrobats, and the entertainment ends with a complete cabaret show, including several music numbers.
'And the finale is rendered to the strains of "The 'All-Live-Happily-Ever-After' Smile" [words by D. Parsons, music by F. Chappelle].'
(Music For All, A Magazine for Every Home, George Newnes Ltd, London, no.21, vol.4, June 1924)

The Whirl of the World

Nora Delany as the Sports Girl, and the Beauty Chorus in "A Garden",
a scene from The Whirl of the World, London Palladium, 1924.

'Push ball's a wonderful game.
Base-ball, they say, is the same.
There are folks who swear by tennis or golf.
Then we have the croquet folk:
They're beyond a joke.
Cricket on every green,
Polo at Hurlingham seen;
They are good games wherever they're played,
But the push-ball puts all in the shade.'

(photo: Stage Photo Co, London, 1924)

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John Culme, 2004